< AllMoto's Motorcycle Investor mag


allmoto logo

Motorcycle Investor mag

Subscribe to our free email news


Kawasaki xrx1200r

Paint for cousin Eddie

by Guy ‘Guido’ Allen, pics by Ben Galli, Jan 2021


Our Lawson look-alike gets a freshen up

Is there anyone in the world of motorcycling who actually shows a bit of restraint? Just wondering, because every time I hear of someone buying a slightly scrappy used bike and promising themselves they’ll just do the essentials, then run it into the ground, they lie. Sure they just intended to fit new tyres, ride it for a decade, then drop it off at the tip. It’s by far the cheapest way to own a motorcycle.

What actually happens is they think they’ll just touch up one little area and, before they know it, they’ve disappeared down some rabbit warren of restoration where you just abandon all hope for the contents of your wallet.

On the opposite end of the scale are the utilitarian folk who see a motorcycle simply as a tool. I’m told such people exist, but have never actually met one. Okay, apart from the odd bike courier – but that’s a different story.

The reason I ask is muggins is teetering on the edge of this dilemma with Cousin Eddie, my second-gen Eddie Lawson replica look-alike Kawasaki ZRX1200R. We reported on this gadget some time ago, at which point I’d thrown a new four-into-one exhaust – branded Black Widow – on it and promised to do just a little tidying up. Good game plan.

But the rot had set in and I spent a whole lot more on it. First I got a mobile painter in. Doing this is a bit of a judgement call. There are painters with shops and paint booths who I’ll call on when the whole machine is being done and I want a top result. In that case it’s a bit easier to justify the expense.

The good thing a mobile outfit is it’s quick, they come to you, and they’ll work around however much (or little) disassembly you can manage. In this case I was happy to remove the tank, but not the fairing.

Kawasaki xrx1200r

When I bought it, the ZRX had this weird rash of paint spots chipped out of the top of the fuel tank and tailpiece. Plus, it had a small graze on one corner of the fairing. I thought I might be able to live with it, But was kidding myself. Every time yours etc hopped aboard, you were faced with this oddball green moonscape.

None of the mobile folk I’ve used in the past are still in business, so I pulled one at random and gave him a call. Yep, equally happy to do bikes and cars, which is what I needed. The outfit is called Mike’s Touch-Ups and can be contacted (in Melbourne) on 0414 562 578. You should have not trouble finding someone similar in any substantial city.

kawasaki zrx1200r

It helps a lot if you can find a paint code for whatever you’re fixing up, as this enables the painter to mix the right formula – they still might have to ‘adjust’ it by eye, but it’s a good start. In this case it took a bit of scratching around on the web.

kawasaki zrx1200r

These ZRXs have a two-stage paint, which is a colour and a pearl over the top, so it’s not really something you can replicate easily with a spray can from the local auto shop.

From there the process is pretty straight-forward. The painter masks off a much bigger area than the target so the new paint can be blended into the old. Then it’s strip back the old surface to something that will grip, fill any scratches, apply primer and get stuck into the paint. Generally they’ll apply a clear as well.

kawasaki zrx1200r

Often what they’ll do is let everything harden overnight and then come back the next day to do a final cut and polish – it depends on the size of the job.

kawasaki zrx1200r

That exercise set me back a few hundred, which seemed cheap given the immediate effect it had on the appearance of the Kwaka. It’s not concours but perfectly acceptable. Of course it’s a two-edged sword, because now there were a lot of the other components which looked worse in comparison. The next stage is to remove some of the handlebar hardware, the fuel cap and the pillion handles and respray them with a rattle can gloss black.

I knew when I bought it that the ZRX was in need of a bit of love, so next job was a chain and sprockets. The old set probably had a few miles left, but had that vague uneven grinding sensation you get from old drivetrains and it was preferable to just give it the flick.

kawasaki zrx1200r

Prices on chain and sprocket sets have dropped substantially, but I’d caution making sure you buy components from a well-established brand. For chains it might be a company like RK or DID. In any case, a good quality set is worth around Au$300. If you’re installing it yourself, a chain-breaking and assembly tool (so you can drop the excess links and press in a new joining pin) is a good spend. Good ones cost up to around $90.

Just a couple of quick tips for anyone who hasn’t done this job before: you need to be able to get the back wheel off the ground, so a paddock stand or the like is very handy. Plus, if your sprockets use locking tabs of some sort (many do) get some fresh ones before you start.

kawasaki zrx1200r

Then the ZRX then decided to spit its fork seals. Bugger. This should have come as no surprise, since just about every used motorcycle I’ve bought in the last decade has done it. This is a pain-in-the-butt job, because it means getting the front end off the ground, getting the forks apart – often it’s better to remove them altogether – and disassembling.

It doesn’t usually require a degree in mechanical engineering, but sometimes it’s smarter to flick the job to someone who does it all the time. The seals themselves are cheap, from around $50 and up, but this is one of those cases you need to be sure you go for quality and preferably OEM. The difference in cost pales into insignificance compared to the aggravation in having to do it again. We'll tackle them in the next update.

kawasaki zrx1200r

Since we were playing with the front end, I got rid of the silly bloody aftermarket anodized and shortened handlevers the previous owner had fitted. These things were fashionable for about 10 minutes about a decade ago and can look great. But the shorter arm gives you less leverage on the brake and clutch, making the bike surprisingly uncomfortable to ride. A few more bucks and we soon had a perhaps boring but far more usable standard set.

kawasaki zrx1200r

So where were we now? I was muttering something about getting the ZRX on a dyno at some stage and seeing if there’s a bit more performance to be had with the current set-up. There almost certainly will be. In the meantime, there are a squillion little cosmetic issues to be fixed, and we’ll tackle them first.
And then there’s the tyres…watch this space...

kawasaki zrx1200r

See more at the 'our bikes' page


Produced by AllMoto abn 61 400 694 722
Privacy: we do not collect cookies or any other data.

allmoto logo

Try our books...

Travels with Guido book


Facebook feed


YouTube feed


Instagram: allmoto1

Email newsletter


News archive


Our Bikes stories

Travels with Guido columns


About AllMoto

Email me