Allow me to introduce my very first motorcycle: the FZR400/600-GSX-R-R6

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I’ve been in the market for a bike for over a year. I can’t go anywhere without motorbike friends asking when I’m going to show up on my own two wheels. “In a couple months” has become my go-to phrase to answer. I sure wanted a bike but I hadn’t found the bike. I looked at Ninjas and Monsters. Hawks and SVs. I hemmed. I hawwed. I just wasn’t sure. That all changed last Sunday when HFL reader Thomas Wayne Erst rolled up to our Labor Day ride and barbecue on his FZR400/600-GSX-R-R6 and I found out it was for sale. I wrote him a check and now it’s mine. Keep reading to find out why my new ratbike is one of the coolest damn bike frankensteins you’ve seen in a coon’s age.

My new motorbike started life as an Yamaha FZR400, only imported to the US from 1987-1990. Let’s just start with the fact that everything on this bike makes my raised in the 80′s and 90′s innerchild downright giddy.

I wasn’t sure what Deltabox meant stamped on the frame (turns out all the bike manufactures liked to use awesome proprietary names for bike components in the 80s and Yamaha came up with that one for the FZR aluminum frame) but the square retro-futuristic label reminds me of every 8-bit video game that I never stopped playing. The Vance&Hines logo styling on the SS2R pipe, covered in burnt oil, looks like it was ripped from the dystopian 80′s of Back to the Future 2. In fact, maybe the entire bike does. Maybe that’s why I love it so much.

Somewhere along the way it got a 400/600 motorswap. They boys around here tell me this a) obviously makes it faster and b) makes it so I have to shift a whole lot less. That’s pretty neat.

The front forks, wheel, brake rotors and bars come from a GSX-R. The quality of the front end swap has yet to be determined, but the 3.5×17″ front wheel, huge twin discs and cartridge forks may be quite a bit better than the 1980′s components that came from the factory. The tail section, seat, rear shock and front calipers are straight from an R6. A Brembo radial master cylinder from god knows where rounds out relevant performance mods. The next step will be a 17″ rear wheel and with it, more modern rubber.

What I’m most excited about is that I’ll have street cred when the zombie apocalypse comes around. From its dented coolant can to the wired on rear-end to the undead zombie tank protector, this is the bike of someone who means business. You said the ladies around here needed to stop writing about riding bitch—are you sure you’re ready for that?

  • evilbahumut

    Congrats and.. yeah: We’re fukkin’ ready!

  • Jesse

    Highfives. Rat sportbikes for the win.

    • Wereweazle

      Agreed. I love it when I see guys (or girls!) thrashing the piss out of a ratty sportbike. You just know it’s actually meant for RIDING and not looking pretty.

  • Mark D

    You’d better make Sean spend the next week riding bitch with you.

    Nice bike and congrats!

  • R.Sallee (Ninja 250)

    1. This bike is awesome. 2. I hope you didn’t pay much for it. 3. Helluva risky choice for a first bike. I’d want to be really in love with motorcycling before adopting something that looks like it could be a pain in the ass.

    • Ashlee Goodwin

      1. Agreed. 2. I’m a girl. Price is no object when you get what you want. 3. I live with a former motorcycle mechanic turned motorcycle journalist, so while I wouldn’t recommend this as a good choice for most first-timers, it’s a luxury I can afford. ;)

      • robotribe

        Your #3 sets you apart from most in the mechanical risk department, but if ya got it, use it! Ride it like you stole it.

        P.S., that bicycle computer is the only thing that makes me go stink-eye. There’s better alternatives out there (at the very least, better bicycle computers).

        • Artful

          Worth far more than the price of admission.

          • John

            Artful is right on, here. The Vapor is excellent and relatively cheap.

            I’ve been quietly hoping you’d end up with your own bike from your first HFL article, Ashlee. Congratulations!

          • Paul_55

            I like this one much better for a streetbike —

            • Gene

              Damn. I’ll have to keep that one in mind. Pricey but nice!

            • robotribe

              That’s the business right there.

            • Artful

              Wayyyy too busy for my tastes.

          • Ashlee Goodwin

            Thanks for the tip! I’ll check those out. :) Sean’s feeling was, also, that a new bike speedo was going to be necessary.

          • Sean Smith

            It’s somewhat likely that the gixxer’d fizzer will end up with one of those. Having worked on a lot of dual-sport bikes, I’m pretty familiar with them. The other option of course, is to add a frame mounted vintage looking 1/4 fairing with a bubble screen and dash, and put real gauges in there. Regardless, the bike has so much character that it will likely decide for us.

        • Mike

          Vapors nice, but its a bit larger & that Sigma’s only 30 bucks.
          Accurate to 180mph, too. My only issue is they’re not generally lighted.

          Also I love that bike!

          • John

            YeahBut…my Vapor’s a clock/speedo/odo/trip like a Sigma, but it also has an internal light, tach,water temp, shift lights, etc., and for $102 it’s a nice spot between the $30 Sigma and $318 Koso. Since it’s intended for a motor vehicle it makes it harder to reset the total odo reading, too.

  • Andrew

    Yes yes yes. Hell yes.

  • Bryan Whitney

    Fuckin rad

  • noone1569

    You are a bad ass. ’nuff said.

  • Bryan Whitney

    PS – THIS is what I think of when I hear “Streetfighter.” I think I’d prefer this bike over the new Duc 848 Transformers movie prop that just came out.

    • motoguru


  • Gene

    Ahh, Deltabox… frames that actually went where you pointed them, for a change!

    That and monoshock suspension were even more important than the badass motors that were finally starting to come out back then.

    Plus that front end is probably better than what was on GP bikes back then.

    • Wereweazle

      That whole ‘go where you point them’ thing is no joke. I rode a 93 fzr600 last week and the damn thing was like an arrow! Just took off in whatever direction you aimed it.

  • Gene

    Plus when you crash it (and you will, even if it’s just in a parking lot) then few people will be able to notice! Bonus!

    Then after the inevitable “I’m tired of this POS” in a year, you’ll actually be ready for some serious 750cc-1000cc firebreathing monster, instead of just thinking you are…

    • Wereweazle

      “be ready for some serious 750cc-1000cc firebreathing monster, instead of just thinking you are…”

      Meh. The first bike I rode was a 1200cc, and I now own an 800cc. For my next bike, I’m looking to go down to a 500-700cc displacement range. I just want to be able to ring the bike out for all it’s got. Just can’t do that on public roads with that much power.

      • motoguru

        Forreals. I’ve been riding my SR50 more than my “real” bikes lately. So fun to wring a bike out for all it’s got.

  • Roman

    I think the bike would look sick cleaned up. But that goes against the whole ratbike aesthetic. Congrats on your first ride and viva la difference!

  • nymoto

    congrats – a first bike no matter what bike (cruiser,streetfighter,rat) is awesome.

  • miles

    To each his/her own. Enjoy it. I think a rat may have eaten part of your seat.

  • Artful

    Needs more chainsaw.

  • KR Tong

    That bike looks like its spent more time in someone’s back yard in pieces than together. I would tear that whole thing down and torque each bolt myself and check compression, cooling system, etc. The bicycle computer is a nice touch. So long as your friends are mechanically inclined it’s a perfect streetfighter.

    • Case

      I agree, but I’m guessing Sean is on this already. As with any used vehicle, provenance and maintenance are key. Provenance looks mixed. Maintenance is probably Sean, with an assist from his lady.

      • KR Tong

        No doubt. I just wanted to throw out there that this really isn’t the ideal first timer bike if you’re completely new to motorcycling and left alone to your own devices. You’ll probably throw a rod before 2k and flush that $600 you spent on the only bike you could afford right down the drain.

    • Tommy

      As the previous owner I can say it has spent a good amount of time together. I rode this thing almost every single day. Commuted to work on it, and put in several 300+ mile days on it. Never left me stranded. It always treated well.

      A tear down might still do her some good, but I know ashlee could hop on this thing and ride it for some good amount of time without any problems.

  • karinajean

    awesome bike. it looks scrappy as hell. as another lady on a (not quite as) scrappy bike, I salute you.

  • Charlie

    Very mad max, very nice. Just tell people that’s a nitrous canister

  • David

    As someone who also bought this year his first motorcycle and an oddball, grey market, japanese naked bike at that, I say congrats.

    Also, until I saw the pictures, I thought my neighbor’s beat to shit stunt bike was the ugliest bike I’d ever seen. Congrats again. I mean that in the best way possible.

    See ya at the thunderdome.

    • Roman

      Whatcha got?

      • Andrew

        Hahaha, is this the year of the 400s (cum 600s)? I grabbed a GSF 400 last November and finally got it running to my liking this spring.

        • Roman

          Yeah, those are really nice! I’ve been playing around with a Honda Hawk GT this year, getting the suspension sorted (F3 forks with Race Tech springs and resprung Fox shock) and taking that little bastard to the track…..

          • Andrew

            Hehehe, track days on a 400…I do believe that might be my plan for next summer. Are you running race or street tires for track days?

            • Roman

              The Hawk is a 650 twin (think SV650 minus 20 hp). I don’t think there’s really any need to run race tires (slicks) until you’re actually racing or running at the top of the expert group. A nice set of sport oriented street tires are more than enough. Right now I’m running Dunlop Sportmax Q2s, more than enough grip for anything I can throw at it. Good luck, track days are a blast!

              • Andrew

                Whoops, forgot for a sec that you were running a few hundred extra cc. Thanks for the info, and good luck to you too!

          • Miticale

            $ put into suspension is worth 10x more than throwing $ into power output & potential. Useless having the extra 20hp if you can’t put it to the ground & use it. Good moves w/ the 400s and 600s on the track- if you’ve got your stuff worked out you can embarrass plenty of guys on newer, shinier, flashier 600s. Just make sure you prepare for tech- if your bike shows up looking older they’ll be sure to check its in one piece. pads, everythings tightly bolted, chain tension, etc.

      • David

        A 1989 Honda Spada VT250.

        Kind of a cross between a CB1 and a Hawk and minus 400cc. Good looking bike, good sound, decent performance. But I’ve had to do a lot of work on it and parts are hard to come by. Done fork seals, CDI, regulator, front fender needed to be adapter after the previous owner fitted larger tires than stock and caused rubbing. The biggest issue was fixing the shock. It now sports a 919 shock which needed the battery relocated, coolant reservoir deleted and bottle added on to the side of radiator, seat gutted to fit the battery after relocation.

        I’m about to put it on the market, I bought a 2011 wee-strom with 1K on it and fully farkled for a really good price.

        • Andrew

          Very cool bikes, the both. Have fun!

  • guest

    Rat bikes are the best learners. Mine was an 87 Hurricane 600. $500.00 priceless for learning. Enjoy the rattle can paint too.:)

  • HammSammich

    If I said it was pretty you’d know I was lying, but it looks fun, and I’d be willing to bet it goes fast enough that the looks don’t really matter. With my mechanical abilities limited by my ability to follow the instructions in my Haynes manual, I’d never be able own a frankenst…er Uhm I mean “Custom, one-off” like this…but I’d imagine having Sean to back you up makes this perfectly serviceable for you. Congrats on your first bike! Make sure you do a write-up the first time you outrun Sean. :)

  • jp182

    Thanks for the “coon’s age” link. Now I know why I cringe every time I see it written down.

    • Gene

      Yeah, I grew up in the South, and never could figure out why my Yankee friends would cringe at that. My grandmother would also swear “well I’ll be John Brown!” and it took me 20 years to figure out what she was saying and why…

  • wwalkersd

    Nice, in a sick, twisted post-apocalypse sort of way.

    BTW, I saw the word “Deltabox” on the side of a shiny, new-looking R6 this morning.

  • stickfigure

    I’m sure its mother loves it.

  • FZR 1000 Alex

    All hail the deltabox!!!

  • JVictor75

    Congratulations Ashlee.

    I recently got (according to our wonderful hosts here at HFL) my first “real” bike – a 2004 Nicky Hayden replica RC-51 with a little over 10K miles on the clock and a history of being meticulously maintained.

    Graduating from cruisers (I still own mine – a 2002 Mean Streak), riding the RC sure opens the eyes a bit. Makes me wonder why I waited so long to get what I’ve really wanted since the first time I heard one.

    So, line-dancing vermin to you! (Conga-Rats, even.)

  • Mike Brooklyn

    Reminds me of my first “streetfighter” sport bike. And by street fighter i really mean rattle canned, dropped dozens of times, and a poland spring bottle for a coolant overflow canister.

  • jason McCrash

    I feel really fucking old seeing someone say they didn’t know what a Deltabox was. My best friend had a FZR400 and man it’s a shame that they swapped in a 600 on your bike. That friggin little engine wound up so high (for the time at least). He had to have it bored out after it took a crap on him, but it moved pretty well and handled like a slot car. That was back in the early 90′s.
    As for the rear, I don’t know how easy a 17″ swap will be, but spend some time on forums, particularly overseas ones, to see if a later bike can swap out. I put a FZR1000 front end (17″) and rear end (18″) on a FZX700 Fazer I had 7-8 years ago. Gave up trying to figure out a 17″, but the internet has come a long way since then so the info might just be a few well placed clicks away.
    Great bike. Designed and sold to be raced. I think it had a wider rear tire than most 1000′s of the day. Congrats.

  • Noah

    Congrats man. I have an R1 with similar attributes, it runs great and I never get upset when some jerkoff knocks it over in a parking space.

    • Mr.Paynter

      Show us!

  • Kirill

    While I generally like Frankenbikes, someone went and ruined a nice and rare FZR400 when there’s tons of FZR600s out there they could have done it to instead. Rather unfortunate if you ask me – but enjoy!

    • Tommy

      I am the previous owner, and the guy I got it from gave me a box with a completely thrashed 400 motor, so they atleast destroyed the old motor before they did the swap, if it makes you feel any better.

  • cameron amick

    i remember reading somewhere that the fzr400 frame and suspension were preferable to the 600′s. hence the motor swap. more power in a better frame?

    • jason McCrash

      Yeah but the 400 engine was the highest revving engine in a street bike in the US at the time if I remember correctly. The bike wasn’t much smaller than the 600, but the frame/suspension was waaaay better. My buddy tried to take his road test on it at Cal DMV and had to go fast around the lollipop to make it because the steering lock was so tight. They told him that he couldn’t go that fast and he had to use my Fazer. Both bikes bought at Hutchin’s Harley/Honda/Kawi/Yamaha in Yucca Valley. 1990….. man oh man.

  • DoctorNine

    Character, is indispensable, and always immediately recognizable. Good choice.
    But you may want another mirror, and some sliders.

  • Emmet

    damn thats ratty

  • Terry

    Four bikes enter, one bike leave!

    • David

      +1 Mad Max reference


    I feel special as fuck right now. Thanks for the shout, now how’s the front seat?

  • Nik

    You bought Freebird’s bike and I salute you.

    • kinsler

      it might have stolen his dancing powers

  • kinsler

    last winter, we rolled up to the rock store with about 8 mopeds and tommy on this frankenstein fzr. i had never seen more stink eyes in my life. most were directed at tommys bike and the duct tape taillight/ fender eliminator kit.

    more recently, some dbag aprilia riding dad knocked it over in the newcombs parking lot. this bike gets no respect, its fucking rad. congratulations on you’re new toy.

    • FZR 1000 Alex

      was there any returning of the favor? i could see a clapped out goldwing from the 80′s with half a fairing, duct tape on the seat, and grey plastic parts and i still wouldn’t do that.

  • Tommy

    Rad to see my baby on here. Even more rad that I will get to see what happens to it next. I cannot say that I did all the work to this bike, its kind of my dream that this article would put me in contact with the guy who made this crazy contraption.

    Hope you guys have as much fun with it as I did.

    • noone1569

      what is the replacement bike???

  • Chris Davis

    I can’t wait to see your Vanese Starket leathers. No fresh out of the box gear for you.

  • mugget


    And that’s one hell of a rat bike… nice.

    Only thing that scares me though is the bottom of the fork leg that is chunked out and missing a bolt…

  • Kevin

    Labia approved?

    • Ashlee Goodwin

      Kid tested…

  • kate

    from one ratty girl to another, welcome! nice front end! I was actually thinking about doing the same! I got a super hawk’s forks and a gsxr wheel, but alas, I am just going to ride it out my hawk :) … all the best Ashlee! you are going to have fun!

    • Wes Siler

      When are you coming to LA to ride with us Kate?

      • Ashlee Goodwin

        Yeah, what he said.

  • CCarey

    Any chick who is into bikes like this is a definite keeper, (as if we didn’t already know this from her previous articles)better hang on to this one Sean. And Ashlee, ride the hell out of that thing,hopefully Ashlee’s labia finds whats left of the front seat much more suitable than a speed trips pillion.

    • noone1569

      And she cares about her labia!

  • Brendan

    Passenger pegs!

    Gotta get Sean on the back for once, yeah?

    • Artful

      Poor Sean… for years he’s had the pleasure of being on the main seat. Years of riding in comfort while Ashlee gripes about how uncomfortable pillion is… Years of chastising her to just man up…

      She’s going to crush his genitals with the fist of an angry god.

      • Brammofan

        I’m just waiting for the obvious follow-up article, “An open letter to motorcycle manufacturers from my testicles” by Sean.

        • Sean Smith

          Ah, reminds me of the 03-05 R6, the new Z1000 and of course, the R1. The delicate combination of factors that go into a serious ball-buster of a bike are so much harder to pin down than just a poorly shaped seat though. You need to combination of stiff shock, firm seat and the all-important meeting of downward slanted seat and sharply rising tank.

  • jonoabq

    Reminds me of a Johnny Cash song…very cool.

  • DougD

    It all sounds legit except for that undead zombie tank protector.

    • John


      I am not a superstitious person, but there are two rules I wont break:

      1. British racing green can only be applied to an English car.

      2. No skulls or images of death on a motorcycle.

      Great first bike! … Just lose the zombie skulls

  • HolyHandGrenade!

    Is the tank protector ironic? Not the image, but the protection part.

    • Jesse

      It may be there to keep the tank from damaging the jacket, and not the other way around.

  • motoguru

    Love it, love it, love it.

  • Brad

    Nice first bike. Suggestion: Tetanus shot.

    • Sean Smith

      Nah, race leathers should protect her from the nastier bits.

      • MotoRandom

        Sean, for love of gawd go hit a scrap yard or evilbay and get her a better seat. That thing is just gross.

        • Sean Smith

          Ok, but the rusty bicycle speedo mount and headlight ears stay.

  • Jesse

    The more I see the idiot lights and tach integrated into the tank, the more I like it. This bike is really growing on me; judging by the 92 comments as of this posting, I’m not the only one.

  • Glen Trew

    That’s my kind of mototude, Ashlee. About the seat… If you fix it up, just remember that nothing says poor craftsmanship like wrinkles in your duct tape.

  • Mr.Paynter

    Too sick! Im jealous!
    Maybe one day when I stop caring my ER6-N will be this rad with old Ninja front-ends etc!

  • brutus

    i got pretty much the same setup ashlee, cbr 600 all fucked up, cept i chopped the subframe at the back of my seat. Ride it til it falls apart!