• D R Sessum

1995 Kawasaki ZX-7R Graphics Upgrade

by D R Sessum


I’ve got a 1995 Kawasaki ZX-7R Ninja. It has very low miles, about 4700. I have had it in my possession since 2006, I think. When I got it, the rectifier was fried, and the carburetors were clogged with old gas. I replaced the entire alternator and cleaned up the carbs.



I got the bike running and then it sat for another 15 years. When I got my 2009 Kawasaki Concours in the summer of 2020, I had to do some cleanup work to it, including some upgrades, so I decided that it was also time to resuscitate the ZX7.

The write up is about the visual upgrades. I have another article that covers the mechanical repairs that I did to get it running again.

A 26-year-old motorcycle with a clean body and low miles is a rarity. Now that it was mechanically sound, it was time to make give it a make-over.

The original color is a deep, almost black, purple. This paint scheme was chosen over the Kawasaki racing scheme of blue/white/green. And although I like that look, I decided not to repaint the motorcycle.

An internet search turned up a graphics kit that had been designed for this color ZX7. The kit was patterned after the blue/white/green scheme, but it was in black/pink/purple.



The seller, KawasakiStickers, has some videos that will be a great asset when you are applying the decals. The decals are made of vinyl, and they are very well done. Click on the photo to link to their Etsy website.

I have applied decals to vehicles before and it is not hard to do, and very rewarding when you stand back and marvel at your accomplishment.


Preparation

As always when painting or applying coatings to any surface, you want to prepare the surface. Make sure that it is clean and oil-free. The best surface is a new virgin one that has never been exposed to the elements. If your surface is not that, then the next best thing to do is to try and get it as close to new as you can. You can do this by using polishes and very fine buffing products made by 3M or Meguiars.

I cleaned and degreased and cleaned again, but I did not polish the surface, and though the results are good, they could be better. A lot of road wear spots showed up.


Application

Get yourself a good work area. I removed the upper and lower side body panels. I left the tank and the front fairing on the motorcycle.

As I mentioned previously, use painter’s tape to pre-locate the decals where you want them.

Take lots of photos for reference.

There rear wheel is off getting a new tire. I positioned the decals on one side to get an idea of how the bike would look.

Having the photos paid off later because I would go back to them for clarification.

The first decals that I applied went on the upper rear side panels.



The Side Panels

There are no instructions included in the package. However, the seller does provide very detailed videos that are easy to follow.

You will need a spray bottle with soapy water, a squeegee (provided in kit), and a heat gun or hair dryer. Take your time. I made a work area from a 4x8 sheet of MDF board, but you can use just about anything including a desk or the family dinner table.


The heat gun is used to soften the decal so that it will bend around and into curved surfaces. Don’t be afraid to use lots of soapy water spray and the squeegee until you get the placement and look that you want.


The photo below shows the rear panels now complete.




The Front Sides

These are the largest panels that you will work with, and they will give you the biggest challenge. Do not fear, you can do it. Remember lots of spray, a little heat, and patience. The holes will not be centered, so don’t try to center them. It will throw off the rest of the graphic.

As you can see in the photo, the decals are positioned in place and held with the painter’s tape. I moved each panel over to the large 4x8 table to apply the decal.

I did not get any photos when I applied the decal to the tank or the front fairing stripes. Those went smoothly except for the fact that you will need heat for the tank because it has curves.


A final thing that I added was some wheel tape that I got on Amazon. I’m glad that I did it because it brought the wheels in to the picture.

The kit comes with enough pieces to do both wheels. We figured out that on a 17 inch diameter wheel the decals should be spaced a little over 3 inches apart. The Wheel Kit






The Reveal

Overall, I’m very pleased with the results. There are some thing that I would do differently if I had to do it again. Hopefully, you can take something from this and do much better than I.

As I said, this was a make over so the incandescent light bulbs were all replaced with LED bulbs. I also added a strobe device to the brake light that flashes in stages when the brakes are applied. You can read about that in the mechanical write up.



Thanks for reading.


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