Long term test: Kawasaki ZRX1200S

Published: 07 January 2002

Typical. I bought a fantastic new bike in Spring and was looking forward to a long summer. Then I broke my arm off-roading and by the time I got back on the ZRX it was winter.

Still, every cloud has a silver lining and all that money I saved on petrol meant I was able to put some dosh aside for a full exhaust system.

But first I took the standard bike down to BSD (01733-223377) in Eye, Cambs, to run it on their rolling road. This confirmed it was putting out 110bhp at the rear wheel. That should, of course, be more than adequate for anyone. But horsepower is like money or sex – even if you’re getting enough, you can never turn down the chance of a bit more.

Which is why I found myself handing over £528 for a Remus system. I chose the Austrian brand because it looks and sounds great, but doesn’t have the price tag of a Yoshimura or Akrapovic equivalent.

I also thought I’d save another £50 by fitting it myself. Due to my still weak left arm and the fact that I have the kind of physique that would make camp Carry On weakling Charles Hawtrey look muscular, I thought it a good idea to enlist the help of a mate. This is a musclebike, after all, and some brute force was bound to be required.

Remus says there’s a knack to fitting its exhausts and recommends you don’t attempt the work unless you know what you’re doing. Apparently, they’re machined to fit precisely so it’s not just a question of stuffing them into the cylinder heads and tightening a few bolts.

Since my technical expertise extends little farther than rewiring a plug and my mate had never fitted an exhaust either, that should have set alarm bells ringing. But after peering into a few crannies, we thought: " Well, it’s not exactly rocket science, is it? "

The standard system came off as easily as Paul Daniels’ toupée in a gale. Attaching the new one

was the start of all the problems. For a start, the four header pipes didn’t fit flush with the engine and it took a lot of jiggling about and much grunting and swearing before we finally wedged them in.

The next problem was that if I lined up the bracket which attached to the engine, the one for the footrest hanger didn’t match up, and vice-versa.

This was because the hanger had been bent earlier in the year when the ZRX fell over (remember, I am weedy). A couple of spare washers at the engine mounting point seemed to solve the problem, until I set off round the block on a test ride and my mate pointed out that the exhaust was touching the bottom of the rear brake mechanism. It wasn’t stopping the brake working, but it wasn’t right.

I decided it was time to call in the experts and phoned Colin Peabody at Performance Parts

(0870-240-2118), Remus’s importer. He suggested I take the bike to Craig Taylor at Dyno Torque (0121-753-0415) in Birmingham to check our work over. Dyno Torque works closely with

Remus to help develop its exhausts. Unlike us, he has years of experience fitting them to all makes of bikes.

Taylor soon realised our fundamental error had been to fit the exhaust from front to back. Oh, and we hadn’t greased the thread on the bolts, which made them a bugger to loosen.

After much red-faced leaning on spanners, Taylor fitted the exhaust in the correct way, re-tightening the bolts in order from the back to the front, meaning the downpipes were the last bolts to be touched.

He also replaced the fill-in washers with a flush-fitting rubber grommet.

After that, the exhaust fitted so much better. It just goes to show that having someone with a

bit of experience and knowledge can save hours of work and a lot of hassle.

To put a figure on the difference in power, I took the bike back to BSD and discovered that it’s now making more than 117bhp. That’s enough for me to keep the spanners at arm’s length for a while.