Yamaha RZV500R The 35 year quest...

Discussion in 'Some Assembly Required' started by busa1300, Jan 27, 2019.

  1. busa1300

    busa1300 Been here awhile

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    The year was 1984.
    I was 21 years old and making pretty good money working in a paint shop.
    I had been riding a 78 GS1000E for several years, and was ready for the new wave of sportbikes that were being built in Japan. I read every new motorcycle road test I could find on the latest/best/fastest each month. By July of 84 I had made a decision and bought a Sliver/Red FJ1100...still one of the best looking bikes built by Yamaha in my mind.
    It was a rocket, and I fell in love at first touch.

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    But development moved incredibly fast in the 80's, and only a few months later I saw a bike that has haunted me ever since. A home market only aluminum frame RZV500R genuine GP replica of the likes never seen before. There was also the export version RZ/RD500 with standard steel frame and other less cool standard parts...possibly more accessible through Canada I was thinking.

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    #1
  2. busa1300

    busa1300 Been here awhile

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    I was still paying off the FJ, but wanted the V4 stroker real real bad. So early in 85 I went to Windsor Canada to Parker Yamaha (eventually turning into Joe Rocket) to see what it would take to get a RZ500 into the country. They said they would be more than happy to help me get a bike across the border, but then I would be on my own.
    The only way I could really afford full payment of the the RZ was to sell my FJ.....and I loved that bike too much to say goodbye.
    Plus my riding habits would have ended up causing an illegally registered RZ500, to probably be impounded forever at some point.
    So, I did the only thing I thought I could do..... I bought a RZ350 to go along with my FJ1100.

    And the two stroke bug infected me.....for life.

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  3. Norty01

    Norty01 RIDERCOACH (RETIRED!)

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    Just imagine those "ring-dings" with decent tires... That was the problem with "circa 1984." The tires were narrow as compared to today's bikes of the same displacement/use. (But, narrow tires DO contribute to quicker transitions side to side.)

    (I'd buy the CR500 and enjoy the crap outs that bike!)
    #3
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  4. oic

    oic Business is ALWAYS personal

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    Im liking where this going. There was a guy in my neighborhood growing up that told me about the flaming hoops to get a grey market OW01 from Canada.
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  5. busa1300

    busa1300 Been here awhile

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    Many half assed attempts were made throughout the years at buying RZ500's that were found to be available in the States...
    Many bids, many calls, even a few trips to look, but I never found the right one.....I really wanted an aluminum frame version.

    I had been dealing with a woman in Japan that had been parting bikes out and selling outside of Japan. I found her while I was buying various parts for my RGV250 strokers.
    After a few years looking in Japan, I found the one that I was not going to let get away. The pictures were few and small but it was the one.
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    I had her buy the bike, box the bike, ship the bike, and take care of the paperwork through customs.....and it finally showed up 3 months later after purchase, outside my garage.

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  6. busa1300

    busa1300 Been here awhile

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    The dream had finally became real.....almost

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  7. villageidiot

    villageidiot Long timer Supporter

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    in.

    an uncle had a RZ 500 in the 80's. nutty stuff.
    #7
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  8. busa1300

    busa1300 Been here awhile

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    Only 9000 kilometers, so the bike was very clean for a home market bike (Salt air, lack of storage room, high humidity...)
    I could have left well enough alone, and filled it up and just rode it.
    But I never make things that easy on myself.
    I wanted it cleaner than it was, so after I heard it run and rode it up and down the road.....it was time to dig in.
    A very hard decision, as I had been waiting so long to have my dreambike, ....to tear into right after I put it together.
    I wondered if I would ever see it in one piece again...???

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  9. busa1300

    busa1300 Been here awhile

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    But I knew what i wanted to do, so a few days after thinking about it....I tore into it.
    The original intention was to basically deep clean it to some degree. And thoroughly inspect all the mechanicals to make sure I could ride it hard reliably.
    As you will see I am OCD to the far limits on this project.

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  10. busa1300

    busa1300 Been here awhile

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    The compression checked out OK, but not great. The crank seals tested out very good though.
    I had initially decided to pull the top end off just for a look see....then go from there.

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  11. busa1300

    busa1300 Been here awhile

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    And this is where my plans hit me where it really hurt.....
    The bores had very good cross hatching still from the factory.

    But there was also rust in the bores....enough rust that honing would not be good enough for me to accept as a fix.
    Time basically stopped at this point for almost 8 months, as I tried to convince myself of the route I had to now take with the project.

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    #11
  12. busa1300

    busa1300 Been here awhile

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    To block my concerns for the RZV, I bought a new KTM 1290 Superduke GT.
    After my first ride on this, work in the garage of any kind came to a complete halt.
    I thought to myself, I don't really need any other bike....as the KTM is truly bad ass all around bike.

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  13. busa1300

    busa1300 Been here awhile

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    But I live in Northern Indiana....and winter ALWAYS comes sooner or later.
    Snow in November saw the KTM put up on it's stand, and the RZV was till collecting dust on the bench and table.
    The beginning new year brought me a new attitude, and a desire to get this stroker done before serious riding season hits here.
    So it was time to get my head together and back to work.

    I had already soda blasted the frame and swingarm, along with various other chassis parts.
    And initially I had planned on a 100% resto.

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  14. Fast Idle

    Fast Idle Since the Sixties Supporter

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    Me too.
    Was just looking at some crazy RZ500's on line yesterday.
    This should be good!
    :lurk
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    #14
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  15. Ray916MN

    Ray916MN Dim Mak

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    Congrats on the RZV (and the SDGT)! How is parts availability for the RZV?
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  16. busa1300

    busa1300 Been here awhile

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    I had to face the rust issue.
    If there was rust in each cylinder, there was a chance that rust could have got into the bearings as well.
    And there is only one way to tell what the condition of the bearings were in.....cranks had to come out.
    A few bolts were challenging to get to this point, but I got them out anyway.

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    #16
  17. Wildebeest90210

    Wildebeest90210 Long timer Supporter

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    I'm guessing you may do something a little more radical than a straight restoration? Either way :lurk
    This was me on my RD in the 80's, check the white seat and fluorescent paint! I had two friends with RG500s which could be hustled along a little quicker but in a straight drag only the tall first gear on the RD made it slower off the mark then it was neck and neck. Mine had the steel frame being a euro model but full power, the Jap imports were restricted to 65hp, easily converted though. I loved riding it and had it nearly two years, rode it through a winter in the snow!! I was only 19 though and things like that seemed perfectly reasonable then. It had crappy Dunlop tires that once broke loose in a straight line doing 70mph/5K in top over a slight damp patch on the road. I seem to remember getting good tires was difficult. It also used to pogo the front end across the road if you over cooked it in to a bend, all very exciting. Very much looking forward to seeing yours come together.

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  18. busa1300

    busa1300 Been here awhile

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    I use Megazip as a source for as much NOS stuff as possible.
    But there are a number of differences chassis wise on the RZV that is different than the RD/RZ...and those parts are NLA now.
    Luckily the engine is still as popular as ever, so there are parts available, although in some cases the quality is not as good as original.
    Never ending research throughout the world usually turns up what is needed though.
    #18
  19. busa1300

    busa1300 Been here awhile

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    NOS parts....can't do it right without them in many cases.
    Which brings me to rebuilding the crank.....bearings are still available through Yamaha luckily (although never cheap)
    And KOYO which was what the engine originally had for main bearings are still available, slightly less than what Yamaha wanted for the exact same thing.
    Once the crank was out, the bearing all were in excellent shape except one...so I was happy I already had the bearings coming their way to me.
    The cranks have been sent out for a rebuild after cleaning them up, and now it's a matter of waiting till they get back.

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  20. busa1300

    busa1300 Been here awhile

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    That is the other side of my partial indecision on what to change and what to keep original.
    I believe the route I am going to take, will not harm the bike in anyway if I do decide to take it 100% back to original.....at some point.
    But I will without question have different pipes on it....and a few other engine changes to be seen yet.
    And the suspension will be changed to make it easier to keep on the road....and bigger brakes to match.
    I have a YZF 5.0x17 rear wheel that I will be fitting in the stock swingarm.
    And a FZR1000 front end that will be gone through inside and out along with those nice big 320 rotors.
    It is still a RWU fork, and not that much more modern than the RZV, but tubes are bigger without the infamous antidive.
    Old skool look as much as possible....too modern and you lose what the bike really is.

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