24 September 2007 – 1 bolt = 2 valves

MotoGP Spoiler Below

Another birthday has come and gone, and the ‘ole LT has survived 46 years. Unfortunately, the hurricane season intervened on this past weekend’s activities, so it was a gooey one on the Gulf Coast. I celebrated by going to breakfast with Suzi and Brad and then perusing all the bike dealerships in town on Sat. I came home empty. After all, how many more helmets and pairs of gloves do I need. I had a good birthday weekend though. I saw friends and family, which is what weekends are all about anyway.  The only wrenching I did this past weekend was to pull the clutch and housing off my old Gran Canyon for a cleaning and sprucing up. I’m going to start riding to the branch campus on Tuesdays, and the Gran Canyon and ST2 are best suited for the 150 mile round trip.

I didn’t do any work on Bluto’s bike last week. I’m waiting on the instrument cluster shroud and front subframe before I finish it. I’m a bit worried about trying to making the instruments fit better. It seems the last owner grafted the Monster wiring harness into the SS instruments one wire at a time. See the images below of what I’m dealing with.

Above: This cluster of wires is supposed to be hidden from view by a casing. The last owner decided to graft each wire individually and cut the entire casing away.  

Above: Dangling wires from the harness splice into the battery. Not good.

Above: Rather than build new brackets for the starter solenoid and main fuse, the last owner just tucked them loosely beneath the carbs

Above: Likewise the tach housing has been cut away so that the wires could be spliced.

Above: .. and the stock fuse box was made into a dummy (just like the last owner) by simply cutting away all the leads. Talk about a chop job..

Last week I did minimal wrenching, thanks to requirements at the University. I did accomplish one minor task – finding the problem with Greg’s 999. First I had to roll the bike off the lift and remove the battery box mount and coolant pipe mount. Then I discovered that you can’t pull the airbox/throttle bodies on a 999 without first removing the ignition/key module. The problem with removing that is that Ducati installs the module on the frame with a special screw that isn’t designed to come off. I used a cold chisel to notch it and turn it enough to remove by hand. Then it was time to remove the throttle bodies. Problem – even when loosening the band clamps the throttle bodies wouldn’t budge. Next I tried pulling on the airbox. Still nothing. Those throttle bodies are dug in like an Alabama tick. Next I grabbed my cheater pipe – a 2 foot pry bar built from quality Chinese steel. A few good pries and the assembly popped out. Next I had to pull the exhaust can and loosen the loosen header pipe so that I could disconnect the horizontal head pipe. Last, but not least, I disconnected the oil line and the head nuts. Slowly I pulled the head off and out fell a 6x20mm panhead bolt from….. I’ll be goddam if I know. There isn’t another bolt like it anywhere on the bike. Where it came from and how it got into a closed airbox is beyond me. The good news is that there isn’t any damage to the piston or cylinder, but both exhaust valves are tweaked. I’m hoping the seats are fine, but I won’t know that until I pull the valves. I’m going to pull the intakes and relap them as well. I’m going to have to take the hit on this, but I’m puzzled. I didn’t take the airbox lid off. I only pried it up an inch or so to adjust the idle. Second, I didn’t remove anything from the inside of the airbox. Third, I test rode the bike about an hour in total without any problems. Last, the velocity stacks sit very high up in the airbox, making the chance of anything getting sucked in, like say an M6x20mm bolt, highly unlikely. Weird… At least the diagnosis is over. I’ve been dreading pulling that head, and my fears were realized. Getting it apart sucked, and putting the bike back together is going to suck worse. But it fits my motto – if it doesn’t suck I don’t want to do it.

Above: Man, it was a chore getting that front cylinder off. I hate the testa motor.

Above: The marks on the exhaust valves are where something hit them… They’re now toast.

Above: And the cause of all my heartache is this bolt. Source unknown

Well, September is shaping up to be DTs worse month of the year from a sales standpoint. I have to assume my competitors are experiencing similar problems. If this continues, two things will happen — some businesses will start offering incentives to free up cash and some may go out of business. We’ll see if September is just a blip on the sales chart, or if it is a sign of a long-term tightening of wallets. If that’s the case I’ll be writing more for MCN to keep some money flowing. Speaking of money flowing, I gave myself an expensive birthday present. You’ll see it if you click on “bike of the quarter” and look at my finished (at least for now) Sport Classic mods. I’m going to be a reseller for the Alpina wheels, but they’re so damn expensive most people will recoil in horror at the cost.

I still haven’t managed to find any time to work on the new building or driveway. Maybe October will be more fruitful. However, I did have some time to add a few new products to the website last week – Fuel Pumps and Radiator Guards. The former won’t be needed by most people, but the latter is a sensible addition to any water-cooled Duck. I found out the hard way that radiators and stones don’t go together. One final note: You may have noticed price increases for Ducati parts – both OEM and aftermarket. Two things are causing goods to sky-rocket in price – the continued US deficit spending and negative account balance are causing the dollar to depreciate and demand abroad for certain raw materials is causing a supply crunch. An example are batteries. All the batteries are made in China nowadays. Last month I got a letter from my supplier that material costs to them would result in a 30% increase in costs to me. Wow! If you’ll notice, my $55 batteries are now $78.95. Worse is coming, as I got a letter that another 25% increase in battery costs is coming. So, it you need stuff made overseas it isn’t going to get any cheaper. In fact, costs will go up far in excess of routine inflation. Even for US made goods costs will go up. My billet products will go up because my suppliers have to pay more for raw materials from abroad. I don’t know who’s winning in all this, but it isn’t US distributors, suppliers or consumers. 

Well, Casey did it, although I’m guessing he’d be more impressed with a better personal performance at Motegi. I’m very glad to see Capirossi win at Motegi, and I’ll miss him racing for Ducati. I think they should have resigned him instead of the new guy, but with that mentality they never would have won the title this year with Stoner. The finish at Motegi was weird in terms of finishing order. I love to watch wet races, but I think the pit rule sucks. Pit crews should have to change the tires on a racer’s bike. Furthermore, GP should never have gone away from the running start. Racers now are too spoiled. Back in the 70s, men were men.  The word is that Dorna is going to make MotoGP a one-tire series. I hope it isn’t Michelin. For decades they’ve dominated MotoGP and the first year that a rival is kicking their ass they cry foul. In fact, I won’t use Michelins again,  so there. I’m pretty good about my promises and threats, so the Michelin ban will remain in effect at Desmo Times. However, I made a promise at the start of the MotoGP season that if Casey won, I’d have another one of my rare one-day sales. So through Monday 24 September a sale is on. One day – 10% off. It ain’t much, but it is half my margin for most items. The discount also applies to closeout items, but not to items that are already listed as OUT OF STOCK. You must put the word “stoner” in the promotional box – all letters lowercase. This discount is really meant for those of you that have read the DD through thick and thin. If I stock out of anything during the sale, I’ll offer a raincheck.

The above image is owned by Ducati SPA. I don’t think they’ll mind me using it to spread the love. Congrats Ducati. You’ve earned it.

17 – September 2007 – Bluto Time

I had some time this week to spend in the shop and used it working on Bluto’s SS. His bike is what we call a “bitsa”. Bits of this, and bits of that. In this case a Monster 900 engine and wiring harness wrapped in an SS frame. Unfortunately, the wiring harness for the SS is quite different than that of the Monster. As a result, the previous owner just zip tied most of the electrical components in front of the carburetors because he couldn’t get them to reach the spots previously held by the SS harness. It looks like crap, but with the fairing on, you can’t see it. Outta sight outta mind.  It tears up my anal-retentive tendencies though.

When I walked into the shed to tackle the SS, there were 3 puddles of liquid under the bike. Hmmm, only Bluto bikes shed fluid like that. One puddle beneath the sidestand was a telltale leak from a bad slave seal. I pulled the slave and pitched it in the trashcan. An Evo slave quickly fixed that leak. The second leak was from the weepy right fork seal. Bluto got a set of forks off ebay, and they should be here in a few weeks after Traxxion resprings them for his girth. The third puddle of oil was beneath the oil drain plug. At first I thought it was just missing the crush washer, but after I cleaned the gunk off the bottom of the engine, I saw the culprit. A nice hairline crack across 4 inches of the crankcase. Nice!!!

After I did the oil change, I tackled the valves. The intake valves were way off. As a result, the end of the valve stems were mushroomed. A few pieces of emery cloth and some furious sanding got rid of the mushrooming so that I could get the closer shims off. The rest of the valve adjust went without incident. Of course on the SS, you have the issue of hoisting the back of the bike to remove the rear shock, but that’s no big deal. Surprisingly, the vertical exhaust valve was pretty close to optimal.

 Above: Bluto’s crankcase is hosed. It can be sealed from the inside, or welded from the outside. I say let it go. After all, the only thing behind the weeping crankcase is the rear wheel. On the bottom is one of my favorite customer maintenance tendencies – the self oiling chain. If you keep spraying on chain lube it congeals in front of the countershaft sprocket to the point that it oils the chain as it spins. Brilliant.


Above: One often-ignored area of maintenance are the insides of the belt covers. Grit and grome congeal on the covers. If the residue is very oily and is smeared beneath the cams on the heads, it signals a weeping cam seal. I always clean the belt covers out of habit. No sense allowing grit to float around amid spinning belts, cam wheels and idler bearings. 

I’m awaiting some parts to finish the SS. The headlight support/fairing stay piece was rewelded and twisted. When the left fairing stay arm fell off during fairing removal, I decided to replace it. The instrument panel mount is all busted up as well, so I’m replacing that. Unfortunately, the idiot light box is no longer available, so Bluto is trying to find one on eBay.

 Above: This modded airbox allows the fitment of pod filters to the stock mikuni carbs. Unfortunately, the previous owner cut off the solenoid and main fuse mount. The maintenance-free battery is the biggest upgrade. The airbox mod sure makes it easy to remove the box to access the vertical intake valve. On the bottom is the shot slave cylinder. I’ve made a lot of money off of Ducati’s stock slave cylinders.

I almost went on my first ride here in Pcola in 3 months (customer bike tests don’t count). On Friday Suzi called me from the office to tell me that she had forgotten something at the house and needed it ASAP. I thought I’d ride there, so I put on my best “think cool” aura, grabbed my helmet, jacket and gloves and headed out to the garage. I had just rolled my 999s off lift #2 so I pulled that out into the sunshine. Then I remembered that I hadn’t checked the air in the tires since starting the service on the bike. I grabbed a tire gauge, confirmed that it needed air and powered up the compressor. I filled the tires, put away the air hose, put on my jacket….. and sweat was pouring into my eyes… Screw it. I rolled bike back back into the garage, hopped into my truck, cranked the A/C and cooled down by the time I got to her office. I hate Florida. If I had Mark’s patience I’d ride in the heat, but I’ve sweated away a thousand gallons of fluids in my career of riding. I no longer have the patience to put up with the bullshit of sweating inside my helmet, or baking at a traffic light on a Ducati. I’d rather be in Baghdad again dodging IED’s in my armored hummer than sit in the Florida sun at a traffic light. If somebody would pay me non-taxable combat pay to ride in the heat, I’d do it. Fortunately, it was cool enough for me to ride on Sunday. Mark joined Suzi and I at our breakfast meet. I should have enjoyed the cool weather more by going for a longer ride. Oh well.

Sat night I was killing some time perusing some of the forums and came across a post on the 1098-forum asking if my regular case savers fit the 1098. I haven’t posted to a forum in a few years, so I posted a single sentence that my original case wouldn’t fit the 1098, but my newly shaped one would. I awoke Sunday morning to a nasty-gram from the forum admin that my post was deleted as SPAM, meaning since I didn’t sponsor the forum I wasn’t allowed to even refer to a product, even if it was answering a post. Remember my DD a few weeks ago about online forums? I told ya! I quit the forum posthaste.

A few changes to the product lineup. I’m no longer going to support exchange services for customer clutch housings or cam belt covers. I’ll be selling my current stock of covers and housings to free up shelf space. They never sold well anyway, and are a pain in the ass to deal with. I moved the items to my clearance bin. I’ve got a lot of other piddly things to get up on the clearance page, but no time to create the ads. The only new product this week is clear reservoir hosing. I’ve had it for a few months, but finally got around to testing it and seeing how it worked. It worked perfectly, so its up on the website.

This week I’m signing up to distribute two more products – the VDSTS software and the Rapid Bike module for 02 sensored bikes. I’ve been using the VDSTS software for years, and recommend the product. If the rapid bike module works, it will solve a lot of problems for those of  you with 02 sensors. Please don’t email me asking when I’ll have the Rapid Bike stuff on the website for sale. When I finish testing it, and IF it works as promised, I’ll post here when I add it to the product lineup. I’ve been also toying with the idea of a Dyno in the shop, and have contacted a vendor in Ohio to get one. I can’t afford a Dynojet dyno, so I’ve been looking for a more economical brand. As soon as I talk to some customers to get their viewpoints I’ll decide on which model deserves my attention.

I got a bad email last Sunday night. The kind of email that I dread after a customer picks up a bike. Greg Ames emailed me to tell me that his 999 was kaput, this after only a few hours after he rode it home. He said the engine made a loud sound and quit. My over-the-phone diagnosis was that something must have gone wrong with my flywheel install. Needless to say, Sunday night and Monday weren’t good for my ego. I’ve messed up a few times before with minor things on customer bikes – usually an oil leak resulting from a bolt not torqued properly. But I’ve never had a bike come back with major problems.

Greg trailered the bike over on Monday afternoon, and I muddled through the rest of the week dreading what I’d find. On Friday morning I had the time and summoned the courage to roll it up on lift #2. I pulled the fairing and drained the oil to get a first peek at any problems – it was clean as a whistle. I then drained the coolant and pulled the alternator cover, expecting to find catastrophe. Nothing!!! The flywheel was firmly in place and the nut had my paint marks on it to indicate it hadn’t moved on the crankshaft. I was befuddled.

Next, I drained the fuel tank, removed it, pulled the spark plugs and the cam belt covers. I used an engine turning tool to try to slowly turn over the motor. All the alignment marks on the pulleys matched up. So, it wasn’t a timing problem. Unfortunately, as soon as the horizontal piston pushed upwards to TDC the engine locked up… Uh oh… I slowly backed the tool off and tried it gently a few more times to confirm things. Either a valve dropped, or something got sucked into the intake. I won’t know until I pull the airbox/TBs and then the horizontal cylinder. I’ll remove the valve cover and pull the cams to confirm that all the valves are closing. If they close then I’ll know that something is stuck in the combustion chamber. I may be able to see any obstruction by looking into the intake or exhaust ports. Worse case scenario is a valve got bent, but I’m curious as to how. The velocity stacks on the 999 are pretty high, so I find it hard to believe that something got sucked inside. We’ll see when I work in it again this week. The bike was fine when Greg brought it to me, so it’s safe to assume that it’s something I did. Way to go LT, you freakin’ idiot. If I find a rock in there my ego will feel better, but that will be little solace for the extra 1 full day of labor I’ll put into the bike.

We’re interviewing 2 more candidates this week, so wrenching time this week will be slim. I’m awaiting the OEM Ducati C-shaped head nut tool. You really need it on the testa heads due to the recessed nature of the nuts. I already ordered a head gasket in case I have to pull the head. Before I do all that, the bike needs to come off the lift so that I can turn the front wheel. You can’t pull the horizontal head unless the wheel is turned. I’ll probably pull it to get more clearance for working on it. Now I know why my friend Chris from California Cycleworks gave up working on customer bikes. I may be rethinking the service end of things next year.

Have a great week.

10 September 2007 – Work, and then work some more

Last week I put in a lot of time at the University, including more time on our search committee. Friday night and saturday I spent teaching another abbreviated MBA course. That caused me to miss the open house at the local Triumph/Ducati dealer, not that I would have gone anyway. I am friendly with the owner of the dealership, but I’m also in competition, and feel dirty when I’m on the premesis.

Last week I managed to finish up Kim Cannon’s ST2 and the forks on Greg Ames’ 999. I handed both bikes off to them on Sunday. Meanwhile, Greg Calhoun (AKA Bluto) dropped off his 900ss on Thursday. I’m doing a full service on it. Its a “bitsa” 900ss/sp, with a Monster 900 motor.  Greg has been my friend and riding buddy for over 10 years, and I give him a hard time about the condition of his bikes. In short, he Blutos them, caring more about function than form. I’m the polar opposite, caring about looks as much as function. He’s probably right and goes through less heartache than me.  I’ll be going through the whole bike, so I’ll see what’s up. I talked to Greg first to ask him what I should fix. Fixing up a bitsa can consume more money than most people have. The good news is that’s its a 2 valve bike, so maintenance is cheaper. It starts right up, so I’m optimistic it won’t need much.

Above: Bluto’s 900ss is up on lift #1 awaiting me to tear into it. It’s nice to just tear off a fairing and dig in – no radiator or annoying stuff in the way on the old 2-valvers.

I got in my first batch of DS1000/DS1100 and 1098 case savers last week, and already have them up on the website. I also came out with the clamptite clamp creator tool. Both are sensible additions to the lineup. The axle tools should be here by the end of september.

Above: My new DS1000/DS1100 and 1098 case savers hang in the shop awaiting to be coated.  

I got in touch with the US importer of Gunson Gastesters to look into stocking the product. The good news is that they are available for sale from the importer. The bad news is that I’d have to order at least 10 at a time. If I get 5 people who are interested, I’ll order a batch. Cost is @ $199, depending on what happens to the exchange rate between now and then. I rely on my gastester to set the CO on all my ducatis. Its essential when setting the trim or base idle mixture. If you’re interested in one, drop me a line. If I decide to take the plunge, I’ll ask for preorder $$$.  

Its starting to cool off ever so slightly here in the Panhandle of FL. The only riding I’ve done in the last month is to test ride customer bikes. That will soon end, as Bluto’s 900ss is the last customer bike I’ll have until the shed is completed. I’m itching to swing a hammer. I don’t get to do that often enough when working on Ducatis. 

This coming week is the Ducati Dealer meeting. Of course, I wasn’t invited. Snubbed… Oh well. From the rumors, there will NOT be a new Monster for next year. Bummer. I’m hoping they redesign it soon, along with the discontinued 1000SS. I’ve heard that demand for the 1098 has already cooled way off. After all, how many people are out there with 15-20K laying around?

I should be getting my paperwork in the mail within the next few weeks for Desmo Times LLC. Snyder Publications will cease to exist next month. I got my waterjet cut Desmo Times signs for the building from Charlie last week and dropped them off at my painters. I had to have the left lower of my 999s repainted due to the 54mm full system. The header pipe’s proximity to the fairing lower melted it at the sidestand cutout. I’ve since wrapped the pipe, but I trimmed the fairing cutout with a dremel tool to provide more clearance from the pipe. The fairing lower melted a bit and cracked at the melt point. I sealed the crack with Plastex, and the fresh paint should have it looking as good as new. I’m having the signs color matched to Ducati red of course, so everything is getting painted together.

Football season is off to a fine start. I’ve been enjoying both college and pro football. It is good background noise while I’m typing or reading. Speaking of reading, I finished the latest Cycleworld’s review of the Buell Superbike. It looks interesting. I’m not a Harley fan, but I am a patriotic American, and I’m glad that our ONLY sportbike finally has a decent engine, even if it is a rotax.

Mark headed up a Ducati ride last Saturday. I missed out due to my teaching event. I haven’t molted my summer skin yet anyway, so I probably would have passed on the ride.

3 September – Wrestling with Fuel Injection

MotoGP race spoiler below.

Mark and I cancelled the weekly Ducati meet last week due to lack of interest. We’ll probably make it the first Wed of every month, starting this week. Meetings will be at the Tijuana Flats on 9 mile rd – the place the meets originally began. Time will be 7-8:30 PM. Some people work cross town, so that will give them a chance to get there. With fall approaching, it will be dark by 7:00 PM anyway, so having the meeting run until 8:30 shouldn’t be a problem. If nobody shows up this Wed, we’ll try again the first week in Oct.

Last week my university duties really interfered with my DT stuff. Go figure. The time its taking to hire a new faculty member is surprising. If we don’t get a new person in place after this search, I’m abstaining from the committee for future searches. We’re flying in candidates for the campus visits starting this week. Next weekend I do the MBA thing, this time at a remote location – Eglin AFB. I’ll get a BOQ friday night and enjoy the ambiance of an AFB. Once I finish up with this one week course, I won’t have to teach it again until January.

A long-time friend and fellow rider, Scott Armstrong, has had some issues with his pancreas and had major surgery last week. Scott, I wish you a speedy recovery. Heal up and ride with us next year.

I drove over to Mark’s house on Sunday to watch the MotoGP race. What a yawner. It reminded me of the races a few years ago when Rossi would check out after a few turns and leave everybody else fighting for 2nd place. Stoner is killing them. He only needs 40 points in the remaining 5 races to lock up the title, and that’s assuming Rossi wins the remainder of the races. I’m pulling for Hopkins to catch Pedrosa and Rossi in the points. I’m also eyeing Melandri, because he’ll be joining Stoner next year. Hopkins has to be kicking himself for deciding to leave Suzuki. After 5 years of frustration, he finally has a bike under him that’s competitive — and he decides to leave the team.

I added the clamptite tool to my tool inventory. No more hose clamps. I should have added the tool after I reviewed it for MCN, but I misplaced my own tool and it took me months to purchase another one. The tool will come in handy for those with 749/999, MTS and all others with fuel filters that have non-reusable hose clamps.

One of the few DT things I did this week was spend some quality time with the heads off my spare 916 motor. The bottom end has been at BCM for the past 6 months sitting in the corner waiting to get redone. I purchased the engine from a friend/customer years ago after he grenaded the output shaft bearings. The engine has a Ferracci 955 kit in it. The plan was to put it in my own 916, but I’ve decided to use it as a static display for the time being. When I got the motor I stripped the heads, thinking I’d use the rocker arms on customer bikes. Big mistake. I spent 3 hours last week reinstalling the closing rockers and cleaning up the heads. I’ll relap the valves and shim them over the next few weeks. That way when the bottom end gets here I can slap on the cylinders/heads and bolt it all to my engine stand. The plan is to use it as a display for tech talk.

Above: A 916 head with cylinders. Notice the belt cover shoud has been removed. Many racers run without any belt covers, but doing so requires shimming out the support rollers to match the thickness of the belt cover support. In the picture on the bottom, the arrow points at the tab in the head for the spring arm. They’re a pain in the ass to put back in, but once you install a few closer springs its a cinch, at least with the heads off the bike.

Last week I also spent some more quality time on Greg’s 999 fuel injection. I wasn’t going to mess with things. After all, the bike seemed to be running well. But then I asked myself WWLTD. And since I’m LT, I asked myself… and the right thing to do was a full FI setup. Doing such on a 999 is an effort in time and frustration. The 999 is a PITA to work on due to the airbox setup. But laziness wasn’t an excuse, so I tore into it. Before I did so, I dug up my notes. My notes were taken from Brad Black’s notes. I’m amending them here. If you don’t have a 749/999, the notes still apply to a lot of you. Essentially, if you have a post 2002 Ducati they will apply, or at least to Ducatis with software settable TPSs.

Prior to the new TPS on Ducatis, the TPS was set by loosening screws and rotating the TPS body after reading the Millivolts. That process was cumbersome and imprecise. The new method uses software to set the TPS. It enables you to set the reset TPS without having to loosen the attaching screws. Unfortunately, it requires either a Mathesis tester, the newer DDS, or the VDSTS software from Technoresearch. I’ve been using the VDSTS software for years, so I recommend that. It’s also about 1/10th of the cost of a mathesis or 1/20th the cost of the DDS, both of which are unobtainable unless you’re a dealer.

Above: Greg’s bike looks like its on life support. Top Picture – On the left notice the fan in front of the bike, the computer hook up on the left of the bike, and the carb sticks hooked into the charcoal canister leads. The bottom picture shows the small hole drilled into the airbox for accessing the idle stop screw. Brilliant.

So how is an owner supposed to set their TPS if they don’t have the software. Well, you could just ignore the TPS setting, but it really should be reset at each service after the valves are done. I’m guessing that most shops probably skip it. Why? Read on, my friends.

Okay, so here are my notes from Brad Black on setting up the 999 FI. Added to each are the bullet statements from me.

1. Remove access plugs on the LH side of the airbox (there are two)

  • On Greg’s bike, both access plugs were already out, meaning his airbox sucked air through these holes, as well as the filtered snorkels. I made a note to tape up the holes upon completion.
  • Even with the access plugs removed, you can’t adjust the throttlebody linkage without getting into the airbox, and you can’t get simply pop off the top on a 749/999/1098 airbox. The fuel lines pass through the top of the airbox. Even if you remove all the screws securing the top the best you can do is pry up the left corner to peek at the throttle body linkage.

2. Loosen the screws holding the airbox lid on so you can pry open the back of the airbox about 1/2″.

  • The front screw is a MOFO to get to. Optimally you should remove this screw and NEVER reinstall it. Without it you have a LOT more access to the insides of the airbox.
  • Of course, you can’t do any of the above until you drain and remove the fuel tank. Wear protective goggles prior to detaching those fuel lines. Any pressure in the system will burst out upon detaching them. Unlike the previous generation of quick disconnects, the newer ones do not have a valve in the male ends of the disconnects, so any pressure in there will come out.

3. Once the airbox is pried open you will be able to see the throttle linkage on the rear throttle body.

  • Yeah, you can see it, but try getting your hand in there to loosen the throttle body linkage locknuts and you’ll lose some skin on those knuckles. Goddam Ducati engineers.

4. There is a 2.5mm allen set screw for idle speed that points upward toward the LH lower corner on the top of the airbox. Drill a hole so you can adjust this.

  • Yes, you have to drill this hole, but you have to make it big enough to actually look into the airbox. A 1/2″ hole will suffice. Put a towel between the top and bottom halves of the airbox to catch the drill shavings before you drill the hole. I prefer to use 2 holes. One on the top, and another on the side so that I can shine a flashlight inside.

5. Set the air bypass screws all the way in.

  • The reason you do this is the air bypass screws let air into the intake manifolds, thus messing up any attempt to synch the TBs.

6. Connect vacuum balancing guage to the ports on the intakes.

  • You can forget about doing this because the ports are inside the airbox. I use the hoses attached to the charcoal canister (which most people ditch anyway) as my leads to attach to my mercury sticks.

7. Start motor (it won’t want to idle)

  • No shit it won’t want to idle. You’ll have to use the fast idle lever on the handle to keep the bike idling with the screws turned in.
  • Plus, you can’t start the motor until you reattach the fuel tank. Now you’ll realize the nightmare of working on a 749/999 — you don’t have access to the airbox/TBs/Idle set screw with the tank installed. No ifs ands or buts.

8. Balance TB’s with the balance linkage inside the big access port in the airbox.

  • You don’t need the skin on those knuckles anyway. And you’ll need to use both the big access port AND get your hand into the airbox after prying up on the lid to loosen the locknuts on the TB linkage rod. Clean off the damn yellow paint around the nuts. Ducati smears the paint there to keep you from adjusting the linkage.
  • Balance the TBs at around 1200-1500 rpm. Some recommend balancing them at a higher rpm like 4-5K rpm, since that’s where the bike is running most of the time.
  • Once complete, disconnect the carb sticks and plug the holes.

9. Set the air bypass screws to 3/4 of a turn out.

10. The bike should be idling at about 1200rpm’s

  • If not, adjust the idle set screw. You do this by passing a long-handle allen key through the hole you made in the top of the airbox. Of course you can’t do this until you have the tank removed again. So, remove the tank, adjust the idle set screw a bit and reattach the tank and verify idle. There will be a glob of yellow paint inside the top of the idle set screw. I pry it out with a pick.
  • Another method to only mess with the idle set screw a few times is to loosen the set screw until it doesn’t press on the butterfly stop and use the throttle cable adjuster to adjust with the idle. Once you’re finished with the above and below steps you’ll then have to carefully turn in the idle set screw until it just makes contact with the butterfly stop to hold the idle position. Then loosen the idle cable until there is about 1/8″ of cable slop. You need this cable slop so that when you swing the bars left to right the idle doesn’t go up and down as the cables move.
  • Do all synchs with the bike at operating temp (above 180 F).

11. Shut the motor off

12. Connect the Mathesis to read TPS setting

  • I can’t afford a Mathesis or DDS, so I use the VDSTS. The VDSTS has to be attached to both the computer junction AND the battery. I use a surrogate battery to power the VDSTS leads.

13. Back off the idle setting untill there is a gap between the set screw and the tab that it effects (zero idle preload)

  • Also make sure there is some slop in the throttle cable or the throttle butterflies will never close.
  • Snap the throttle several times to verify that the butterflies are closed and the idle screw is not touching the stop.

14. What does the TPS read? If it reads zero you will need to wind in the set screw till it treads 2.8+ deg and then re-set the TPS. Now wind the idle back out again.

  • The reason you wind the screw in to 2.8 is that the TPS software can’t give you a negative reading, so winding above 2.3 will give you a fudge factor.

15. So now you have a TPS reading of .5+ or so (as long as it’s above zero). And the set screw is not touching the linkage.

16. Take whatever the TPS reading is and add 2.3deg. So if it read .5 and you add 2.3 you come up with 2.8. Wind the set screw in till it reads 2.8deg. Then re-set the TPS. It will now be assigned a value of 2.3 and you actually have 2.3 deg on the trottle blades.

  • You’ll have to read steps 13-16 about a dozen times, drink a few beers, sleep on it and pray to Mecca 5x a day before it will start to make sense. What you are doing with steps 13-16 is telling the computer where idle is. Once the computer knows that, it uses its other sensors and fuel map to make the desmo sing.

17. Set the trimmer at +20 (this is a starting point for CO’s)

  • The trim sets the idle/off idle mixture. You can’t do this on Ducatis with 02 sensors. I HATE 02 sensors, at least the way Ducati F/I uses them to strangle the mixture up through 5K rpm.
  • The trimmer setting bike-specific, and depends on whether you have the Termi/DP Ecu or the Stock ECU. On Greg’s 999, a trimmer setting of 0 was perfect. If you have to make adjustments, make them in very small increments. Hit “save setting” to make the setting active with the VDSTS software.

18. Start bike

19. Play with the air screws until the idle is 1200RPM (the screws should never be more than 1 1/4 turns out).

  • Again, I’ve found this to be bike-specific. Some bikes require turning the air bleed screws out a bit more to balance the CO. Of course you can’t perform this step without an O2 meter. I’ve had great success using 02 meters at the end can, which is simpler than making custom bungs for the header plugs.
  • What you do with the air screws is adjust them to where the CO is the same between cylinders. The CO percentage isn’t important right now, but having them balanced between cylinders is.
  • Setting idle RPM is a personal preference. If you have the stock gearing or a lightweight flywheel, you may prefer a higher rpm of 1300-1400

20. Recheck balance, TPS setting, CO’s

  • Don’t go screwing with anything one you set the CO. You can’t check the balance with the air bypass screws out at different amounts. The only thing left to do is look at the CO with the bike at operating temp. I like the CO to be around 3.5% at the end can.
  • Take the bike for a spin and see if there is any popping on decel. If so, raise the CO a bit until the popping goes away.
  • You’re done dude. Bask in the glory, then grab some black duct tape and cover the holes you made in the airbox.

I’m saving the above notes as my new notes for the current crop of Ducatis. There are more tips and tricks, but I hope my bullet comments make the otherwise sparce instructions more comprehensive. Again, whoever designed the current superbike airbox setup should be hung, drawn and quartered. If you don’t know what that means, it includes hanging a person, while they’re still alive, you then slice open their abdomen until their guts pour out, then castrate them and burn the goodies before their eyes. Then its onto decapitation and then slicing the body into 4 pieces. Bake at 400 degrees until a light brown, sautee with butter and lemon juice and serve with parsley and any other garnish of your choice. Bon Appetit.