Thought you guys might be interested in this.
Written by Ben Warden from The Motorcycle Sports Touring Club of Victoria, Australia "[email protected]
Impressions after 100,000 km on a CBR929
I picked up my new yellow CBR929 on 22 December, 2000, from Redwing Honda, trading in my NX650 Dominator. Since then the 929 has run almost trouble free, clocking over 100,000 km a few days after Christmas 2003, with Kate on the back, heading for Bonegilla in forty something degree heat. Below are a few facts and figures for those with an interest in CBRs.
Suspension is one of those areas that you never quite perfect. In fact, it is impossible to get right for all situations. What is nice and comfortable around town wallows and bucks in high speed sweepers, and vice versa. At best, it is a sensible compromise. At 19,538km I ditched the standard shock in favour of an Ohlins. In fact, I traded in the Ohlins off my ZXR, which was still worth a lot of money, the changeover price irresistible. I still have fond memories of that ZXR; after 140,433 km you would too. It finally died when the main spar frame developed a fatigue crack right the way around. Strangely enough Kawasaki wouldn’t replace it!
The Ohlins rear shock is specifically designed for CBR929s and comes preset at the recommended settings: 14 clicks out on the rebound, 10 clicks on the compression, and then you muck around with the hydraulic ride height adjuster to get the static sag right. It worked perfectly straight out of the box. Set and forget, and forget I did until the oil went right off and it was changed at 86,683 km for $120, returning it back to perfect working order. HRC (Honda Racing Corporation) in Thomastown service bikes as well as fettling race machines and did the work fast and expertly at what seemed a fair price. And they are only a few kilometres away. The Ohlin’s recommended interval is 30,000 km between services which I intend to follow in future. 60,000 km was a bit excessive.
I knew the front springs were a little on the plush side but never got round to changing them till the 85,284 km showed on the dial. The air gap changed from standard 90 mm to 120 mm and the new spring rate was 0.95 kg/mm with 10 mm preload – I think that is 4 lines showing, 10 weight oil, 1 ¾ turns out for both rebound and compression damping. Of course this picks the front end of the bike up quite a bit, slowing the steering down a lot. I knew the bike always steered better with a higher profile 180/55 rear than with the standard 190/50 so raising the forks through the top triple clamp was likely to help. After a bit of trial and error I have settled on 13 mm measured between the top of the triple clamp and the top of the fork which is 8 or 9 mm more than stock. It now steers like a 600 with no apparent loss of high speed stability. It turns really well and is very easy to change direction, which is handy as you get older and your arm muscles atrophy through lack of use.
Fork oil is critical to the whole suspension plot and I would recommend it being replaced at no more than 12,000 km intervals (the recommended interval). You can start to feel it go off and more damping clicks are required to maintain the same level of control. Rod Sharp at Cycleworks in Ringwood did the fork oil changes a few times at $65 – you supply him with the forks – which is pretty cheap as it includes oil. He fitted the stiffer springs. But, with the right tools, it is relatively easy to perform fork oil changes at home and it takes about 3 hours from start to finish. I got a bit of practise around 97,000 km when a fork seal started to leak (first time) and I replaced it with one from the 954 wreck I acquired. Don’t forget to put new copper washers on the damper rod lock bolt, or sandpaper the ridges off the used ones, or it will leak out the bottom like billyo, no matter how tight you make them. I had a well lubricated axle for a period.
The only out-and-out failure was at 78,357 km when the alternator dropped a phase and hence failed to charge the battery. Thinking it was the battery after this period, I replaced it, with no joy. I was about to head to Tassy and hence took a gamble. I ended up borrowing a stator off a race bike while mine was rewound for $178. The initial diagnosis and stator swap cost another $130. Throw in a new battery ($184) and it was a pretty expensive broken wire. With the 954 wreck I now have two spare batteries for sale, on trickle charge. The original one is still performing brilliantly.
Light weight and large disk rotors have reduced brake consumables to a minimum. The front pads were changed at 39,465km ($180, stock) and 74,513 ($190, stock). Sensational value given the disks are barely marked. They race with the standard pads which is good enough for me. By this distance on any Kawasaki (GPz900, ZX10, ZXR) I would be only my third set of disks. Rear pads were changed at 21,647 and 65,416, 3rd set still going at 103,000 km. Pad wear can be improved by rotating them which I have done a couple of times. The rear disk is well worn and probably below spec.
The front brake lines are spongy with a lot of travel. A project is to swap the 954 brake hoses onto the 929. Spongy gives good feel – to a point. In the same vein, the front brake light switch wore out – the bit that clicks in and out - wore an indentation in the lever such that the front brake light switch was never activated. I Aryldited a washer on to the lever as a spacer and voila, brake lights!
The original RK chain lasted 31, 168 km, the second 32,848 km (EK ZVX530) and the third 28,621 km (some unusual brand, EX?), now onto the fourth, an RKGB530GXW. But when I changed the 954 swingarm on to the 929 I took the continuous stock chain with it rather than cutting it. So back to stock RK.
The bike is easy on sprockets as well: fronts were replaced at 31,964km, 59,789km, and 83,645 km. I replaced the rear at 98, 227 km with the one off the 954 wreck, figuring it would be last one, even if the bike goes another 100,000 km. Keeping the chain lubed and not too tight prolongs the life of all the final drive components. A can of chain lube lasts 20,000 km or more. A tub of waterproof grease ($8ish) for when you are greasing bearings, when applied to the chain lasts twice as long as chain lube. I’m only onto my second tub in 20 years!
Oil changes have been haphazard. Reading the maintenance log book, it looks like I have aimed for every 8,000 km but a couple have gone much longer. At 3,000 km per month, miss a month or two and the service interval is out the window. Nevertheless, the bike burns almost no oil (meaning rings, valve guide seals are still okay), but always clunks on first gear selection, no matter what.
Ball race steering head bearings replaced at 85,284 km with tapered roller bearings ($54). Don’t get 929 ones, get early 919 ones – same part number, half the price! Need tightening about every 3,000 km. Sooner or later they will bed in. Possibly bottom race not seated all the way from time of installation.
The bike had a complete service (my fault, didn’t specify exactly what I wanted done) at 43,847 km. Three shims (1 inlet, 2 exhaust), plugs, oil and air filters, oil, etc. And the injector throttle bodies were synchronised. ($392 total) It got its second service at 100,771 km: 5 shims, throttle bodies, 954 plugs, new air filter. All up $330.
The speedo stopped at 99,999 km – still chasing answers from Honda. In the interim I have swapped it for a working low kay one. Subtract 4990 km from the indicated reading to get genuine (less 100,000!).
I changed the coolant at 73,217km. The bike is definitely running hotter these days as the radiator is clogged with tar and stones. It is one solid mass! It is not really a problem on Club rides, only around town, and if it gets over 90 deg., I turn off the motor at the lights. I was super impressed when I rode Cliff’s new GSXR1000 through Bright on one of those stinking hot days at Christmas and his temp gauge just sat on 77 degrees. Didn’t budge. Fan didn’t even come on.
The other issue of mild concern is the fuel filter inside the tank, mixed up with the fuel pump. It will clogg up one day. I sold the 954 tank (including pump and filter). I should have cannibalised it.
Swapping the 954 swingarm over to 929 (because I could, and Pete said it looked sexier with all those curves and smick welding, and I wanted a hugger) proved easy, but not plain sailing. I had to make a special tool to undo the pivot (got someone to weld a pipe onto a 27 mm nut). Worked brilliantly. The curvy on the swingarm bit required the mating 954 rear calliper and bracket - attached to master cylinder attached to the footpeg bracket attached to the footpeg, all slightly different from the 929, despite looking exactly the same. The shock mounting point required the 954 triangle brackets. It all worked, just took an hour longer than planned (Thanks Pete.) The 929 swingarm bearings were still nice and greasy with no play. The wheels are interchangeable – handy for tyre changing. Hmm.
Tyres: 23 fronts, 34 rears in 37 months, at the time of writing! (Blink and another one has dissolved.) Let’s not talk about it other than so say there were only 6 new rears and 1 new front – the original one! All the rest were ex-race or other second tyres. If you really must know, I have an Excel spread sheet I could email you. Tyre pressures: 36 psi rear, 33 psi front. Any harder and the ride is harsh. Coincidentally I was checking out the UK MCN Blade page on the web and they recommended 36/32 psi. I reckon these pressures are about right for all sports bikes – 600s, 750s, 1000s – for around an 80 kg rider.
Original bits: nearly everything. I replaced a mirror when the rear tyre went flat and the bike toppled over in the garage onto the car, snapping the mirror off and doing hundreds of dollars of damage to the car. All bike panels, blinkers, battery, exhaust system, all original. Replaced one of the three headlights in 100,000 km and 4 rear tail lights. Fell over two other times, once doing a U-turn and running out of lock, second time stalling up a steep driveway and putting foot in hole – minor scratches to rhs fairings – now partly obscured by a billion stone chips.
Engine: probably down on power by 10%; doesn’t want to wheelie everywhere like it used to. Who cares. Suspension: good enough, better than most. Too old to go really fast. Fuel consumption – getting better, but not great. Around 16 km per litre on a Club ride, 230 km before reserve, 50 km on reserve if you are desperate, 18.25 litre tank. I’ve had a couple of 300 km tanks recently. GSXR1000, ZX9 and R1 still better if following closely, but if playing catch-up, the R1 drinks!
Overall: by far the cheapest to maintain (except tyres) and most reliable sports bike I have owned and certainly the best handling package. So easy to ride. Now all I need is tyre sponsor!