31.5 December 2008 – “There’s Always Tomorrow…” (BillG)

Yep, the clock is counting down. And in the infinite wisdom of the scientific community we have a new first, The Leap Second. Sometimes I just don’t get it with all this exactness. Sure you want your piston rings to have the proper gap; of course it’s important to add just enough BRAND X oil to the crankcase; and you never want to cook a 3 minute egg for 3 minutes and 10 seconds…

But planes don’t leave on time; you can’t get 3.1 gallons of gas in the tank; your foot is not a size 8 1/2, it’s more like 8 3/4; and when I say I’ll be there in 10 minutes, I may be early or late. Does this open up the avenue for the latest craze, “I was born on Leap Second”. Why couldn’t they just bundle it with February 29th for goodness sakes! Just remember during the ball drop to repeat the number one twice. Maybe the AMA will institute a rule change to add the Leap Lap in order to convince people that they are getting more racing for their dollar!

I finally got off my arse and bought a small, or rather large plastic outdoor tool storage box. This is part of my resolve to get the shop in order. Initially I started out with a two car garage with nothing in it. Then I started doing projects. With each project was purchase justification of any tool needed to do it myself so I did not have to pay someone to screw up the job when I’m perfectly capable of screwing it up by myself. After filling up both bays, I decided that I needed to expand. So I added on and made it a four car garage by adding onto the back of the original. At this point I realized that man evolved from the pack rat. I filled it up with more tools, two antique trucks and two Ducs. I had a third truck, my 69 GMC, hence why if you google billg69gmc, you can see I use the same handle on most BB. Sold that truck to buy my first Duc even after dumping untold cash into it… I just wasn’t driving it much, but loved working on it. Then I got the ST3s which booted my Roadliner Midnight to ebay.

It’s funny, but I can usually tell when I get that itch. It’s sort of like when a great white goes in for a bite. He gets that sh*t eating grin as he bears those pearly whites, and the eyes roll back almost as if he was experiencing some sort of… well we wont go there. Getting the ST3 was that way, just like getting the trucks. Now I’m not having “full on” Street Fighter Fantasies, but it has crossed my mind in the what ifs. So far my scenario plays out like this, If Ducati releases a redesigned Multi, I may want to swap my ST for it. The MTS would serve better as the all around bike for work and play. It certainly is capable for long treks, yet nimble enough to conquer the concrete jungle. The second “What If” consists of, what if I did that and I still have nocturnal thoughts of 155hp with DTC, I could swap the S2R out when someone runs into a life issue and must sell theirs.

I hope I can maintain sound judgment, after all when there’s Street Fighter blood in the water, who’s to say what will happen. Where’s Chief Brody when you need him? I am hopeful that Ducati is not hit as hard as the rest of the manufacturers. I think they have a smaller fire to control unlike the Japanese market that must fight each other.

And in light of all this, maybe we’ll hold onto our Ducs for an extra year and limit spending to maintenance parts so we can keep LT busy… who knows, there’s always tomorrow. And tomorrow I will be cleaning up the garage in preparation for 2009.

31 December 2008 – Farewell to 2008

Yesterday was a busy day. It began with my taking another cat to the vets. Muzzy came down with an infected tooth last week and the whole left side of his head was swollen. The vet is worried that the swelling may be caused by cancer. They pulled an offending tooth, put in a drain tube and are keeping him overnight. They’re also doing a biopsy and sending it off to get tested for malignancy. If it’s cancer he’s toast. In the meantime, I’ll move him into the detached garage to heal up. He’s also lost a lot of weight and is borderline anemic. Damn cats. Grrrr. 

After I had my daily cat crisis, I went back to the workshop and rolled the M1000 off the lift, replacing it with the DS1000 Supersport to await a replacement starter solenoid. Then I organized the workshop a bit prior to lunch. After lunch I headed to see Ike Wibel. I brought along my notebook computer and hooked it up to his TV to show him the first episode of Race to Dakar. Both Ike and Faye loved it, so I’ll head back every few weeks to show them another episode. When I got home I went to work on business stuff, first packing boxes and then working on the website. I put up 3 new products – Engine Ice coolant, Carbon Look Gas Cap covers and an Oil Change Kit. The Coolant and Carbon Look gas cap took me FOREVER to test. I tested the Engine Ice this past summer and the carbon look gas cap cover last month. Testing products prior to selling them is worth it to me, but it delays any product intro. I slashed the price of my oil a few bucks each quart and gave a further break for those ordering the oil change kits.

Some Ducati bike news, and it ain’t good. I just checked the valve guides on the 05 SS in the shop. The exhaust valves are bad. Owners of DS1000 motors between 03-06 should check their exhaust valve guides for wear. Symptoms of worn guides are poor throttle response, and low end stumbles/backfiring. To check, pull the shimstack, push down a few millimeters on the valve stem and try to wiggle the valve. If you can wiggle it more than 1mm, the valve guide is bad. Ducati is only warrantying the valve guides if you are the original owner and the bike isn’t more than 1 year out of warranty. I think Ducati’s policy is chicken-shit, but I’m not surprised. Pulling the heads isn’t a big problem, and the price tag of new guides isn’t that much, but it is still a damned inconvenience. I’ll be recommending that the owner let me pull these heads for a replacement guides.

I had an interesting email from a prospective customer asking for a price discount or free shipping, indicating that Motowheels and others are offering similar sales incentives. He also didn’t like my $40 min order policy. I emailed him back, asking if money was tight. When he replied that it was, I told him to save his money and take care of more important things, such as paying off existing debt, or simply saving his money. I think enticing people to spend when the future is uncertain does nothing to ameliorate the existing problems in this country. Runaway spending got us into this mess. I think enticing more irresponsible spending will perpetuate such problems. Or maybe I’m just a cheap bastard and don’t want to offer a discount.

This is the last day of the year. With all the doom-and-gloom predictions for 2009, I suppose we’re all setting lower expectations. I’ll set a simple one. I expect to have a happier 2009. Or maybe that’s just a wish. Happiness isn’t dependent on wealth, but rather a balance of costs and benefits, the most important of which aren’t related to finances. Mark made a few New Year’s Resolutions. I’ll save mine for tomorrow. Don’t forget, that tomorrow is our annual DD reader roll call. Your chance to chime in with who you are, what you ride, and where you live.

Enjoy your Wed.

30 December 2008 – 2 to go

I finished the M1000 dark last night after flushing the oil. She purrs like a kitten. More importantly, she fires right up. The Monster will get rolled off the lift today so that the Supersport 1000 can take it’s place. I think I have the Supersport’s electrical gremlin isolated to a failed starter solenoid. I just discovered that Ducati used a new solenoid starting @ 2003. It doesn’t seem to work any better. There is a retrofit to a Yamaha starter solenoid that is half the price, but you have to splice it in. I hate doing that to OEM wiring harnesseses, so I’ve stuck thus far with the stock solenoids.

I’m starting to populate the closeout page with some stuff sitting on the shelves. You might want to check it weekly to see if there is anything that fills your needs.

I plan on visiting Ike Wibel this afternoon @ 2:00. It’s a gorgeous day, so I may roll over there on a Duc.

How about a post from my fellow editors. Mark and BIll, how was your trip?

Enjoy your Tue.

29 December 2008 – The Last Week

Well, the last few days of 2008 are upon us. I’ll spend them running errands, and getting my careers ready for 2009. First up today is putting the flywheel back in the M1000Sie. Getting the old sprag out was a PITA. On the 3 phase Ducatis, you have to split the flywheel apart. This is accomplished by removing the bolts securing the inner and outer halves, then screwing in a few of the bolts and tapping on the heads to force the inner half out. When I did this, the old sprag fell out in pieces. It was toast, and the spring securing the collars was ripped in a hundred little pieces. Yuck. Now the only worry is making sure that damn shim doesn’t fall out of position when putting it back together.

I should have the Monster buttoned back up and running by the end of the day. I also have to go by the painters to drop off some damaged plastic for repainting, and pick up some parts to fill a few outstanding orders.

I had the opportunity to work on a late-model Supersport last week. For the uninitiated, the popular second generation of the 900ss ended in 1998 with the FE edition. From 1999-2005 Ducati sold the Terblanche-designed SS, first in a 900cc fuel-injected variant, then in 2003-2005 with a 1000DS version. The model died out in 2007 with a 800cc variant. The best-performing variant was the 1000DS model of 2003-2005. It came with a full-fairing, the DS1000 motor, fully adjusable front forks and an ohlins rear shock. The downsides were some had bad exhaust valve guides (like many of the DS1000 motors from 2003-2005) and a seating position that was far less comfortable than the 91-98 900ss. As far as the fairing design goes, the Terblanche styled SS never caught on, and there are far fewer ’99-’05 SS available than the more-popular SS models of the 90s. There are also a LOT fewer aftermarket parts available for the latter Supersports. If I had my druthers, I’d have the 1000DS Supsport with the older fairing. The newer SS is much lighter on its feet, and is, all-around, a superior motorcycle.  

I’ve been tweaking the plans for the Spring Bike Show and Rally. Trying to do a ride AND a bike show in the same day is a bit of an undertaking. I’m thinking it would be better to do the much-shortened ride to the Oasis for breakfast prior to the show. While Blackwater would be more fun, there is a much-greater chance of somebody crashing in Blackwater. If that happened, it would screw up the entire subsequent bike show. The main event is the bike show, so I need to focus on that. The ad for the bike show, and the online registration go live on 1 Jan. There is a modest fee for registering for the bike show, and I’ll give a discount for pre-registrations.

Enjoy your Mon.

28 December 2008 – The Stagecoach and Frank

Franks Harley sat ignominiously in my trailer while we conducted the ride. Poor Frank.
Frank’s Harley sat ignominiously in my trailer while we conducted the ride. Poor Frank.
By all estimations, over 1000 bikes were in attendance for the annual Stagecoach Run

By all estimations, over 1000 bikes were in attendance for the annual Stagecoach Run

I enjoyed the short ride to the Stagecoach yesterday. The weather was overcast and windy, but at least it wasn’t raining. There were 8 of us that headed North from the Whataburger. I came back early with Brad to take Frank and his Harley to the dealership. Fixing his Electra Glide will keep the shop busy for a few days. Frank’s wife Belinda drove up from South FL to pick up Frank. She met us at the dealership to hoist Frank off to see relatives in Mississippi. Frank took it all in stride. He’s been through far worse.

I rode the MTS yesterday. I have the bike set up for touring, even though I haven’t used it for that purpose as yet. It is geared TALL. 77 mph at 4K rpm. That hurts the torque coming out of corners, and makes for an obscenely tall first gear, but I think the gearing is optimal when heading out of town on an excursion.

Today is another rainy day. I’ll work in the shop a bit, listen to some football on Sirius, and attend to other business activities.

Enjoy your Sun.

26 December 2008 – A Harley almost makes it to Pcola

I had a nice Christmas with my brother and sister-in-law in Tampa. It was sunny and a balmy 82 degrees. I ran/walked 6 miles, completed one of my Army study courses, and relaxed a little. I drove back to Pcola today just in time to arrive ahead of my friend Frank. He went to Iraq with me, and did a subsequent Afghanistan tour. He was riding up from South Florida to do the Stagecoach Run tomorrow. Poor Frank. He made it all the way to the Exit 13 offramp from I-10. He took the ramp too fast, and highsided his brand new Ultra Glide Harley-Davidson. I picked up him and his bike with my trailer/Avalanche. He’s fine, but the bike is a mess. Oh well, that’s what insurance is for. I’ll still be doing the stagecoach tomorrow, but sans Frank. I’ll get home around lunchtime and take him to the dealership to drop off the bike to see if it can be repaired.

I hope you all had a good Christmas…now get back to work.

Enjoy your Sat.

25 December 2008- Merry Christmas to all! (by Mark)

Twas the night before Christmas and all through the site, not a rider was riding, just ask Mike.

All the ducatisti were snuggled all warm in their beds, while visions of clutch packs danced in their heads.

When up on their roofs, there arose such a clatter, it must be ducatis, they really do chatter.

Their valve trains are special, no springs do they need; Desmo they’re called, quatro and cedici are two of their breed.

The riders jumped from their beds to the sound of valves without springs, hoping to find some new ducati Christmas bling.

When what to their wondering eyes did appear, but Desmo Times orders filled with new gear.

Billet for Bill and carbon fiber for Dennis, this web site your wallet truly will mennis.

With Christmas orders filled, to their computers they ran, to order more bling…be a real man.

They then heard the sound of ducatis unite, it must be LT! on this cold winter night.

As they looked to the road they saw a magical sight, an upscale arc now taking flight.

What else should appear to their wondering eyes?  The arc being pulled by ducatis of all size!

A Hailwood, multistrada and Cagiva to boot, a pair of monsters, a hyper and an SS woot woot!  An 888, 916, 999, 1098 oh gee!  An F4, sport classic and an ST, what to buy next?  none will agree.


24 December 2008 – Twas the day before Christmas

I’m off to Tampa to see my brother for Christmas. I toyed with the idea of riding there, but the weather has sucked in the Panhandle so I’ll be caging it in the Prius instead. It will be a quick trip for me. A few days to see a member of my family, and a chance to get out of the house.

There’s a 40% chance of rain on Saturday. I’m not pulling the plug on the Stagecoach Run on Sat yet. I won’t make that determination until the day of the event. I have one person coming from a long way to make the event, so he’ll need to know on Friday. As is often the case this time of year, the weather is very iffy.

Last night I had a customer visit. A 1098s owner from Atlanta was in town visiting family, and wanted to stop by to purchase a few things. He was one of the “new” generation of Ducati owners. He fell in love with the looks of the 1098 and purchased one. I showed him mine to see what upgrades he might be interested in. When he walked into the Ark, he immediately walked to the 1098, ignoring the previous 3 generations of superbikes parked next to it. He could care less about the lineage of the 1098 or the other models of Ducatis for that matter. He was about my age, and just a good ole boy who loved bikes and riding. He drove away with a clutch cover, a shock sock and an eccentric spanner.

My redneck moment of the week occured yesterday. I was running my usual neighborhood route when I spotted what appreared to be sasquach walking across one of the yards. It turned out to be a lady. She walked across the yard to a pickup truck parked along the edge of the yard. She laborously climbed onto the rear bumper and stepped over the tailgate. In doing so, her one-size-too-tight jeans slipped downward, exposing a crack with all the features of Grand Canyon (except in her case with a East Rim and a West Rim for those of you that have been there). Once in the bed of the truck, she sat down and then stretched out on her back. As I ran past the yard, I heard a child counting, and then spotted a lovely child teetering his way across the same yard. He was somewhere between the age of 2 and 12. He was the height of a 2 year old, but with the weight of a 12 year old. He was obviously playing hide-and-seek, and was looking for his mother. The scene would have been quant, were it not for the fact that he was wearing a tank-top and nothing else. It was all I could to restrain myself from laughing out loud. I ran past, savoring this visceral perfect redneck moment. The event happened within a stone’s throw of the Ark. Ducatis, butt-cracks, and half-naked babies. Yup, I’m living large. Ahhhhhh.

I want to wish everybody a Merry Christmas from the entire staff of Desmo Times. I hope your day is filled with loved ones and good cheer.

Enjoy your Wed.

23 December 2008- Planes, no trains, and automobiles (by Mark)

Hey, I found a computer and while all others sleep I turned it on. Guess I’ll say “hi” and report in.
Well, yesterday’s flights were fairly uneventful. We left Pensacola about 45 minutes late which cut our layover down to about 30 minutes in Atlanta. Shelley and I along with HER checked bag made the connection in Atlanta and arrived in Pittsburgh on time. MY checked bag, with ALL of my clothing and toiletries wanted to have lunch in Atlanta I guess. My carry on bags were stuffed with winter coats and presents along with my trusty change of under garments for ONE day. Not TOO bad I guess. We filed a missing bag claim and headed home to Shelley’s parent’s place. Five hours later my Air Tran called to say they had my bag and it would be delivered by the airport’s VERY busy lost bag service overnight…I’m still waiting at 0655 this morning. Grrr… I’ve never had a bag miss placed before let alone lost and these days I only check a bag if absolutely necessary and this is why.  To be fair, Air Tran only had about 4 or 5 bags in their “stack” in lost luggage but the two airlines next to them had huge stacks. I was told that the airport handles about 300 lost bags a day. I’d feel better about mine if where I’m staying was, in my opinion, easy to find AT ALL in the day time, much less in the dark. Out in the country and off the road similar to LT’s house but with no street lights nearby and the mailboxes, and hence addresses, on the opposite side of the street.  I need clothes and a razor in two hours for a busy day of visiting, wish me luck!

22 December 2008 – A rider in from the cold

I joined Brad yesterday and today on an out of town excursion. It’s been awhile since I’ve done a long driving trip, so I had forgotten how stupid drivers are on the freeway — pulling out into the left lane and driving 5 mph less than the speed limit, staying in the left lane, trying to pass on the right even though things are all backed up, and other sorts of foolishness. Nary a bike could be spotted on the freeway. Of course, the freezing temps probably had something to do with that. It’s damn cold out there. My personal limit is 32 degrees F for riding. Anything colder than that remains feasible, but not worth the effort. Of course, if a motorcycle was my only form of transport, I’m sure I’d make do. This brings to mind a story. Several weeks ago, I was enjoying my usual Friday breakfast with Tom at the local Bagelheads eatery. In walked a clearly cold motorcyclist. He sat down beside us and told us that his bike was his only form of transportation. The bike in questin was a little 250cc ninja that his brother gave to him. He also informed us that traveled two hours every day to work. I told him that he was a better man than me, and I could remember when my motorcycle was MY only form of transportation. The rider then commented that he visited a local dealer and the salesman tried to talk him into purchasing a Ducati Monster. Tom just looked at me and smiled. I asked the rider if money was tight for him (already knowing the answer). When he said yes, I informed him that he didn’t want a Ducati Monster, or a Ducati of any sort. I then told him who I was, what I did part time and the goods and bads of Ducatis. It could have been just as easy to sell him on my favorite brand of motorcycle, but that wasn’t in his best interest. I said they were great bikes, but they were maintenance/cost intensive and not designed for those on tight budgets (or those who commuted long distances daily). The rider seemed a bit crestfallen, but I told him that he could still WANT a Ducati, and set it as a material goal, but that his budget needed to be able to afford it. He felt better at hearing that bit of news, and I felt better giving what I thought was sage council. In fact, I felt better telling him that than having a successful week selling products. My business has many rewards, and isn’t always limited to the products I sell or the bikes I work on.

Enjoy your Mon.