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Week of 7 November 2011

The last week has had many motorcycling episodes, so I’ll break them up into snippets. Enjoy.

1. A customer emailed me saying that his Duc wasn’t running right after getting a service at the local Ducati dealer. I thought it strange that a customer would take his bike to the local dealer and then ask me to troubleshoot it, so I got Dink (local Ducati dealer) in on the discussion. Laughingly, the customer said he meant HIS local dealer, not the one here in Pcola. His bike was exhibiting all the symptoms of leanness, so I chimed in with my recommendation – richening the fuel map on the FIM chip and checking the air bleeds.

2. Speaking of leanness, Garry’s 996 was still having a hanging idle after I serviced it. I couldn’t get the bike to display the symptoms he described, so he rode it over. I put it on the o2 sniffer and it looked good. For grins, I took off the fairings and verified the position of the air bleeds. The horizontal air bleed was 1-3/4 turns out…. WAY too much. I screwed it in 3/4 of a turn and the problem disappeared. I know I balanced the CO using the air bleeds, so I don’t know how I messed up that setting. I was embarrassed, but at least I found it. He motored off and all seems well now.

Above: Our Saturday crew – Left to Right, Aprilia Tuono-R, Buell Firebolt, MV Agusta F4-1000R, Ducati 748, Kawi ZX14R, Kawi Ninja 1000, Honda ST1300.

3. I had a nice ride on Sat with the boys. We did a Blackwater run. I experimented on not leading this time. Big mistake. I had enough rocks thrown at me on the return leg to leapfrog ahead. Mark kept far enough ahead of me to protect my front end.  The weather for the ride was perfect – sunny and cool. The MV loved the temps. The ride aboard the F4 was okay, but the bike needs a better suspension setup and some new shoes. The 5 year old Pirellis are hard and the resulting ride is bone-jarring. Why not dial it out with a suspension setup? Because it will be fine with new tires. Tires are part of a bike’s suspension and offer cushioning… well they do if you have good tires on it. Mark came over Sat aft and we chatted about tires. I need to put the stickiest tires on my bikes because they tires harden before I can wear them out. At most, each bike gets about 300 miles per year. That’s not bad considering the number of bikes in the Ark. but it is bad for tires. Maybe I should wrap every wheel with plastic wrap to keep the tires from hardening… or I could just ride more.

Brutale 910S Video

4. I was outside raking up leaves Friday afternoon when I saw a white truck heading down the street. Lo and behold my MV from Portland was on board. The driver was lucky I was around, because I never got a heads up that he was inbound. The driver mistakenly wrote down the phone # of the dealership where the bike was picked up, and he phoned updates to them rather than me. Brilliant ! The driver was a nice guy… too nice in fact. 30 minutes later he was still in full conversion mode to get me on the righteous path when I cut him short and told him I just wanted to start tearing into the Brutale. I started it up, winced at its depiction of a Hoover vacuum cleaner, and 15 minutes later had the awful stock exhaust torn off. I didn’t have any more time Friday, so I installed the rest of the exhaust Saturday while Mark was paying me a visit. The nice thing about MVs is that you don’t need to do much to make them look nice. I installed a hugger, rearsets, frame sliders and the exhaust. That’s about it. There were sticky Michelins already on her, so after topping off the tires with air, I did a quick spin around the block. I suppose I’ll ride her this Sunday for our local ride.

5. The maintenance seminar is this Saturday. I’ll be sending out an email to the participants tomorrow with specific details, but each attendee has already been here for the Level I seminar. Next year I will ONLY have Level I seminars, the first of which while be in early April – date TBA next Spring.

6. I did quite a bit of writing on the next Desmoquattro book while in Tampa, but it still needs a LOT of work. My promise was to have it ready by the end of the year, but I may miss it by a few weeks. It will go to print the first or second week of Jan. I can’t wait to put it to bed. I have other projects pending and I’m over having the book sitting on my t0-do list.

7. I finished Papa Smurf’s valve adjust in a single day and it left the shop on Saturday. His S2R has 33000 miles on the clock, and purrs like a kitten. For longevity, the 2-valve motor beats the 4-valve motor any day. Well, at least as far as I’ve seen in the shop. The day I see a 4-valve with 50K+ miles on the original bottom end, I’ll let you know.

8. The open house was a non-event. I didn’t talk to a single person. There was only 1 show. Somebody showed up during the 10 minutes I decided to leave to take a shower. Other than my maintenance seminars, the days of the open house are offically dead. Of course, that’s like killing a still-born idea.

9. Due to the maintenance seminar, I’ll be riding locally on Sunday. Time TBA, but planning a breakfast after our normal loop in Escambia/Baldwin counties. I’ll coordinate with Mark/Brad for time and meet place.

TTYL  – LT

Week of 31 October 2011

I didn’t get much feedback on the mention of Marco’s death on the blog, which is sad to see. In Italy, it was almost a State funeral and was shown on national television. I wish motorcycling was as important here. Perhaps that’s why Italy makes such great bikes — their passion for the sport.

The Fall Rally is this Sat. I haven’t received much interest in the event, so other than the ride, it will be low-key affair. If you plan on dropping by, pls let me know or I’ll cut out after lunch to knock out some chores.

Papa dropped off his S2R for a valve job. Ah, a nice simple 2-valve job. I wish life was always that simple. Of course, I should shut up until such notions until AFTER I finish the valves.

I’m all caught up on orders for the most part, and back into the swing of things after 2 more weeks of Military duty. That should be it for my time in uniform this year. I have some things in the works for next year though, including volunteering for a stint.

We’re loving the cool Fall temps here in the Panhandle. Sales in Oceania and the Sunbelt are up. Their Summer and our winter are conducive to keeping bikes on the road.

Knucklehead of the year goes to Customer X, who returned one of my billet flywheels because he didn’t like that it was anodized gold. The picture on the website depicted a silver-colored flywheel. I guess he planned on showing off the flywheel by tearing off the alternator cover to show passers by. Brilliant.

My poll on Facebook didn’t indicate much interest in people buying new Ducatis in the near future. Only one person indicated such interest – Dink of D&D… he buys A LOT of Ducatis as a dealer. Good one Dink. :)

Enjoy your workweek.

TTYL – LT EVOd

Week of 24 October 2011 – Farewell Marco

 

I was going to have a light-hearted talk about my trip to a local dealership yesterday, but this morning’s events in Malaysia changed all that. My heart goes out to Marco Simoncelli’s family and loved ones. I also can’t imagine how Colin Edwards and Vale Rossi feel. We all know we’re a small community of riders in the midst of non-riding throngs, but it’s still amazing how fast bad news travels among our peers. Sic stirred up a lot of controversy this year, but I’ve heralded his demeanor and aggression. It is such a shame he didn’t get to realize his full potential, but he went out doing what he loved and did it his way.

I made a jaunt over to the local Euro bike dealer yesterday to look at some of their wares. It was my first opportunity to look at the MTS1200 and Diavel. They had one of the Pikes Peak edition MTS’s on the floor and it was GORGEOUS.  I really liked it. It was priced about the same as the R1200GSA I was looking at. I’m still gun shy over the electronics on the MTS after witnessing the glitchy electrics on my MTS1000 (even though it is far simpler than the MTS1200). I was on the multistrada site this week looking over the list of glitches, and the ones on the MTS1000 are comparable to the MTS1200. However, spending 20K for a do everything bike I suppose is pretty good, and is cheaper than purchasing 3-4 single-purpose bikes. I left with my wallet closed though. Good boy. I’m thinking more and more about just using the MTS1000 as my touring rig next year. I wish somebody had tried to fix the fuel level sensor setup on it, but there are worse things that can/do go wrong.

TTYL – LT

 

Week of 17 October 2011

Greetings from Tampa. I had a busy week last week, as fall wrenching chores must have hit Ducati owners. I got out all the orders out before leaving town on Saturday. I forgot that it was Biketoberfest in Daytona, and ran into the throngs of bikers on the outskirts of Daytona while visiting an Army buddy.

The vacancy created by the sale of the ST4 will be filled by the MV 910s Brutale by the end of the month. It’s on it’s way via a shipper I contracted last week. In the meantime, I found somebody willing to make a few +1″ sidestands for the MVs. Usually my Ducatis lean way over because I raise the rear end, but the MVs lean way over in stock form. The Brutale is bone stock, so I’m doing my usual mods. I hope to ride it in Nov, but I’ll be in seminar-prep mode when I get back.

I followed the racing action last weekend, but didn’t get to see any of it. What a great year for Ducati in WSB. It probably doesn’t make up for the disappointment in MotoGP, but oh well. In MotoGP, I was glad to see Colin do so well, but I’m guessing he would have been two placed further back if the factory Yamahas were in the race.

Daryl is handling the shipping for me the next two weeks in between his other jobs. I’m reordering things behind the scenes as the need arises. Meanwhile, Jess is house-sitting for me, piling the mail/packages and keeping the critters alive. Wish I could put them on battery tenders like my bikes. It would make animal care much simpler.

I’ve received emails from others who are paring down their collection. Simplifying is a good thing, but the non-rider claim question of “how many bikes can you ride at one time” missed the point. Every bike is a different ride. It’s not like the difference between driving my Avalanche and my Jeep. They’re two completely different drives, but neither is as fun as riding any bike.

I was very sorry to hear about the death in Indy racing. That 15 car pileup was horrific. Every once in awhile that seems to happen to remind us that racing is inherently dangerous. I heard racers blaming the racetrack . I don’t know if a higher wall would have made a difference with the way he struck it.

Congrats to Casey Stoner for his 2nd championship. I wonder what Rossi thought as he watched the race from the Ducati garage. I’m guessing a Yami or Honda looks pretty good about now.

TTYL – Tampastan LT

14 October, 2011—(John)

Friday.

Freedom.

Fresh, cool, Fall air.

Feeling the need……..The need for Speed!

Cold front punched through Louisiana yesterday. Just woke up to severe clear and 49 degrees. Have the day off.

Gotta fire up the Monster and ride three and a half hours to Natchez, Mississippi and have lunch at Fat Mama’s. Then ride back another three and a half hours.

One last test run of my Monster before I ride her to Luckenbach, Texas on October 21st for the “Harvest Classic” European bike rally. That will be six hours each way.

Get on your bikes and ride, people. Just do it.

Keep riding my friends.

Cheers,
John Phelps

That’s my plan for today.

Week of 10 October 2011

Local Riding –  I did an impromptu Blackwater run last Thursday. Former club-member Daryl Stephens expressed an interest in the Bumblebee ST4, so I flogged it in Blackwater to see if I could break it. It withstood my efforts, so I handed it over to Daryl Thursday afternoon. Another Ducati leaves the fold.

I was out of town Fr-Sun and have another stint of duties that will take me out of town this weekend, so I’m planning another ride on Friday. I have the M1100s prepped for the ride.

I was up in the mountains this past weekend, but not for riding. I enjoyed the North GA wine country and relaxed in a cabin, in between going for some runs and hikes. There were bikes galore up there. My passenger was strapped in while I hauled the Avalanche around the mountain curves. Either a lot of sportbikers can’t ride twisties well, or I drive aggressively in the Avalanche. I was usually on the tails of riders as they tackled the twisties. I should have had a promotion that if you could pass a silver Avalanche with a Desmo Times sticker in the rear window I’d hand out a free t-shirt.

DT news – My one-day sale is on for today. Again, to get the 10% discount, put “Checa” in the customer comment box. I’ll apply the discount on my end when I process the order. No alibis. This discount it to reward my frequent customers and readers of the Daily Desmo. There will probably be stockouts, so be patient. I’ll email if there will be a lengthy delay on any items.

I’ve sold 5 bikes this year, and have, on the surface pared down my collection a bit. But my latest sale of the ST4 was offset by a purchase. To keep my lone MV F4-1000r company I purchased an ’08 spec Brutale 910s. I’ve always meant to start a side business supporting MV owners in their wrenching endeavors. I don’t have plans to write a maintenance manual, but rather sell some minor parts like oil filters, wellnuts, air filters, etc. I’ll sell Arrow exhausts as well to support the brand.

TTYL From Tampa – LT evo SP

Week of 3 October 2011

Local Riding –  I rode the 853 for 250 miles on Saturday. The bike handles great, but the performance isn’t up to snuff. The fuel map is smooth, but it feels so underpowered that something is amiss. I need to get her on a dyno to see if it’s a lean issue. I have to carry very high corner speed because it has absolutely no grunt coming out of a corner. Oh well, at least it ran well. I fixed a few adjustment-related issues upon returning to the Ark. On Sunday I gave the S2R800 a good ride. The S2R has the least horsepower in my stable, but is perhaps the easiest to ride fast through tight twisties. The Hyper is better in the twisties, but it isn’t a high-speed bike. The only downfall on the S2R is the gearing. You run out of revs riding it fast. It isn’t a gearing issue but rather a power issue.

I have the forks back on the MV. I’m going to try a different water pump mod to try to get more water flowing to fix the heat issue. Of course, with the cool temps here, it isn’t as much of an issue.

The good news on my riding front is that I found another gas station within a short distance from the house so no more ethanol sitting in my tanks. Brad asked me how I know there isn’t ethanol in the gas listed as no-ethanol. He’s right, but then how do you know that antibiotic isn’t just a placebo. Some things you have to take at face value.

Ducati Racing-Related: Congrats to Carlos Checa for giving Ducati its 300th and 301st WSB win and for his winning the title. So when was the last time a non-factory ride won the title? And can you really call it a non-factory effort with the level of support he had?

I won’t even comment on the MotoGP race other than mention that Spies did a great job of remounting and climbing back. Any discussion of Ducati’s MotoGP effort this year get’s sidetracked to “how about Checa in WSB”?  I like to put a positive spin on things by ignoring reality.

Fall Seminar – I already have 5 people signed up the the Level II seminar, so it’s a go.

Fall Rally – Steve Rome agreed to help me with the Rally. I could use a few other locals to help out.

DT news – In honor of Checa’s and Ducati’s WSB title win I’m going to have a one-day sale on Monday 10 Oct. 10% off most items. I’ll apply the discount on my end, so don’t spaz if the shopping cart doesn’t give a discount. You have to put the word “Checa” in the customer comment box. I’d do the sale this week, but I have plans for TH-Sun and can’t handle the inventory mess that usually follows a sale. I’ll honor any stockouts during the sale, but it’s only one day, so if you miss it, you miss it. I have more Army duty looming, so if you need stuff in Oct get it before the 14th.

TTYL – LT evo

Week of 26 September 2011

Local Riding – The plan was to ride the SC1000 for the ride on Saturday. I did what most of  you do the night before a ride – I checked over the bike, made sure it started, and checked tire pressure. Confident the bike was ready to go, I went to bed Friday night. I climbed aboard the SC at 0600 to make the trek to our breakfast meetup. The bike started just fine, then died as soon as I put it in gear. The words “Goddam it” filled the early morning air around my compound — a frozen clutch pack. The blight of running an open clutch cover is if moisture gets to the clutch pack. The friction plates get stuck to the driven plates and it locks up the clutch. To free it, you have to pull the entire pack and separate the plates by hand. That takes 15 or 20 minutes. I didnt’ have time for that, so I mounted the MTS1000 that I rode the previous weekend and did a shortened Blackwater run with the boys. I fixed the SC clutch that afternoon, so it will be ready for this weekend’s romp.  I have to ride on Sat again this weekend. I’m heading to Ala to visit family on Sunday.

Ducati Racing-Related: Thanks for the comments about the Ducati frameless design. To play devil’s advocate with myself, rumors are that the 1199 is setting lap records in trial runs. If that’s the case, perhaps the frameless design works.. It did for the Britten.

Although not an impossibilitty, it is virtually impossible for Checa to blow his WSB lead. He only needs 4 points total between the last 4 races to sew up the title. With Biaggi injured and Melandri fading, the title is Checa’s to lose. I was glad to see Haga do well in both races. Kudos to Ducati though for having a very consistent competitive bike all season. I’ll celebrate Ducati’s championship in the usual fashion the Monday after the next race, so be prepared.

Ducati Lineup – My new policy is NO MORE DUCATIS in the garage unless one leaves. There are a few I’d love to have, but the Ark is already full and I’m still bothered by the maintenance on the stable of 10+ bikes.  Still, I’d love to have a Streetfighter.. or a Panigale R. I have some time before the latter is even available.

Biz – Business was decent last week. I sold my first clutch-related product in 3 months. To compare that, I usually sell at least a clutch pack or basket per week.

Fall Seminar – The webpage for the Level II seminar is up on the website. I’m holding a Fall Rally for Italian Bikes the following weekend. I need help for the Fall Rally so if you’re interested in helping me, pls let me know. Those 2 events will exhaust my social penchant for the rest of the year. Us non-social types can step outside our box occasionally, but it doesn’t last long

A special thanks to those that showed up for my 5oth birthday celebration. It was an enjoyable affair, capped off with a 12 year old bottle of Dom Perignon.

Enjoy your week.

TTYL – LT evo

Week of 19 September 2011

The weeks are flying by on the remainder of this year. Here’s my list of tidbits for the week.

Local Riding – I rode the SS1000DS on Saturday through a full Blackwater route. 3 other local riders joined in. The weather was just about perfect. The only issue was bicyclists. There was a bike race in Blackwater on Saturday and there was no police escort or road blocks. There was a little bit of a pucker passing groups of bicyclists, but it didn’t cause too much of a problem. The SS was brilliant. That 2-v Superbike is the bomb for spirited twisty riding. On Sunday I enjoyed a 2-up local ride on the MTS1000. Somewhere along the route I shed the carbon rear sprocket guard. Damn. Losing carbon parts, albeit small ones, is expensive.

Ducati Racing-Related: So Ducati is incorporating aluminum frame members to the carbon frame in MotoGP to help with handling issues. The results of the latest MotoGP effort don’t show much of an improvement, or is 6th the best a Ducati can do for the foreseeable future?  My concern isn’t MotoGP but rather what the frameless 1199 design will bring. I think the frame absorbs vibration and provides “feel”.   We’ll see.

Ducati Lineup – The baby-streetfighter seems a good product expansion for Ducati. Like the 848 Superbike, the motor is probably better suited for the street, but with everything going to a wet-clutch the streetability of the liter-class bikes is getting better. What isn’t getting better is the waste in HP for the street of the liter bikes versus the 800/848cc bikes. Experienced riders will still want the liter-class power, but I think the 848 Streetfighter will lure in more younger riders to Ducati. Or will it just cannibalize sales from the smaller Monster?

Biz – Business continues to be off more than I would have imagined or thought possible. Not everybody is going to make it through this economic downturn. We’ll see who is left standing, and what what choices remain for Ducati owners. It isn’t like providers can just sit back and wait for customers to start spending again.

Fall Seminar – I’m tentatively planning for a Level II Seminar on Saturday 12 November. As always, only 10 seats. No pre-reservations and no alibis to the stated cap of 10. Participants will either have to had a Level I seminar from me, or another reputable Ducati shop. “I used to work on bikes professionally” isn’t good enough unless they were Ducatis. I’ll pop up the ad for the seminar this weekend on the website and announce it on Twitter/FB.

Birthday Get-Together- I’m meeting some close friends at Jacos on Palafox downtown at 7:00PM on Th to celebrate my 50th. I’m not age sensitive, so it’s just a good excuse to have a get-together.

Have a good week.

TTYL – soon to be AARP LT