..::Taken from my write up at ZX-10R.net::..
We've all seen the cheap "Chinese" cowls on eBay... Whether it's hard times or you don't have the cash to spare we've all debated buying knock-offs
versus OEM. I took a chance to see how the knock-off compared to my OEM piece. Here is my initial impression I wrote on ZX-10R.net.
So... here is my "mini" review on this piece... Alright, I just got back from test fitting the cowl on the bike and let me redact my previous statement saying it was $70 well invested. At first look it isn't too bad, but once you fit it on the bike the story changes. For reference here is the eBay link to the item/seller where I got my cowl from: http://www.ebay.com/itm/230818065617 I am going to grade this on a school grade curve ("A" being OEM, "F" being total crap).
First off, the color appeared to be pretty spot on. Definitely black, but just a shade off of the black paint from Kawi. The paint quality was "meh" as it had a rough finish to it and there were artifacts (dust, fibers, etc) in it. Could this be fixed with some wetsanding, redoing the clear coat and waxing/buffing? Yes. There also were a few imperfections in the paint as highlighted with green rings in my pics below. Also worth noting is the paint isn't totally smooth; reflections are rippled. Again, this could probably be fixed with some elbow grease and some TLC from a nice compound and buffer. Also worth noting is around the bottom rim of the cowl, the plastic/paint is ruff and jagged and not clean/smooth. Paint/Finish: C --Putting in the time and effort to clean it up could easily bring this up to a B/B+
The quality of the plastic was surprisingly good? Bend and flex was in line with the OEM fairings. Both the thickness and flex were spot on. Plastic Quality: A- --Very good quality plastic, feel, thickness, flexibility and composition are in line with the OEM plastics.
Now here are where things go fowl... fitment. I removed my stock rear seat and installed the cowl. Upon hearing and feeling it "click" closed with a satisfying sound I thought "Wow, this really is a good fit." I then went to wiggle it to see how it would hold up at speed on the street or the track with wind and yeah, it won't fair well at all. I looked and it seems to be in part because of the angle of the bracket. It seriously feels as if the bike were standing still, a good strong breeze could/would rip it off. If you look in one of the pics I took, you can see the angle is considerably off. This would definitely account for the up and down wiggle. The side to side wiggle, I would have to look and compare the seat and cowl to come up with a possible reason. About all this is good for is a show piece where the bike is not moving. I took a video of the wiggle and here that is:
I do have a few ideas on how one could fix this.
- Remove all the brackets and hardware installed on the cowl and goto a dealer and order all the replacement parts minus the cowl shell itself. I talked to my parts guy at my dealership and it was going to be roughly ~$60 for all the parts and hardware. Your mileage may vary depending on the market and your relationship with your parts guy. I have a very good relationship with mine and they cut me deals on parts. There is one problem doing this though, the rear hook that this cowl has is molded into the shell. One could possibly get by this by cutting it off, drilling and tapping for a helacoil, and putting in a light coating of epoxy, superglue, etc to ensure the helacoil won't rip out of the plastic. Just be sure to lightly coat it as you don't want it coming through the helacoil and getting onto the screw, although, using some loc-tite on the bolt wouldn't be a bad idea.
- One could also attempt to heat up the rear hook with a heat gun and try to carefully bend it to the correct angle. My only concern with this is, once you start to heat up and bend plastic, it looses its integrity and is more prone to breaking off. Cheap (free if you have a heatgun) fix, but you're probably asking for problems down the road especially if you live in an area where there are severe temperature changes between summer/winter and you don't store your bike in a temperature controlled area in the winter months.
Fitment: F... total f***in' fail here.
--With the work put in replacing the hardware, it could probably be brought up to a B/B-
I'm not going to grade the piece on this, but it is worth mentioning... I purchased this item on the 18th of July, and only just received it. So be sure to factor in the shipping time and time required to clear customs/inspections.
So if the OEM piece were a perfect "A" student, it would have a 4.0 GPA... what would this piece have? By my calculations a
2.0 which would be a "D" student. If you did the work wetsanding, reclearing, waxxing and buffing as well as replacing the hardware you could
probably help this piece make the "B" honor roll. But, take into account you already spent $70 on this piece, $60 (my cost) for the replacement hardware, cost of reworking the paint and the several hours of work you'd have to put into it and you're already at the cost of the OEM cowl. My dealer had a cowl in stock and my buddy let me have it for $180 (my cost). Considering I paid $70 for this and would have to put in $60 of replacement hardware, my cost is already at $130... The $50 could easily be accounted for in refinishing the piece and the labor hours put in doing so. In my honest opinion, the piece isn't worth it. If you can find an OEM cowl used in decent shape or someone has a good relationship with their dealer and get the OEM piece at a good price do it. Or you could wait until these drop in price ($20-30) range and do all the rework for it and have a decent OEM clone for a reduced price. But at a $70 price point, right now it's too high. So I plan on reworking this piece and selling it off in hopes of recouping some of my cost from buying the OEM cowl as well. Below are the pics I took from this morning. It is overcast outside and the lighting isn't the greatest in my garage so I took several pics to ensure lighting, angles, etc were accounted for.
So, in an effort to recoup some of the cost, I put the work in to bring this piece back up to par by working the paint over as well as adding hardware that is on the OEM Kawi piece.
Here is a shot of the hardware I ordered
Here is the complete parts list as I ordered:
Qty. Qty. Qty. Part Item Special Product
Ord. Ship BO Num. Price Order Name
---- ---- ---- ----- ----- ------ --------------
1 1 0 11056-0240 $13.51 Kawasaki - BRACKET,SEAT COVER
1 1 0 130BA0616 $0.51 Kawasaki - BOLT-FLANGED,6X16
2 2 0 39156-0735 $1.36 Kawasaki - PAD,10X70X4
1 1 0 92075-1446 $1.88 Kawasaki - DAMPER,SIDE COVER
2 2 0 92075-1808 $0.56 Kawasaki - DAMPER
2 2 0 92161-1381 $0.81 Kawasaki - DAMPER,45X25X2
Order Subtotal: $21.36
Order Tax: $0.00
Order Shipping Charges: $0.00
Order Total: $21.36
I then started to do the retrofit... you can find my post here on ZX-10R.net.
Well I finished retrofitting the Chinese cowl and I am pleased with the results.
I originally intended on simply swapping out hardware and going from there, but I ended up having to go to the hardware store mid-project and pick up some replacement hardware as the hardware that it came with wasn't going to cut it. Came out to be an extra $2.61 with the mandatory Diet Mountain Dew I needed.
So here are the parts I ordered.
- First, lay everything out and get a general game plan.
-- I removed the hardware inside of the cowl and strip it to the shell.
-- Then temporarily mount the Kawi bracket and see approximately where I needed to cut the original back hook off at. Be sure to use your girlfriends Chevy Malibu as a workbench to complete all of this. She will appreciate all of the plastic shavings on the hood of her car.
-- After cutting it off, I sanded it down to remove any ridges and such
-- I then installed the two rubber plugs
-- I then reassembled the hardware and mounted everything using washers/lockwashers where applicable. Don't forget to mount the little rubber cover for the back latch hook. Also, I marked a hole for the rear nut/bolt, drilled a small pilot hole, then drilled out a 7/32" hole for the hardware.
-- After everything was tightened and torqued to "good enough ft/lbs" I installed it on the bike to see where I should install the sticky pads.
-- After playing around for 10 - 15 minutes I mounted the foam I ordered in different places than Kawi does.
I mounted the two long rectangle pieces near the back and then the two square pieces up front. The positioning I marked up here are approximate. I am going to revisit this and put some more thicker foam along the very back of this to help tighten and secure it even more. As is right now, this sucker is stiff and not moving. I would say it is right on par with the OEM cowl I bought with the exception of the finish of the paint. It is a bit rough but could definitely be smoothed out with some elbow grease and wax. For most people out there, it will be just fine. The paint coloring is 95% on. But me personally, I want to smooth it out the actual finish a bit and sell it.
So the total bill:
$79.99 - eBay Chinese cowl
$21.00 - genuine Kawasaki replacement parts
$2.61 - New hardware to assemble and install bracket... & diet Mt. Dew :)
For an overestimated total of $104. Not too bad considering I bought my original OEM cowl for $180 through my parts guy. $70+ saved could easily go to something else on the bike. Not a bad way to save some money and get pretty close to OEM results. My opinion, I would wait for the cowl to drop another $10-20 and it will really be worth it and the work put in to it.
As of this writing (08FEB14), the prices of the cowl were in the mid $40 range. So if you have the time and means to retrofit hardware and clean up the paint, you will have an OEM quality piece for a little less money.