2000 Kawasaki ZRX1100

Part 2: I swear honey, it's not just cosmetic.

With the green beastie finally living and breathing properly, it was time to tackle other less-pressing issues. As previously noted, it came with a D&D exhaust system. And the carbs were jetted for the full, free-flowing exhaust. If you don't want to re-jet, don't get a full system. Just get a slip-on and sound cool.

Comedians will tell you D&D is short for Deaf and Dumb, on accounta they are notoriously loud. This one certainly was, but not unbearably so. And it offered more power with less weight than a stock system. However, it was showing its age, with rust on the head pipes and loose rivets on the end can. The cheapest solution would be to sand/blast it and paint it with header paint, or barbecue paint. But that's made a bit more difficult because the mid-pipe is both colored and chromed.

So you could mask off and paint to the chrome, but... still ugly.

Another option would be to get it ceramic coated, which is certainly cheaper than a new exhaust system but still a couple hundred dollars and two weeks of downtime. You could also wait and hope a good used system shows up on Ebay or one of the forums.

Or, you could do as I did and wait until Black Friday and get a great deal on a brand new, full stainess-steel Muzzy exhaust, which is was not bought because it looks better (if that was the issue, I could have gotten the carbon fiber muffler) but because the Muzzy is a quality system from a proven performance leader. Or something like that. It's on their web site.

Changing an exhaust system is one of the simplest things you can do. On the ZRX, it involves only 14 bolts.

The first four attach the radiator, which must be moved - but not removed - to get to the header bolts. The top one is a 10mm bolt; the bottom, on mine at least, is an allen-head bolt - 5mm on one side, 4.5 on the other. On used bikes, you are an archaeologist uncovering the mistakes of the past. Note that the radiator cover does not need to be removed from the radiator itself, but it does attach to the frame there at the bottom.

With the radiator scooted out of the way, spray a little penetrating oil on the bolts as they tend to get rusty with all of the heat and grime. Let it sit and they should come off fairly easily. Here's one gone.

Yes, the space is very tight, but there's just enough room to turn a wrench. It helps if you have a set of these.

That's a set of ratcheting flex head combination wrenches and it'll run you $70-$90. Gear wrench makes 'em. Mine are Kobalt. I'm sure you can get a set from Snap-On or Mac as well. I was fortunate enough to get a set for Christmas one year and it was the Best Christmas Present EVER! No, really. They get used more than any tool in the kit. On the exhaust bolts of the ZRX, there's not enough room to get a regular ratchet socket in there unless you want to take the radiator off. The flex head lets you get the wrench on the bolt and move it so there's enough room to swing it, and you don't have to remove the wrench to reposition for each turn.

Undo the eight bolts header bolts holding the retaining brackets on and the large bolt holding the end can onto the passenger peg hanger and the whole system will come out.

Leaving gaping holes at the exhaust ports. Here we are looking straight up. That's the radiator and fan at the top.

The new system comes in three gloriously shiny pieces.

Start by attaching the header pipes - they're one piece on the Muzzy, unlike the two-piece D&D setup. I used some 4 X 4 scrap wood underneath to help prop it up while I fit the pipe into the motor. Or you could sit funny and use your foot. The important thing is to get it loosely in place while you put the nuts back on the studs. See in there? Yeah, it's tight.

And you will eventually drop one. If you're lucky, its final resting place will be obvious. If you're not, and it disappears into the same alternate time/space dimensional portal that also claims socks from the dryer, you will spend the majority of your installation time searching for one lost nut only to find it four feet away from the bike, in a place where you already looked five times. Ask me how I know.

Put all 8 nuts on loosely for now, as you're going to need some wiggle room.

Next comes the mid-pipe, which slips on and is held by a spring.

Use a set of pliers or vise grips to pull the spring and attach it. Note the engraving on the pipes. Dunno what it means.

Then slip the end can on and attach it to the footpeg bracket with the original bolt. Some systems use a strap. The Muzzy system has a bracket welded onto the can. Very posh. DO NOT TIGHTEN IT YET.


Now go back to the header pipes and slowly, progressively tighten the nuts across the set, a little each time, until they are all snug. The manual says tighten to 34 Nm. Good luck getting a torque wrench in there. They need to be tight enough so that the exhaust seals, but not so tight that they bend the retaining plates.  Easy does it. If you are thinking "I'll just give it an extra little push" you should probably stop before you do.

Once everything's tight at the head, you can tighten the bolt at the muffler mount, and the bolt that squeezes the muffler around the mid-pipe - tight, but not crushingly so. Bolt the radiator back in its rightful place and you're done - a much better looking better performing system. Have a beer.

Now it's starting to come together.

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