31 July 2007 – Lost Day

I spent the entire day at the univ yesterday getting caught up. My old friend, Dan Bowman, was in town last night, so Suzi and I had dinner with him. Afterwards he came over to the house and we talked about motorcycles and life for a few hours. Dan goes through bikes, either by buying and selling them rather quickly or by trashing them. Like my buddy Greg Calhoun, he bluto-izes them. In recent months he’s laid down a new ZX-10R on both sides and most recently grenaded the motor on his KTM Supermotard. He’s a great guy though, so don’t give him a hard time about his care towards his bikes. We were talking Supermotards, as he’s been raging for one for several years. He said his KTM was the most fun he’s ever had on a street bike. After our test last week in CA I can relate. They’re a hoot. We lamented the fact that Suzuki doesn’t make a SM version of their DRZ650. Bummer. The hypermotard is a neat concept, but it’s 75 pounds too heavy. Ducati’s indicated weight is 390 lbs, which usually doesn’t include fuel.  That weight puts it about 10 pounds lighter than a Monster, and while a bike of that weight is flickable, it can’t compare with something 50 pounds lighter. If you look at the weights of a good SM, they’re all around 325-350 wet. It’s a shame that Ducati hasn’t made a single in 4 decades (the supermono doesn’t count). The KTM 690 is my favorite looking SM. Aprilia’s smaller SM is nice, but Dan said the motor is a race design and has to be built every 3000 miles. I’ll have to check into that. I can’t imagine Aprilia marketing a motor that needs that level of tuning. SM’s are a growing craze here, but we’re trailing Europe and Asia in finding out their appeal.

The above pic is a shot of the 4 bikes we tested in Calif. Each one excelled at some aspect. Today I’ll be hitting the keyboard alot in an attempt to add a thousand words to the comparison story.

Well, I got some bad news yesterday. My favorite supply rep, Dan Green, is no longer employed by Lockhart Philips. He was good to me and understood my business and my needs. When a rep leaves, they don’t give advance notice. You just get another voice on the line. I was swearing when I got the typical response by the new rep. “Dan no longer works at this company”. I was yelling expletives for a minute. The new guy didn’t know my name, my company, or his products. Shit…..

Nothing else to report other than I’m considering making the DD a weekly thing. Readership has been dwindling, and my life is getting more hectic by the day. I appreciate those of you that check in daily, but I’m starting to bore myself with my ramblings. I’ve been dedicated to the DD, but I don’t think much would be lost by a longer weekly posting. I’ll decide on it in the next week or so. I’m not chasing “but I read it daily” or “you suck!” replies, so please don’t feel that I’m fishing for compliments or disparagements.

30 July 2007 – The Dog Days

The heat index went past 100 yesterday. It’s just miserable doing anything outside. It was a good weekend to be in the mountains, but not in the panhandle of Florida. It could be worse though— at least no hurricanes….. yet.

I got both of the 999 bikes up on the lifts and removed the bodywork. The 999 takes a lot longer to undress than the 916 series, but nothing compared to the 1098. I didn’t notice until today, but my 999s doesn’t have quick release fuel connectors. Weird. No matter, as the new quick disconnect connectors aren’t as easy to remove anyway. They’re easier to install, but not easier to remove. The best way to remove the fuel lines without quick disconnects is to squirt WD-40 around the end of the hose and let it seep into the end. Then loosen the clamp and twist the hose until it spins. Then it will just pull right off. When installing, I use anti seize paste to ensure the hose doesn’t mate to the steel. I found some bad news when moving the 999s to the workshop. My clutch master cylinder is kaput. All squeeze and no pressure. That’s the second bad radial brembo I’ve seen in the past few years. Time to see of Fred at Yoyodyne has rebuild kits for them. It took me an extra 10 minutes to remove the fairings on Greg’s bike. If the bottom screws that connect the fairing lowers are overtorqued, the seize inside the wellnuts. It took some swearing and skinned knuckles to reach inside his lowers and hold the wellnuts while I broke the screws free. Joy.

Above: Greg Ames’ ’04 999 is all set on lift #1, while my ’03 999s is prepped on lift #2. 

 

Above: Greg likes to use all of his centertread prior to replacing his tires. Jeez!!!

I did a lot of work on the website yesterday, adding 5 products and updating a few others. August is shaping up to be a busy month, so I’m not planning on many changes to the product lineup.

Today is a full day of teaching and grading. Enjoy your monday. New eatery for Wed night…. Times Grill across from the Applebees on 9 mile Rd. – 1845 hrs.

29 July 2007 – Another successful service

For some strange reason, I awoke yesterday morning at 0200. I tried to get back to sleep, but it was a no-go. With nothing else to do, I headed out to the workshop and started tinkering with my MTS1000.  Five hours later, the MTS was assembled and ready for the road again. I started it up and warmed it up to temp. Gone is the stumbling idle. It runs smoother than a new bike, which, for all intents and purposes, it is. The valves are spot on, the exhaust valves and guides are new, and the powercard is sorting any low end leanness. Life is good, even if it did cost me a good night’s sleep.

Suzi and I did yard work yesterday morning. Well, truth be told, Suzi did most of the work. Greg Ames dropped off his 999 for a service yesterday while I was helping Suzi, so I had to spend some time with him before heading to the post office. By the time I returned, Suzi had weed wacked and cut all 2 acres. What a woman.

With the MTS off lift #2, it’s free to accept another bike. I think I’ll roll my 999s up on it today. Greg is getting a lot of work done to his bike, so it will take me a few weeks to finish with everything. I’m scheduled to do the 600 mile service on a 1098 the following week, but I don’t need a lift for that.

I found my close up lenses, so I’m putting up the ads for the 999r carbon fenders and the ti-front axle nuts today. I have a few products in prototype, but I’m not saying anything until they’re tested. Tool stuff mostly.

Below is another pic from Laguna Seca. A row of hypermotard S models stand ready for duty. After staring at the hypermotard for awhile, it’s easy to see that many of the parts were adapted from the MTS. The hyper is a little lighter, and would probably carve corners a little bit better than an MTS, but it doesn’t have highway capability. After riding a few naked bikes on the highway last week, and after riding a naked Monster for years, I can assert that the Hypermotard would be great around town and in tight twisties. Ride it for more than a few minutes above 70 mph and you’ll need a neck massage. Of course, motards suffer that weakness as a category of bikes. They aren’t intended for long distance or high-speed riding. Life is full of compromises.

Oh, before I forget, it’s time to dispell some myths about the Power Commander. There have been rumors that FBF was selling Power Commanders to work with models with 02 sensors. After speaking to them, that’s a big NO. Their power commander maps will only work with the DP ECU. But, if you have the DP ECU, you don’t really need a power commander unless you’re on a quest for perfection. I emailed my power card rep again this week. All I keep getting back is that they are working on it. So, my recommendation if your hunting for a new Ducati is to either ride it stock and deal with any leanness by being a good little Ducatisti, purchase a new Duck and ante up for the DP/Termi ECU, or wait until the aftermarket sorts it out. That could take another 6 months – 2 years.

28 July 2007 – Too much to do

I spent yesterday split between DT stuff and MCN stuff. I wrote the intro to my bike comparo article throughout the day, made a run to the Post Office and packed the rest of the orders. For the first time in recent memory, I have no outstanding shopping cart orders. Everything has been filled. In between writing and doing DT stuff, I installed the belts and airbox on the MTS1000. I played with different belt tensions. I’m convinced that the whole belt issue is a farce. There are such a wide array of tensions that will work that the only concern is the timing changes wrought by different tensions. I used the harmonic tensioner, but don’t like the procedure nearly as well as the mechanical method of checking tension. Call me old school. I should be able to get the fairing back on over the weekend, in between grading assignments from my students at the U.

I misplaced my macro lenses, so it’s tough to take product shots until I find them. Until then, no new products will go up on the website. Now where did I lay those 3 lenses?

So what do you guys think of Ducati signing Melandri and giving Capirex the boot? I was surprised. Melandri is a fighter, but I thought Capirex would retire and the Ducati would employ him in some other capacity. He’s still a good rider, but something else was amiss this year. He hasn’t had any mojo. Nicky is signed through next year, so the only American in question is Edwards. Unless Rossi demands him as his teammate, he could be out of a ride with Yamaha. He’s expressed an interest to race Yamaha in AMA Superbike, but I think that it would be a mistake for him to come back to the Suzuki Cup series.

I’m sitting here watching Open Range on the Hallmark channel for the umpteenth time. I’m a hopeless Western fan.

Editor Dave has been looking into getting a Suzuki DR as a bike. He liked it that much from our comparo. It’s rare that a bike strikes the imagination of a motojournalist enough to want to own it. The DR650 is great, but my MTS does everything better except off-road duties.

Above: As AMC said with their Pacer design, wider is better. Good luck Buell. 

Above is another shot from Laguna from the Buell display tent. The reasons I took the shot were twofold. First, the new Buell 1125cc superbike has a new motor in it — from Rotax. Yes, Eric Buell appears to have finally come out from under the Harley-engined design. That’s the good news. As a result, the new 1125 is an all new superbike from top to bottom. The bad news is that Buell must have told Rotax to build them the widest motor that they could. It’s huge…. It looks just as big and bulky as their XB-RR flop. Damn. The second reason I took the picture is the look of the guy at the left of the shot. He’s wearing a Toyota employee polo shirt, and has the most puzzled look on his face that you ever saw. He’s probably thinking “damn, those Americans screwed up another sportbike design”. Maybe I’m wrong, but I don’t think this thing is going to set the world on fire. Still, it’s nice to see a rotax in the frame. I’ve been a rotax engine fan since I had a 2000 Mille-R.

27 July 2007 – Laguna comments

Laguna Seca is a motorcycle mecca extraordinaire for Ducatisti. You’ll see more Ducatis on the road in one day around Laguna Seca than you’ll see in 10 years in your home town. As a matter of fact, a visitor will swear that Ducati must have a 50% share of the sport bike market. They’re everywhere around the track and in Monterey and Pacific Grove. It’s good for the soul of a Ducatisti to visit there at least once during a motorcycle event. Ducati island is also very cool, even with the over-hyped features, such as fashion shows and bike contests.

 Above: The view towards Ducati island from the hill next to turn one at Laguna. There are a lot of good vantage points to see the race. My favorite is from this hill. You can see half of the track from this vantage point.

The bike show contests at Laguna are eye-candy gone wild. On display are some bikes that are rarely ridden. Some owners spend so much to bling out their Ducks that they are truly works of art. My question is #1 – Should bikes that are rarely ridden be given awards? Of course, paintings aren’t ridden either, but they aren’t meant to be. #2 – are “parts catalog” Ducatis as worthy of a bike show award as one-off customs? Of course, how many people have the ability to modify their own Ducatis with one-off parts? #3 – doesn’t it set a bad example to reward people who throw money at bikes instead of recognizing those more common Ducatisti who have nice daily-riders? Most Ducatisti aren’t rich enough to shower their Ducks with bling. I’d rather see a contest for high-mileage Ducks myself. Ducatis are artwork that you can ride, but I hate to see deep pocket people buy their way into the trophy rankings. Maybe I’m just jealous, but I doubt it. The big rage for the show this year was because the winner got a free ticket to the plant in Bologna. (or something like that). Some people spent so much getting their bikes ready that it would have been cheaper to pay for the trip themselves. One t hing’s for sure. Regardless of how nice  you think your Ducati is, there are way nicer ones at Laguna Seca. That doesn’t make them better than yours though. I wouldn’t trade any of my Ducks for the ones at Laguna. Customized Ducatis are a personal taste, and I like what I do to mine. Just as you probably prefer your Ducati to most others that you see. That’s it for my spontaneous Laguna comments. It’s a spectacle worthy of your attendance.

 Above: This all carbon 1098 was probably my favorite bike at the show. The custom paint job was to die for. I probably stared at it for 15 minutes. Later I saw it being trailered in Pacific Grove. This bike was modded to the point where it isn’t designed to be a daily rider.

Yesterday I accomplished everything I set out to, plus had a few spare hours to reinstall the heads on my MTS. I replaced the belts, but didn’t have time to do the tension on them. I’m going to use my mechanical tensioner on the horizontal cylinder today and compare to the harmonic method on the vertical cylinder. I’m trying to come up with a simple method for DIY types. With the cost of my mechanical tool going through the roof as the dollar depreciates, so I’ve got to find something cheaper. A simple hand mic, a notebook computer and a simple freeware software program is the answer, but I’ve got to write up some instructions and find a good vendor before I consider it a product for Ducatisti. I hate to even talk about belt tension, as it reminds me of some one-percenters on a certain ducati list that love to write pages of technical explanations of how to set belt tension. It makes me gag. I’d say I just set mine by feel, but that isn’t good enough because most Ducatisti don’t do it often enough to use that method.

Not much else to report. I’ll be shifting my focus back to wrenching next week. I don’t think I can make it happen, but I wanted to have the MTS done before next week so that I could do my 999s service along with Greg Ames 999 service. I like working on two bikes at a time, as it doesn’t get so monotonous staring at the same bike for hours.

That’s it for today. There’s no series racing this weekend due to the 8 hours of Suzuka race. Not many motorcycle fans follow that race any more, but the factories like the race for testing products. Have a great Friday.

26 July 2007 – DT back in business

I got home mid-morning yesterday. I was wired. I had planned on going to bed, but I couldn’t. With 35 orders sitting in my shopping cart, I got to work. I had all of the orders filled by dinner-time, but by then I was mentally fried. When Suzi got home I grabbed some dinner with her and was in the rack by 1930. Suzi said I tossed and turned all night and kept pulling off the covers. Staying awake for 36 hours straight will do that I suppose.

This morning I made up the shipping labels and got everything out at the post office. There are a few orders that are awaiting some parts, but everything should be here in a few days. I was delighted to see that of the 35 orders, 28 were from repeat customers whose names I all recognized. I love having a small business.

Well, the shed failed inspection again. They screwed up the porch support beam again. It looked like crap and the inspector said it still didn’t provide the proper load support. When a worker asked if I thought it was good enough, I said “If I wanted it to look fucked up, I would have done it myself”. That’s one of Brad’s favorite lines.

Over the course of the next few days I’ll upload some images from Laguna Seca. I didn’t take many, but some are worth a look.

I have some more admin stuff to do today. Tomorrow I have to start writing the bike comparison article for MCN, and this weekend a 999 shows up for a service next week. Back to the grind. It’s all good though.

Okay, I’ve got a CF 999R front fender sitting here that goes up on the website if somebody doesn’t claim it. $269 + 10.95 shipping. That fender has been discontinued, so this is it. The R fender fits all the 999 models and has a full shroud to protect the fork sliders. The standard fender including the standard CF fenders don’t shield the slider area. Also, I have 4 of the titanium 25mm front axle nuts. They are $38.05 each. I only have 4 to sell as the other 2 are spoken for. If nobody wants the above, I’ll put them up on the website for sale. It took me a year to get a few from the UK.

That’s it for today. I’m still wading through email and mail, but it’s good to be back home. The trip was a blast. I really enjoy riding with Dave Searle and his brother Donnie. The bikes were fun, the roads spectacular and the weather was perfect. I’m usual not too motivated to go to the track, but it was also enjoyable.

The picture below is from the Speedymoto tent. They set up a closed circuit TV to watch the races. The 1098 on the pedestal is a crash damaged one. They wanted to show the crash protection offered by their frame sliders. Enjoy your TH.

25 July 2007 – The Real Longest Day

After staying the night in Santa Barbara, we headed out early to beat the traffic into LA. We washed the mud off the bikes and parked them at the office. Then Dave dropped off me and Donnie at the airport. I was able to get to the airport way ahead of my scheduled flight and hoped to avoid my scheduled redeye flight. A big no-go on that. I missed the last connecting flight to Pensacola by an hour. Man, I hate living in a small city when it comes to flying. Sooooo, now I’m sitting in the PHX airport after waiting for 4 hours to catch the flight from LA. I’ve got another 4 hours to wait for the flight to Houston at 0100, and then fly from Houston at 0700. I’ll get home around 10 am if all goes well. no email on wed. I’m going to bed when I get home. Enjoy your flightless wed.

24 July – A Good Day

Yesterday was awesome. We roade on some of the finest twisties on the planet – Carmel valley rd, g14, Foxsen canyon, and others whose name I can’t remember. We even got on a few more dirt roads that were awesome. It was Donnie’s trun to go down on the KLR650. I had to go back looking for him and pull the bike off hin. He went off into a deep rut.

We stayed the night in Santa Barbare. Today we’ll complete the run to LA and I’ll be at the airport by 1600. I fly all Tue night. Looking forward to getting back to Suzi. That’s it for now. Have a great tue.

23 July 2007 – Back from Monterey

Today we’ll start back from Monterey. We’ve got 2 days to get back to LA so we’ll have time to hit a lot of good roads. We stayed up last night talking about the bikes. Of course that was after a nice dinner at a small restaurant we frequent every year.

None of the races today were goodL but it was nice to see Stoner dominate. It’s too early to call a champL but you’d be hard-pressed to bet against Stoner. It was a bad day for the Americans though. I watched the race on closet circuit tv with the speedymoto guys in their tent.

I’m really enjoying the cool weather out here. I don’t want to have to go back to the heat. Oh well, at least I can enjoy Calif for a few more days. Enjoy your Monday.

22 July 2007 – Amongst the throngs

I had a great time yesterday. I started it off with a 3 mile run on the beach, then breakfast with the boys and out to the track. I perused all the vendor displays then spent time on Ducati island. I met up with Charlie and hung out with him watching qualifying and the supersport race. The only person I saw that I knew was Mike of ems.duc. All the other vendors were dealers with booths on Ducati Island. The hypermotard rocks- a great bike for around town and in the twisties, but like most naked bikes, hell above 70 due to the lack of wind protection.

Last night after dinner we spent time evaluating the bikes, taking notes and comparing features. We’re planning a different run next year, maybe to Colorado or Utah to test sport tourers.

Today, i’ll grab another run, then head to the track. go Ducati. I be there all day, but my attention will waver after t e motogp race. AMA stuff is okay, but the talent can’t compare to the big boys.

Have a great Sunday.