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Bike Conversion

  • [B]Gasoline[/B] (OEM Engine)

    Votes: 4 80.0%
  • [B]EV[/B] (Electric Motor)

    Votes: 1 20.0%

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Discussion Starter #1
Hey everyone,

Last Sunday my 00' ZR-7F caught on fire after a fuel line leak ( :flamethro ) . Everything that wasn't steel either melted or burned up.

Here's the fire:
20171119_175340.jpg 20171119_180713.jpg
AccidentCollage.jpg

And here's what's left of the bike:
Leftover Collage.jpg

What do you guys think? Any chance to restore it to former glory?

I found all the plastics, fairings and fenders online, and everything else can easily be found OEM. I had this bike for 2 and a half years, and it means a lot to me. The only thing is the engine, it's not damaged from the fire a lot, but it definitely got flooded with water after the firemen doused it. I also have a spare engine, but the intake camshaft sprocket shattered and the pistons got bent. I guess I could use the pistons from the other engine and get the best parts from both engines. Definitely need new wheels, carbs and ignition coils. I was actually thinking of converting it to electric, thoughts? I've managed to keep the title as a regular vehicle and not salvage, especially since my insurance plan doesn't cover my bike (but rather damage to others).

I appreciate any and all feedback; I'm hoping to restore this bike as a project over several months.
 

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WOW, how did the bike get hot enough to, or what caused the gas to ignite? Arson? Regardless, very sorry to see you lost your bike. I'd still be concerned about the engine because of the fire being so hot, not sure how well all the seals and rubber gaskets, etc. thru-out would be still be useable from the extreme heat. Your costs are going to get pretty high replacing everything needed when a good low mileage ZR7 can be had for $2000 more or less now days. Maybe price things out and do a comparison with emotion aside, I think you might be looking for a replacement bike IMO. Again, condolences on your loss.
 

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If it means that much to you then certainly rebuild it. It's only money and time. You'll have to go over everything that's left from the original to make sure it's fine, unless you're only going to use the frame. Even then you may need to check it to ensure it didn't warp when the cold water hit the hot metal.

As far as turning it electric, that will be a bit more challenging as you'll be building everything from scratch, unless for some reason you find someone who did the same to another zr7.
 

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Note to self: Replace fuel lines according to the scheduled maintenance chart.

Do not want to go through that experience! Sorry to hear and see those photos.
 

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Over the years added up, I've spilled gallons of gas on about every kind of vehicle. Other than a carb fire, I have never had any catch fire. I wonder what would have been the source of ignition to the vapors? (The most flammable element)
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Had some issues with my carburetors, I'm thinking that's what happened. Left side carbs seem to be most damaged (right below petcock)
 

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Bummer on the burn. Like someone else mentioned, there are some great low-mileage ZR7's out there.


Had a Maico catch fire in the shop back in '81. The carb (Bing?) had a tickler that resulted in fuel flowing onto the top of the engine cases. No problem, normally. In this case the throttle hung slightly after starting and a quick throttle blip. Engine RPM's instantly went to scream mode. I tried the kill switch, but it didn't work or was incapable of stopping the engine at those RPMs. Thought about stomping the gear shifter, but since we just rebuilt that transmission after waiting over a year for parts, and the possibility of the bike busting through the door, I decided that wasn't a good option. A nearby tech came running with a short wood stick and flipped-off the spark plug cap. We saw a 10-12 inch blue bolt of continuous lighting still feeding the sparkplug for a good long second before the engine finally quite--but, not before igniting the spilled fuel on the engine. :smokin:

Oh, and the nearest fire extinguisher was empty! :doh
 

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If you want to keep the bike for sentimental reasons...that is understandable. However..I would not mess with restoring this one for various reasons.

I would recommend doing a virtual reproduction with another bike...to whatever extent you feel necessary. Otherwise...without professional help it may never get finished to a level that you would feel happy with!
 

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Discussion Starter #9
I'll still try my best to restore it, and if it doesn't pan out, I can still sell it for parts. Already have spare fairings, wheels and another engine sitting on the side. I'm majoring in Aerospace Engineering and have a knack for electronics, so I'm hoping this would be a good learning experience. Plus converting it to electric is only something I would do if there was no other option.

I've already de-rusted the parts and coated them in primer. I've replaced the handlebar and other controls. Instead of OEM, I went with aftermarket parts for most of the controls, since they're relatively universal (levers, brake lines, throttle, buttons and switches...). Cleaned up the calipers and got new brake pads. Wheels on eBay came with new brake discs and sprockets (always a plus since they weren't baked for a whole 5 minutes), and yeah I checked, most of those parts were in collisions. I got a rear wheel from a front collision, as well as the fairings. The front wheel I got an aftermarket rim with the same dimensions (yet again, the ZR-7 had to go with odd dimensions, I think the front wheel is 4.5" wide and the rear one is 5.5", I'll check and confirm), an old tire I had replaced earlier should suffice. Still decent condition, good enough for the restoration, but I'll replace them once the bike is road-worthy. Thought about using fairings from a ZR-7 S on my F, although I haven't seen anyone do this. For now I've cleaned up the bucket and gotten a new headlight bulb. It'll need a new glass, but that's for later. When I replaced the engine, I got the wiring harness with it, which I would use if I went with the OEM engine. But if I go electric, I'll just make a new harness. Electrics is my ballpark. Finally the shocks, I'll probably replace those given the fire would've made them too brittle for a giant spring. Also odds are it needs a change of nitrogen. That latter part isn't an issue, I can get some at school, and it's easy to take to our machine shop to compress the spring.

Speaking of EVs, I wouldn't need to get new carbs, new ignition coils, new/fix the engine and the tank petcock and fuel sensor, as well as the cap. All I would need is an electric motor for EVs (found a 1000W 9.5hp motor for $140), a controller which we have plenty of at school and batteries. I'm thinking I can fit 4 car batteries where the engine used to be. Lead Acid is liquid, so they'd have to sit flat and would slosh around, poor choice for a bike. They also get damaged if left underneath 80% charge for long amounts of time, they're good for cranking and supplying power while being charged. Lithium Iron (Li-Fe) or Lithium Ion (Li-ion) are great because they're compact, have a lifespan of 10 years (and most have really long warranties) and can discharge completely before being recharged. Sure, they need a maintainer and special charger, but definitely worth the change (my old bike had a Li-ion battery before it burned down, bought it less than a month ago.) The only issue is the price, they're the most expensive kind as far as automotive batteries go; and I'm a college student. So finally AGM or gel deep cycle batteries, marine grade, are my best option. Bulky, but "if I fits, I sits!" What are your thoughts?

Also last question: how would I go about testing if my frame got too brittle? Grab a hammer, hit it and hope it dents rather than shatter? I was able to bend the thinner parts, like the tail section. Good or bad? We have big ovens at school for materials testing, and we can anneal metals such as steel so I could've theoretically fixed it, although it would've definitely been easier to buy a frame for $100 off of eBay. Thoughts?
 

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Awesome. I wasn't trying to talk you out of it by any means. I suppose I just wanted to verify your sincerity...or motivation..or whatever.

When I was a parts manager back in the 80s..I had a couple of pretty special customers with projects similar to this one. It was a pretty enjoyable process for both myself and the customers.

I wish you success with your project....just remember to have fun along the way! Hopefully you will have a knowledgeable and friendly dealer that will appreciate the effort you are putting into that old bike!
 

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No reason to think the frame would have been softened by the fire. Carbon steel doesn't change in temperance until it gets very hot...basically to the point it glows. As long as it's straight...almost any motorcycle frame can be repurposed for another bike.
 

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Discussion Starter #12
No, not soften, the opposite, more brittle! When you warm up a metal, the faster you cool it down, the more brittle it is. When you anneal a metal, you slowly cool it down and that keeps it soft.
 

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I believe our frame is just a run of the mill, low carbon alloy steel. (probably DOM tubing) so don't think it would have been affected by the heat or rapid cooling. I'd be more concerned about the Aluminum alloy engine but, you won't know till you inspect it for cracks, warping, etc.
 

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Discussion Starter #14
Hey everyone, just an update on the project! (Pictures coming soon!)

I decided to go with a gas engine, to save time and money. I already have a spare engine sitting in my garage. It's got a broken camshaft sprocket, snapped timing belt and two bent valves. Other than that, it should work fine. And the engine that was in a fire, well the outside is crisped and the inside is flooded with water (fire hosed). So I figured I could pull the parts from that one and fix the old engine.

I've patched up the entire frame and tank, removed the rust and gave it a new paint coat. Painted the frame, handlebar, front fork and swing arm black semi-gloss, and the tank and fairings are purple. I've found most plastics and fairings from an 01 ZR-7S that had a front collision, just needed a paint job.

Aftermarket handlebar controls, headlight, speed gauge (went with electronic instead of analog) and turn signals to save on cost. Really just need to get her functional before making her pretty.

The inside of the tank is still rusted as heck. I got a fuel petcock (just need to cut out a gasket out of a sheet) and install a new fuel sensor as well as fuel cap. Then I'll de-rust it once it can hold gasoline. Since this is going to be on/near gasoline, should I buy special gasket or will the standard gasket sheet do it? Fixed bumps in the tank with steel epoxy and lots of sanding.

Got a rear wheel with a new Michelin tire on it for $70 (good deal!) but couldn't find a front wheel: the bike was in a front collision so that's a no-no.

Still need new: Rear Shocks, Carburetors, Ignition Coils, Ignition Distributor, front tire and a seat! That's pretty much it. I've sunk about $300 into it (for parts and shipping, not including the tow and tools). I'm hoping I can get it running by the end of next month.

Here's a question for you guys though: I've found newer and cheaper parts for a 2006 ZR-750, however the throttle body isn't carbureted but has an EFI. I know this would mean I'd have to get sensors, ignition coils and an ECI Distributor. But when I crunch the numbers, it still comes out cheaper to go with the EFI. Should I attempt a conversion? Has anyone ever tried this? Have I overlooked some major element?

Stay sharp!
 

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To my knowledge no one here has ever talked about swapping a z750 FI into the zr7 / 7s. That's not to say it can't be done but there are a few differences in the engines as I recall such as 16v in the z750 and 8v in the zr7(s). z750 is 748cc and the zr7(s) is 738cc. I can't recall how the bore, stroke and valve size compares. The liquid cooled z750 also pumped out an extra 26 HP.
 

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Discussion Starter #16
The engine would be the same, OEM 01 ZR-7, just the throttle body and ignition. Would there be any issues with the minor differences in the engines? The voltage can easily be adjusted. What about the ignition coils or the fact that it would still be air cooled and not liquid cooled?
 

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The main issue I would foresee would be regulating the air/fuel mixture in conjunction with the spark. I wouldn't expect it to be as simple as bolting on the required bits. You'd likely need all the wiring harness from the z750, as well as the sensors, ignition rotor, etc.

I'm not saying it's not doable, just that it will require some trial and error. How doable it is in your time frame of few months is uncertain.

The cooling method is almost negligible unless when you get it working it produces more heat than the air cooling can remove.
 

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I think you also will require an electric fuel pump unlike the zr7 which is gravity fed.
 

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Discussion Starter #19
I've planned on purchasing the wiring harness for the Z-750, so that'll make it easier! Also wouldn't the OEM part already be tuned? Since the engines are fairly similar, air/fuel mixture shouldn't be much different. The only problem would be correctly placing the sensors to obtain proper readings and building new intake manifold boots to fit the throttle body, the ECI will probably need some tuning to compensate, but I assume it would still run. My only concern is that I have never worked with EFI, always worked with Carbs. What are (concretely) the main differences? This is what I got from extensive research:

On the '00 ZR-7F:
Intake Manifold ---v |---> Throttle Position Sensor (TPS) ---> Igniter ---v
Gas Tank --> Carburetor --> Engine Head <-- 4x Spark Plugs <-- 2x Ignition Distributors
(Petcock Vac.) <---| ^--- Throttle (+Choke)

On the '06 ZR-750S
Intake Air Sensor (MAF) ---v v---> Fuel Pump <--- Gas Tank
Exhaust O2 Sensor ---> ECU/CDI/Ignitor ---> 4x Ignition Coils ---> 4x Spark Plugs
Thermostat Temp Sensor ---^ ^--- Throttle Position Sensor (TPS)

Am I getting this right? Could the EFI be gravity fed or is the pump a mandatory feature?
 

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Discussion Starter #20
An aftermarket pump wouldn't be too hard to install, if I get an inline pump I don't have to drill any part of the current tank. The fuel petcock can house both the fuel out line and the return line. An in-tank pump would require some modifications. Any other reason to go with one rather than the other?
 
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