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Project Recycle Yamaha FZ1

>> Ashley Benson

October 30, 2012 - San Diego, CA not only sells motorcycle parts, apparel and accessories, we work on our own motorcycles as well. Because of our love of motorcycle projects and getting our hands dirty, we started a program with our friends over at Cycle World Magazine called Project Recycle where we find old and tired motorcycle to rebuild and rejuvenate. One such motorcycle was a Yamaha FZ1. The best part about this project? As a part of our newest promotional event, Project Kickstart, is giving away the finished Yamaha FZ1 through our Project Kickstart FZ1 Giveaway on our Facebook page. For more information of Project Kickstart go to Bikebandit Announces Project Kickstart, and for more information on the giveaway visit Bikebandit Launches Project Kickstart FZ1 Giveaway. Here's all the details on the Project Recycle Yamaha FZ1 straight from Cycle World:

"What's the use of buying a mile-sucking sport-touring machine if you have to grab a bunch of overtime just to make the payments? Ah, that's where the next round of Project Re-Cycle, a joint venture between Cycle World and, comes in. Our mission: To find a nice, used semi-sporty bike that we could transform into a white-stripe wonder, an inexpensive sport-touring mount to take you and your "stuff" there in comfort.

Filling the bill perfectly was the first-generation Yamaha FZ1. It was built in great numbers, with production starting in 2001 and concluding after the 2005 model year, so there are plenty of them out there and a fully developed aftermarket to support them well into old age.

Why Gen 1? Yamaha's second-generation FZ1 featured an aluminum frame, sure, but it also received a short-stroke version of the YZF-R1′s engine, sportier styling and a much smaller fuel tank. In moving the FZ1 toward the racier end of the spectrum, Yamaha disappointed many fans of the first-gen bike looking for more performance with the same utility. Partly because of this shift, the pre-2006 bikes remain popular among those looking for a quick, versatile motorcycle.

Fairly cheap, too. The Kelley Blue Book pegs the retail value of the FZ1 as $3100 (2001 model) to $4400 (for an '05). Come springtime, FZ1s for sale pop up on craigslist and places like the Yamaha FZ1 Owners Association board like weeds through driveway cracks. Better yet, for the purposes of shopping and support, there are almost no changes from year to year save for colors. Our donor bike is a well-cared-for 2004 Skunk (the black/gray combo) showing 32,000 miles and a small sampling of upgrades. It would turn out to be an ideal platform for our project.

Yamaha's famous first-generation YZF-R1 engine received relatively minor modifications for use in the FZ1, so it packs a brawny midrange surge and a sizzling top-end rush into one relatively compact package. Among today's hottest bikes, the stock FZ1′s 122 rear-wheel horsepower doesn't seem so impressive; but back in the day, the Yamaha bested all its naked-class competition, including the Kawasaki ZRX1200R and the Suzuki Bandit 1200S.

While not so many first-generation R1s lived long enough to prove the engine's durability, FZ1s are a different deal. Typically ridden by mature riders, FZ1s are more likely to have put on the miles. Our bike logged an average of 4000 miles a year, and Oklahoman Denise Dickenson owns a 2001 FZ1 that recently turned over 200,000 miles. A maintenance log posted to her blog ( shows it needed nothing more than routine items. So, we had no concerns starting with a bike with 32,000 miles under the wheels.

The first step involved some basic maintenance, including a valve-clearance check (19 were in the middle of the range, one exhaust valve at the lower limit), sparkplug inspection (gaps good, tips clean) and some time spent on a slightly rattly EXUP valve. Yamaha used a guillotine-style exhaust valve in the collector to boost low-end and midrange power. Its bushings can run dry and the twin cables can go slack over time. Following directions posted on the Yamaha FZ1 Owners Association site, we disassembled and lubed (with a copper-free, high-temp anti-seize compound) the valve components and then rigged the cables. Ah, quiet.

We noticed significant drag in the clutch and throttle cables, so all three were replaced with OE items from the store. While messing around with the carbs, we installed a Dynojet Stage 1 jet kit to the baseline specifications and the DJ124 main jets. Smaller DJ122 mains are recommended with a stock exhaust, but we installed a Two Brothers Racing M-2 Black Edition slip-on muffler. The TBR can slipped into place in just minutes and impressed with its great build quality and low weight—4.8 pounds, 7.4 less than the stock system. We wanted to try the M-2 because it can be fitted with the P-1 PowerTip noise suppressor. That combo hit our noise meter to the tune of 97.8 dBA in the SAE J1287 test; the pipe scored 101.2 dBA with the P-1 removed. On the road, the system sounds wonderfully throaty but is probably right at the edge of acceptable for sport-touring duty.

The final piece of engine-related work was the addition of a K&N OE-replacement air filter—don't forget to install the provided foam gasket around the filter flange.

When we were done, we succeeded in failure. That is, we failed to harm the FZ1′s good-natured low-end power, rippling midrange or any of the clench-your-knees-to-the-tank top-end. Throttle response improved markedly over the notoriously lean stock setup, though the baseline settings seemed a bit rich at idle and just-cracked throttle. Nevertheless, combined mileage (highway and backroad) remained at the FZ1 norm of 40 mpg. We'll keep tweaking the carbs before the big Yami goes back to,.

Amazingly, after 32,000 miles, the stock chain on our Skunk was in great shape. But because we wanted to change gearing, it was replaced by a fresh D.I.D #530 VM X-Ring chain. The stock chain has 116 links, so we ordered a 120-link VM and trimmed it to fit. This golden beauty curls around a Vortex countershaft sprocket in the stock 16-tooth size while a Sunstar steel rear sprocket counts one fewer than the original 44 teeth. Raising the gearing slightly puts the FZ1′s engine in its vibratory sweet spot at 75 mph and has the side benefit of making the analog speedometer nearly accurate. This 6-percent-taller gearing does little to blunt the FZ1′s acceleration in lower gears or take a point off its backroad fun factor.

The FZ1′s Soqi suspension components were lauded at the time for their adjustability and competence, even if the stock spring rates were a bit low for aggressive riders. We took the stock items to Race Tech for installation of Gold Valves front (compression and rebound) and rear, plus new springs. Rates up front go from the stock 0.8 kg/mm to 0.95 kg/mm, while in back, a Hyperco 14.3 kg/mm spring replaces the 7.6 kg/mm original. Our FZ1 now rides California’s choppy freeways with less kick through the seat and grips yet has reduced chassis pitching when ridden aggressively. More Corvette, less Chris-Craft. This setup is good for 180-pound-and-up riders as well as lighter pilots intending to carry a load; it might be slightly too firm for lighter folks riding solo. The nice thing: Race Tech will tailor the setup to your weight and skill level.

Galfer steel-braided brake lines replace the original items as much to improve feel as to follow good maintenance practice for rubber lines; after eight years, they’re ready to be retired. EBC Sintered Double-H pads slotted into the front calipers and are motivated by Galfer DOT 4 brake fluid.

For tires, we selected Michelin’s new Pilot Road 3. An update of the popular (among FZ1 owners) Pilot Road 2, the 3 is said to have much better wet-weather capabilities without sacrificing longevity or dry grip. We were impressed by the tires, though no rain fell during our short test period. Outright grip is more than sufficient for the FZ1, and the tires allow the bike to maintain its original neutral handling and light steering.

Turning a naked bike into a capable sport-tourer takes more than time off, a backpack and a gas card. To improve the FZ1, we installed a Givi D129S touring windshield, which is 4.5 in. taller than the nearly ineffective stock item. A 5-foot-9 rider gets a mercifully low-turbulence windblast near the top of the helmet instead of right in the neck. Farther south, a Sargent World Sport seat improves on the Yamaha part, which is actually a very good saddle. Featuring a CarbonFX textured vinyl cover and silver piping, the Sargent looks great but also feels awfully good, especially the gently sloping profile of the rider’s portion. The stock FZ1 seat has a bit of a fore-aft ridge that can make some riders squirm. One-inch risers work with the stock clamps and handlebar to provide a more relaxed riding position. A fine aspect of the FZ1 is that several 7/8-in. bars will not only fit but also clear the fairing and tank. Getting the rider interface just as you want it is actually quite easy.

Down on the fork legs is a pair of PIAA 1100 LED driving lights, which are amazingly bright and focused, yet they consume less than 1 amp each. Koso’s new heated grips came on board, as well, and are managed by a small control box on the left side of the handlebar. Not the hottest grips we’ve tried, but they’ll still be useful for those edge-of-season rides. We fortified the FZ1′s electrical system with a new Ballistic Performance EVO2 lithium-ion battery, which is an astounding 9 lb. lighter than the original Yuasa GT14-B4 lead-acid battery.

Carrying your personal effects aboard the Project Re-Cycle FZ1 became simpler with a full set of Cortech soft luggage: Super 10 Liter Tank Bag, Sport Saddlebags and Sport Tail Bag. Combined capacity is 62 liters. You’ll notice that we added a set of BikeMaster Arrow Head LED turnsignals to the big Fizzer. The main reason was to allow the saddlebags to mount in a range of positions along the FZ1′s hindquarters. Move them back to accommodate a passenger or move them forward so the passenger footpegs can carry some of their weight.

Complete and eager to travel, the Project Re-Cycle FZ1 impresses as an inexpensive entree to sport-touring, a still-thrilling ride with range (thanks to the 5.6-gallon tank), comfort and an elegant simplicity—a truly affordable machine easily maintained and upgraded. Ready for another 32,000 miles."

Here's a full list of the parts that Cycle World got from to fix up this little beauty:

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