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My VFR400 race bike

Discussion in 'Modifications and Projects' started by phongus, Jun 30, 2010.

  1. Hello everyone...

    Since I have a whole month of boring afternoon shift to cover, I thought I would start a build thread of my VFR400 NC30 race bike. When I bought it, I was told it was never registered and was imported straight onto the race track. So technically speaking it was already race ready...however with any cheap purchase, there were some/many technicalities and issues.

    Here is how it looked like when I got it home after giving away $2800 for it.


    Didn't looked the best, but at the time, I couldn't find anything cheaper to play with :(. Fairings were in pretty bad shape with the top fairing missing a whole section, paints fading and cracked bits and pieces. I could have repaired the top half, but I got lazy so just bought a new one.

    However that was the least of my worries since there were known mechanical issues with the bike. Mainly issues with starting the bike up (still on going now) and also a missing third gear...which I knew was going to cost me a fair bit.

    Since I am not that mechanically minded around the motorcycle...I seeked professional help from a mechanic. I stripped the fairings off the bike and towed it to the workshop. He had a look at the bike and told me what was wrong and told me the price before he went ahead and did it. I bit the bullet and paid the price of about $1400 to get everything major fixed. This included third gear replacement, stator thing fixed, new regulator because that was burnt out, fork made stiffer, some new wiring and some other bits and pieces.

    During the time the bike was getting fixed, I was working on the fairings. I removed most of the old paint using paint stripper and sanded the rest back until the undercoat could be seen. Smoothed out any rouch areas and filled in some of the cracks. The tail was completed first since it was the easiest.

    When the bike got back from the workshop, I trial fitted the newly acquired top fairing...after some minor adjustment it looked like this.


    It fit well, but that was without the belly pan. Tried fitting the belly pan only to realize that the holes didn't match up at all...they were out by about half an inch :?. So I ended up drilling new holes into the belly pan join...and this is how it came out.


    Was a bit of a fiddle, but got there eventually. Everything lined up well enough and it was ready for some more sanding, primer and final coat. This by all means wasn't a professional job since it was done with limited amount of money...and a backyard job. I reckon it came out pretty good with the use of spray cans :).
  2. This is how it looked like after using 4 or 5 cans of matt black spray cans and fitting the screen. It looks a bit awkard in this picture since the screen isn't angled enough.


    After fiddling with it a bit more, giving it a bit of a clean, trying to solve the starting issue, I took it on the track at PI for the first time. I was nervous and excited at the same time because I had never ridden this bike before...and only 2nd time on the track.

    This is prior to the first ride (even though it took a third of the day to get it started :().


    I was probably one of the slowest riders out there with one of the louder bikes...was pretty funny when we got it started since every garage just turned around and cheered when they heard the bike start up. Smiles all round after that :D.

    After the ride day, I got my race license and had to get my bike race ready with accordance to the regulations. Come the first round of Interclubs, I got really excited and packed everything 2 nights before to make sure I hadn't forgotten anything. Thinking I was ahead, I realized that I had forgotten about my race numbers :shock:. Went out and got some made up out of vinyl stickers and just slapped them on the fairings. Looked weird, but I wasn't too worried since I was more focused on the race day rather than looking good.

    This is after some stickers were put on...looks a little bit better than plain fairings.


    I wasn't the best rider out there, but lucky I wasn't the slowest. I had to concentrate hard and made sure I got used to the bike...but it took longer than expected with me having issues kicking down the gears getting into the slow corners...but in the end I was there to actually have fun rather than points :).

    After the first round of Interclubs I fixed up the fairings. Fiddled with the gear linkage and lever and just made sure it ran before the next interclub round.
  3. After throwing ideas around, I came up with the following race number set up. It was simple and was easy for marshalls to see when I was on the track (well hoped so).


    Looked much better then the previous quick attempt...and some what more professional looking. This is the only image I got of the bike when it was at it's best...before I stacked it the following day at Winton :(.


    The result from low siding. The damage you can see in this picture, belly pan fairing has snapped off and needed some cosmetic fixation as well as the tail fairing...but all just cosmetic. I came out good without injuries. Weird thing, I didn't even snap a lever...which was a bonus because I didn't have one spare.

    Gaffa taped the fairing back up, put the handle bar back to normal, fixed the peg and filed out some sharp edges and got it scrutineered again. Passed scrutineering and was ready to go out again only to notice something smoking. Pulled the belly pan off and found out it was the wiring to the regulator. It had shorted out because some liquid had gotten into the loom. Couldn't fix it on the spot so called it a day :(.

    Managed to race in the next 2 rounds without any issues and got my first trophy...coming first in the Up to 500cc category. :D YAY!!!...this just meant I had to play with the faster boys now :(.

  4. Well done! Really inspiring - you've done what I'm trying to do right now. I'm doing mine purely as a track bike rather than racing tho.

    Looks good - really impressed :D
  5. The new year begins and the start of the new season. I was excited for the new season of 2010...having some more experience under my belt and a slightly more reliable bike. I was hoping to actually go for points this year. With a purchase of a home the year before, I was starved of money, but that didn't stop me buying new rear sets for bike...they looked nice and sturdy upon arrival. Felt like a kid during Christmas opening the parcel :D.


    Put them on the bike and I was very happy to have bought them. It was pretty much the only thing that was new on the bike and it was awesome being bling and all. Pretty much ready for the first round of Interclub at PI for the weekend.

    First day went well...I managed to stay up right and was better at cornering...however somewhat still slow. Having not geared the bike properly for PI (still had Broadford gearing) I was slow down the straight...was only slightly faster than the 250cc. I didn't end up changing the gears till the next day, because I was using the first day as more of a practice having not ridden since 4 months prior.

    Second day started out well. Practice/Qualifying got me seeing a PB, however I was still using the same gears as the day before. Having a larger break between races, I had time to change the sprockets over. Took it out the next round and saw me beat my PB by almost 3 seconds while going much faster than the 250cc down the straight. Was pretty happy and much more confident now and was aiming for another PB the next time I went out.

    Being slightly claustophobic (yes...not the best phobias to have when you're clustered amongst 30 other riders), I usually hang out in the back of the pack until everyone has scattered and play a bit of catch up (which usually ends in disaster because I am slow anyway)...but with my newly acquired confidence and standing up to my phobia, I thought I just go join the pack as we all went through the 1st and 2nd corner. Little did I know that disaster was going to strike going into the second corner...seeing a slower rider in front of me riding in an awkward line, I thought I'd go around them...only to see him cut off another faster rider going through the inside of him. In a split second the faster rider jumped on the rear brakes and slid into the slower rider which caused the faster rider to crash and slide in front of me. Me having just seen what happened, I decided to grab the front brakes (not sure if that was a good reaction or not :?), did an endo, hit the body of the fast rider now on the tarmac with my front wheel and flipped the bike end on end. From witnesses, I went flying a second or so before landing on my back...however I came out much better then the poor guy I just had hit :(. He is all good now...still healing but good :)

    The aftermath of the end on end roll of my beloved bike.



    The fuel tank actually flew off as it rolled :(...now I am after a new one or seeing if I can fix it.

    My race license was suspended (but lucky it was going to expire the next month :)) due to injuries and now need to wait for doctors clearance to get the license renewed. Been 2.5 months since the accident and my wrists are still not as strong as they used to be.

    Well since the accident, I have started to strip the bike, bend anything back to the way it was meant to be and going to get the frame checked to see if it's true. Also got to find spare parts and get my spare forks rebuilt...the current one has a kink in it from the triple clamp. I have no pictures of the current process on the work computer...so will continue this thread later on.

    The actual build will now begin :D...
  6. Thanks :)...it is fun putting a bike together and getting to use it haha. Track days are always just as fun and probably less dangerous IMO. However you haven't read the next section I just posted...got to start from square one now :(
  7. ahhhh crap on a cracker! Major bummer dude...hope the rebuild goes well and looking forward to the updates :)
  8. Great write up. Sounds like you have had a bit of bad luck after such a tough process to get the bike there. Keep us updated on the rebuild.
  9. It was sooo funny watching your face drop at work, asking others to do the simplest of tasks like opening a jar... 8-[
  10. :oops: yes it was quiet embarrasing when I had to ask fellow female colleagues to open jars for me.

    Here are some photos of how it looked like once I got it off the trailer and removed the fairings. Also removed the right rear set because it was bent forwards...so the lever was jammed. Manage to bend it back...so lucky I didn't have to fork out more money to buy a new set.

    Fuel tank is dented...I think it can be repaired, but trying to find a repairer, went to Balls but they have been (supposedly to the shop next door) shut for a good month or so. So now trying to seek another reputable place in the west side at the moment...if anyone can point me to another repairer that would be great :).

    You can also see the handle has bent forwards as well...managed to straighten it but with some dents and flat spots...so for now it is only used to push the bike around. Going to buy a new set from the same producer of my current ones...Tingate Racing I believe.


    Here are the removed bits from the front end.


    The front wheel is bent obviously and one of the shocks has an indent on it from the lower triple clamps...so not sure if I can fix them. Was told the rim can be re-rolled, not sure on shock though :?. The headlight bracket and tacho brace were all bent...but they are bent back now and not perfectly straight, but straight enough. Just got to sand it back and put a new coat of paint to stop rusting. Brakes were fine, but for some reason during the accident, the brake booster bolt which holds the lines to the booster came loose which cause the bike to lose fluid. So had to remove it and gave it a once over. Just got to get a new high pressure hose to go from the bottle to the booster...the bottle snapped off it's bracket...no more mounting point


    The rest of the parts...managed to get the exhaust off...the extractors and mid section seem fine (mid has a bit of a dent, but it was there before)...so the can copped the major beating. I think it can be bent back, however bracket needs to be welded on again. Subframe is bent...should be easy enough to bend back. Going to modify it a little anyways to make my own tail fairing :).

    After pulling it all apart and working out what was wrong, I found out I had to put things back together to check the frame out...I thought I had to pull the motor out to check for straightness...learn something new everyday :).

    So for now, it is just sitting in the garage with most things attached...minus subframe stuff...

    When I get the time I will get the frame checked...no money at the moment :( and with tax on the way, I will have to wait another month or so before I can continue.
  11. What a great write up!!!

    As someone who is hoping to purchase a race/track set up, start out on Track days and then build up to racing, its great to hear someone's ups and downs and what your going through.
    Looking forward to reading the next installments!!!
  12. Thanks guys...will keep it updated once funds come through :). Still trying to sell the Across if I could for the extra dosh, but no luck selling it.

  13. Who wouldn't want a bike with a built in Maccas storage box...???
  14. Awesome write up. Makes me wonder if I should buy a track bike instead of a street motard for my next toy...
  15. Great write up an pics mate keep em coming!
    Shame about your little bit of bad luck though but i suppose that's part and parcel of owning a bike.
    I've got an RVF400 myself that i wish i could keep for a track bike too but i need the money from it's sale to help with an upgrade. Otherwise i reckon as you've done with your VFR, it'd be an awesome track bike.

  16. I'm hoping someone might be able to enlighten me here with what this item is.


    I found it wrapped up in some plastic/bubble wrap and taped up (assuming to make waterproof). It is wired to the main wiring loom so I'm sure it's important and required to get the bike running. Just curious as to what it is really.

  17. Spent some time at work reading up on how to remove/check/clean the main jets and pilot jets for the carbies. Thanks to the 400greybike.com website which is filled with heaps of information on the V4 engines :).

    Anyways got home from the night shift and couldn't help but have a look at the carbies after reading up on them. Since they were already removed, I managed to have a quick squiz at the main jet and pilot jet sizes. All four carbies had the same size jets of 140 and pilot jet of 38.

    From what I have read, stock main jet sizes are 110 all round for the 1989 model (same as mine). The guide from the website suggests running 120 fronts and 122 rear size jets if the bike has a very high flowing exhaust system...however it goes on to say that it is not applicable if you run a different induction set up. The race bike runs no filter, has the HRC rubber snorkel things and HRC air tray with what I believe is a full exhaust system (well was until I crushed the can).

    Would it be wise to keep 140 sized main jets or step back to something smaller so that it doesn't run too rich? I do have problems starting the engine up all the time (unless already warm)...but not sure if main jets (or even pilot jets) play a major role in starting the bike up.

    Also 2 of the main jets have some damage on them...someone must have used a small flat head and made a bad dent on the groove, didn't see any damage in the hole itself though.

    The standard pilot jet size is meant to be 35, however all four carbies have #38...should this also be replaced back to stock?

    As you can tell, I don't have a clue in regards to jetting and all that jazz so I am hoping for some enlightenment. Also the bike has never been tuned, so probably why I have had a lot of issues with it.

    Thanks in advance.

  18. The electrical item might be the bypass to allow the engine to fully rev out. From memory they didn't and the HRC kit was available to allow it to do so.
  19. The Main jets will have no affect on starting Phong and nor will the Pilots.

    Screw out your air bypass screws 2 1/2 turns.

    Hard cold starting with VFR's is usually low compression due to incorrect valve clearance. Every one I've ever checked has needed shimming.
  20. Thanks cejay...I have read something along the lines of using resistors on some wires if you remove the speedometer to allow it to rev out, this thing seemed a little bit more complex than a resistor haha.

    MalTravieso - thanks for that...learn something new everyday :). I will locate the air bypass screws and unscrew them as you mention. I will be doing a valve clearance check while the carbies are off...so will see how I go with it. :D