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Fitting a aftermarket shock to a 03/04 ZX6R

This how to is for a 03/04 6R but can be used as a general guide for all bikes, especially Kwaks. This is very straight forward and is not necessary to take your bike to a stealership to get it done. It can easily be accomplished by someone with next to no mechanical skills. I did this by myself, with a white t-shirt on and a stick of strawberry-vanilla lip gloss for moral support. It's possible.

Tools Required:

Various Sized Allen Keys - To remove fairings
1 x 14mm Socket - Right hand side shock mount nuts
1 x 13mm Socket - Left hand side shock mount bolts
1 x 22mm Spanner - Top suspension mount and J1 adjusting nut
1 x Pliers (Long nose) - Split pin removal
2 x Socket Extension Bar - Too make life easier

1. Lifting the bike

There are various ways to support the bike when removing the old shock. Some methods are better than others but because of circumstance not all are possible. Here are a few methods:

a) Abba stand (Lucky SOB)
b) Hang bike with rope from garage rafters or similar
c) Two step ladders and a plank of wood under the rear subframe just before the pillion pegs
d) Two jacks and wood/bolts/pipe in swingarm hole-thingies

With all methods except maybe (a), putting a zip tie around the front brake to hold the brake on is a good idea as you don't want the bike rolling away and going arse over tit on you. As comical as that would be when you post pictures of it on the forum it probably wont tickle you as much as us. If you're using option (c) make sure you get a decent piece of wood that can take the bikes weight. If you picked it up on the side of the road it's likely to be shit, and it'll break. When you explain to us what happened you will probably hear collective guffaws across the stratosphere. You don't want this.

Because I am poor, don't have garage rafters, don't have two ladders or good wood (Haven't had time to duck down to Fencepac and get my monthly dose) and am pretty weak in general I went for option (d) with a couple of bolts, a racing stand to haul her up there and two jack looking things. Once you lugg her up there you can remove the side fairings. It is possible to do this with them still on but it will be a pain in the arse and you'll regret it.

2. Removing the old shock

The first step is to loosen the nuts on the top and bottom of the shock from the left hand side (14mm). This will require a socket on the right hand side (13mm) to stop the little bugger spinning around and mocking you. You need to remove the bottom nut first and let the swing arm and rear tyre fall gracefully to the floor. Make sure you support it as it's making it's decent or it certainly wont be impressed with your performance in the morning.

Now it's time to remove that god awful split pin above the mounting nut. I broke a nail and bled while trying to remove this so don't rush and ruin your manicures like I did boys. After you get that out you have to remove the 22mm mounting nut. I can't stress how important an actual 22mm spanner is for this job. I didn't have one and improvised. Yeah, not such a good idea. Get yourself a spanner and you wont strain so much you come within an inch of giving yourself hemorrhoids. Good advice, tell your children.

Once you have the free shock unbolted and ready to break out into its new habitat of a garage cupboard (or eBay if it's lucky) you'll have to drop it down out of the mounting bracket. As you're pulling it out of the left hand side of the bike you'll have to rotate it so the reservoir clears the subframe.

3. Installing the new shiny shock

Mine is actually a ZX9R shock and because of the differences in length between this one and the stock I had to remove my 6mm ride height spacer. If you are installing a shock that's from another bike you simply have to calculate the differences in height and either take away the spacer or use a drill bit to measure the gap that needs padding. Whack some washers in the gap and you're good to go. If you are doing a straight swap with a shock built for this bike then you wont need to alter anything.

Installing the shock is simply the reversal of removing it. It's a good practice to put some raggs around the swingarm and frame so you don't scratch the hell out of your shock when trying to squeeze it back in. Install the top bolt first, then the bottom and torque them to the correct settings. Installation should be a piece of cake. Now get out there and ride the bloody thing.

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