31 March 2007 – Bayliss on Superpole

Troy is a God… His superpole pace was almost a second faster than everybody else. Even Lanzi and Xaus qualified well, so expect a good showing from Ducati tomorrow. As always, I’ll mention the results before the airing, and will mention it at the start of tomorrow’s DD.

The weather has been freaky in Pensacola. Today was off and on clouds and windy. I’m trying to keep up with our oak trees’ ability to shed leaves. I hate oaks – dirty trees. They’re great if you don’t like grass, but they smother anything below their branches.

Today was a good day. The UPS guy dropped off my Zard system for the Sport 1000, so I unboxed that last night, and got cracking on it today between yard chores. Fit was excellent, finish was excellent, directions sucked, and clearance around some electrical wires was suspect. Also, the Zard plates were cocked at an angle facing the ground, so I had to yank them off. Oh well. I shielded some wires with black thermo tape and rerouted a few lines. I also did my full monty clutch upgrade and installed the ohlins stuff laying on the shelf. My hands are so beat up that I said screw it when I was done, so no pictures yet. If it doesn’t rain tomorrow, I’ll take a few. The only thing left to do on the bike is to drop a tooth in the countershaft sprocket. I was expecting the Zard system to be obnoxious, but it doesn’t sound that loud. It’s cool as hell though. The bike is definitely an eye-opener. Cooler than a Monster, in a retro sort of way. The only design thing I plan on changing is the dual chrome horns facing forward. They spoil the look of the front of the bike.

I’m happy to report a new product this week – seal savers. They are neoprene fork gaitors that protect fork sliders on all Monsters, Mh900e, Sport Classics, and MTS models — essentially any model that doesn’t fully shield the front of the fork slider. To install, you have to drop the forks and slide them over the top. I put them on the Sport 1000, so I’ll use those pictures for the ad. I ordered a batch of them already.  It’s a no brainer product – $26.95 a set.

I’m heading out with Suzi to enjoy some dinner. Later tonight I’ll finish my taxes. I’m happy to report that I don’t owe Uncle Sam anything. For the first time in 5 years, I’m taking a small loss on DT.  Don’t worry. DT is solvent – the 1098s and Sport 1000 didn’t come from that kitty of $$.

It’s not looking good for the planned ride tomorrow. 60% chance of thunderstorms. Grrrr….. 

30 March 2007 – March is history

Man, March sure went quickly. I can’t believe 2007 is 25% complete.

Bayliss is on pace in WSB qualifying. Lanzi must be taking the pit road during each lap. He’s 4 seconds off the pace. WSB is on Sunday from 2-4 CST.  SpeedTV is Finally covering WSB again. Suzi and I are having a Barbque for some of the boys on Sunday, so we’ll get to watch the races. The weather for Sunday is looking worse – now it’s calling for 60% chance of rain. My planned Sunday ride is looking grim.

Yesterday was a very productive day at DT. I finished Ken Ford’s GT1000 by replacing the shocks installing the luggage rack and setting the F/I.  Then I couldn’t resist, and I put the bodywork on Suzi’s bike. It looks great. Sorry, no picture yet. With Suzi’s bike off lift #2, I was able to put Scott Wibel’s Gran Canyon up on the lift. Then I stripped the bodywork off of Walt Bolton’s ST2 and rolled my Sport 1000 up onto lift #1 for modification. Late in the day Mike Hill dropped off his S4 for diagnosis of a faulty brake light.  That about sums up 10 hours in the shop. If I’m lucky, I’ll fix Mike’s S4 and Walt’s ST2 by the end of next week. That will leave only Scott’s GC to do a full service when I get back from military duty.

This morning I packed boxes and made a post office run. This afternoon it’s off to the university for a committee meeting, then back home to meet the guy who fixes my sprinkler system when I get stuck.

No DT news. I’m busy ordering stuff to refill low stock and squaring things away to depart for some military duty. Suzi will ship things in my absence.

29 March 2007 – A Pleasant Thursday

I got word yesterday that Suzi’s bodywork is ready for pickup from my painter. I’ll pick that up first thing this morning and then do some packing. I’d love to put on the bodywork, but I know better. The best thing you can do with freshly painted body panels is let them sit to cure for a few weeks. Paint is prone to chipping and scratching when it is fresh. I’ve had over 10 bikes painted in the last 5 years, and can attest to that fact. By the time I return from Army duty the pieces should be cured enough to install.

I got to spend lunch with Brad yesterday. Brad Gaines owns a small family run garage in Pace Florida. Brad is a good old boy. He’s as stubborn as an ox, but is probably one of the nicest people I know. He’s unassuming, genuine, and giving — 3 traits we all could use more of. When I’m with him I manage to relax and enjoy the moment, an experience I usually deny myself. My motto has always been that I’d rather make the roses grow than smell them. As I get older, I realize that smelling the roses is probably a better way to achieve happiness. I meditate a bit before and after every workout to release stress and put me in the right frame of mind. Brad is usually relaxed, and I doubt that he meditates.  I tend to relax when working on motorcycles, even though Suzi thinks that having bikes to work on stresses me out. Rarely does wrenching stress me out. Still, I’m usually wound up tight, and need the occasional kick in the head to remind me of what’s really important – relationships and both doing the right things and things right.

I rode the 1098 to our Ducati get-together last night. The bike needs some tweaking. The throttle cable stretched some more. When that happens throttle response is abrupt. I see a lot of customer bikes with way too much throttle cable play. Anything more than 1/8″ inch in play drives me crazy. My 14 tooth 525 pitch countershaft sprockets came in yesterday, so one will go on the 1098. I think that will make a big difference — it has on all the rest of the Ducati superbikes I own. Only the 748 comes geared optimally in my opinion.

I got my Ducati Sport Classics rear swingarm stand from Pitbull yesterday. The stand is purpose-built just for the Sport Classics and fits their wide swingarms perfectly. I hate to purchase stands with a single bike in mind, but it made sense to get one. Besides, it was another chance to throw some business to Pitbull. Charlie, the owner, is one of my favorite people. He’s been far to generous to me in the past. Even though I was railing about the Zard reps yesterday, most of my vendors are great. Pitbull, Charlie of Pro-Cutting, the folks at Throttlemeister, Paul of Paulimoto, Mike at Arrow, Mike at EMS, Christopher and Christian at Speedymoto, and Dan from Lockhart Philips are all gems. Some have trouble getting me what I want occasionally, but they are ethical people and ethical companies. That makes a big difference to me.  

I’ll be doing a blackwater run this Sunday come hell or high water. It will be my last chance for anything more than commute for the next 3 weeks, so I’m looking forward to it. I’ll probably give the 1098 a good thrashing to break it in. It doesn’t look like I’ll be getting the Sport 1000 exhaust for awhile. In the meantime, I’ve got 3 customer bikes sitting here that I need to work on. Life is good.

That’s it for the highlights for Thursday. I’ll be the shop most of the day trying to get things done. It is supposed to go up to 83 today. I may have to crank up the air conditioner in the workshop. I’ve never had to do that so early in the year. I hope it isn’t a portents of things to come. I was counting on April and May being cool. At the current rate of temperatures, it will be scalding hot here by the end of April. Yikes!

A big thank you to Grover for plugging my Leo Vinci systems on Ducati.ms. Without customers I’d have no presence, and I count on work of mouth. I sold 2 of the 6 systems I purchased last week. It’s always scary shelling out money like that up front when I don’t know the demand for the product. It made sense to get them though. Exhausts for the ST2 and 3 have always been hard to come by.

28 March 2007 – Another Stupid Vendor

Yesterday was a lost day. I never did get to turn a wrench in anger. The day started off with 2 hours of packing boxes. I ran out of fan kits, so instead of making up a single kit, I took time to cut more CF brackets and make up 10 kits. That took another hour. By the time I got to the Post Office and got a hair(s) cut, the morning was shot. Then it was time to head to campus, grade papers and head to the branch campus.

My blood pressure only went up once yesterday. Last Monday I called the Zard USA distributor to order a full system for the Sport 1000. I figured that by the time I got home last Friday it would be sitting at the shop. I was told the system was in stock. Well, it didn’t show last Friday and it didn’t show on Monday. I sent an email yesterday morning asking for a tracking #. No response…. So I called. I was told that the system was missing some fasteners, and that it would finally ship yesterday. Fasteners? I have enough fasteners in my shop to outfit a hundred exhaust systems. I asked to be sent a tracking #…. Nothing. So, when you get screwed by vendors (I was charged for the system last monday), don’t feel bad. We resellers get screwed just like you do. Ten Bucks says the system didn’t ship yesterday or today. They’re scrambling trying to find parts to put together the system. Guess what brand won’t be added to my “exhuast products” page. This is strike 2 against Zard after the full system for my MTS had fitment problems. I guess I should have ordered an Arrow system, especially since I like their stuff so much. The moral of the story? Don’t be swayed by the cool looks of products… ask first about whether it’s in stock and ask second for a tracking #. If they can’t provide a tracking #, they didn’t ship it.

I got home last night in time to do some more tax prep work. I hate tax time.  It’s like working on an equation when you know you’ll hate the number you arrive at. The IRS are blood-sucking thieves, but I pay my dues.

Today I’ll teach a full day and then head to the Desmo get-together. New place in pensacola – The Geno’s italian restaurant on Davis highway at Copter Rd next to the church.

In terms of DT stuff, there are 2 new products up on the website – Slip-ons for ST2/ST3 by Leo Vinci. I still have 2 ti and 2 Carbon sets left. I also finally got around to putting up an ad for clutch cover bolts. The stock ones tarnish, so I got a hold of some 316 grade stainless steel bolts. I’m also testing another product for sale — neoprene fork gaitors to protect the fork sliders on Monsters, Mh900e, and Sport Classics. Ever since I ruined the forks on my Monster by allowing the sliders to get pitted from rocks, I’ve looked for a way to protect that area. What I’ve been doing is purchasing 916-style fenders and retrofitting them on monster forks. The 916-style fenders shield the slider area. That’s not a good alternative for most folks though, so a nice tidy gaitor seems preferable. I used a set all last summer on my Gran Canyon and they worked well. It’s a lot easier to install a set of gaitors than it is to have the sliders replated.

That’s it for today. Have a great Wed.  Tomorrow I’ll pull a 10 hour wrenching day on Ken Ford’s GT and Walt Bolton’s ST2.

26 March 2007 – A day without motorcycling

Today was a non-motorcycling day. I graded papers and dealt with students all day. I did get to commute into work on the 916, but that’s about it. Tonight I started the chore of doing my taxes. Every year it gets more complicated, but I keep things organized throughout the year, so it usually isn’t too bad. I manage to do everything in turbotax and then run it by a friend that is an accountant in case I miss anything. I don’t mess with the IRS, so I’m conservative in my deducations. I haven’t been audited, so I must be doing something okay.

I got an email from Chris Turner this weekend that he developed an oil leak on the 748 that I worked on. Turns out that I didn’t snug down a bolt on the vertical cylinder left side rocker pin cover plate. Stupid mistake. All it takes is missing to torque one bolt and one of the 8 gaskets in each head will start leaking. I screwed up. Sorry Chris. I can’t blame it on being rushed, because you gave me plenty of time to work on the bike. Making mistakes used to make me lose sleep. Now it just takes my ego down to where it should be — that I make mistakes and have to try harder to eliminate them. The problem with out of town customers is the inconvenience in not being able to swing by the shop for me to look at the bike.

Tomorrow I’ll do the mods on Ken Ford’s GT1000 and tear the fairing off of Walt Bolton’s ST2. If I can get both bikes done by the weekend I can get Scott Wibel’s Gran Canyon up on the lift next week. God knows when I’ll manage to start my retention wall. I faced reality and gave a call to a handyman I’ve used before to repair our sprinkler system. I’d lose half a day troubleshooting that.

I’m off to our branch campus tomorrow afternoon for an evening of teaching. Only 4 more weeks and this semester is history.  

25 March 2007 – A day of motorcycling

Moto GP Spoiler below…..

Well, today’s ride was a bust. Everybody cancelled, so I decided just to ride to breakfast and meet Suzi. Tony Noles joined us on his GS1200. When Suzi left for her weekly Walmart run, Tony and me rode back to the house and I showed him the Sport 1000. We hung out for awhile talking bikes. He’s debating getting a Sport 1000 versus a Hypermotard. Tough choice.

I reorganized the bikes in the showroom, and managed to cram in one more on the far wall and one more on the near wall. That’s it though. No more room in the showroom for additional bikes. Good thing I’m building a bigger building. :-)

Above: A rare sight indeed – 4 generations of Ducati Superbike side by side.   

Suzi and I printed out all the mailing labels for the orders today, so, as planned, all of last week’s orders will ship out tomorrow. That’s a good thing. While Suzi did her workout, I headed to the workshop and replaced all the crash-damaged parts from her S2R. It’s all ready for the repainted bodywork, which I hope to get in a week or so.

Here’s my riding report of the 1098s. Handling is superb. It turns in quicker than a 999, and the bike is very forgiving. It’s also nice to have some lock-to-lock travel. No more needing a football field to turn around a Ducati Superbike. The bike is geared WAY too tall. I’ll be dropping a tooth up front. It probably needs two more teeth in the back as well, but that will require a new chain. The rear tire is so close to the front wall of the swingarm, that a new chain will be needed to keep the rear tire away from it. The brakes are linear and smooth, but anything more than 1 finger is too much. Torque abounds. More than any other generation of Ducati. The power delivery is linear and predictable, but torque is everywhere at anything more than 3000 rpm. I didn’t get at or near redline. I’d have to be on a racetrack for that due to the gearing. It wasn’t warm out when I was riding, so there was no heat problem, but I’m guessing the 1098 will be like the 916-999, meaning summertime heat and traffic lights = a roasted butt. The bike likes to be blipped. My techies related that the cam profile causes the engine to load up unless it is revved. I can blip up and down with the best of them, so that’s no problem.   

After working on the S2R (and slicing another finger), we headed to Mike & Mark’s for a cookout and MotoGP viewing. I was a bit disappointed by the race. It reminded me of several years ago when Rossi would check out and leave everyone in his wake. So what’s up with Capirossi? Stoner is kicking his butt. I think the new smaller bikes are more suited to the diminutive guys, and Pedrosa and Stoner are munchkins. None or the MotoGP guys are exactly big.. except for Edwards who is large in stature for a MotoGP racer. The problem with Jerez is it didn’t allow the Ducati to spool up and show off it’s horsepower. The Yamaha is clearly the handling leader thus far.

I had a relaxing time at Mike and Marks. Tyler, Suzi’s sister Leighanne, and Shelly also showed up to enjoy our motorcycle event. Shelly broke out her CSI finger-printing stuff to take my finger prints. Looks like the 3rd time go-around for my TS packet for the Army. The first 2 tries were aborted due to funding issues. I could care less about a TS clearance, but my position calls for one.

A few product tidbits – I’ve got a new set of Gilles titanium-colored rearsets for a 749/999 for sale. I purchased them thinking they would fit the 1098 — no go because the hole spacing of the mounts is different between the generations.  I also have 2 red STM stile pressure plates for sale. All the ti ones sold while I was gone. Email me offline if you want any of the above.

Tomorrow it’s back to the teaching thing. I’m just glad to be back home.

24 March 2007 – Wound up

There’s a saying in the military that goes “cramming 10 pounds of shit into a 5 pound bag”. That about sums up my first day back at home. I’ve got too much to do and not enough time to do it. Today I did yard work for 4 hours, worked on DT orders, took delivery of Ken Ford’s GT1000 for some bling stuff, cleaned the workshop, picked up another load of maintenence books, and bought Suzi some jewelry to compensate for my forgetting to mention that I was bringing back 2 bikes. We both worked until 8:30 tonight filling orders and boxing things up. Not exactly my idea of a fun Saturday night, but you’ve got to pay to play.

 Above: Within hours of getting my 1098s home, the blank canvas was painted on – A full-termi, ECU and filter, tank pad, DT clutch setup, CF hugger, sprocket cover and tail inlets and billet reservoir covers. Still to come – some more CF, STM frame plugs and Gilles rearsets.

Tomorrow is the 2nd MotoGP race. Did anyone check out the close qualifying order. The top 16 riders are within a second of each other. I’ve never seen that close of a qualifying session. The race should be awesome.

I’m going on a morning ride with Mark, Greg Ames and Bryan Jones – Ducati riders all. After that I’ve got a Ducati bar-b-q at Mike’s house, then watch some MotoGP and to the mailing labels for the orders tomorrow night. That will round out the weekend.

I’ve got a few new products to put up on the website next week. Mostly just some bling stuff, but the items are functional as well.

23 March – I’m Back!

27 Hours and 1550  miles. That’s a brief recap of the last 2 days. I made it from Laconia NH to a Rest Area between Birmingham AL and Chattanooga TN last night, and grabbed some shuteye in the Avalanche Inn. I made the final blast home today. The first thing I did upon arriving home was back up the trailer to the workshop and unload the bikeS. Yes, I didn’t want to mention the Sport 1000 until I told Suzi. I let her in on my secret. I got home early enough to take the 1098 for a quick spin. Torque everywhere! In stock trim the sound is pretty good. I can’t believe it passed EPA noise standards. Still, the sound wasn’t good enough, so I rode it back into the shop, tore off the fairing and slapped on my clutch mods and termi system. That fairing is a son of a gun to remove and install. The Termi system gave me a few fits too, but the sound was worth it. Talk about nasty. The sound is unlike any other desmoquattro. Much more raspy. I think the cam profile is pretty aggressive, as there is a lot of valve train clatter and the idle lopes quite a bit. It sounds great. New clutch setup folks – no more large 6 pt nut. Now you’ll have to find a 19mm allen socket. Good luck with that. Fortunately, I had a 19mm allen wrench. I’ll be lopping part of it off to make an allen socket. No pics yet of the 1098. Sorry.

Above: The Iron Horse Trailer was perfect. My bikes were safe and secure and didn’t get a nick with my tie-down method.

The only thing I had time to do on the Sport Classic was install come CRG mirrors. I rode the Sport Classic around the block as well. It needs a steering damper much more than a Monster. Eric at BCM told me it would. Hey Eric, chalk up one for your intuition. I think the trail makes that bike very twitchy. I’m guessing it has less than the Monster.

Above: My home away from home- a cot in the back of my Avalanche. I can store stuff underneath it and catch a few winks whenever I get fatigued. Notice the “gear” I stored beneath my cot – in this case an Ohlins shock and a set of forks for the Sport Classic 1000. Other Ducati boxes adorned the storage compartment – mostly repair parts for Suzi’s S2R.

 

Tonight Suzi and I printed out all the orders for the last 6 days, and will spend time this weekend boxing them up. I’ll get all the back-orders out by early this week. DT is back in business…. until I take off for my military training in a few weeks. I’ve got a ton of yard work to do tomorrow. Sunday I’ll ride a bit, enjoy some time with the local Ducati nuts, and get ready to go back to teaching next week. It’s nice to be back home. :-) 

21 March – The 1098 is loaded!

I was around Ducks all day today. I helped Eric do some of the prep work on my bike, but mostly just took pictures and talked shop with the owner, Leslie. We all went out to a nice lunch and told Ducati tech stories. The bike was then finalized and loaded by late afternoon. I went to dinner with my tech friend Eric Colbath. We talked… what else – Ducati tech stuff. It was a good time, but only if you’re a Ducati nut. In all, I learned a lot today by hanging out with their technicians. As I always do when I come up here, I found out that I’m not in the same league with the guys that build engines every day, but I can hold my own for troubleshooting and general servicing. Ducati doesn’t specify a very comprehensive pre-delivery inspection, but the techs at BCM gave mine a thorough going over – more like a 600 mile service than a simple PDI. I’m assuming some owners will have teething problems with their 1098 models if they aren’t set up right — there was a loose coolant hose clamp, the cams weren’t spot on, and the bleed screws were off. Like the 999 series, the 1098 is susceptible to low rpm stumbles if the CO is off.  I’ll have to reset the TPS and check the CO once I get the termi system and ecu in place on the 1098, but now I know how to remove the fairing and tank. The 1098 has as many fasteners as the ST2/4 Series, and some are tricky. My truck is loaded up with parts, some for the 1098 and some to rebuild Suzi’s S2R. I look forward to being home and relaxing with Moe and Suzi.

20 March 2007 – Frozen in Laconia

It was a long day’s drive from Pa up to Laconia. Everything went well until I had a blowout in one of the trailer tires south of Albany NY. I put the spare on while on the side of the road and got 2 fresh tires at a Walmart in Troy NY. I got to BCM just as they were getting ready to close, but I hob-nobbed with the gang there and beat it to a motel. I’m covered in road salt from changing the wheel and need a shower. Tomorrow I’ll help prep the 1098 and rebuild the 916 lower end, go to lunch with the boys and load up the trailer for the return journey. I’m debating my return route and time. If I decide to do the I-95 route, I may leave tomorrow night to get through the congestion in the Northeast under cover of night. That’s the route I’m thinking about doing.

I look forward to being home safe and sound with the 1098 so that I can relax a little prior to teaching next week.

It’s a balmy 15 degrees in Laconia. I need trips like this to remind me why I live in Florida. :-)