I have been working on my RF900R StreetFighter since late 2012 but due to other commitments it hasn’t progressed at any great speed. This blog is designed to share with you the stages that my RF900R has gone through, from an almost original bike to a custom StreetFighter, and hopefully the bike of my dreams.
I will be posting updates when and as I can but feel free to subscribe to the mail listing to be notified of any progress.
Below are the build stages of my Suzuki RF900R StreetFighter. I have tried my best to brake the StreetFighter build up into clear stages and describe what I have done to the change the RF900R from its origins to the custom StreetFighter of my dreams.
If you have any questions about the bike, the parts / services used or anything else, feel free to contact me though thecontact form.
* Please be patient – this blog is very picture heavy and can load slower than other pages
Another sunny day means another photoshoot.
Final post for a while as away from home and am still waiting for the carbs to return. Just a photo dump of the project as of beginning of October (2016).
So even though I haven’t really written almost anything about it, I ‘ve done quite a bit of work on the electrics on the bike which I thought I would review for you while waiting for the carbs to return.
So some of you may have noticed that near the beginning of the project I was using a yellow battery. I bought from eBay which worked fine but recently I purchased this bad boy (also from eBay)
“Shido Lithium Ion 36W Battery” as you can tell by its name, is a lithium ion battery which means it is as light as a feather and apparently puts out much more power to turn the bike over. Also has pretty lights 🙂 I also picked up this little gadget that I have fitted into the underside of the subframe which flashes (looks like an alarm flash) so I can see what charge is on the bike (red.. yellow.. green..).
If I’m still not sure, this £3 dial shows the real voltage of the battery. As I couldn’t find a place I was happy to mount it on the front dash (I will come to the details on the changes to the front dash later in this post) I decided to mount it next to the fuse box (logical)(no pictures of it mounted yet).
Again, some of you may have noticed I relocated the fuse box to under the new passenger seat of the R9 subframe as I can quickly access this with a key (whereas the main seat needs an alan key).
Working my way forward on the bike we come to the coils. So I have already shown you these in an earlier post“Post 14” . I will just leave some pics of them on the bike.
(Pics Coming Soon)
If you have seen my build before, I made a post a while ago about how I bought this amazing speedo “..” and how this my perfect speedo… bla bla bla …
Yes this is an amazing speedo and would be great on any bike but in my opinion it does not look right on a street fighter. It’s too big for a bike that is meant to be about minimalizing and looking aggressive.
So the speedo I went for was a Dan Moto - Nano Dash.
Not sure how it will work out as haven’t used the bike yet but it fits nicely in the brace on the handle bars and works well with the look. Still need to add the speed sensor and calibrate it but will do that later when I tackle the front brakes.
The RF900 hand controls looked…in a single word…tired. However, the design was an even bigger issue - very much of a certain era, with those sharp angles and button shape. I felt like it need an update to complement the speedo and Brembo RCS Cylinders next to them.
The left hand controls are from a 06 Bandit 1200 . As always, bought from eBay. Much better looking and was fairly easy to match up the correct wires. Also has a hazard button which could come in handy 🙂
The right hand controls are from a 02 Hayabusa . Originally I bought the right hand controls from another Suzuki (can’t remember which model) as there was no throttle casing on the controls. This was because I was planning to add a quick throttle.
I can still do this in the future but for the moment I am using the standard throttle and cabling which will probably suit my riding better.
So the head light has been quite obvious since the bike changed direction to become a StreetFighter. Its call a YAMAHA MT03 bought from (?) with a pair of mounting brackets that I had powdercoated to match the rest of the RF.
I will also be buying a LED bulb & converter as the post on the rfownersclub forum has shown how much better they are.
NO ALARM YET… will be looking to add a Thatcham alarm once I get the bike running.
Some proper images of the Akrapovic headers on the RF900 StreetFighter in all its glory.
BUT WAIT… THERE’S MORE…
I have the final pièce de résistance to complete the perfect exhaust….
Honestly, I found this a little while ago but was saving it for when the bike had the exhaust on properly.
Can’t wait to hear it running but the carbs are still being rebuilt with Rob at Hampshire Motorcycles.
I had already previously moved the RF900’s thermostat but didn’t really write about it. Many people who choose to turn the RF900 into a street fighter don’t bother to move the thermostat from the mount point on the outside right hand side of the frame, which in my opinion looks nasty and a little lazy – other people have proved that it looks so much better moved under the tank. Moving the thermostat was probably the only thing that I succeeded to do during my first StreetFighter build attempt.
Some people say there isn’t enough room under the tank for the thermostat. I had made it work before (although it did rest a little on the breather case) and with this build and the new stick coils – (more on that in my next post) I had plenty of room to work with. I could even use the mount points from the old coils to make a proper bracket for the thermostat.
One thing you may have noticed is that I have changed the black end of the thermostat. The original RF900 thermostat has a right angled connector to connect the radiator. With the relocation and new bracket I found that this angle was too sharp to produce a nice flow to the radiator. So I used the straight connector from the GSXR1100 – which fit perfectly to the RF900 thermostat.
It seems that the pipe work for the new black end is a little smaller that the original part but I don’t think it will affect the cooling performance especial as in the UK the weather rarely gets very hot.
Cap needs painting
Overflow bottle. Always a good question - what to do with the overflow bottle on a street fighter? The RF900 overflow bottle was originally attached to the subframe under the big arse fairings. It is not the best looking part to come from a Suzuki.
Therefore, a new water bottle was needed. Found this one on eBay. Not sure it is perfect but will do for now.
Mounting point will most likely be near the radiator but will have to decide exactly where nearer the first run.
The newly painted engine will also need some pretty new water hoses, mostly for aesthetic reasons but the old hoses had a lot of crud in them and were pretty tired after being on the bike for 17 years.
Radiator needs some work… not sure what to do.
May look for a new one (saw one on eBay for an RF900 - £450!!!) or get it reconditioned as others have done on the rfownersclub. If it cleans up nicely I may be able to hide most of the broken fins with the new RF900 Radiator grill.
So it took a month but the engine is finally back and looking amazing. List of things done:
New black paint job to match the frame
water pump fitted
Remove shawn bolts from starter motor mount
new spark plugs
clean drain hole
rental front sprocket fitted
and last (but not least) a new windowed clutch cover for the RF900. Looks amazing but I feel like the hub cover needs some colour… just not sure how to accomplish that.
Putting a newly painted engine in a powder coated frame single handedly was not an easy task.
Done and looking rather nice.
So just before the engine went to be fixed by Rob at Hampshire Motorcycle Centre I decided to have a bit of a photo shoot while the sun was shining.
Looks amazingly different to the last Sunshine Update I did in 2013.
OK, so while the engine is being repaired I have a bit of a confession, I lied a little bit. I said that after I broke my engine I didn’t touch the bike till the beginning of 2016. However, the desire to work on the RF actually struck in early December 2015.
I was looking at others’ StreetFighters on customfighters.com and decided that if the engine was more than I could deal with (and it was) at least I could make some progress on something I could do - the petrol tank.
Back in 2013, feeling that the petrol tank didn’t look right on the bike (it had a Grand Canyon style groove all around the edge) I started work on some much needed modification (see Post 16). Coming back to work on it that December, I quickly realized that, due to my lack of experience in bodywork, an amateur DIY attempt on the most visible part of bodywork left on the bike wasn’t going to cut it.
As you can see from the images above I began again to work on removing the gap and creating a nice smooth flow to the body work where it meets the frame.
So I couldn’t fix my engine and I couldn’t finish the tank to a standard I was going to be happy with (I was feeling pretty useless). Overall, I guess I just really didn’t want to spoil all the hard work I had put into the rest of the bike. So I called a local company Fix Auto Petersfield who agreed to do the work, remove the gap and even prime and paint the tank for me!
My original goal for the tank was to make it look like carbon, in order to match the subframe fairings. My research showed that the best way to achieve a carbon look (without an actual carbon tank) was to get the tank carbon skinned. This involves sanding the tank down, priming it with an adhesive and laying a sheet of real carbon fiber over the tank, which is then built up with layers of resin to protect it and give it a realistic carbon effect. This should last better and look more realistic than a hydrographic carbon effect.
Fix Auto Petersfield agreed to fill the gap and prime the tank ready for the carbon skinning (which they couldn’t do for me). I collected the tank on Christmas eve and looking very smart, ready for carbon skinning.
See the next post for some better images of it on the bike.
OK so I’ll admit it, it’s been a while since I’ve updated my RF900 streetfighter blog… a very very long while but there’s a good reason for that… I hadn’t done much with it…. So apologies for the long wait but I have finally done a couple of things and can update you on how the RF900 streetfighter is coming along.
Getting rid of some the dust covers that was put on over a year ago (this was summer of 2015).
So did some tiding up of the electrics as the new R6 subframe has a lot less room that the fat arse of the RF900.
Also fitted the Akrapovic Headers which needed a little bit of fiddling to get fitting correctly but look very nice. As it’s a streetfighter now and there are no fairings to hide the headers, I am so glad I went with the Stainless steel exhaust system and the fact it’s an Akrapovic one is just the icing on the RF 😉
The carbs have now sat for the best part of 3/4 years and need some TLC but I thought I may try and start the RF900 up and see if the bike was still working after its hibernation before sending the carbs off to rebuilt.
However, I can never make life easy for myself and being the idiot that I can, I attempted to start the RF using just the trickle charger, which I later learnt did not produce enough power to turn the engine over. Being the ignorant of that fact, I convinced myself that the starter motor had broken during its long rest, and I bought a second hand one from eBay and proceed to try and fit it. This resulted in me shearing both of the bolts attaching the starter motor and me swearing a lot.
To top this off, I then took the engine out of the frame to make some room to get a drill in and remove the bolts, only to drop the engine and break the waterpump hose connector....
I then decided that with the engine out I should at least attempt something productive and remove the bolts, only to brake my brand new diamond drill bit off inside one of the bolts… honestly I was so angry at myself I didn’t touch the bike again for 3/4 months and decided to get on with other things before I broke something else.
Skip forward to the beginning of this year (2016) and enough time has past for me to calm down and with a bit more time and money in hand, felt it was time to try and get the RF900 back on the right track to being a streetfighter and not just an ornament that my friends ask me when I’m going to finish.
After searching eBay and rfownersclub it seemed that a “new” engine would be cheaper than the cost of removing the sheared bolts and buying a new water pump (the water pump alone was £150!!!).
After nearly 6 months of looking for an engine and nothing appearing, it seemed that progress on the RF streetfighter was once again stalled. But my patience paid off and a “like new” water pump appeared on eBay for £40!!! and I decided the “new” engine wasn’t worth wait for and fixing my mistakes was the way forward.
NEW PLAYER HAS ENTER THE GAME … well not quite but I felt that I needed help, both to get the bolts removed from the engine and to fit the new waterpump Also if the engine was going to get some work done, it would be best to get it checked over to make sure nothing else was broken. Also, after 17 years the engines’ paint was looking a mess and it could do with a cleanup and a new lick of paint. I had previous found a company in Southampton called Hampshire Motorcycles when I was looking for upgraded front brake calipers to match the Brembo rear calipers I bought, which they do a conversion kits (will touch on this point in a later post).
After a great conversation with their mechanic Rob, who is a top bloke, really knowledgeable and understanding about what I was trying to do (recommended for anyone who needs work done in the area), I came up with a job list for them to complete and at the end of July I took the engine and Carbs down to Southampton for work to begin. Rob Explained that if they couldn’t get the sheared bolts out then a new engine would be needed.
All that was left to do now was wait and hope that the damage I had caused was repairable.
I have been hit by a bit of luck. As most have noticed from the photos, the bike was still lacking an exhaust system. I could have just put the standard one back on but it seemed like a shame to skimp by doing that. The other options where a Yoshimura system I had found in Germany or an Akrapovic system for a GSXR 1100W which will fit the RF 900.
Both options needed large finical backing but I really wanted the Akrapovic which would mean finding just under £800 🙁
Over a year of praying to and watching the fleebay gods (along with alerts to keys words) I got lucky.
The standard oval Akrapovic exhaust was pretty broken but could be made in to a stubby if needed, however I really wanted to find a carbon hexagonal Akrapovic exhaust to put on the RF 900 so wasn't too worried. I also can't really complain seeing that I got it for £120 and the headers were spotless apart from needing a really good polish!
So that's what I did. Sent them to a small father / son company in Southampton called Tuck & Son
Really pleased how they turned out seeing that they looked quite bad when I got them.
Hope to have these fitted and some more updates soon.