COVID19 Rapid Restoration: Fireblade for the first time since Obama was President

The Fireblade project has come together nicely thanks to the strangeness we all find ourselves in with the COVID19 pandemic.  With a suddenly extended March Break, I was able to sort out the fairings, get the LED indicators wired up and finalize all the plumbing for fuel delivery.  It was all fiddly, last minute stuff, but with the time in hand it was easy to sort.  The adjustable indicator relay got wet when I cleaned up the bike which prevented the LEDs from flashing, so it got waterproofed and sealed.  The first ride was enlightening…


360° Video from RICOH THETA. – Spherical Image – RICOH THETA

That’s the first time it’s been running since Obama was in office.  It’s a very different thing from other bikes I’ve owned.  I’m a big guy and 50 years old, but the yoga helps with the flexibility needed to ride this machine.  The foot pegs are significantly higher than anything I’ve owned before, and I’m leaning forward over the gas tank in a much more prone position than on the Tiger.  I was very conscious of the clip-on handlebars and the lack of leverage you have when cornering – steering on an adventure bike is much easier because you’ve got big, wide bars that offer a lot of pull.  The Fireblade was so much harder to turn (the weight of leaning forward doesn’t help) that I actually thought the steering was obstructed, but it wasn’t, it’s just a lack of leverage.

After the first ride I thought, ‘this thing is virtually unrideable!’  But as I was working out the details and getting used to it the riding position started to make a different kind of sense; I think this bike can teach me things.  The centre of gravity is so low, and the bike is so much lighter (over 40 kilos!) than my Triumph Tiger, while producing thirty more horsepower, that it’s a significantly different riding experience.  I wouldn’t want to go touring with it, but for an athletic afternoon out on nearby twisty roads, it’s the instrument of choice.

The inline four cylinder 918cc engine makes a glorious noise when you crack the throttle, and the ‘Blade is responsive in a way that makes any other bike I’ve ridden feel heavy – that’s something I could get used to.  On subsequent rides I got my legs into the cutouts on the tank and once locked in place the whole thing suddenly clicked.  It’ll take all the core work I’ve got to work with it, but this machine expects you to take riding as a sport rather than a leisure activity.

So far I’m at $1200 for the bike delivered, $250 in taxes and registration, $280 for a replacement carburetor which I cannibalized with the one I had to create a working one (if anyone needs late 90s CBR900 carb parts, get in touch), and another $200 in parts that included the shop manual, oil and filters and the LED lights.  All in I think I’m at about $2000 on the road and running like it’s new again.  Looking up CBR900RRs online, a one a year older model with three times the kilometres is on for $2800.  Low mileage mint ones are going for $6-7000.  I think I could sell it in a year for a thousand more than I put into it.

When the pandemic happened here just before March Break I took home the Structure Sensor 3d scanner and did some scans, which is what you’re looking at here…



It’s very satisfying to bring the ‘Blade back to life.  Now that the mechanicals are in order I’m thinking about racing stripes.  Amazon has some well reviewed ones on for a good price, I’ll give them a go rather than painting them on.


Unfortunately I’m stuck for getting the bike safetied and registered on the road because everything is closed at the moment.  I’ll spend the time making sure everything is order and looking to the aesthetic details and hopefully I’ll be able to put the bike on the road when we put society back in motion again in May.

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