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Akrapovic Full System recondition and install

Discussion in 'Modifications and Projects' at netrider.net.au started by DarkHorse, May 10, 2009.

  1. Hey all,

    Since buying the GSXR a few months ago I have been pining over a carbon fibre can to replace the titanium Yoshi slip-on that was on it. The reasons were purely cosmetic, as I like the black finish of CF rather than the silver Titanium, which lightens the whole rear of the bike up:


    I came across a full Akrapovic (pronounced Akrapovich, apparently) system for a K1 750 on eBay, and ended up grabbing it for about $450. These things, as most of you probably realise, retail for around $2000 new, so I grabbed a bargain! As a bonus, not only do I get the CF can, but a full performance system to replace the stock pipes.

    Anyhoo, went and picked it up, forked over the cash and loaded this into the car:
    DSCN1697. DSCN1696.

    As you can see it was pretty grubby, but otherwise in reasonable nick - the pipes were all straight and smooth, and the can wasn't scratched or faded as I had feared it might be.

    So, the job ahead was:
    1) clean and polish up the pipes and muffler
    2) remove old system
    3) fit new system
    4) buy BMC air filter and power commander, then get the bike tuned to suit. It's running a bit rich as is, so freeing up the exhaust should be a step in the right direction anyway, but I'd like to do the whole lot properly.

    The problem of course is money, which I really shouldn't be spending on the bike - hence trawling eBay for cheap stuff in the first place. With approx $500 for the exhaust, about that again for the filter and PC, and probably close to that again for a day in the dyno room, the costs pile up fast. Before any of that, I really need to get the valve stems and piston rings checked out and sorted so the oil stops being spat out the exhaust, but the estimate for that is around $1500 as well!

    Anyhoo, back to the job at hand. I should start by apologising if I get some of the terminology wrong here, as I really don’t know my header pipes, mid pipes, link pipes etc from my ar$ehole. I also don’t have a garage or workspace as such, so most of the cleaning and polishing was done on my floor – hence the couch shots!


    Taking the Akra system apart was as simple as removing the springs holding the pieces together and then a little bit of persuasion to get them apart. That done, I laid them all out on some newspaper and gave them a good drenching in degreaser (just a cheap can of generic stuff from Autobarn or Super Cheap.) Most of the tarnishing on the pipes was dry and solid, so it didn’t make much difference, but worth it just to get rid of any gunk. I bought some AutoSol after reading up a bit on metal polishing, and attacked the pipes first with that and some steel wool. The difference was immediate and drastic:

    With just a few minutes of scrubbing the metal started to look like stainless steel again instead of tarnished copper. I worked in small sections, wiping the excess AutoSol off with a Chux as I went. Once the worst of the tarnishing was off, I switched from the steel wool to a kitchen scourer pad and worked more specifically on the areas that hadn’t come up as well after the first go – especially around the spring lugs and joins in the headers – all the little corners. After wiping down again with the chux I went over each section with a cheap hand towel to buff everything up and make it shine:

    Truth be told, I didn’t get all the ‘speckling’ off the metal, as some of it just didn’t want to budge. I reminded myself that I was dealing with exhaust headers for a fully faired sportsbike which very few people would ever see, and then I was happy with the result. I made sure the midpipe (???) that the muffler connects to was done well as it would be visible, and by happy coincidence it was also the easiest bit to work on being bigger and less intricate than the rest of it.

    That done, I moved onto the muffler. Again a quick spray with degreaser, and then the same polishing process for the steel at each end. For the Carbon Fibre I used Kitten Cut & Polish and then car wax to make the clear coat shine up again.


    Having never done a job like this before I was a little apprehensive, but keen to give it a shot. Obvious first step was to remove the side fairings:

    That done, I would need to get the radiator out of the way, which involved removing the two top bolts (one of which also held the horn in place, making it a bit painful) and also releasing the bracket that secured it to the engine block. I removed the bracket completely to gain access in and around the headers:

    This is what the stock system looked like. Those bolts were every bit as seized as they look. Of course the worst one was the lower one on the inside pipe – the hardest one to get to. All of them stuck until the Allen key was flexing, but that one had so much crud in the head that the key wouldn’t bite properly and kept slipping out, making it almost impossible to get any purchase on it. With the help of copious amounts of Inox, several skinned knuckled and lots of swearing, they did all eventually come out. I left them all soaking in Inox until I came to refit them.

    I removed the old muffler next to get as much weight off the bolts as possible and simplify the removal. There was also another bolt securing the pipe under the right footpeg, and the hanger holding the muffler, both of which were easy enough:

    The old system gone, it was time to fit up the new pipes. Having dismantled the system completely to polish the headers up I wasn’t 100% sure that everything had gone back the right way, but the curves and joins in the pipes make it pretty obvious pretty quickly if you’ve got it wrong. I attached the headers to the engine block with a bit of HT bearing grease and did the bolts up finger-tight, making sure the difficult one was in the easiest spot to get to.
    I then slotted each section of the system (link/joining pipes/midpipe etc) on in order, with a bit more grease to ease the friction:

    The final piece to ensure fitment was OK was the muffler, which slotted on and bolted up to the hanger perfectly:

    With everything assembled, I went back to the headers and tightened the bolts up, ensuring as tight a fit as I could to the engine exhaust ports. I then refitted the springs that secured each join, and tightened the hanger bolt. A quick wipe down with more degreaser to get rid of smudges/fingerprints and it was time to fire the Zook up and see what happened! The first thing I noticed was a wisp of smoke coming out between the engine and the headers, which I hoped would seal up with a bit of carbonisation (more on that in a second). I also noticed the excessive amount of grease I had applied to the headers was burning and smelt awful, but was confident that would burn off soon enough, which it did. The remnants of polish and degreaser also smelt pretty foul – man those headers get hot quick! Otherwise, everything seemed OK – the exhaust note was rortier than previously, the engine sounded like it was running slightly leaner (a good thing in this case) and the throttle seemed more responsive and the engine spun up nice and quick with a couple of blips.

    Righto, I thought. Everything seems OK. Time to chuck the fairing back on, slip into my brand new Astars one-piece from the PS sale down the road that week, and off up Mountain Hwy and back down the Mount Dandy Tourist Hwy for a test run. The first thing I noticed when I sat on the bike was the toxic smell coming up through the front of the bike. The leakage was obviously worse than I first thought. Oh well, only one way to get the carbon built up, so off I went. About 5 mins into the ride I started to feel a bit queasy, especially when stopped at lights as the wind couldn’t blow the gasses away. By the time I got back I was feeling decidedly nauseous, and I only just managed to get the bike parked, jump off it, tear the helmet off my head and lunge for the garden bed before I got another look at what I’d had for breakfast.

    Now, the more experienced tinkerers and mechanically minded amongst you will notice the distinct lack of a certain word in the above write-up: it starts with G and ends with ASKET. Yup – stoopid, lazy me had decided to skip that step. In my defence (and it’s a pretty pathetic defence, but still…) I was counting on re-using the existing gaskets, as I had investigated replacements and found out that they cost a not inconsiderable $14 EACH. To make matters worse, Vision - my closest Suzuki dealer - didn’t have 4 in stock, so had put them on order. So the decision was made, and stuck to… until I removed the old exhaust and discovered that there were no gaskets in place. Bugger it then, if the stock one didn’t need them, I’ll get away with it. Nup. Not according to my digestive system anyway. So, on the phone to Vision, who now have a set of 4 in stock, and someone will be there long enough for me to shoot down the hill (holding my breath whenever I had to stop!) and pick them up.

    It now getting on in the evening, and this being the Eastside movie night for Wolverine that I was keen to get too, I decided to cope with it for the run up to Chirnside, resolving to put in a late night and get the gaskets in when I got home. Having done the dismantle once already it wasn’t too hard to do it again. I had to get the fairing off, get the radiator out of the way, and back the header bolts right off, slip the gaskets in and do everything back up. Lo and behold, now no smoke leakages. I couldn’t take it for a spin that night as it was 1am by the time I was done, and caning it down through my nice quiet UFG neighbourhood was not on.

    The next day was a 40km trip each way to work, including a freeway stretch. I was wary of the temperature in case the free breathing back end had leaned the mixture out too much, but all seemed OK there. There was still a slight odour apparent when stationary, but it is diminishing every day. The sound is great – not offensively loud at idle or low revs, but nice and growly until you gun it, when it starts to scream nicely up high. Yes, I did the first bit of Eastlink at 100kmh in first. Weeeeeeheeeee!!!

    For anyone considering doing this, I'd say go for it. Even if you don't have any real mechanical knowledge. It takes some time and some mucking around, but isn't actually that hard at all. Just don't think you can get by without gaskets!!!

    Apart from the actual system, I needed the following:

    Degreaser - $2
    AutoSol - $8
    Inox - $10
    Steel Wool - $2
    Scourers - $4
    Hand Towel - $4
    Cut & Polish - $12
    Gaskets - $64
    HT Bearing grease - $16

    TOTAL - $112

    4 & 6mm Allen keys (long shank, ball end)
    10 & 12mm sockets, ratchet and 100mm extension
    12mm ring spanner
    Bull-nose pliers (for springs on exhaust)
    All of which are pretty common contents of any tool collection - I didn't have to buy anything specifically.

    Polishing - 6hrs
    Dismantling - 1.5hrs
    Fitting - 1hr
    Reassembling - 0.5hr
    Gasket refitting - 1.5hrs
    So the fitting around 3hrs, unless your a dipsh1t like I was, then add a couple!

  2. nice write up mate. Good to see someone putting a little passion into their bike, and don't worrk bout the cost mate the bike will appreciate it
  3. Ahh Inox, God's gift to motorcylists!
  4. So, anyone got a PCIII for a K1?
  5. Great outcome mate...looks the goods ! Especially like the fact the yellow marking on the can match with not only your bike colour but yellow rim strips :)
    What can I say ? I'm one for detail, and yours looks great. Bet it sounds crazy as well. Still got my Jardine GP1 unassembled. Gotta find the time to get down and dirty..which I think the neighbours will be thereafter, well, the latter anyway ;)
    Cheers mate and well done- Great job !
  6. Can you still remove the oil filter without needing to remove the header pipes first?

  7. Cheers Nickers,

    The job was originally purely cosmetically motivated - I wanted a CF can to replace the Titanium Yoshi. That the Akra logo happens to suit the black/yellow scheme perfectly, and happened to come with a full system for roughly half the price of a new slip-on make me very happy!

    It does need some tweaking to get everything perfect - I don't think I'm going to be able to go without a PC for too long, as it at least needs someone with more clue than me to have a listen and a look.

    That said, the immediate improvement in performance and sound are phenomenal, but not so much louder that it'll get me in trouble.

    Get scrubbing buddy!

    Cam - I should still be able to get the oil filter off, there's not noticeably less clearance than the stock headers. That said, I haven't tried yet, so could be in for an "oh FUUUUUUU..." moment!
  8. Took a better shot of the finished job today:

  9. Mate, that looks beautiful !!! Well done..and very clean also ;)
    Which leads me to my next question : When are we going for a cruise through the 'hoods on the Gixers ? :)

    Top Job !
  10. If looks OK then fingers crossed it will be OK. [-o<

    The reason why I asked is because a mate of mine put on a full system, forget the brand, on his Gixxer 600 and found that his new pipes where made for maximum horsepower and not maximum practicality. Every time he has to change the oil filter he has to remove the radiator and then muffler and then the header pipes, which is just a little bit inconvenient to say the least.
  11. Nice write up :)

    Also, I recommend using that red high temp silicon between the headers and exhaust before you tune the bike. You don't wanna tune it with an exhaust leak. That stuff works really well.