Budget Build: Yamaha Fazer Racer

120 HP FZX700 build for $600

Editors Note: Michael did such a good job describing his build to us that we thought we would let him tell it in his own words. He is a Daly City, CA based enthusiast with no mechanical training other than YouTube, online forums and "a healthy dose of screwing everything up a few times." This is his fourth build and the whole thing cost him about $600. If that isn't inspiration to those who say they can't afford a motorcycle, I don't know what is.

After I finished my Yamaha XS650, I needed to get working on something again. I was scouring Craigslist in SF looking for a cheap bike. Around this time the Dirtbag Rally ($1k budget/ 1-month bike-build competition) was announced, so I wanted to find something I could use for that. I found a 1986 Yamaha FZX700 in San Francisco for 300 bucks. The guy selling the bike was riding the bike back from LA when the chain lost all tension. Also he was moving back to Germany in two days, so he was motivated to get rid of it and not bother to figure out why it wasn't working. $150 later, the bike was mine with title in hand. Prior to this I had never even heard of a Yamaha Fazer.

Ripping into the bike I quickly figured out why he had lost tension and the bike stalled. The main shaft bearing had exploded, so the front sprocket was essentially hovering on there with just the chain tension holding it on. Now this bearing sat right in the middle of the case halves, so to replace it I would have to rebuild the engine. No big deal, I've done it before, but if I'm going to be doing that much work, I wanted to see how I could get some more power out of the engine. I looked around a bit and heard whispers of people in the UK putting an ‘86/’87 Yamaha FZR1000 motor in the FZX. Not a whole lot of documentation out there, just basically said that the FZR and FZX share the same mounts. The rest I'd have to figure out, but this just got fun!

I looked around Craigslist again, hoping to find an '86/'87 FZR1000 parts bike. I didn't have high hopes (finding one rare bike to fix another rare bike) but I actually found one! It was in Los Angeles for $300. I talked to the seller and he agreed to ship it to me if I cover costs (obviously), I took a chance that he would be a good guy and hold up his end of the bargain, and I lucked out that he did! Two days later I had my parts bike. The FZR was in really rough shape, but the engine and suspension were there and that was all I needed.

yamaha fazer budget
The FZX700 mid-teardown

I quickly got the FZR engine in the FZX. In order to get it to work correctly I had to modify the FZX water pump and radiator/ fan, fabricate new hard coolant lines, swap in the FZX shift-shaft into the FZR, and re-pin the CDI wiring harness. I also put in a Dynojet Stage 3 Kit in the carbs and got the FZX choke lever to work on the FZR carbs. It helped with packaging and I deleted the Idle Air Control system on the FZR. I also had to find a FZR CDI from 1987, and the only place I could find one was in Austria. It took a month and $150 to get that part to me. And right there is the reason why I couldn't do the Dirtbag Challenge... that CDI. So not working on a deadline anymore, I took a break for a month or so to regroup.

Once I got the CDI the bike fired right up. Just had to sync the carbs, adjust the idle, and do a plug chop. The bike was tuned up and ran great!

Doubling the BHP from 65 to around 120-130 meant that I had to do some work to the brakes and suspension. I had blasted through quite a few stop signs in order to figure that out.

The FZR front end swaps right out, as the steering stems are identical. I still wanted to use risers, so I made some mounts and modified the FZR triple trees to make it all work. I also had to make some brackets to mount the speedometer, tachometer and front fender. I used some LED light bars to make a street-fighterish headlight. I'm happy with it. The new front end gave me beefier forks, two big drilled rotors and dual-piston calipers: a big upgrade over the FZX.

The rear end just got that ugly license plate bracket taken off and the turn signals and plate tucked neatly under the passenger seat. I tried to fit the FZR rear wheel to the FZX, but there was no way. My options were to find a Yamaha Thunderace rear end (which meant overseas shipping and more money), or convert to a mono-shock (more work than it’s worth). So I had to keep the FZX rear wheel, but I was able to fit the FZR rear brake rotor and caliper: a nice upgrade. Also the rear suspension is from a Yamaha VMAX and it’s able to handle the added power much better.

From there it was just getting it painted. Flat black and gloss black on the fairings and tank. I rigged up a paint booth in my garage by draping some painters’ cloth over my squat rack. I got a tiny paint gun and a small air compressor from Harbor Freight, which work fine, I just have to go slow and steady. Originally I wanted to strip down the majority of the fairings and fiberglass up something new, but now I think this bike looks better with it's clothes on.

I didn't start this build with the intention of destroying one bike to make another, but much like all builds they end up going in a direction different from where you planned. Now I have something unique, fun, and fast to ride around. I don’t know if I'll ever sell it because honestly, I don't know who would appreciate this thing as much as I do! I even learned a little German so I could sift through the FZR online manuals looking for torque specs.