28 Feb 2007 – February is History

Wow, this year is speeding by. It’s already in full early spring mode in Florida. It hit 80 today and I got to ride the Z all the way to the branch campus with the top down. I rode the MTS to the dentist yesterday and will commute on it today.

 Above: Steve Kanavas sent me some pics of his snowbound existence in Wisconsin. Steve, come on down and ride with us in Florida. The weather is great!!!!

Well, I’ve finally scored another product Coup…. Belt tensioner tools. About a year ago I ordered a Baum belt tensioner and have been using it in the shop, verifying the tension with the baum tool versus the older SPX Ducati tool and the new harmonic setup. The baum tensioner is idiot proof and works great. The good news is that the tool is far cheaper than both the ducati harmonic tensioner and the SPX tool at @ $250. That’s still a chunk of change to dole out for a tool, but it will pay for itself on if you use it more than a few times. The tool is for use on all 4V bikes, the ST3, all DS1000 motors and all motors that are now using the harmonic tool – which is any post 2004 Ducati. Ducati is also recommending using the harmonic tool on all the old bikes too, so that shows you how sloppy the belt tension spec is. The first batch of tensioners gets here on TH. I only ordered a few in case they don’t sell. The Baum tool, like the SPX tool, measures tension across a small span of belt.

The flex hone rotor tools arrived today, so a few more back-orders will clear out. But now I stocked out of Steering Head Bearings. I can’t get enough from my vendor. Grrrrrrr. I popped up a no-brainer product today too — Throttle body cleaner to remove deposits that build up around the butterflies. The stuff works great and for $2.00 a can it’s inexpensive. It would make a good stocking-stuffer, except it isn’t Christmas.

I want to thank those of you that gave feedback about shipping options. Impressions about shipping services depends on your own personal experience. I’ve head good and bad about all of them, but I’m willing to give UPS a shot. If they blow it, I’ll go to Fedex. USPS has been bulletproof for me. With over 1500 packages shipped in the last few years, they’ve NEVER lost a package. UPS can’t top that, but if they deliver when I want and not damage the items I’ll be happy.  For the time being you’ll have an option of selecting either UPS or USPS. :-)

 

 

27 Feb 2007 – Another crazy day

I won’t have time to post on Tue, so I’m posting this Mon night. Tomorrow, I get a cap on a tooth at 0730, then home to finish packing some boxes, then work on an M620 until 1, then get cleaned up and head to the Univ to do a telephone interview to hire somebody at the Univ, then off to the branch campus to teach a night class.

Monday was a good day. There were a lot of packages awaiting me when I got home, all full of backordered parts. I also got a call from the insurance company to inform me that a check in the full amount of my estimate is heading my way. :-)  I’ll be ordering the replacement parts as soon as it arrives. Probably the best news of the day is that I wrangled a lower price for Scott’s Gran Canyon coming via another friend, Dan Bowman. Dan is a good guy and didn’t have a problem throwing in a service on the bike. Of course, I get to do the service. Servicing a Gran Canyon is like crapping a tennis ball. It hurts like hell, but once you’re done, you can bask in the afterglow of another awesome turd…. That metaphor needs work, but you get the drift.

Here’s an update to the backorders:

  • Tsigarides – awaiting Steering Race Removal Tool – Shipped
  • Cunningham – awaiting Steering Race Removal Tool – Shipped Tue
  • Julian – Drop ship rotors, awaiting steering head bearings on rest of order – Shipped Tue
  • Condjella JR – awaiting DID Chain Tool – will get status this week. Tool has been on order for 2 weeks.
  • Wojnaroqicz – Awaiting Barnett Clutch Pack – Shipped Tue
  • Mark Power Motor Sports – Awaiting Hard Ano Clutch Pack – Ships FR
  • Hellman – Awaiting Tapered Roller Bearings – Shipped Tue
  • Ernst – Awaiting Barnett Clutch Pack – Shipped TUE
  • Forehand – Awaiting Frame Sliders – Ships WED
  • Arvanitis – Awaiting Testa Cam Belt Covers - Shipped. Belt covers coming directly from Machinist
  • Legler – Awaiting Tapered Roller Bearings – Shipped Tue
  • Swift  – Awaiting Steering Damper – Ships ?????
  • Chuchro – Awaiting Rotor Hone Tool – Ships Wed
  • Dalmaso – Awaiting Brake Pads – Shipped Mon

So, that clears out most of the backordered stuff. You all have a great Tuesday.

26 Feb 2007 – Long Live the Early Spring

It’s been unseasonably warm in Pcola the last week. Since Friday we’ve had temps around or above 70 degrees. I enjoyed a casual ride into work today aboard my MTS1000. I haven’t ridden it in a few weeks, and clearly noticed poor idle and off idle running conditions — surging, stumbling off idle and no snap in throttle response. I’m tempted to just do a valve adjust and F/I setup on the bike, but I have a feeling it’s more than that, so if I can get it warranteed I don’t want to pass up the opportunity. I’ll ride the MTS the remainder of the week and then pull it into the shop. I’ll know if I can get it covered under warranty later this week.

I’m making the switch to UPS in the next few weeks. USPS has been good to me, but they have a poor tracking capability and really aren’t set up for businesses. I currently spend about 5 hours a week just dealing with USPS stuff. I hope to drop that to about 1 hour a week on UPS. USPS has about 7 different screens you have to click through to create a shipping label, and it is very cumbersome for international shipments.

That’s about it for a Monday. Time to switch into teaching mode for the remainder of the day. I hope to have a lot of surprises waiting for me when I get home – shipments of backordered parts. :-)

25 February 2007 – The Rain in Pensacola doesn’t fall on Ducatis

Well, it’s pouring outside. Chalk up another Sunday washout. Oh well. It looks like I’ll have to occupy myself doing other things other than riding today.

As I was afraid, the Ducati’s weren’t competitive yesterday in Qatar. Bayliss attributed it to lack of feel on the back end, so maybe tire choice was an issue. The big test is next at Philip Island. It’s Bayliss’ home track, so if he doesn’t podium both races, then we’ll know that 999 is maxed out and can’t hang with the Jap bikes. If that happens, it will be a long season indeed for Ducati. There’s no reason to sound the alarm bell yet, but we may with a few more races with similar results. Of course, if that happens, it will be much easier to argue for a displacement boost for twins in WSB.

I’ve got more backorders than I’m comfortable with, so here’s a recap of orders and their status:

  • Tsigarides – awaiting Steering Race Removal Tool – Ships MON
  • Cunningham – awaiting Steering Race Removal Tool – Ships MON
  • Julian – Drop ship rotors, awaiting steering head bearings on rest of order – Ships TUE
  • Condjella JR – awaiting DID Chain Tool – will get status this week. Tool has been on order for 2 weeks.
  • Wojnaroqicz – Awaiting Barnett Clutch Pack – Ships TUE
  • Mark Power Motor Sports – Awaiting Hard Ano Clutch Pack – Ships FR
  • Hellman – Awaiting Tapered Roller Bearings – Ship TUE
  • Ernst – Awaiting Barnett Clutch Pack – Ships TUE
  • Forehand – Awaiting Frame Sliders – Ships WED
  • Arvanitis – Awaiting Testa Cam Belt Covers – Ships a week from MON
  • Legler – Awaiting Tapered Roller Bearings – Ships TUE
  • Swift  – Awaiting Steering Damper – Ships ?????
  • Chuchro – Awaiting Rotor Hone Tool – Ships TUE
  • Dalmaso – Awaiting Brake Pads – Ships TUE

24 Feb 2007 – Bayliss and Lanzi Struggle in Superpole

Well, Bayliss and Lanzi struggled in qualifying and superpole. Actually, I think they did fine, but the 999 hasn’t progressed as much in the off-season as the Japanese manufacturers have. If Ducati doesn’t do well at Qatar, I wouldn’ write them off, but with the Ducks being over a second slower than pole-sitter Corder, it may be a long season for Ducati.

I didn’t get much accomplished yesterday. I ran string lines to mark out the new driveway extension to the workshop and rented a ditch-witch to cut some trenches, only to have the darn thing not work when I got it home. I then rented a stump-grinder instead and re-ground some old Hurricane Ivan stumps. What fun.

It was another gorgeous day in Pensacola. No riding for me, but I did get to get out some back-orders of parts. I got in my shipment from Pro-Bolt in the UK, but I only got 1/2 of what I ordered. What a surprise. I did get in the 19mm dzus fasteners, so I sent them out to customers. Also, my shipment of tapered roller bearing removal tools get here on Mon. Here’s what I’m out of stock of.

  • Tapered Roller Bearings – They get here on Monday
  • Hard Ano/Red Ano Clutch Kits – They get here on Friday
  • 5mm wellnuts – They get here on Tue
  • Barnett Quiet Clutch Packs – Due here on Mon.
  • Rotor Hone Tools – Due here on Tue

That’s about it. Just about everything else is in stock.

I got in two tidbits that I’ve fought for over 6 months to get – the STM Vertigo clutch pressure plates and a set of the Speedymoto DS1000 billet belt covers. I’ll pop up ads for both before the weekend it out. I’ve got one set of cam belt covers and 4 of the STM pressure plates. Also, there’s a shipment of STM Billet clutch pushrod bushings on the way to me, so I activated the ad under the clutch section. I only get 2 shipments of those a year, and I rarely have them in stock.

One of my pet-peeves is vendors who pre-charge me without having the item available in a timely fashion. I usually have everything in stock, but sometimes vendors are late getting stuff to me. Then there are the vendors, like Braketech, that advertise having stuff, but don’t have it in inventory. In Braketech’s defense, their lack of inventory is a time-honored tradition. Let’s see, how many DD’s have I bitched about suppliers. Nothing like beating a dead horse.

A recent issue several weeks ago is good case in point. I’m a reseller for Moto Millenia. They own Cyclecat, On Cycles and a few other companies. Good customer Ken Swift wanted a Matris-IV steering damper for his S2R1000. No problem. I ordered one online through my dealer login, and found out that the item was back-ordered. So, I click on the “add to cart” button and email the vendor. Then I’m billed the full amount from Moto Millenia and told that it will be here “in the Spring”. I spaz out and call them as say that “Spring” isn’t an acceptable time frame. I was assured that it would be here by the end of March. I have another special order set of rearsets from Cyclecat that I paid for that will go on Mark’s 999. When I’m charged up front by vendors, I have to charge the customer’s up front. If it’s only a $50 part, I don’t mind notbilling a customer. When the said part is over $100, I pre-charge if I’m pre-charged. Quite frankly, I have a problem with vendors charging me up front for a product and then using my money for weeks without delivering the goods. Of course, I now do the same thing to my customers. Still, it gives me heartache. If I was as big as Motowheels, I could probably afford to stock everything on the planet. For products like rearsets, bar risers, frame sliders and steering dampers, I have to rely on the inventory levels of my vendors. I just wish more businesses were like Pro-Cutting and Paulimoto. I lose sleep when I can’t fill a customer order, and long-backordered products give me a perpetual case of indigestation. If vendors fail to deliver stuff to me within a week of when I order, I look for work-arounds to find the parts elsewhere. Unfortunately, Ducati’s are niche bikes, and vendors making specialized parts are few and far between. Now if some of the 100 vendors selling clutch covers on eBay would make products that I needed, I’d have a wider array of suppliers to source from.

That’s about it for the news. Today I get in another customer bike – A M620 from Birmingham AL. I’ll do the service on that this week and finish the 888. I hope to start tearing into Suzi’s S2R late next week.

Have a good weekend.  

23 Feb 2007 – Don’t Spark it, Dual-Spark it

Yesterday I spent some time thinking about the DS1000 motor. My experiences with it convey the impression that it yields more vibration than other Desmos. So then I went to basics. The crank setup on the DS is the same as most of the other Desmos, and the bore and stroke isn’t so dissimilar that it would cause excess vibration. So then what would cause vibration? After talking to one of the technical consulants on my books for about an hour last night (I’ll keep his name secret – he doesn’t need the aggrevation), I think I have a better answer. The problem with the DS is really a head and injection problem. First, 04-06 DS1000 motors are prone to have bad valve guides. Multistrada.net has good case writeups of the symptoms and the VIN#s affected. Bad valve guides affect the smoothness of the throttle response and affect detonation. My MTS is affected, so I plan on remedying the situation by asking for a good faith warranty to get new guides, redone seats, and valves. I can’t do that myself.  Another problem with the DS is that the 5.9 ECU requires a good F/I setup…. properly synched throttlebodies, TPS setup, Air bleed and CO trim. A good setup can’t compensate for bag valve guides though. The third problem is the O2 circuit on the newer DS1000 motors. The new closed loop F/I is notorious for poor off idle and steady state low rpm throttle settings. I haven’t dynod one to know if the O2 sensor is creating a too lean condition, but I’m guessing that is the problem. It will be interesting to see if the new 1100 DS is better. My tech friend indicated last night that the bikes he’s uncrating seem to run better out of the box, so maybe Ducati has a better mapping to go with their closed loop system. One thing’s for sure, we aren’t going back to an open loop setup…. or are we? Termignoni’s solution to the closed loop system’s poor running tendencies is to sell a kit — their exhaust with their ECU and a plug to eliminate the O2 sensor. The new full system from Termi for the 1098 eliminates both the O2 sensor and the EXUP valve. Weird. My techie also told me that they only got 145 HP out of a 1098s with a full-termi. This result is contrary to Ducatis’ assertion that the 1098 would beat the old 999R out of the box. Perhaps after break-in better performance will be achieved.

That’s it for my mindless rambling. If you have a 2003-2006 DS1000, check with your dealer to see if your VIN# is affected. If you don’t notice any problems, it doesn’t mean that it doesn’t exist. Bad valve guides can result in burnt valves and damaged seats.

I’m off for a day of work on the property. Have a good Friday. :-)

 

22 Feb 2007 – An early spring?

While last week was in damn chilly at this time, today it hit 79 degrees in Pensacola. What a gorgeous day. I started the day by pulling the left rear wheel off the Avalanche…. 2 roofing nails gave me one hell of a flat tire. Worse, I must have driven home from the branch campus on tue night and didn’t know that tire was going flat, so I ruined the tire bead. I had 40K on that set of tires, so I decided to put new shoes all the way around – 285-70-17s. All I need is a lift kit, and I’ll be a proper redneck.

The claims agent came to the shop today and took a gander at the two estimates I provided. He did a double-take. First, he didn’t know what a Ducati was, and second, he had no idea how expensive repair parts are. When he saw both estimates in excess of 5K he was shocked. Oh well. I got a call later from State Farm to tell me they’ll let me know in the next few days how much they’ll be sending my way. I can then at least take the S2R apart for refurbishing. I’m not touching anything until I get the check.

I finished the wiring on the 888, but can’t button anything back up until the new Cyclecat risers get here. The ones for their 900ss kit don’t work, even though they indicate so on the website. If these risers work, I’ll have them create a separate kit # for the 851/888.

 

 
Above: With the reservoirs now inboard with the Cyclecat setup, there won’t be any more fairing scraping on my 888. The biggest difference with the cyclecat setup is that the bars are wider and are about an inch raised from the stock position.  

I spent about 10 hours this week creating the Cyclecat ads on my website. The only thing I don’t have up are their frame sliders. I’ll add them next week. It takes forever to create the pages and links. I still have to troubleshoot the pages to see if all the price links work. That sometimes takes as long as creating the pages. It’s all good though. I should have put the Cyclecat stuff up years ago. I’ve installed enough systems on my own bikes to keep them in business.

The Pro-Bolt shipment is supposed to get here tomorrrow, so for those of you that ordered 19mm dzus fasteners, I can get your shipments out. That will clear most of the backorders out of here.

Lanzi and Bayliss were 5th and 6th today in qualifying in Qatar. Tomorrow’s Superpole should be good. It’s a shame it isn’t televised.

Tomorrow, I’ll make a run to the Post Office and then start work on the shop driveway’s new retention wall. No more wrenching for me until next week. :-)

 

21 Feb – Happy Hump Day

Welcome to Wed, the middle of the week. For me it’s my Friday, as I have off TH and FR to work DT. Today is my usual full day of teaching, followed by our local Ducati meet tonight. Today is a also a complete wash out as rain is covering up the entire gulf coast, so no commuting on the scooter for me.

I want to thank those that posted either here or on my message board about yesterday’s DD. You’re right, it isn’t anybody’s business what I do with my money. :-)

I got a call yesterday from BCM…. My 1098s is in. I’m sure they’ll be doing wheelies on it, knowing those guys. I’m glad it arrived. Now I have to wait a month to go get it. No biggie. I’ve got enough to do in the meantime.

Ducati parts shipments have been slow for the past few weeks. I’m still awaiting Tyler’s mirror and Walt’s front wiring harness. Grrrr….

I spent 4 hours working on the 888 yesterday fitting the CC risers and rebuilding the front end. I’ve had all sorts of fitment and clearance issues with the CC bars. I don’t think the risers that were designed to work with the 900ss will work on the 888. I need the bars to go lower than they will currently go, but the risers hit the stop on the forks where the diameter changes. Damn. Also, the nice CF bracket I made up for the LCD display and the fan switch interferes with the location of the clutch reservoir. Then I found the clutch line to be too short. So, I blew a morning and have little to show for it. Damn… I hate doing custom work. I’ll have another go at it tomorrow. I’ve got a M620 coming in for a full service this weekend, so I have to clear the 888 out of the workshop.

I talked to my Arrow rep about slip-ons for the ST series. I’d need to order 20 systems in order for them to do a run. No way. I’m not about to tie up over 10K in inventory without preorders, and I can’t take preorders without knowing when they would be delivered. Sil Motor still says the end of March for a possible shipment from them. So, no solution there either. I’m going to try one additional vendor today.

I called up State Farm to once again ask to speak to a case worker about their client. They said they hadn’t spoken to their client and couldn’t process my claim until they did so. I then voiced my frustration and used the word “litigate”. Within 5 minutes I had a call back with State Farm accepting liability for their client’s actions. Hooray. I’ve got to get a formal estimate from a different shop due to my conflict of interest in providing them with my own estimate. Not a problem. The assessor who comes to my shop is going to have a cow when they see the estimate. If they’re not familiar with Ducati replacement parts costs, they’re about to get a lesson. I’m guessing the estimate will be $6500 with labor. It’s $5300 without labor or my gear.

I chatted with my editor, Dave Searle, yesterday. He’s flying to Tucson and Hawaii for the upcoming BMW single-cylinder bike intros. What a tough job. He wants me to write a piece on how to fix the poor running issues on the DS1000 motors with an O2 sensor. I need to talk to a few of my tech friends first. I need to add their experiences to my own. One solution is to install a termi system with a replacement ECU. Their kit eliminates the O2 sensor, essentially converting the F/I to an open loop system like the previous generations of Marelli FI. The solution works. I’ve also heard that people are just disconnecting the O2 sensor and the rough idle/off idle situation improves. In my opinion, both solutions defeat the whole purpose of closed loop FI setup. The O2 inputs to the fuel map should correct any rich or lean condition. I’m guessing the impact of the O2 sensor is negligible to the overall fuel map, and that it can only adjust the fuel map leaner. It doesn’t seem to compensate for a lean condition caused by an aftermarket pipe. I hope to ride a 1100 DS soon so that I can see if the engine is smoother. For those of you with DS1000 motors, you might not know it, but the engine design has a primary imbalance. There is a LOT of vibration created by the engine, more so than on any other Duc I’ve ever seen.  

I have a bunch of orders being held up by 19mm dzus fasteners. For those that ordered, notice it says that product is back-ordered until 1 March. Pro-Bolt is proving to be an unreliable supplier. If anybody knows of a RELIABLE supplier for billet clutch and brake reservoirs ot 19mm d-ring dzus fasteners, I could use the tip. I’ve tried Madduc, Pro-Tek and Pro-Bolt. Few companies make the front brake reservoir cover for brembo reservoirs.

That’s about it for the bits and pieces today. Don’t forget that WSB kicks off this weekend. Here’s hoping Troy has a good start to the season on the lame-duck 999. I’ll shift into my race reports when the season starts this weekend. I’ve become a race junkie for WSB and MotoGP. I ran into E-Boz at the Dealer Show in Indy last weekend and wished him luck aboard the R1 this year. Eric is very personable guy and is humble about his skills. Without a Ducati in AMA Superbike, I’m routing for E-Boz.

A little bird told me that Barber’s will get either MotoGP or WSB next year. The track will be closed down this winter for a repave/lengthening. How cool is that?

Did you guys know that Ducati is building a race bike kit for their Sport Classic 1000? They’re only making 50 of the kits. The kit will include race bodywork (front cowl, seat, and belly pan), a full termi 2-1 system with ECU and air filter (not as nice as their 2-2 system though), AND Ohlins forks and rear shock. The price tag for the kit is @ $3400.  That’s a lot of change for a race kit, but the ohlins stuff and the exhaust/ecu is worth the price of admission. It is a special order item from the dealer. Now that the Supersport is being killed off, I guess Ducati wants to encourage club racers to race their Desmodues. You can have 2 Suzuki SV1000s for the price of a Sport Classic + race kit though, if you’re into that sort of thing. Ducati doesn’t make the only twin… I loved my Honda Hawk 650 and SV 650S. They just didn’t break down or require maintenance, so I sold them. I want my bikes to be troublesome and to treat me like the Capitalist pig that I am…..

… ooh I just got a Candygram from Pro-Bolt… My order ships today from the UK. Dzus fasteners and Reservoirs included. :-)

 

 

20 Feb 2007 – Darn Insomnia

I’m up at 0400 again. Darn Insomnia. My mind woke up before my body. I hate it when that happens.

I squared away a few orders yesterday to correct some empty shelves — rotor hone tools, 19mm dzus fasteners, and steering race remover tools. When I mean “squared away”, I mean I checked with the vendors again about my order. I can’t force them to want my money. I can merely order the stuff.

I had an easy day of teaching yesterday. I gave a test in one class and a lecture in the other. In between classes I had time to update the website with all the updated Arrow exhausts. I need to call my rep today to order one system for a customer and I’m trying to contract with Arrow to once again make the cans for the ST series. I was able to slice some of the prices of the Arrows, as their 2007 prices came down for some items. I give free shipping on website orders for exhausts, and try to price-match when I can.

On a side note – I think there’s a mistaken presumption that I use all the profits from DT to purchase new bikes for myself. I got an email yesterday to that effect. Just to set the record straight, DT is a passion and a hobby to me. I don’t build my bike collection on the backs of my customers. I love doing this venture as a side gig. That being said, any bike I’ve ever purchased has come out of my own hide. Remember, I have no kids, no car payment, and a house that is almost paid off. I have NO other hobbies. So, after the home-improvement and 401K accounts are funded each month, I get to sock away a little for bikes. All the DT stuff gets put right back into DT. The occasional part gets ordered for me as opposed to the business, but those days are rare, and are getting rarer. My reality check for DT is 1 – is it still fun, and 2 – is it worth spending 20 hpw on a marginally-profitable business. Thus far, the answer is yes. Unless I purchase the bikes, I don’t get to work on them. Being where I am, it takes me YEARS to see new Ducatis in the workshop. I’ll bet it will take me 4 years to have a customer call needing a 7500 mile check up on their 1098. I can’t wait 4 years to update my maintenence manuals. Sooooooo, I have to purchase bikes myself so that I can tear them apart. That’s my defense to Suzi anyway. :-)

I worked a few more hours on the website last night. I’m creating the pages necessary to sell Cyclecat bar risers and rearsets. What a monumental effort. It will take me the rest of the week just to get the Cyclecat pages online and functional. It’s been a long time coming, as I’ve been using their bar riser and rearset kits for years. Good stuff.

Today I’ll start off with a breakfast with Suzi, a run to the PO, and a few quality hours installing the forks on the 888. Then it’s off to the branch campus. Yippee.

Guido and Luiggi send their regards. They’ve been vacationing in the Bahamas since the holidays. They told me they don’t do cold weather and to call them when it warmed up in Pensacola. You can’t get good help these days.

19 Feb 2007 – If it’s Monday, it must be sunny

I’m writing this Sunday night as I have a lot to do tomorrow at the office. Suzi is watching her reality shows anyway, so I’m left to my own devices. I finished my Paranoia Part II article for MCN tonight and sent it to Dave. God knows when they’ll publish it. They sat on part one for almost a year. They’d prefer that I write tech pieces. I can’t say that I blame them.

I caught up on orders today and cleared out most of the backordered stuff. I’m still out of stock of a few items. I’ll be battling with vendors this week to get some stuff in. I dropped Ferodo as a brake pad supplier. They gave me a one-month backorder time when I went to order pads. This after they told me everything was in stock and after I popped up the ad. So, if you ordered Ferodo pads, I upgraded them to Galfer Greens and didn’t charge anything extra. The Galfers are $5 more…. but they can fill what I order. If Braketech can’t ship my next rotor order, I’ll drop them and move back to Galfer completely. Galfer’s wave rotors are nice, but they aren’t as nice at the Braketech Axis. Actually, I saw something that trumped both sets of rotors — new ceramic carbon rotors at the Dealer show. Braketech had a few of them last year, but they were so expensive that only racers could justify them. I’m betting that within 5 years, the thought of a stainless steel rotor will be absurd… ceramic composities will rule the day and be about the same price that aftermarket rotors are right now — $400-$500 for a set.  

Above: So which do you think is more sexy; my Homer slippers, or the AK-20 Showa forks for my 888? 

I opened my goodie box from Traxxion this afternoon to look at the 888 forks. Traxxion does a great job of cleaning everything up. I’m looking forward to testing the AK-20s out. Putting such high-end internals is stupid for a street bike, but the bike deserves it. The 888 is the rarest bike I own. Only 250 of them were made in 93 and less in 94, making them rarer than a MH900e. What is most important is that the sliders are in perfect condition and now they have new seals, bushings and internals. Upgrading the 916 forks is next, but I’ll probably just put in a revalve kit. But if the AK-20s wow me on the 888, I may be tempted to do something else.

I coordinated with my friends at BCM to go get my 1098s during our spring break in the middle of March. Unless New England gets a Noreaster that week, I’ll be there. I’ll take Suzi along and we’ll visit Mom in PA. I’ve been storing a friend’s fiberglass Chariot enclosed trailer at my house for the past 2 years. I’ll finally be taking him up on his offer that I can use it anytime. The Chariot is NICE – a 2 bike trailer fully equipped to haul 2 Ducks comfortably for 1500 miles. Oops, did I say 2 Ducks? The nice thing about the Chariot is that it is one-third of the weight of my old V-nose steel trailer. I’m hoping it doesn’t effect fuel economy like my last trailer did. Somebody tell Bush to put a freeze on gas prices until the end of March.

I’m still awaiting my shipment of stuff from Pro-Bolts. If it doesn’t get here this week, my fastener backorders will grow. I’m already out of 19mm dzus fasteners. On the plus side, my ST-fairing brackets are in the mail to me for those that want to do a wintertime conversion while you do the rest of your maintenance.

Oh, I forgot to mention the effect of the Chinese at the dealer show. They now have their own pavillion and are growing by leaps and bounds. They are already impacting scooter sales in the US. The bikes are still dinky, and most lack refinement. I’d say they’re 5 years behind Hyosung of South Korea, and Hyosung is about 5 years behind the Japanese for comparable bikes. The possibility of the Chinese coming out with a GSX-R1000 clone anytime soon are remote, but I’ll bet you include one of their bikes in a future purchasing decision.

Oh, one bit of bad news…. Ducati raised the prices of their rocker arms to $185 and their ECUs to $1000. I’m glad I stocked up before the price hike. I’ll be able to sell rechromed ones for around $50-$55, but once again Megacycle will be an alternative. I’ll be using my cache for customer bikes in the shop. Gone are the days of the goodwill warranty on the pre-testa 4V rockers. The last one of those bikes sold in 2004 as a leftover. Unless you’ve got an in with the dealer, rocker arm replacements will be $185 apiece. Ouch… And, don’t damage that ECU. Blown ECUs are once again very expensive.

Enjoy your Monday. I’m thinking it will be a 916 day tomorrow, and I’m avoiding the locale where I had my accident. Call me superstitious. Like David Martin told me on the phone, I saw the Elephant last Sunday…. and he resides on the corner of Chemstrand Rd and Hwy 90. :-)