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Staff bikes: Kawasaki GPz550 – A gut-wrenching tale

By Steve Farrell -

First rides & tests

 07 October 2010 18:17

Every Sunday afternoon I try to restore my ‘bargain’ GPz550 to somewhere near acceptable condition. And on Sunday evenings I ask the internet how to undo whatever new damage I’ve caused.

My latest handiwork is a sheared sump plug. When I last changed the oil, I replaced the rounded-off old plug with a swanky magnetic one.

Unfortunately, because it’s hollow in order to accommodate the magnet, it wasn’t strong enough to withstand the recommended torque setting - it never got there and just kept turning until I gave up in dismay.

My first response was to put the torque wrench away and pretend nothing had happened until several months later when the next oil change was required. At which point the bolt head snapped off as I tried to loosen it, leaving the magnet and the rest of the thread in the sump.

The internet suggested I try to remove it with a drill and stud extractor, but I didn’t even need the drill. I just poked the magnet through and worked a large stud extractor in the hole it left.

The moment the bolt thread started to budge felt like lancing a boil. It was almost worth it shearing to experience that gratification.

The magnet came out stuck to the end of the extractor, and because the thread in the sump was intact, the original, non-magnetic plug went straight it. I didn’t torque it this time.

Next I’m going to attempt to fit some Hagon progressive fork springs (£77.50 from www.hagon-shocks.co.uk). The forks’ anti-dive units don’t work and are tricky to repair, and they bottom out too easily as a result.

GPz owners apparently frequently fit stiffer springs. I’m hoping the Hagons will fix the problem for me.

I've also got a nice new fork stanchion (£80 from www.allbikeengineering.co.uk) to replace a pitted one which keeps chewing through seals.

After much searching, I’ve found a very nice luggage rack for the GPz, from Ventura (£152.97 from www.ventura-bike.co.uk). In the process of trying to fit it, I’ve noticed the bike has a bent subframe (I didn’t do it).

Kawasaki GPz550
Owned since:
January 2010
Price: £300
Mileage: 23,506 (apparently)
Bits added: Motad four-into-one exhaust (£296 www.motad.co.uk), Avon Road Rider tyres (£115 www.avon-tyres.co.uk), EBC front brake discs and pads (£252.90 www.ebcbrakes.com), Hagon progressive fork springs (£77.50 www.hagon-shocks.co.uk), All Bike Engineering replacement fork stanchion (£80 www.allbikeengineering.co.uk), Ventura rack (£152.97 www.ventura-bike.co.uk)

Further reading:
Staff bike blogs | Kawasaki GPZ550 blog

GPZ55010 BLOG10