Now that I've finally stopped holding a grudge against our Used Bikes Editor for sending my RVF400RR (on loan from DK Motorcycles) into a gravel trap at Rockingham, I can finally admit that it might have turned out rather well.
The idea for my paintjob came from another 400cc sportsbike, the Honda CBR400RR 'Baby Blade'. Just as that bike copied the paintscheme of the FireBlade, I wanted to see how a CBR600RR scheme would suit the RVF. And the good news is that it looks fantastic.
Bodywork specialists GPS Evolution (01332 865321) arranged the painting and stickers, and they've done a great job. And using colours from the Rover car range means I can grab touch-up paint from any car spares shop. The only downside was that the cracked and twisted air tubes don't fit behind the fairing any more, but as they were only cosmetic in the first place it's not a big deal. They're actually blocked off where they meet the petrol tank, and it means I can try and tuck my head behind the new screen from Pyramid Plastics (£47.99).
I also succumbed to temptation, and fitted a louder aftermarket exhaust. After months of straining to hear the whimper of the standard can, now the RVF really growls, particularly when I experimented with removing the baffles for a short period. My neighbours certainly noticed!
With a 25,000 mile service, and suspected crash damage, I sent the bike to 400cc specialists Elliott Motorcycles (01793 751752). Aise from checking and tightening every bolt and fitting two new mirror and bar ends, they also drained all the crud from the carbs. In addition, they used a hydraulic press to straighten the bent bottom yoke, front wheel spindle and one fork.
I've been dying to show off all the hard work since mid-November, when my baby went back on the road. But probably the most important items at this time of year are those which stop your bike getting damaged or nicked. My Meta-Systems Legos alarm is still working great. RVF's have a reputation for electrical regulator/rectifier problems, but mine's working great. This is despite the key fob staying on the bike during rain, snow and jet washes.
And to help with maintenance, a Micron single-sided paddock stand means I can lube my chain without having to wheel my bike halfway down the road. At the same time I'm depleting the local supply of Pro Cleans bike products, and I'm planning on covering the bike in ACF-50 protector, and also a clear plastic film from Ventureshield which should be naked to the eye, but keep the bike in good nick.
In fact the only remaining niggle is the Pyramid seat cowl which I ordered just before the crash. It would have matched the standard paintwork, but now I need to decide whether to go for a matching blue, a black numberboard, or a different alternative. Email firstname.lastname@example.org with your suggestions and designs. And if you have a 400cc sportsbike which can inspire me, send me a picture...
GPS Evolution Ltd (01332 865321)
Fairing: £230. Seat £109. Mudguard £30. Paint £350. Fitting bodywork and decals: £200.
Elliotts Motorcycles (01793 751752)
Two bar ends: £10. Two new mirrors: £30. Tightening bolts, draining carb, charging battery, fitting silencer, fitting screen, straightening one fork, both yokes and wheel spindle but replacing odd missing screws, nuts and bolts: £350.
Pyramid Plastics: (01427 810473)
Dark tinted screen £47.99.
Blue Flame Exhausts (01695 733100)
Coloured Titanium Dual port Exhaust: £280.
Micron 01773 876333
Single-sided paddock stand: £79.99
When I got it: March 11, 2004.
Price new: £5899.
Value Now: £3200.
Insurance cost: £439.95 fully comp.
Top speed: 136.2mph
Fuel range/mpg: 165 miles/ 42mpg.
What we like: Looks amazing, sounds amazing and will surprise modern bikes.
What we don't like. Brakes show their age and getting left on the straight bits.
Bits we'd recommend:
Meta Systems Legos Alarm. Micron single-sided swinarm. Blue Flame exhaust.