RAT BIKE RESTORATION
Sometime after the purchase of my Yamaha XT600Z Chesterfield project I found this project motorcycle for sale. I’d found it on Facebook Marketplace, it clearly did not look like a Tenere, but It certainly was one. The seller had reduced the price 3 times to £1200 so I offered £1000 and bought it. Carefully scanning the pictures I’d seen that all the original bodywork was in fact present, just that the lad had decided to remove the Tenere’s good looks and paint it all black, with some horrendous cheap mods to suit.
I put it in the garage and a couple of years later I found the time to restore it in the image of a YZE 660 Dakar bike. This page summarises the restoration. However, at the bottom you will find a number of articles detailing specific stages of the project.
KG - DRY
The bike cost £1000 and included all the body pieces he’d taken off of the bike. However, even those pieces had been painted a brown/red colour at some stage. Still, I knew this was a Tenere that could be rescued. Surprisingly, on close inspection, much of the bike was in fairly decent condition apart from appearances.
The lad had installed carbon look alike bars, a single headlight, a cheap speedo, LED indicators, butchered the wiring, split the choke, removed the controls and then painted absolutely everything black. Everything must be black! I don’t want to sound like I’m poking fun at the chap as it was his bike and he can do absolutely what he wants with it. But I had plans, great plans for this bike.
Eventually the bike made it’s way to home in Yorkshire, where it resided in the back of a dirty garage for a few years. Finally in autumn 2022, I rolled it out of storage and brought it back to life ready for it’s restoration in the image of a YZE 660 Dakar Rally bike.
I wanted my Tenere restoration to be in the image of the 1987 Dakar YZE 660. This bike and others played heavily into the design inspiration for the 3AJ, released the next year. The similarities in appearance make the 3AJ Tenere a good starting base for a replica. So what core components would go into this replica? The lighter shade of blue, the distinctive sump guard and tool box, The repositioned fuel pump, black rims, leather tail pack, blue seat and low profile top design among others.
I felt that this was achievable so set out to make it happen. The DT125 Tenere twin headlight fairing would make an awesome match, but sadly these are too rare/expensive at the time of the build. No matter, I have a 45litre fibreglass tank and fairing combo. The huge size is Dakar suitable, although it will look slightly different to the replica, but I do want to use this massive tank for a worthy build.
RESTORATION PART 1
Once the bike in need of rescue was home I began to slowly strip the bike over a number of days, meticulously cleaning each part that would go back on the bike. I particularly focused on the electrics at this stage, cleaning, inspecting and repairing each wire and connection as necessary, before re-wrapping the entire loom. I actually get a lot of satisfaction from tidying wiring looms. Weird, but its better than not being satisfied at all.
As I went along stripping the bike, I started buying various new or missing pieces that I would need. New bolts, bulbs, cables, grips, springs.. the list goes on for a long time. Most things were not too expensive, but brake discs, chains and sprockets do add up very quickly. Some little pieces such as stainless clevis pins, stainless fine pitch bolts can also bump the cost of a rebuild up too.
Once I had stripped the bike of most of it’s bolt on components, I began to prep each piece for painting. I took my time with each piece, firstly cleaning away the loose dirt and grime, ensuring I got into all the nooks and crannies. Once clean of grease and dirt, I used a dremmel with a mixture of wire wheels and buffing wheels to strip the piece of loose paint, rust and hard packed dirt. I did one piece at a time, going slow over the course of a few weeks as and when I had a spare half hour to dedicate to a component. It is important for a good finish to put the time and effort into cleaning a piece up to a good standard. It would be much easier if I had a media blaster or the like but I didn’t so just made do without.
Once each piece was cleaned, I primed the piece with a galvanising zinc primer. I like to use this as it gives a nice thick coat that dries very quickly too. Next, I painted the pieces using a tough satin black paint. I wasn’t over keen with the quality of this spray paint, it was fussy and hard to get a nice spray out of it, but the end result was satisfactory enough to persevere. After a good few coats with the paint I coated each piece with a clear coat. This mostly took away the smooth satin finish but I did not mind.