Saturday, December 15, 2007

Winter is here

With a vengeance! -30 degrees Celsius all week, too cold to work on anything in the garage... and I really didn't have much to do. I did take my TTR125 wheels off to transcanada, with home-made tire liners (info to be posted on the results) to get mounted. I have never had any luck mounting bike tires with tubes without pinching the tubes... so I'm gonna pay through the nose to get the experts to do it right. I will then re-stud the front, replace the missing kold kutters (ice screws) in the back, and head out to the ice, hopefully tomorrow. Up to a balmy -7C in the forecast, here's hoping. Doug might also come out, so I'll be sure to bring the camera for some fun! Will also get to see Wilson's tizzer up close (his new TZ250).I've been debating doing something with the CF front fender and rear hugger. Both are used, and the CF is starting to yellow a bit. It would be nice to have some CF highlights remaining on the parts, but the rear needs a bit of work. I like a monochromatic idea, and the idea of leaving the CF bare is almost too much show for me... and I have lotsa time and lotsa paint left... Perhaps a color-matched rear hugger, and a front fender with just a bit of CF showing... we'll see. Got in the neat Pantah-era alu belt covers off of eBay. Fit up perfectly, but am going to keep an eye out for what happens with the liberal "venting" in them -- the previous owner had to split them apart to fit the taller 900 heads. I'm just a bit nervous that a stone might get in there and cause a bit of havoc. Perhaps a screen or lexan guard? We'll have to wait. The bike is now officially parked, and any new bits will be installed in the spring. I did leave it in such a way that I'd have access to work on a licence plate mount -- this will have to be custom-made by yours truly, to try to get it out of the way as much as possible. The under tray has some conveniently-located mounting points, which I will integrate into the design.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007


While I was at it in the garage and paint booth, I was also working on finishing up another example of one of my hobbies -- model building. I guess I can't help myself, I have to be building or fabricating something all the time. This is a 1:9 model of the Cagiva V594. It was a 2-smoke GP bike from the mid-1990s. Chandler and Koscinski both raced for the team, as well as Juan Garriga, I think. This was the last model year machine that they competed, with previous versions having carbon-fibre frames, wheels, bodywork, and etc. Nearly bankrupted the company, but the team actually won races. Generally known as the pretties of the GP bikes, I as well think it is pretty sexy. I've built 2 Tamiya kits previously -- a Bimota and an 888 Ducati, and this Revell kit was neat in that it is a much larger scale. However, the Tamiya ones are better, IMHO, even with the difficulty of building in a smaller scale. Still this is, from what I know, the one and only kit ever made for the Cagiva 500.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Here are the pictures

Had some time this weeked to put things back together. For some reason the resolution on the camera is still not that great, but you get the idea. Still more details to finish -- need to replace the front turn signals (one is broken), and paint the exhaust hanger I built. New rotors are en route, and proper footpegs and a reverse shift lever is actually coming from South Africa.

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Painting Progress

I've completed the finish coat on the panels and will post some pics shortly. A day ago, I saw the "scoop" photos of the new 848, and the white of that bike looks to be almost identical to what I've applied on my machine. That explains the Italian guys hanging around the garage for the last few weeks, and the feta cheese crumbs I saw in the paint booth -- they copied me! The end result was as follows: after prep,
  • 3 light coats of autoair primer/sealer
  • 4 coats of autoair coarse metallic white
  • 3 coats of autoair transparent base
  • 2 coats of clear (wet sand in-between)
  • apply decals
  • 2 more coats of clear (wet sand in-between)

Things have been curing for a few days, and I've started to assemble the tank hardware and will move to the taillights and seat parts soon. Overall, I'm pretty happy with how it all turned out. Considering the shape of the tail when I started, the end result is pretty decent.

Sent a portion of the exhaust pipe off to CycleBoyz in Brandon. Came back in great shape -- the Y-exit was turned into a single exit, with a nice taper to keep the gasses flowing smoothly, and the rivet holes for the last guy's exhaust guard were filled in. Now my aftermarket exhaust is even more custom than before, with a 2-into 1 design, the pipe being mounted on the RHS of the bike. I also need some sort of heat protection for my heel, and I'm flipping between a metal guard connected to the recently returned piece, or wrapping it in heat wrap. Not sure yet what to do. Targa actually makes a decent looking piece in alloy, anodized in a bunch of colors including silver.

My desire for decent brakes continues. I've got the master cylinder sorted, the actual calipers in place, but the rotors I got, it turns out, are cheap pieces of garbage. As you may have seen by the photos, I picked up a set of the "swiss cheese" style ones. No float whatsoever, steel carriers, and a poor alloy for the braking surface. Sold on base model Ducs. There is zero runout from what I can see with the naked eye, but moving the bike around the garage results in such severe binding that the machine is actually quite difficult to push. I did have a set of fully floating rotors from a guy in PQ, but it was nearly at the thickness minimum, and in my opinion, the float had turned to a severe case of slop! They made me quite nervous, as there seemed to be too much movement side-to-side as well as fore and aft. I returned them for a full refund.

Hindsight being 20/20 I should have kept the paired set of EBC Pro-lights I bought from Mark Hatten in 2004. Racing, going to a single caliper, etc. etc. led to the position I'm in now. So: I finally got a set of floating snowflake rotors off of eBay for a great price: $150. I'll keep the others for a potential set of rain wheels and tires in case I do trackdays or race -- It'd suck to drive to Calaboogie, Edmonton, or to the states and have to tiptoe around on the Michelin DOT race tires I have if it starts to rain...

No word on the CF chin fairing, shop has a huge website but is closed this week for renos and X-mas prep, according to the 1-800 number. Also begin to paint a $25.00 Bell open face helmet for around-town jaunts. Flames with a waving Italian flag furling underneath. Copied from a US-themed DVD I bought on ebay. Going to use Auto-air rather than House of Kolor paints. Will post the pics of the progress of that. Currently primered, flames masked, waiting for the airbrush to arrive -- a nice Iwata. Kate told me awhile ago, that even though I was sans racebike, it was "nice" that I found other things to do, like the helmet and the Cagiva GP model I'm playing with.

I'm also going to post some pics of the exhaust hanger I built. Rather than a hunk of alloy, I kept the trellis theme going and used some spare 4130 I had lying around. 3/4" and 5/8" tubing. Test-fitted it last night and it works, need to do some stylistic grinding an cutting for clearance purposes, then the rattlecan primer and hammertone paint finish for completion. After about 2 months without the torch in hand, and not much welding at all over the summer, the beads I made still look OK. I still struggle with sharp angle (less than 45 degree bends) welds -- the the inside of a V-shaped piece. Tough to get even a 00 tip in there, and to keep both tubes cherry to get some pooling. I guess that's where a tig comes in handy.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Parts and Painting Progress

Kate and I returned from the east with a car full of bike parts, both new and used. As promised, I'm posting some pics of them installed.
First, the slave cylinder was a pretty straightforward operation. The kit came with no instructions, but I've worked on these before, so it seemed pretty easy. This model came with a wee spacer to accommodate the shorter pushrods of pre-99 Ducatis as well, so it came together like butter. Bleeding took some time, as I didn't want to waste any brake fluid by trying to pour it into the threaded feed. But after some time, I was able to get it properly purged of air.
Of course, actuating the clutch (and the front brake calipers as well) were a set of matching Nissin MV Agusta levers. These were a pain to install, from the "simple" single-bolt clamp design, to the reservoirs fouling on the clip ons. I ended up changing the mount of the clip-ons (remove the triple clamp, slide them off the forks, etc. etc.), but in the end, they fit OK. And personally, I think they look pretty sweet. They're not a radial design, but somehow we all managed prior to radial levers being created. You can see how the front master cylinder looks as well. The great thing is, the front calipers are 6-piston nissins, so the compatibility should be perfect -- nissin all around! The front levers also included a brake light switch for the brakes -- no more using a banjo pressure switch -- I soldered on some appropriate wire and then used quick-disconnects and spliced it into the loom. Hooray!
Further to the wiring front, as my first brake version had an oil pressure warning light on the lever, I needed to find another location for that indicator.
The headlight kit came with blue high-beam lamps built into the top of the headlight housing, which I never used -- the aftermarket dash I got had a hi-beam indicator already, so that seemed a bit redundant. So I removed the original blue light, drilled out the hole to suit the red lamp I got, and then wired it in. Looks good. Note the dash display and neutral light as well.

The last part was the biggie -- the exhaust system. The ebay seller was less than accurate in regard to his description. The rear header was not a pristine Hindle, but an OEM piece with a reducer pipe spliced onto it. I think this was used primarily to incorporate and exhaust sensor built into the OEM pipe. Regardless, it will work fine. The "y-pipe", however, was full of holes to accommodate heat shields riveted onto the pipe. This section (as you can see below) was covered in heat wrap, but the holes were still there, and I don't plan on using any heat wrap... so its off to a tig-welder, as this is .028 tubing, and I can't weld stainless with my oxy kit. The mufflers look OK, but NO springs were included, so I'll need to go to Transcanada motorsport and get a set via motovan. I'll also have to fabricate a set of pipe mounts, ideally out of steel first, and then get them done in alloy (or do them myself if I can find some).

While this was going on, I got the last of the supplies ready for the paint process. When I got to the top-secret paint area, things looked like this...

So prior to putting any paint anywhere, I decided to get organized. This is what I used on the one day (approx 6 hours) I had in the shop. The pic includes hardware and supplies I used to put on a sealer coat, base coat, transparent coat, and first coat of clear.The key purchase I soon found out was the Devilbiss gun (the chrome jobbie in the pic). The right tools sure make a difference, and this is certainly the case. Its by no means expensive by painting standards (about $125 from ebay), but it is miles better than the $30 ones I get from Princess Auto. I found that everything, from the finicky waterborne paint to the clear, laid down much better. The whole process was a lot simpler. First up was the sealer. This needs to be sprayed on in rediculously light coats (essentially all the autoair products do), and dried with a heat gun in-between. This allows a re-coat over dry paint in about 10 mins. You'll notice as well that I made some funky wooden contraptions from scrap lumber at home to mount the parts, to allow me to get at everything with touching the parts.
This is a pic of the second coat of sealer: I wanted to be sure to get the underside of the tank, so I left it on some foam insulation, and then mounted it onto its home-made stand. The tail is on a sort of "rotisserie mount" I devised with conduit tubing and welding rod. I'm able to turn the part and get to the underside, without having to hang the part from the ceiling.

The pic to the left is the tail section with the first dust coat of the base coat, something known as "Metallic White (coarse). I decided on this color because it was a bit more subtle, it was neutral, and should go well with the orange.

This pic to the left is the tank and tail, with 4 coats of base -- I actually used a whole litre, witch is a lot in this case, as the autoair paint usually covers pretty well. There is also 3 coats of transparent mid-coat over the paint. Sort of a water-based clear that is also dried with a heat gun. The idea is, it helps fill in the coarse finish of the waterbornes to allow an easier time applying clear, and speeding up finish work. We'll see about that. From bare parts to this stage is about 4 hours, which includes drying time, gun cleaning, etc. I'm now ready to shoot the first coat of clear. I used the same devilbiss gun, as it had a nice 1.3mm tip, and it was such a joy to use.
The last two pics are the panels with 3-4 light coats of clear on them (one spray session). The "white metallic" has taken on an interesting tinge, and of course looks a bit different in real life... I can tell already that wet-sanding is in order prior to the next coat of clear. The process I think will be, a light wet-sand, and another coat of clear. Then another wet-sand, and decals will be applied. Then, of course, another coat of clear. Depending on the finish, likely another coat of clear will be applied. My goal is, a durable, relatively orange-peel-less finish. We'll see. Patience, grasshopper, time to let it cure...

Tuesday, October 2, 2007


I've complained before about how easy it is to get caught up in the "bling" when you own a Ducati... billet or carbon-fibre anything is easily available, and one could sink thousands into a bike without knowing it. I was thinking of this after I heard a song on the radio -- a blues tune that went, "I wish I had a dime for every dollar I spent on you..." Somewhat similar to my favourite, "I never knew how rich I was until I stopped racing.
On to the blingy bits:

First off, a new clutch slave cylinder. In a nice anodized red, featuring a 30% reduction in lever effort... OK, that would be nice. I just like the color.

Next, a new set of brake and clutch levers. I've always hated the remote resevoir models... at least since I actually owned a bike that had one. They stick up, get in the way of fairings, and seem to be the first things to break off in a spill. Also, there are two more places where brake fluid can weep out. In my past experience, a brand new Braking brand master cylinder leaked (replaced for free), as well as a used Gixxer model. So I prefer the coffin-style ones. I happened across an auction where a seller was selling a matching set of hydraulic front brake master cylinder, and hydraulic clutch master cylinder, from a MV Agusta. He also included the front brake calipers, but I will re-sell them, as they are not compatible with my parts. They are built by Nissin, so should match up with the Nissin 6-pots I have perfectly.

Next, the exhaust system. I've always wanted a Hindle exhaust... but never owned a new-enough 900ss to make them fit. Their design requires the 900ss ie style of frame (some subtle differences) to clear the hi-mount pipes exiting towards the mufflers. With the 748 frame and the detachable subframe, clearance won't be an issue. And since I am using a stock 900ss swingarm, with the shock at the same attitude/angle, I shouldn't have any clearance problems with the shock. Guys with big feet have complained about hitting their heels on the pipe and melting their boots, but I don't think that will be an issue because I'm a size 10, and the location of my feet on the pegs will be different (different frame and rearsets). Note too that a section of the pipe has been wrapped with tape... I've heard nothing but bad things about pipe wrap, so I plan to remove it, but maybe get it coated by DI coatings with some jet-hot material.

The last purchase I made for cosmetic's sake was a newer rear hugger. I already have a CF one, but it was damaged as a result of a ride-height/underseat exhaust fiasco... so there was a section that was burnt through. And no amount of repair via convential means would make it look decent, so I grabbed up a replacement when it came on ebay. Should match the front fender

The final piece in my mind would be a CF chin spoiler to complete the cafe look. I had a race version, but it been beat up and repainted so many times that I wouldn't think of putting it on a streetbike. So until I scratch together the cash, I'll dream of this:

When I get some time, I'll go over the installation of the clutch slave cylinder...

Saturday, September 29, 2007

Getting ready for new colors

As you can see, the tank and tail went from black to white/black pretty quickly -- hi-build primer will do that for you. After taking a lot of time to get the tail fitting properly (it is pretty poor quality stock), I set about getting the basis of a decent finish coat. It involved a lot of sanding, fibreglass, epoxy resin, filler, and putty, along with a sandable primer, but I now have a really nice, smooth finish on the tail and tank. I debated for quite some time as to color... with the orange-red frame, black, metallic blue, a contrasting orange, silver, and white would have all looked good, but in the end, I'm going to try a coarse metallic white. Subtle, I guess. Logos are going to be minimalist, but I can monkey with a stock 999R decal to get "966R"... and I located some Cagiva/Ducati "elephant" logos which match the 2-piece suit I bought when I sold the RedBull yellow leathers. Hmmm, just in time for winter. At least I can paint the waterbournes inside...

BTW, the rear tailight is a clear alternatives model for an MV, and with some tinkering I was actually able to get the integrated turn signals to work properly on the switch. A very clean design.

As for the pipes, some raucous Hindle hi-mounts (complete system) are on the way. Gawd I love ebay.


With the frame painted to my satisfaction, the next step was to reassemble the bike for street duty. By this time I had realized that I has missed any reasonable chance to put the bike on the street for th 07 season, so I breathed deeply, slowed down, and set about doing things right. Of the trick race parts, the only thing which remained was the Paoli shock and the slipper clutch, as well as the carbs. The wheels went to help pay for the piano and street parts, and so I had to decide what to do about a tail section and lighting. And I was beginning to realize the underengine exhaust would not look right on the bike...

I was able to find a 5.5" rear SS wheel and a matching SBK front rim off of ebay and I went in circles trying to find a matching Braking front rotor -- the design changed (the shape of the petals), and I guess the racer had the last of the old style. I was able to sell off what I had, and went with pretty simple stock OEM brake rotors for the front. I splurged on some Nissin 6-piston front calipers... expensive, but pads are a cinch to find (Kawasaki items), and they were a direct bolt on. I picked up a neat carbon-fibre front fairing with "vent screens" (gimmick!), and dealt with the speedo/tacho/oil temp/turn signals/etc. with a electrosport guage package -- pretty simple to install! For lighting, I got a dual headlight kit from a distributor on the net. Decent quality, and has a real cafe-racer look to it. Some fiddiling to get it to work right with the Ducati switchgear, but I sussed it out. The forward tank mount was a bit interesting... had to buy an SBK airbox and cut most of it away, but what I have is a properly-mounted tank. Clip-ons stayed the same, and the ignition/lock bolted right on. Still waiting to get a stock steering damper. Then I found the tail I fell in love with -- a MV Agusta clone to work with the Ducati SBK biposto subframe. This suited my needs perfectly, as I had to put the battery in the tail section of the bike. No room in the front!


Rather than go to the expense of having the frame powder-coated, I decided to paint it myself. That way, if there were any structural failures, or if anything needed to be modified, I could still apply the touch-up myself. Perhaps in the distant future a powder-coat will be in order, but knowing what I know about the licencing procedure in MB, the vin will be replaced by a decal by MPI... might as well try to do it right the first time.

Actually, I didn't! I got some industrial fleet-grade paint from the local supply store, where I get consumables, as well as the autoair I've been using on bodywork. This was a PPG product, and had 3 parts, the paint, the catalyst, and another piece -- the hardner, perhaps? Either way, it was pretty hot stuff, but all told, cost just under $100 for the pint. Plenty to do the frame. I first sprayed one coat, let it cure, and re-assembled the bike. However, I stipped it all back down again, as I realized I had time (patience, grasshopper!), and could do a better job. So I sanded it with 400, and sprayed it again. Surely the second coat would look better, right?


So... I decided I'd hit it with 600 dry, knock down the orange peel, and then clear it. Lord knows I had a ton of clear... a new product I use comes in gallon quantities at a minimum, so I could spray to my heart's content. Finally, after shooting it with clear (more practice, I guess), the frame finish was far more tolerable. Still not powdercoat quality, and no doubt not as durable, but at least as good as a factory paint job.

The color was a bit off from what I wanted -- a red with a bit of pop. Once again, color charts don't do anything justice, and while this color was called "tomato red", its.... orange. Sorta. Like a red-orange...

This would end up limiting some of my body paint options, like a tricolor scheme, but in the end, I've never regretted a more subtle paint job. We went into the Mini dealer in 2004 with my heart set on a yellow, metallic red or hot blue mini, and we left with a charcoal grey. Better choice, in the end. Kate's more mature, calming influence. The bike went together, and I set about getting the tail section, lights, wheels, and etc. sorted out...

Here we go again

I had been thinking about this idea for some time. In the zillions of phone calls, emails, and discussions I have had over the years with Ducati experts, mechanics, and racers, I've learned that with most of the post 90 machines, the bottom ends of SS machines, Monsters, and SBK bikes were quite similar -- especially in how the engine mounts to the trellis frame. All of the championship-winning Ducatis, as well as the bikes you can buy from the showroom, are mounted by a grand total of 2 engine bolts to the steel frame. The swingarm pivots on the rear of the case. That's it. Even better, the location of the mounting points for everthing from a lowly 400 monster to a 999R are in exactly the same place. Theoretically, most of the hard work is done if you wanted to swap an engine from one bike into the frame of another. Switching an aircooled engine (with all its simplicity) into a SBK frame should be a piece of cake. From my experience, it was.

The first step was to find a suitable frame. Since I already had a modified tank to work with the SS fuel pump (see below), a 748/916 style frame would be the easiest. I was under no misconception about Ducati's claim that SBK frames were chromoly. THEY ARE NOT! All of the frames I have ever seen and cut apart -- SS, monster, and SBK "S" frames, are seamed steel -- likely 1040 or something. This is fairly cheap ERW steel, with the joints mig-welded. A sound design for sure, but engineered to be assembled quickly and easily. That being said, I had high hopes that the 748R frame I was able to buy from ebay would be different. It was and it wasn't.

When I got my hands on the frame, a 2002 model, some differences were apparent. The bent tubes aft of the steering head and fore of the vertical cylinder had more of a "bow" to them -- this proved that it was an R frame to accomodate the larger R airbox. That being said, I still had to trim a section of these tubes to clear the intake manifold. Sure enough, while the wall thickness was thinner for this frame, the telltake seam on the inside of the tube proved that it was not aircraft-spec 4130.

However, like all S and R framed superbikes, it did come with an adjustable steering head -- cool! However, to be cautious, I set it at the slower geometry for now... At the back of the frame I designed a fabricated a truss for the cantilever rear shock. Other guys have incorporated the SBK rear swingarm, but this involved a lot of cutting to the engine case, and the SS swingarm weighs a ton anyway -- I know, I've held one in my hands. The aluminum swingarm is lighter and of course, I had one already.

I saw fairly early on that an OEM, Ohlins, or Penske rear shock with the integrated remote resevoir was going to be a headache to fit... so I found a Paoli adjustable shock, with a real remote resevior for a great price on ebay. In reality, even though the ad said it was for a Ducati, I'm thinking it came off of a DB2 or DB4 Bimota. The overall length of this shock is actually shorter than a pre-99 OEM Showa shock, so it can't have been for a Ducati... they steer too slow as it is... with a lower rear end, it would almost be unmanageable. This actually suited my needs perfectly, as the truss would extent almost an inch shorter than usual, making the whole assembly stronger. The truss was made with a combination of 1015 steel tubing and 4130 steel, oxy-welded together by yours truly. Some significant trimming needed to be done to other parts of the frame to accomodate the swingarm pivot and the routing of the shock, but nothing was too difficult.

The last step was to either hog out the engine cases to accept 12mm engine bolts, or sleeve the frame to use the 10mm bolts I already had on hand. I chose to modify the frame beacuse I could do it, and I already had Nichols/Cyclecat engine bolts on hand in 10mm sizes.. purchasing the equivalent in 12mm would mean another $250. After many test-fits, I got the frame sandblasted and primered.

Life intervenes

I'm probably guilty of blaming/crediting Kate's need for a new piano for her business as the "reason" I stopped racing after the first round in 2007. Truth be told, I probably need a break, to refocus on priorities, and to decide what I want to do vis a vis motorcycles. There are some aspects of racing I miss -- to me, it legitimizes owning a sportbike. I really don't respect the sportbikers who go fast in a straight line, wearing flip flops and Icon helmets, with their rear tires squared off. I've talked to these guys, and their riding craft is pretty weak -- none of them tour, they seem to just tool around the city, making noise with their loud pipes. For me, I guess, owning a sportbike and actually racing it made me better than those others, even though my bike spent more time on a trailer and in the garage, than actually running... which is where the contradiction begins.

I also began to miss riding on the street. With a slightly different budgeting scheme, I could own a racebike and a titled streetbike, but one or both would be compromises... and I like to tweak and tune all the time. "Stock" is just not in my vocabulary.

What all racers know is that to put up with the cost, time, travel, sleeping in tents, etc, etc, etc that comes with racing, you have to absolutely LOVE the short amount of time you are actually on the bike competing. And not just like it, or "really enjoy it", but love it. For me, some of that love was fading. I am constantly driving Kate and family nuts whenever I fall in love with yet another bike, the sad fact remains is that I need to figure out what part of my life motorcycling will make up. I've raced for nearly 10 years, learned to be a safe and decent rider, and I think one who is respected as well, but I never ever had the "run over your grandma/ eye of the tiger" needed to be a champion... or the willingness to remorgage your life to buy the newest, fastest bike to be competitive... really, a Ducati? When an SV or Ninja 650 would do, and pay contingency?

So what happened is this: Kate needed a piano, and so we got one. A long-overdue "payment" (poor choice of words) for her years of sacrifice to my hobby. I sold off every extra unneccessary race part, bike part, helmet, boots, leathers, gloves tools, spares, tire warmers, bike project (the Aprilia-KTM 450), and decided to make the ultimate aircooled street Ducati.

Winter 2006-07

I had a strong feeling that the machine could be made better with some chassis tweaking. Over the course of a few year's worth of ebaying, I picked up a set of Ducati 900ss cases, a steel rear swingarm, and a Monster 600 frame. The 600 frame had no title, so it was useless to anyone on the street -- a perfect project to begin cutting for a race bike. I actually got it for $25 bucks! I decided to cut the entire back end off the bike, and make a trellis shock mount and tail section out of 4130 chromoly, and utlize a superbike tank for the gas. This necessitated a pile of fabrication work, a decent shape SBK tank, and a crashed SS tank for anciliaries. The tank actually went together pretty well... I'd do it differently now, but with some help from an autobody shop, the tank looked pretty good. I made the mistake of assuming all Monster frames were based on 851/888 steering geometry. This is actually not the case. At some point (not everyone is sure when) they turned the bike into a bit of a chopper -- 27-28 degrees rake. This fact (it was a 2000 model year frame) would rear its ugly head when I took it to the track. The end result was a very distinct looking bike, which again taught me a lot about welding, fabrication, and motorcycle design. I was able to practice some painting as well (note the Red Bull livery), and made a bunch of bodywork from different bikes fit. Unfortunately, it handled like crap (wouldn't steer), and the Arc Underengine exhaust, while a tourque MONSTER and very light, lost me the top end advantage I had against Ninja 650s. The first race in May of 2007 left me pretty uncomfortable on the bike, with no speed through the all-important turn 1. Unable to exploit the new Michelins (which gripped amazingly), I couldn't get past Billy and his new SV650... this was a bike that I could catch and pass along Gimli's main straight in 2006. Ooops.

2006 Year in Review

The 2006 racing season with the MRA turned out to be a great one. Being the only expert in the lightweight field (save for the last round) meant that wins were pretty much guaranteed, so I tended to start at the back of the grid for the first race, and work my way through. For the second race, I did the same or held back and diced with Wilson or Jason. What I did notice is that Doug Martens was slowly developing his Ninja 650 into a pretty quick bike, and that Billy (his son) was wringing the heck out of his old EX500... on a newer machine, he'd be tough to beat. The season ended with Kyle Knutsen coming up from the states on his tuned SV650 and beating me by about 4-5 seconds every race. I wish I could have raced against him more often, but the one round showed me that the Duc was capable of more speed, as was I. After all the tuning (see list below), the machine had reached 85 hp... not bad for a carbed supersport.

Friday, September 28, 2007

A history lesson

Okay, now that I know this thing works, a bit of a review. The pic at the top shows the Ducati in the incarnation I got it -- a 1998 SS FE, crash damaged and sitting in Kentucky. Purchased on ebay, the first step was to get the thing, and then haul it back up to Canada. At first, I thought it was going to be a streetbike, but since I was in need of a racer, and the TZ125 I had was a disaster, I spent the winter of 2005-06 converting it into a racebike. As you can see from the pics, it took on a few different incarnations during the 2006 season, mainly to get it looking a bit more asthetically pleasing. The following modifications took place:

  • airtech bodywork

  • marvic mag wheels

  • slipper clutch

  • ohlins, then a penske rear shock

  • arc fabrication exhaust

  • MBP 966 kit with Mahle Pistons (overbore by Millenium Cylinder Tech)

  • porting and head polishing by BCM Ducati

  • alloy upper fairing stay

  • single front rotor

  • home-made rearsets

  • braided brake lines

  • Michelin Race tires (pilot powers)

  • 41mm keihnin carbs

  • superbike front forks with cyclecat triple clamps

So a lot was done to the bike, and I ended up with a decent handling, powerful machine. I had a machine that was more than a match for the SV 650s and Ninja 650 in the Thunderbike class. I even beat a few 600s in Supersport. Cool machine!

The Adventure Begins

Rather than continue to pay tripod filemanager to host my other site at, I think I'll get into the 21st century and do the free blog thing. As you can tell by the title, this blog will have something to do with bikes, specifically Ducatis, and that I'm currently living in Manitoba, Canada. I'll stop here for now, just to be sure the blog works...