29 November 2007 – Ride Saturday

Ride Saturday. Meet at Bagelheads on 9 mile rd at 0800.

26 November 2007 – Turkey, Football and my Crystal Ball

This past week sped by. Holiday weeks usually do. I didn’t cut a board in anger this past week, but I did paint the back and front of the new building. Spending quality time with the family and football-watching dominated the rest of the week. Bryan Jones did come and grab his M900, so the shop is almost empty. The shop is in need of a cleaning and more insulation. Maybe over Christmas break I’ll break away from the new building and spend some time in it.

The day after Thanksgiving was sunny and windy, with a wind-chill hovering above freezing. That didn’t stop me from going on a ride with The Tree. Instead of doing Blackwater, we did our local loop into Baldwin County. The good news was that they are in the midst of repaving Hwy 87 – the only twisty road within a 30 minute driving distance from Pensacola. The road is already 2/3 repaved, but I was aboard the Gran Canyon. In windy conditions, the GC is like a boxkite. I yawed all over the road, but still had fun. Josh did amazingly well on the little Ninja 250. He’s ready for a ride to Blackwater.

Friday night we went to the restaurant where The Tree works, and had a nice meal with Suzi’s sister and my brother and sister in law. My bro was in town to visit his inlaws. I’ll be mooching a bed from him for my duty in Tampa, so I splurged for the dinner. It’s a shame I only get to see my brother once a year. We’re both busy people, and just don’t make the time to do the 7 hour drive. I don’t plan on leaving the unit I just joined for awhile, so I should get to see him a lot each year between now and when I either retire or transfer to another unit.

I’m sending a batch of bad rocker arms off to Megacycle for rechroming. One of the rockers is from a customer in Canada. It’s from his 749, making it the first bad Testa rocker arm that I’ve seen. We’ll see how many other Testas develop bad rockers as the mileage goes up on the older 2002-2004 models.

I treated myself to a new laser printer this week. I’ve been using the same Brother HL-1850 printer for 5 years. It’s been bulletproof, but is in need of a new drum and toner cartridge. I’ve been purchasing compatible drums and refilling my own toner cartridges for years, but it’s getting tougher to find parts and the old laser is making more noise than my a stock Ducati clutch. The new one is whisper quiet and eBay is loaded with replacement drums that look good. I’ve found the compatible replacement drums to be inferior to the OEM drums.

It’s been a few years since I had a decent set of street leathers, so I decided to take a gamble and get a custom set of Ducati Old Times leathers made from a vendor on eBay. The leathers fit perfectly and the price was half that of custom leathers. I’m impressed with the stitching, protection and overall quality. They aren’t as nice as a set of Dainese leathers, but they’re nicer than the $450 price tag. Do a search on eBay for Ducati leathers and look for the replica leathers. I have a genuine Ducati old times leather jacket and the one I purchased on ebay isn’t as beefy.  The address of the vendor is in Canada, but the leathers are made in Pakistan. I got them within a week! I doubt they’re licensed to use the Ducati logos. With as many sets as they’ve sold, it’s a wonder Ducati doesn’t go after them. Since I’ve bitched about copycats of my books, I’m sensitive to knock-offs. I looked over the ad for wording and they never do say they are a genuine licensed manufacturer. I won’t be using the leathers on the track, as the Old Times set is more appropriate for street riding. They fit snug even though I added a few inches to the waist and chest.

Suzi and I went to Books A Million to peruse the magazines. I read the first ride reviews I’ve seen of the Buell 11-whatever Superbike. It sounded pretty good, with the quirks I expect to see from Buell – A too-tall first gear, a lot of engine heat, glitchy f/i mapping, and a few other gremlins. I’ve always pulled for Buell, so I hope the new bike is a success. I also read a review of a Desmosedici RR. Every time I see somebody talk about the bike, the sticker prices goes up. The Robb Report listed it at $83,000. I’ll pass on the opportunity to own one of those.

Nothing new on the product front. I’m still trying to stock up on a few items to keep inventory topped off. I’ll be adding a few products this week though. I should have ST fairing brackets in for the 1997-2002 ST models again by the promised 15 Dec date. Every time I plan on killing that product, I get requests.

No pictures this week, but next week I hope to have the front view of the building all complete for a nice picture.

I’ve been swapping out bikes each week for my commuting. This week it’s time for the old 900ss. I haven’t ridden it in quite awhile, so I gave it a good going-over this past weekend. It always takes awhile to crank up the SS and the M900 if I haven’t started them in awhile. I get to give my wrist a good work out as I prime the flatslides with the accelerator pumps. I don’t miss a choke often though. The keihin FCRs are that good. On the other hand, the old Mikunis blow! I was reminded of the problems with the old Mikunis when starting up Bryan Jones ’99 M900. if coughed and sputtered and the throttle response was nothing like flatslides.

I’m trying to lay out my expectations for future Ducati models. Try printing this out and call me to task in a few years if I’m way off

2009 – M1100 with wet clutch, MTS696 with wet clutch, new 1100SS, 1098 becomes a 1200 in the S model

2010 – ST4R with a testastretta engine and redesigned fairing (this is a stretch as I don’t know if Ducati will stay out of the sport touring segment), redesigned MTS1100,  848R with wet clutch, 1098 becomes a 1200 in the base model, 1098 version of the new Monster

2011 – Redesigned 1200 Superbike

That’s about it for my crystal ball.

I got a message from my old Cyclecat rep that they are beginning to manufacture billet parts again. I’ll believe it when I see it. Either way, I won’t put up any of their products until I seem fully stocked in that category. She said that they are producing sliders again very soon, but I’ve since switched over to Speedymoto and Motovation sliders. I’m awaiting Speedymoto to make their rearsets. A little bird told me they plan on doing so. I loved the Cyclecat stuff, so I hope they come back into the market for the long haul. What a weird company.

One final thing for this week’s DD. I’m creating a new category to listen to customers with regards to products you’d like to see in 2008. So, go to my message board and list the 5 products that top your wish list. Of course, I can’t promise anything, but it helps to get feedback on what you want me to carry. I’ve already created the thread under “DT business stuff”.

That’s it for now. See you next week.

22 November 2007 – Happy Thanksgiving

Desmo Times wishes a Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours. May you all enjoy the holiday season.

19 November 2007 – The Tree and Sally Struthers

This past week I went on my first ride with The Tree – the nickname for my nephew Joshua. I had him ride up and down the street one day, then took him to several housing developments to ride the streets and back roads. He did just fine. Next, I’ll take him into some traffic situations to see how he does. Thus far he’s doing better than I did when I started. I also registered his little Ninja and ordered a jacket and gloves for him. He’s too big for my gear. He’s already an XL in everything at age 17. He’s itching to get the bike home to his house and is motivated to get a girl on the back. Less than a week ago he didn’t even have his motorcycle certificate or know how to use a clutch. Now he wants a girl on the back. Talk about immediate gratification. My goal is to keep him alive and thinking safety through the first year of riding. If I can do that, the habits should stick. I haven’t had to play role model with a new rider since Suzi learned 10 years ago. When Josh asked me last week how fast I’ve ever gone, I side-stepped the issue by saying that I didn’t go fast, but I had a friend who also owned a Ducati that went very very fast. Way to take one for the team Mark.

There was no local club ride this past weekend. I don’t think anyone noticed the omission. With another week of work and spending quality time with the family, I’ll be ready to tear up the tarmac in Blackwater next weekend. I think the 916 will make the run this time around.

I commuted a few days this week, and dug the old M900 out this past weekend for the coming week. I’ve had some ti-nitrided showa forks with traxxion dynamics AK-20 inserts sitting on the shelf, so I plugged them into the M900. I have the old set of fully adjustable showa superbike forks with a Lindeman Engineering rework of the valving and respringing to a 170 pounder. The upgrade cost $400. If anyone wants those forks, they’re a great upgrade for a Monster. They use the superbike 65mm spaced brakes and 25mm axle. $300 takes them.

I finished Bryan Jones M900 this week, but that was about it for the wrenching. The week was dominated by teaching duties and working in the new building. Suzi scheduled another family work day for yesterday, so the week was spent gearing up for that. The wall boards have been completed up to 18 ft in the loft area and the entire first floor walling is complete. On the 2nd floor, one wall is finished and the bathroom interior walls are done on both sides. I also put the first coat of wood sealer on the porch floor and railing and painted the 2nd floor window dormers to see how the redstone paint looks. I like it. Things are tracking well enough so that I can rent the scaffolding for the ceiling for the middle of December. With the hours the building is consuming, I don’t see the building being functional until the April/May time frame. That will mean a full year since the project was started. My original estimate was for the building to take 6 months. I guess I was a bit off the mark.

Above:    Suzi and my Mother in Law cut the 1st layer of insulation for the end floor walls. Mom is wearing a DT t-shirt to show her support.  

Above:    My father in law is one hellava good finish carpenter. Here he cuts a wallboard on the miter saw jig.  

Above: Mom and Suzi hanging insulation. I don’t know what I’d do without the family. They’re the only ones who’ve volunteered to help out in the effort.  

Above: The 2nd floor walls are now half complete.  

Well, I found the solution to my mutterings about sales being low. For one thing, I felt bad when I some repeat customers mentioned that they were trying to help me out of my predicament. Believe me, I’m not scraping for food. So, there isn’t a need to make orders to keep me in business. As long as you can pay off your credit card bill, I welcome the orders. But the thought of ordering parts and falling in debt to do so bothers me. So, no more bitching about sales. I sliced my weekly sales goal in half, back to where they were in 2006. If I hit that goal each week I’ll be satisfied. In the mantime I have been scouring the inventory of items looking for candidates for the ax. With all the competition out there for clutches from the like of eBay and other discounters, my Procutting clutches haven’t been selling at all. In fact, I haven’t sold one in about 2-3 months. That’s a long time for expensive inventory to be sitting on the shelf. It’s bad for me and worse for the manufacturer. That’s the biggest inventory item that I stock, so it gets the most scrutiny. When I don’t sell many 50 cent screws, I don’t give it much thought.

While the rest of you will be decorating the house for Christmas, we put up a few strings of tinsel and lights and call it a year. With 4 cats roaming the house, Christmas ornaments don’t stand much of a chance. We celebrate Festivus anyway. If you’re an old Seinfeld show fan, you’ll chuckle at that one.

The weather has been gorgeous for riding. The Desmos really enjoy the fall air, and are quite a bit more lively when sucking in cold dense air as opposed to the hot stuff. With all the talks about Global Warming, I wonder how much of a winter we’ll even get in Florida in another few decades. Congrats mankind, you’re killing the planet. Of course, maybe I’m watching too many “Mega Disasters” episodes on the History Channel. What we need are a few asteroids the size of Sally Struthers to crash into the planet to reset the evolutionary clock.

12 November 2007 – Generations 1, 3 & 4

Happy Veteran’s Day. If you’re a vet, congrats. If you know a vet, thank them for their service.

There was good news and bad news from this past week. On the bad news front, the economy for retail has hit the skids since last month, and I’m caught in the whirlwind of consumer credit card debt, the mortgage bubble of equity loans and the variable interest mortgage fiasco. Suzi has been seeing a cooling of advertising from local dealerships and there are signs aplenty that people have reduced their spending. It’s a bummer, but I suppose people couldn’t go on spending the way they have been spending. My weekly sales are running about 50% of average, so I wonder what the likes of Motowheels and Calif. Cycleworks are doing to get by.

Also on the bad news front, my Alma Mater, Arizona State, got killed by Oregon, which ruined their national title hopes. They beat UCLA this past Saturday, but Oregon will get the conference title and a shot at the Championship. Here in Florida, everybody focuses on schools in the Southeast, but my heart is on the West Coast. Give me the Pac-10 or WAC any day.

The final bit of bad news is that I didn’t do a track day as planned. My nephew took the MSF course this weekend, and my mother-in-law, Suzi and Me put together enough money to get him a Ninja 250 as a starter bike. I picked it up yesterday with Josh and I rode it home on the freeway. It’s been awhile since I rode a little 250, and doing 9000 rpm trawling down the freeway in a tuck was as much fun as getting deployed. I’ll keep the bike safely in the garage until he shows me in a parking lot and riding around neighborhoods that he’s ready for the roads. I remember when I first started riding. It was combination of euphoria and terror. I want to remove the terror aspect for him. Who knows, maybe next year he’ll be riding Blackwater with us and going on trips. I’ll migrate him to a Monster 620 after a year or so on the Ninja. The next bike is on him. I guess the Josh bit was good news, as any new rider to the fold is a good thing. Nevertheless, I didn’t get to do a trackday.

Also on the good news front, I got a lot of work completed on the first floor walls of the new building. Suzi is scheduling a “family work day” again this Sunday so that I can at least finish all of the first floor. I also got the paint for the outside of the building. Redwood is the color of choice.

I added two minor products this week. With sales being so slow, new product additions will also be slow because as a lot of the profits go right back into new products.

I’m digging the new Ducati models from the Milan Show. I’ll wait for a liter-class monster, and a 848R before I get really excited. I’m also hoping the Terblanche Supersport is redesigned. That design was one I never grew to like. Maybe Ducati will even reenter the Sport-Touring segment with a new bike now that they killed off the ST3.

We had a chilly ride to our monthly Duck meet last wed night. It was down in the 40s for the ride to and from. Thank God for my electric vest. Mark, Patrick, Ole, Mike, and Me showed up for the monthly ritual.

I did quite a bit of riding last week, commuting on the ST2 and doing a Blackwater run with the boys on the 888. Ole’s 1098, Mark’s 999 and my 888 encompassed 15 years of Ducati Superbike design. They all have their merits. If I had to pick a single bike, I’d take parts of each and make a hybrid — The sound of the 888, the handling and ergos of the 999 and the engine of the 1098. This was the first time I’ve ridden the 888 since I had the front forks rebuilt. The front end is splendid, but the rear Ohlins needs to be rebuilt. The rebound adjuster doesn’t even work any more. it just spins round and round. I tried riding it WFO when I was in the lead to see if the suspension was better at speed. It was a bit, but the rear end still bounces up and down like Britney Spears on a first date.

Above:    Another 3 Gens shot – Ole’s 1098 next to my 888 and Mark’s 999. Brad’s ST2 rounded out our local Duck showing.

Above:    My “little” 17 year old nephew is 6″1″ and weighs 185 pounds. He’s also a pacifist, a vegetarian and has a pony tail. Kids are weird nowadays. Here he is aboard the perfect starter bike –  A Ninja 250.   

A few other good news tidbits from the week include a notice that one of my favorite magazines is going color in the near future. Now I’ll be motivated to take better pictures. This past Sat, Suzi and me went to the local Humane Society and got the details on volunteering time. We cleaned out the linen closet and purchased a bunch of stuff for the shelter. We made a trip to the shelter on Saturday, and will start volunteeering there next weekend. Finally, I got my transfer order from the Army and I’m a go to start doing duty at Tampa. If the business stays slow, I won’t have a problem shutting it down occasionally to pull some military duty. A guy’s gotta make money where he can.  

That’s about it for the week. Only 7 more weeks and 2007 will be history. The older I get, the faster they seem to go by. Have a great week.

5 November 2007 – 2 STs and a 1098

MotoGP results spoiler below…. 

I spent last week split between University duties, working in the new building, and wrenching. I’m in the home stretch of the semester at UWF. There are only 5 weeks school left, and things are culminating. I’ve got a really good group of students this semester, so I’m hoping they dazzle me with their performance for the remainder of the semester.

Above:    We’re in ladder mode in the new building. Where are my stilts when I need them?  

Things in the new building are progressing. I finished out most of the first floor this past week, including boxing in the windows. I will completely finish out the first floor (minus the finish flooring) this coming week. I came up with a method of using ladders and a plank to be able to run up the finish walls in the vaulted ceiling area. That will keep me from having to rent scaffolding until next month. In the meantime, I’ve got plenty of insulation, staples, nails, and wall board. I just need more time. Suzi is heading out of town tomorrow for a day, so I’ll be up late tonight and up early tomorrow to get some more boards and insulation up.

One of my best friends, Scott Wibel, dropped by last weekend. Scott is the gentleman that had the troubled Gran Canyon I serviced earlier this year. He dropped by to say hi. Currently, he’s living in Baton Rouge while his wife finishes vet school at LSU. Scott used to ride with us all the time back in the day. We miss you Scott. Another blast from the past is Henry Avello. I finished Henry’s 996 this week and he came and picked it up yesterday. I think he’ll be pleased with the FIM chip and the way the bike runs. I also received an email from another old friend – Gene Schmidt. Gene used to ride with us in the late 90s. He goes through bikes frequently out of boredom, and he emailed to tell me he’s now on a 1098s. I hope he joins us on a few of our local rides. Mark also found another 1098 pilot – his name is Ole, and he hails from Denmark. Ole joined us for a short ride on Sunday. The weather was spectacular. Prior to the weekend, I managed to get my ST2 back up and running. I FINALLY replaced the defective tach, replaced the lame battery, and checked everything out. That’s the bike I chose for our usual Sunday ride. Speaking of local rides, I’m disappointed at the level of support for our rides. If it wasn’t for Ole, it would have been another Mark and LT ride. Maybe we should only announce quarterly rides to drum up riders, and just forget about weekly ride announcements. I’ll still ride every weekend, but we won’t bore others with the upcoming ride details. Speaking of get-togethers, our monthly Ducati get-together is this Wed at Tijuana Flats on 9 Mile rd at 7:00. Mark and I will be there.

This week it will be time to roll out the 748 track bike for a prep. I’ll be heading to Jennings with Brad next Sunday for a Monday trackday during Veteran’s Day. I hope for good weather, but I’ve had bad luck with rain for track days. If I don’t get a few trackdays in between now and Spring, I’ll be tearing apart the trackbike to do a project. Speaking of Veteran’s Day stuff, I think I found a new home in the Army. I submitted my 4651R (transfer request), and received it back from my current unit. I’m heading to Tampa and SOCOM. As soon as my TS clearance is final, I should be a productive member of the staff there. I’m behind the power curve on getting a TS, but the Army seems to have cleared the backlog of requests now, so I’m hopeful for a quick screening. Once I’m on board in SOCOM, I’ll head there a few times a year just like I’ve been doing at Ft. Bragg. My brother lives in North Tampa, so I’ll hole up at his place when I have to go to Macdill AFB. The only thing left to do at Bragg is to make sure my last OER gets in the system. I also signed up for my next military school, which I’ll start next summer. I need that to get promoted to LTC in a few years.

Above:    Mark and Ole next to their rigs. It’s riding season in the panhandle of Florida. Most of you reading this got to ride this summer, so now it’s our turn.    

Above:    It’s been awhile since I rode the old ST2. What a great bike. It does everything well, and is amazingly nimble in the turns for a 500+ pound sport-tourer. Of course, that may be due to the mods I’ve done to it.  I’d list them all, but I’ll save that for a future bike-of-the-quarter. 

This week I’ll pull one day of duty in the shop. I’ve still got to hunt down Bluto’s electrical issue, yank the front forks off of Bryan Jones’ Monster, and pull the fairings off of Kim Cannon’s ST2. All my scooters are up and running, so I’m hoping they behave over the holidays as I start working more and more on the building and less and less in the workshop.

I’m hoping things turn around sales-wise. This past week was the worst week of the year to date in terms of business. If I counted on DT for my daily bread, I’d be visiting the local soup kitchen this month. My sales were off 70% from my average weekly sales of the year. Here’s hoping people are saving their pennies for holiday Ducati spending. My suppliers have been pestering me with promotions to entice me to place more stocking orders, but I’m tapped out. I’m guessing they’re feeling the pinch as well.

Ducati finished the season with a 2nd in Valencia. It was the first time I’ve seen the Ducati not overpowering this season. Either the setup or the tires weren’t competitive with Pedrosa’s Honda. That’s okay, because it’s all over this year. We’ll see what else pans out in the off-season. I was disappointed to hear Biaggi landed a Ducati ride for next year, but he’s on the B-team, and should stay out of the way of Bayliss. I used to like Biaggi when he rode 250GP, but haven’t liked him since he joined MotoGP. The riders in both MotoGP and WSB won’t get much relaxation. Winter practice actually commences this week.

Ducati is expected to announce a new model this week in Milan. Will it be a restyled Monster, or the 848 superbike? I’ve got enough bikes, so I’m hoping it’s something I don’t like. What are the odds of that?

2 November 2007 – Ride on Sunday

RIDE SUNDAY 11/4/07.  MEET UP AT BAGLEHEADS ON 9 MILE ROAD AT 0800. –
MARK