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Hi people, I've had my 2003 ZR-7S since 2009 and until very recently it's been very reliable and I've done approximately 13,000 miles on it. I know a bit about bikes but not enough to be confident doing jobs myself, so I've been at the mercy of local bike shops and various cowboys since I got my first bike in 2004.

About a month ago on my way to the garage for service and MOT I stopped at a petrol station, filled up and was about to leave. I pressed the starter switch and it went "clunk". The electrics all went out and I had to push it out and get recovered to my local garage. At first I thought a fuse had gone (because of the sound it made) or perhaps the side stand killswitch was damaged/dodgy. I had no reason to suspect the battery as when it was working it starts first time every time (this will become important later). The mechanic was able to start it with a different battery, which seemed to point to the battery being on its way out, but he then checked my battery and said it was fine. So, they wanted to do some investigating so they went all over the bike with the multimeter to try to find any problems. As the bike was there, they did the major service and MOT as planned, replaced three "shims" (?) (approx £300) and then charged me £76 for investigation time. As far as I know they didn't replace or change anything as part of the investigation becuase they couldn't find anything wrong.

After this incident the bike has run fine and better than ever since the service so I was forced to just accept that it was a glitch in the matrix. I've done 250 miles on the bike since then, on various trips out and commutes to work.

So yesterday when I was on a ride out to Bournemouth (50 miles away from home), I was surprised and VERY HACKED OFF that the power went again. Same noise ("clunk") and no power/lights/horn nothing. My recovery company first sent a local car mechanic out with a jump starter; the jump starter worked initially but as soon as it was removed from the contacts the engine died. It was his opinion that it was the battery; maybe it had a hairline crack in it (he was not keen to describe it using technical terms to me) and that it was causing power to go occasionally. Obviously this was not so simple as "a crack in the battery" or acid would have been falling out. I knew this much. But we had no new battery so I had to get recovered again.

This is where it gets exciting.
The recovery bloke strapped my bike onto his flat-bed truck with four ratchet straps (with fluffy ends). As he didn't have a chock for the front wheel, he put the bike on the centre stand and then compressed the front forks FULLY using the front two straps and cable tied the front brake lever. I understand completely why he would decide to do this, he wouldn't want it bouncing around. But I was a little concerned at the amount of pressure he put on the front forks to take them to full compression. I helped hold the bike aligned while he put the straps through the forks etc, so I couldn't really see where the straps were going. But then when I got off the truck, I saw that there was some dark liquid dripping from the top of the front brake line, dripping onto the floor - enough to drip down the hose and onto the flatbed. It concerned me because it looked like brake fluid. I told the guy and he released the ratchet strap and I could see that he had put the fluffy bit around BOTH the fork and the brake line, then put the forks under pressure. He took the strap out and just put it round the fork, tightened up and no problems, we got home ok. But I do think some damage was caused to something that he wasn't too keen to admit, obviously.

So, I think I'm in the market for a new battery, and that seems straightforward enough if the dude was right about the "crack". I can do a replacement battery, I think. Does anybody have any words of warning / advice about replacing a battery on the ZR-7S? I notice that the air filter is in a bit of an awkward position...

But now I have this issue with leaking brake fluid. This is well outside my comfort zone and I'm a bit pissed off with my local garage for not being able to make the battery diagnosis. Do I trust them to replace the brake lines, just to be sure? Would anybody advise Stainless Steel brake lines as a worthwhile replacement, or just go with standard? How much SHOULD it cost me for replacement brake lines and fitting? Is it worth making a claim via the recovery company (if I can)? Can anybody recommend a reputable mechanic in the south of England who's familiar with the ZR????? LOADS of questions, sorry!

I am also looking for somebody who will clean out the front transmission because it's really sticky and temperamental (as demo'd by JonF so well on a different post!). It improves after an oil change but I have a feeling there's five years worth of MATTER in there.

I'm prepared to pay for work to be done but I feel constantly let down by both my local garage and my recovery company.
OMG I've written a novella. Any words of advice would be greatly appreciated.
Zoë
 

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I'm a bit pissed off with my local garage for not being able to make the battery diagnosis.
It is not unusual for mechanics to be deficient when it comes to the electronics.

ANYTHING electrical can be intermittant, including batteries and the connections INSIDE them.
BUT the same symptoms can come from loose or corroded connections. Both ends of the main cables should be removed, cleaned and re-attached.
While you are at it, if the battery is more than 3 years old, you might as well just replace it anyway.

And I think YOU should not be so quick to diagnose the leaking brake fluid problem either.
There might have been damage to the master cylinder instead......or the leak might be from a banjo bolt connection.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Thanks for your reply.

I am definitely going to replace the battery, that's a given. I hope I'll be able to do it myself, but as I said the position of the air filter makes it look like I'll need to move / remove the petrol tank? That's where I start worrying about doing it myself. What do you reckon? Is it particularly complex or do I just need to get a grip :)

It is not unusual for mechanics to be deficient when it comes to the electronics.
I guess I have had a couple of bad experiences with garages / mechanics being happy to take my money but not answer my questions. If they'd suggested I get a new battery (even if just to eliminate it as the source of the problem) I'd have gone with it and considered it money well spent because the battery is getting on a bit. But they just billed me and sent me on my way as though everything was fixed. The recovery guy with his multimeter gave me more helpful advice in 5 minutes of poking about. And you know what? He used the multi-meter in a methodical way; because every time he tried something new it made sense, and as a result he was able to isolate the problem as being the battery. My garage mechanics seemed to be just poking random stuff until it started working again :S

And I think YOU should not be so quick to diagnose the leaking brake fluid problem either.
There might have been damage to the master cylinder instead......or the leak might be from a banjo bolt connection.
Fair enough, I guess what I should say is that there seems to be damage to the brakes in general that is causing it to leak :) Worse case scenario, new brake lines, new master cylinder, new calipers? What other parts are involved? How long should it take a garage to complete a job like that? What's the max I should be paying? I'm not rolling in it so I have to have some idea before I ask them to come and pick it up.
 

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Recovery guy should pay for brake damage. You can do everything yourself relatively easy short rebuilding the motor
 

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What do you reckon? Is it particularly complex or do I just need to get a grip :)


Fair enough, I guess what I should say is that there seems to be damage to the brakes in general that is causing it to leak :)
I reckon that the last 3 bike batteries I got were installed at the shop for "free"; the price was a tad higher than a battery shop though.

And there is no such thing as "damage to the brakes in general".....unless maybe the bike went into a river or caught fire.
On this point, I think you need to get a grip. :swink:
 

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I'd definitely seek damages from the recovery company who damaged your brake lines

As for changing lines, it is dead easy. It is probably on youtube somewhere

No comment about mechanics. I do everything myself these days, and I'm an accountant with two young kids

If you need a wingman to give you the confidence to do things yourself, I'm pretty sure that being in the UK somewhere you are not too far away from someone also on this forum or others. Otherwise any number of us would skype you through the process
 

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Oh, I only get about 4 to 5 years out of a battery.
As your bike is a 2003, and you've had it since 2009, I'd say it was on its 2nd battery, and that probably on its last volt.

The place I get mine from are guaranteed for a year, and I have only had one fail in the warranty period, which they happily replaced.
 

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Discussion Starter #9
I think I'll be ok replacing the battery myself, mainly because a battery probably won't try to kill me on the motorway...

Brakes in general... if I mess it up I'm spread out all over the tarmac, which is why I'm asking costs, rather than doing it myself.

Shaddix - I'm learning all the time but I'm in constant danger of having a bike in pieces in my garage and nobody to call upon for help except my local mechanic. It could be there for months! I wish I could go on a maintenance course to learn all the simple stuff, but they seem to be non-existent. There's monetary inventive for mechanics to keep "simpletons" like me on the "user" side of the fence rather than to enable us to learn and maintain our bikes properly.

Easy rider - I thought I was pedantic...

Clone5 - I thought much the same about needing a new battery. I mistakenly thought I'd changed it since I bought it because there's still an old one in the garage somewhere, but now I see the air filter being positioned like it is on the zr7 know that I haven't changed this one! The one in the garage must be from a previous bike. My memory's starting to fail these days!
Well thanks for ask your advice, I'm gonna call in the guys to pick it up and check the brakes for me and I got a battery quote for £50 incl delivery. Sound about right?
 

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I think I'll be ok replacing the battery myself, mainly because a battery probably won't try to kill me on the motorway...

Brakes in general... if I mess it up I'm spread out all over the tarmac, which is why I'm asking costs, rather than doing it myself.

Shaddix - I'm learning all the time but I'm in constant danger of having a bike in pieces in my garage and nobody to call upon for help except my local mechanic. It could be there for months! I wish I could go on a maintenance course to learn all the simple stuff, but they seem to be non-existent. There's monetary inventive for mechanics to keep "simpletons" like me on the "user" side of the fence rather than to enable us to learn and maintain our bikes properly.

Easy rider - I thought I was pedantic...

Clone5 - I thought much the same about needing a new battery. I mistakenly thought I'd changed it since I bought it because there's still an old one in the garage somewhere, but now I see the air filter being positioned like it is on the zr7 know that I haven't changed this one! The one in the garage must be from a previous bike. My memory's starting to fail these days!
Well thanks for ask your advice, I'm gonna call in the guys to pick it up and check the brakes for me and I got a battery quote for £50 incl delivery. Sound about right?
You could also learn to work on your bike by attending an informal course on motorcycle repair
I'm sure there's got be courses like that in a bike crazy country like Britain
 

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Discussion Starter #11
You'd think so, wouldn't you? I have worked at two colleges that both have motor vehicle workshops and offer motorcycle maintenance short courses, but every year they cancel the course because not enough people sign up for them.
 

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I've been riding a year and a half and I never had worked on bikes cars or anything before. Stuff that seemed real hard at first turned out to be not a big deal once you started doing it. Once you see how the stuff comes apart it won't be that intimidating.

Just my opinion but unless you really know your mechanic well I would very much trust myself and the service manual over a shop. Given that you said they had trouble diagnosing the electrical issues, think about trusting them with the brakes too. I personally feel much safer knowing that I torqued everything back properly and everything was put back together right per the service manual than having a shop that is doing it with a time limit. Again just my 2cents but I would rather spend 5 hours on a 1 hour job, have it done right and know I did it right than a shop try and get a 1hr job done in 30 minutes and taking shortcuts etc.

Bonus is no actual cash out of the pocket and you now have experience for the future
 

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replacing the battery is an easy job and doesn't need you to remove the tank, you just need to unbolt it and its bracket so you can lift the back up to get the top off the airbox.
download the service manual it will help no end.
some jobs are so easy you really wonder why you ever payed someone else to do it
 

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I think from what you've said you have the battery part of your question sorted.

As for the brakes, first off, don't drive it if it's leaking or if you are in doubt. I figure you already know this from what you've mentioned, but it's the best place to start my comments from.

You can definitely inspect everything yourself. You can do a simple visual, or a bit more hands on.

The front brakes system starts from the reservoir by the brake handle, with a single line running to the splitter under the fairing, where it then runs a line down to each front caliper.

Look at all the hoses for cuts, knicks etc, as well as all the connection points. Feel free to wiggle the hoses at the spots where the "banjo" bolts hold them onto the calipers, splitter and reservoir. If you have a spanner that fits them feel free to tighten them. If you have a socket and a torque wrench even better.

You can also easily apply pressure to the lever as if you are applying your brakes to see if any fluid escapes from any spots. This will show you where you are leaking from. The only thing you have to remember is if your reservoir is empty, there's no fluid to drain. You can certainly fill up the reservoir by removing the cap (a couple of screws) and topping up the fluid. Just remember to use a sealed container of fluid (so you know it's not waterlogged as brake fluid loves to absorb water) and any brake fluid you get on your paint you need to clean off pronto as it will strip paint. Also when under pressure from applying the brakes make sure it doesn't squirt out in your eyes etc. Safety first! (That's why I also said to easily apply pressure vs just grabbing a handful hard.)

You should easily be able to see around the reservoir (where I think you said it was leaking) to see if it's coming from where the hose attaches or elsewhere. Hopefully a snugging up with a spanner and some fluid top up will show you if that's fixed it.

I won't discuss the inspection of the calipers and pads unless you say otherwise. If they didn't apply the straps on the calipers they are likely fine. If you did get brake fluid on the pads though, I'd replace them. That too isn't a difficult job if you feel up to it.

Nothing says you have to change any parts yourself, but at least when you take it somewhere you should be able to tell them this appears to be the problem area.
Looking will also give you some idea on how things work. Think of it as self-tutoring.

As for stainless likes, they will provide a better feeling for your braking and are more resilient to cuts etc, but they will likely cost a bit more.

Being over the pond I can't speak to fair costs for parts/service. I think there are some others more local to you that hopefully will chime in with some input.

Lastly if you don't feel comfy with any of this, then find someone who is. It may be a buddy, co-worker, neighbor, or a mechanic. You have to make sure you are both comfortable in how you feel about riding the bike, and ensure the bike too is safe to ride.

Enjoy!

Oh and as a ps, if you have had a leak and tightened it up, you should have the brake lines bled. This is also a simple process where they basically slowly push any air bubbles in the lines down and out thru the calipers. Air bubbles can prevent the brakes from properly working.
 

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First step in finding the leak. Wipe it off, wash it with soap and water and make sure it's all dry. Squeeze the front brake hard. If the brakes are leaking the lever should gradually squeeze to the grip. The bigger the leak the faster it will hit the grip. Check the lines and components for any signs of wetness. Brake fluid has a peculiar smell as compared to water but you want the bike totally dry before you start searching for a leak. Another possibility is a fork seal leak since he strapped the bike down all the way. This is a no-no. If you find no brake leaks, hold the front brake. Push the front end down several times while straddling the bike. Then check around the fork tubes for signs of leaks or the presence of stinky fork oil on the fork sliders. Use your finger to feel the forks, not your nose lol. If the fork tube is slippery with oil (and fork oil stinks) then you may have a fork seal leak. Either of these repairs should be paid for by the towing company.

Oh, BTW. Your rubber brake lines have long since passed their life expectancy. Although most people don't do it, they area maintenance item and are supposed to be replaced every so often. If they're not damaged it's still a good idea to replace them and the fluid.
 

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Good call JonF

Replacing old brake lines will give better more direct and linear brake feel. Braided steel lines will hold this pressure even longer, directing all the fluid movement force into moving the pistons, not expanding the lines.

As the previous guys have said, be careful with brake fluid. It needs to be removed from paintwork very quickly or it will lift the paint. Also, if it hits the brake pads then they need to be thrown out.
 

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Discussion Starter #17
Thanks people, the detailed advice is much appreciated, especially your thoughts about the brake lines being a bit old... this confirms something I had concerns about in the first instance...
I'm going to ask a local mechanic to do the brakes and give me a receipt that identifies the damage caused and then take that to the recovery company. They can only say no, hey?
I've sourced a battery so I should be back on the road pretty soon. I'm also picking up a bike trailer this morning so that I don't have to pay to get my bike to the workshop. That always hacks me off!
Thanks again, Zoe
 

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Hi Zoe. Sounds like you're having a tough time of it bike wise. Shame, with the weather being so good at the moment, and no doubt it'll be raining again soon and fir the rest of the summer!

It's a shame you're way down south and a bit far, but if you move to Birmingham then happy to help out! But in answer to your question about battery cost, £50 sounds about right. A site I often use has two batteries on there from about £43 to over £60. Great for sourcing other parts too if you start to get more confident with working on it. Kawasaki ZR-7 (ZR 750 F3/F5) 01-04 Parts at Wemoto - The UK's No.1 On-Line Motorcycle Parts Retailer

I've also had the same problem in the past of a maintenance course being cancelled due to lack of numbers. Really annoyed me, but i just got down to it and started to build confidence with little jobs, like fitting an optimate battery charger line to the battery (learnt from that his to access the battery, air filter, how to remove the tank etc. That has enabled me since then to hard wire a Sat nav wire, and route it under the tank) Also I changed the pads, which then led to me overhauling the callipers, changing the brake lines and of course bleeding the brakes. Gradually build your confidence, and you'll be amazed at what you can do. Good luck!
 

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thanks for the link welshbrummie
I have bookmarked it for the future
 

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Discussion Starter #20
That's an awesome page welshbrummie, thank you v much!
I made such a whinging noise on my Facebook that one of my bloke's mates (who used to work in a motorbike workshop) offered to come and help me out. It seems the banjo ring was just a bit loose, so he cleaned it up, bleed the brakes and showed me how to do a whole load of other things whilst he was at it. Smashing!
I've also found a Facebook group called "Woman On A Motorcycle" which has been started by Maria Costello and already has 1000+ members and are going to arrange days in workshops for ladies to go and adjust their bikes under the supervision of a race mechanic at IDP Moto at Silverstone, which is going to be awesome and so so helpful for eejits like me :D

I'm now back on the road and happy as Larry (whoever he is) so thanks so much for all your help and suggestions.
 
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