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post #1 of 39 (permalink) Old 04-15-2012, 06:52 AM Thread Starter
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Giving new life to an old Ape.

The purpose of this thread is to document my new-to-me 2000.5 Mille. Purchased 3/30/12.

As you can see, the bike has just shy of 50,000 miles. Does not appear to leak a drop of oil and generally looks to have been cared for fairly well.

Age, mileage, and a bit of winter has taken their toll, my goal is to bring it back.

With this thread, I will show how I am going through the bike methodically to return it to its former condition.
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1985 Honda VF1000R, 1990 Ducati 851, 2008 YZ450F
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post #2 of 39 (permalink) Old 04-18-2012, 01:06 AM
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sweet! can't wait to see what you have in store. love those milles.


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06 rc51 banzai/Simons, pcIII,ohlins... the usual
94 vfr 750 cafe project
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post #3 of 39 (permalink) Old 04-18-2012, 02:43 AM Thread Starter
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Started last night with the front end.

Night's goal: replace brake discs, brake pads, brake fluid, re,ove triple clamp and old steering head bearings.

3 hrs later: Siezed screws on rotors required drilling out one, which consumed a lot of time. Couldn't remove the forks because one caliper screw is frozen SOLID. Despite soaking on PB Blaster overnight and an impact driver, the cheap OEM hex screw just rounded off. I didn't work on it tonight, but will try again in a day or two. May have to drill it out too. PITA. At least I got some higher quality bolts to replace all of them today. Hopefully by the weekend I will have a front end that feels OK.

The previous owner said he had someone else service the bike. Whatever was used on the rotor bolts sure didn't look like blue (lower strength) Loctite as the manual states. It was white crusty crap that almost looked like glue. I'm getting a little nervous about other things, and that with this much mileage you cannot take anything for granted.

One thing for sure is that the Aprilia doesn't seem as service-friendly as the two Ducatis I have owned, but that may just be a matter of familiarity that will improve in time.

Here is a picture of the front end before I started. Check out the rust on basically every fastener.
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1985 Honda VF1000R, 1990 Ducati 851, 2008 YZ450F

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post #4 of 39 (permalink) Old 04-18-2012, 10:40 AM
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Looks like you will have your work cut out for you. Might want to buy stock in Pro-Bolt so you can replace every fastener you ever remove.
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post #5 of 39 (permalink) Old 04-18-2012, 10:36 PM
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Nice bike. I have wanted one since 2000 and it is still going to be my next bike or a TL


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1990 RC30
2001 RC51
2006 R1
2002 TL1000r
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post #6 of 39 (permalink) Old 04-19-2012, 12:04 AM
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Damn, they must have sourced their bolts from suzuki. Lol


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94 vfr 750 cafe project
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post #7 of 39 (permalink) Old 04-19-2012, 04:04 AM Thread Starter
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Tonight I took a few minutes to chase the threads in the wheel for the rotors, and mount them using new stainless screws. I went with heavy hex head screws on the new rotors with a little gel blue threadlocker.

At least the wheel bearings are smooth and it was greased well when I took the wheel off. So one thing to check off as OK.

I tried heating the caliper and screw, this was after soaking it for three days in penetrating oil. That sucker is frozen solid, and the cheap screw head now is completely rounded off. So next step is drilling the darn thing. I will be interested to see what I find in the caliper threads when I get the screw out.

I have new screws and lock washers ready to remount them, just like on my Ducati that uses the same style of Brembo calipers. The calipers are caked in burnt-on brake dust, they will need a good cleaning and the threads chased before mounting new brake pads and changing the brake fluid.

And then on to the fun part I've never done before, steering head bearing replacement.

1985 Honda VF1000R, 1990 Ducati 851, 2008 YZ450F
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post #8 of 39 (permalink) Old 04-20-2012, 02:00 AM
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Keeping an eye on this thread! My friend is getting one of these in the very near future.


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Aprilia SXV 550
KX450F

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post #9 of 39 (permalink) Old 04-21-2012, 03:28 PM Thread Starter
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FInally got the caliper bolt out last night. Soaking in penetrating oil did nothing. Heating the caliper boss with a heat gun as hot as I dared did nothing. I got close by drilling the head, but ended up cutting grooves in what was left of the head with a dremel and then taking a screwdriver and hammer to slowly drive it loose. Strange thing is threads in the caliper look fine, not that I am complaining.

I think it is shot
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1985 Honda VF1000R, 1990 Ducati 851, 2008 YZ450F
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post #10 of 39 (permalink) Old 04-21-2012, 04:00 PM Thread Starter
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Next up, stripping off the rest of the front end bodywork. Simple right? Not when the PO had stripped the hex off one of the fairing screw near the mirror. There are two screw on each side, one on either side of the mirror. Why this screw was in so tight became apparent when I went to remove the other one and it just slipped out.

In the fairing stay it looks like someone has drilled out the threads to one, and the other is stuck tight.

Impact driver doesn't work too well with delicate aluminum fairing stay. Drilling generates head which would melt the fairing underneath.

Finally got it out after a few tries, broke the head off with careful drilling and then unscrewed what was left. Looks like more work upon reassembly. Helicoil for the one, just chasing threads (hopefully) for the other.

You can also see in this picture how dull the paint is on the fairing. But more on that later.
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1985 Honda VF1000R, 1990 Ducati 851, 2008 YZ450F
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post #11 of 39 (permalink) Old 04-21-2012, 04:05 PM Thread Starter
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So now the real fun! Steering head bearings. I have never done them before.

I removed the streering stem, and the cause of my notchy steering on center was obvious, the upper race was hammered. You can clearly see the little shiny sports hwich are indentions for each ball.

Aprilia has a large hollow steering stem (you wouldn't want to drop anything in there!). They also made little cutouts where you can get a punch to remove the races. I used a long socket extension and 3# hammer, they were out in two minutes.

Looking through a machinery bearing book, assuming light press fit on the bearings I would need no more than .001" difference through temperature, or about 100 degrees F. So cool the new race and warm the steering head. The head was easy, gentle heating with a heat gun. And I used dry ice.

More later. Duty calls.
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1985 Honda VF1000R, 1990 Ducati 851, 2008 YZ450F
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post #12 of 39 (permalink) Old 04-23-2012, 04:00 AM Thread Starter
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So, 10:30 at night and the only place I know where I can get dry ice closes at 11:00. Hop in the car greasy as can be and buy a pretty good size chunk.

A whopping $2.39 worth.

Set the new taper bearing races on it, with a little protection from the plastic wrap. If you set the room temp races on the dry ice directly they emit an odd squealing sound. So I just wrapped them up and let them cool off for 10 minutes or so.

Greased up the steering head to help them go in, and checked there were no burrs in the aluminum. Gently, very gently, heated the steering stem area with a heat gun. It was not hot, just a little above room temp, maybe 120F. The aluminum conducts heat so well anyway that it would be tough to raise it much, but every little bit helps.

Used the old bearing race turned upside down to drive the new races in. In the end I had the new race fully seated and the old race partially pressed into the steering head too. Just reached into the old bearing with my socket extension and popped it out without any problem.

Next was the old ball bearing race still on the steering head. It also had a grease retainer under it. I ended up taking a punch (screwdriver actually) and a few whacks got it almost off. Warmed up the bearing race with the heat gun again and it can right off.

So this time it was the bearing that needed heating and the stem that needed to be cooled. I used the pirce of dry ice and busted it up, setting some on top and some on the bottom of the stem for about 10 minutes. At the same time, I set the bearing on a socket to minimize heat being pulled outof the bearing and gently heated it with the heat gun, maybe 150F. Putting the new gearse seal on first, I then slid the new bearing on. it almost slipped all the way down with just a few mm left. So I took a large adjustable wrench and opened the width of the stem, sliding it over the bearing. A couple of gentle taps and the bearing was fully driven onto the stem.

So that is where it sits at the moment. I should have it back together this week. I didn't to torque the stem down immediately, it was very cold and I wanted it to normalize again to room temp. The picture with the bearing was immediately after finishing the job, the stem is still covered in frost.
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1985 Honda VF1000R, 1990 Ducati 851, 2008 YZ450F
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post #13 of 39 (permalink) Old 04-23-2012, 04:48 AM
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Good on you.........keep it going. Its going to be nice.
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post #14 of 39 (permalink) Old 04-24-2012, 11:06 PM
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Are you going to change the fork oil? I bet what is in there is like sledge based on the neglect that is showing on other parts. Might as well give the wheel bearings a good looking over too.


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post #15 of 39 (permalink) Old 04-25-2012, 04:04 AM Thread Starter
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Front wheel bearing at least was smooth so I am not going to change it.

I agree it is probably a good idea to change the fork oil, but I think what I am going to do is ride for a little bit and decide how I want the forks changed, if any. You can still get new parts for the Showas, so perhaps the best route to take would be to wait and do them as a winter project. Dismantle and replace the bushings, seal, and maybe put in the Ohlins cartridges.

One thing that I didn't anticipate on a bike this well-used was I don't know what has already been done to it, even the weight of the ancient fork oil. Maybe it already has a Race tech Gold valve, maybe Ohlins cartridges (kit #03200-01 I believe), maybe a heavier spring? Tough to really tell until it is apart. I want to know what I like and don't like.
K-Tech Suspension- Front Fork Spring 8.5N 9.5N Ducati 916, 996, 998 Showa Forks Aprilia RSV 1000 Mille Showa Forks "
Race Tech Compression Gold Valve Fork Kit for RSV Mille 99-02 - Suspension Components - Street Parts - SoloMotoParts.com - Motorcycle Parts, Accessories and Gear
GP Suspension > Products > Fork Valving Kits
Showa rebuild report

Tonight I got the front wheel back on. This stuff takes a long time when you are chasing threads in every tapped hole and cleaning 50k miles worth of grime and burnt on brake dust off parts.

The new tapered steering head bearings feel much smoother than the old shot ball bearings. I will have to ride it a bit to really see how they feel for sure. I have read there is a fine line between too loose and too tight, but they seem good right now.

Tomorrow if the waeather holds I will be buffing the painted bodywork and doing some touch up. I had read that the best touch up paint (Aprilia doesn;t release paint codes) was #1103 Rouge Red from Testors (yes the model people). Bought a little jar and it looks like a decent match. May try a couple of spots and see how it works.

1985 Honda VF1000R, 1990 Ducati 851, 2008 YZ450F
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post #16 of 39 (permalink) Old 04-25-2012, 06:44 AM
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Too me fork oil is like motor oil. you need to change it as maintenance item. new seals and fluid ride it this summer and see what needs to replaced. basic items now can prevent major issues down the road.
something for you to think about.
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post #17 of 39 (permalink) Old 04-27-2012, 04:14 AM Thread Starter
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Tonight I bled the front brakes and changed the fluid. The bottom of the reservior had what looked like some kind of brown scum on the bottom. The olf fluid looked new, but it was like whoever changed it didn't bother to clean the reservior. So did that and bled them without issue. Front end now has new rotors, pads, and fluid.

Also bled the clutch and changed the fluid.

The bodywork is in pretty decent shape all things considered, but has a nice layer of oxide which has to be taken off with rubbing compound. I have been using Turtle Wax liquid rubbing compound on a Mothers Mini Powerball. It works very well and is super easy if a bit messy. Follow that with the Rejuvanator compound and then a couple coats of old school Turtle Wax hard shell wax. The body will never look brand new but it looks very good.

unlike Ducati, Aprilia uses tons of different fasteners to attach the bodywork. For the front headlight fairing alone they use four different types of bolts. Taking other bodywork off requires 3mm allen, 4mm allen, flathead, phillips, 7mm socket...you get the idea. That part of it is slow-going.

Tomorrow I only have the lower fairing and two side peices to buff. This bike is missing a couple of Dzus fasteners (D3, 6mm x 14mm long if anyone is interested). Unfortunately these have been phased out but are available at highway robbery prices from AF1. The Dzus kits you see on Ebay are D8, and not compatible with D3, so no mixing and matching.

No pictures tonight.

1985 Honda VF1000R, 1990 Ducati 851, 2008 YZ450F
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post #18 of 39 (permalink) Old 04-30-2012, 02:54 PM Thread Starter
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Finally got the bodywork buffed out yesterday. The bike had sat outside (covered) for a few months. It also had obviously been in the sun for a length of time. The paint was very dull with a thick layer of oxide. Some of the decals were also rather worn, such as the black V60 decals (see below).

So I wanted to remove these. Knowing the paint under would be a different red color than the rest of the surrounding paint, I set out to buff to where you wouldn't notice.

I bought a Mothers mini powerball
http://www.amazon.com/Mothers-05141-PowerBall-Mini-Polishing/dp/B000ELQO50 http://www.amazon.com/Mothers-05141-PowerBall-Mini-Polishing/dp/B000ELQO50

And used Turtle Wax Liquid Buffing Compound
Amazon.com: Turtle Wax T415 Premium Rubbing Compound: Automotive Amazon.com: Turtle Wax T415 Premium Rubbing Compound: Automotive

The trick is to use high rpm (hand held drill) and light pressure. The white buffing compound turned pink as it removed the top layer of oxidized paint. With the ball and drill, the work is pretty fast. If I had done all of the parts at one time it would have taken perhaps 2 hours to complete this step. I made sure to mask off the windscreen to avoid scratching it.

Follow this with paint rejuvanator, which is a glaze and also has some wax. Then two coats of old-fashioned turtle wax hard shell (more work but very durable and looks good).
Amazon.com: Malco Rejuvenator One Step Auto Paint Restoration 32 fl oz: Automotive Amazon.com: Malco Rejuvenator One Step Auto Paint Restoration 32 fl oz: Automotive

Amazon.com: Turtle Wax T-223 Super Hard Shell Paste Wax. 9.5 oz.: Automotive Amazon.com: Turtle Wax T-223 Super Hard Shell Paste Wax. 9.5 oz.: Automotive

You can see in the ratty decal pictures below how shiny the red is now. The third picture shows the back end cleaned up. I still have some paint blemishes to touch up. I took the decals off with a heat gun and then buffed the back end again to smooth out the color difference and get rid of the line where the sticker outline was.

The paintwork now is definitely not perfect, but much improved from where I started. I am still missing a couple of Dzus fasteners on the fairing sides. The silver bottom fairing has a healthy scratch that scrapes through the "aprilia" sticker on the right side. I am still debating what to do, but I am inclined to remove the text decal from both sides, fill in the scratches and repaint the bottom fairing.
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1985 Honda VF1000R, 1990 Ducati 851, 2008 YZ450F
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post #19 of 39 (permalink) Old 04-30-2012, 03:16 PM Thread Starter
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You can also see the new rotors and I also put new pads and changed/bled the fluid. I went out to bed the pads Friday night. Casually ride the bike, with several progressively harder stops. From about 60 down to 10, I wanted to avoid stopping completely if I could help it.

Lever feel was good and firm, although after this few stops the absolute stopping force seemed less than I expected. Initial bite wasn't the greatest. But was getting better.

With the new steering head bearings and front brakes the ride was much improved. But I knew it could be better. The bike still felt "sloppy". For my weight I cranked the fork preload to where there were two reference lines left, and set compression and rebound to 3/4 from full hard.

At the back I increased preload to where there is about 10cm of thread left at the bottom, and went 25 clicks out from hard on compression (stock is 40 out), and 12 clicks out from full on rebound (stock is 20 out).

Sunday after getting the body work back on it was time for a real test ride. It sounds silly, but just pulling out of the driveway you could feel the bike felt more taut and responsive.

Have you ever done something really stupid and realized it as it was happening? That was me yesterday. Heading out to the closest twisty road, the bike felt great. Hit the gas hard a few times to feel how the power comes on (about 5k it comes alive and pulls well). Like many newer bikes, it hides its speed.

Cruising through the twisty bits, getting more comfortable, invariably the pace quickens a bit. Nice uphill with a marked 30 mph left-hander, in third gear. Wide open for a bit heading into the corner.

Brake. Brake a little harder. I'm still going a bit too fast.. BRAKE. I make the corner easily but it occurs to me this was not the smartest thing to do with new brakes that have a total of two heat cycles and 10 miles on them. Mental note: you are stupid but survived this one. The aprilia records your highest top speed, looking at it later I was heading into the corner with a speed that started with a "1". That's all I'll say.

So respect for the danger of overriding unfamiliar equipment renewed, I enjoy the rest of the ride at a more reasonable pace.

Brake pulse. Gone. Replaced with ever-improving brake feel.

Notchy steering. Gone. Replaced with smooth feel.

Sloppy suspenion. Gone. Replaced with well-damped wheels at both ends. The route I chose had one stretch of horrible pavement. Chewed up by tractors and semis and poorly maintained. The Ape handles it without any trouble (rode the same route when I first got the bike and it was pretty bad). So far so good.

Still many things to do, but the bike is very usable now. I need to bleed the clutch next, it doesn't feel like it fully disengages.

Here are a few more pictures along with its garage-mate.

My wife asked me which bike I like more. It is probably still the 851, but I will ride the Aprilia more.
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1985 Honda VF1000R, 1990 Ducati 851, 2008 YZ450F
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post #20 of 39 (permalink) Old 05-05-2012, 10:46 PM
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Nice job and beautiful Mille. Came out looking great. i have an 03 Mille R and i actually just picked up a 1999 Aprilia RS50 for the wife and kids today.
Let me know if you need any parts, i have boxes full of spares and some aftermarket stuff, i may even have a spare FP Eprom.
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