1 March 2009 – Observations and Resolutions part 3, etc…(Mark)

Well another month has passed since the beginning of this year with my resolutions still a work in progress.  Unlike LT, I’ve yet to muster the enthusiasm to once again be a diligent worker-outer.  My daily lamenting of my being out of shape yet again will eventually kick my butt into gear I’m sure.  Being fit to varying degrees has always been a part of my lifestyle so I’ve just got to quit being so lazy. As for the financial side of my resolutions, I’ve kept soldiering on and have managed to pay off a large portion of mine and my wife’s burden of debt.  A mortgage and crappy car loan are pretty much all that remain as I continue to keep them in my sights.  I hate the car loan.  My wife picked it up while we were dating and I had little influence.  After what turned out to be an unwise trade-in deal, “we” owe about $8-9000 more than the damn thing is worth.  It’s an okay car that she really likes but still…  So you see, I don’t hate car loans in general, just this crappy one because it leaves one few options other than going deeper behind the actual value curve by getting rid of the vehicle early or shoving more money at it until you’re finally above water again while keeping the vehicle for many years.  Grrr… I’ll admit that I could accept it more if it was a Porsche Cayman but it’s far, far from that.  😉

I visited with LT for an hour or so Friday afternoon.  I poked about the shop checking out his748 a.k.a. 853 project and it sure looks nice.  I’m sure it will be wonderful on the track next month.   Despite my “no track days for 2009” ultimatum, he’ll be refreshing my 999 on it’s 12k service later this month in case our April track weekend to Barber works out.  I also checked out a customer bike he had been working on.  We noticed that the exhaust mufflers were hanging unevenly on the monster.  Further scrutiny revealed that neither muffler was supported by being secured to the rear passenger peg mounts.  They were/are just held tight to the exhaust pipes under the rider foot pegs by tightened up muffler clamps.  Yikes.  They must not be “factory” mufflers for sure as the hangars didn’t line up with any holes at all.  I’m sure he’ll advise the owner and they can decide what they want to do.

LT, Brad and I plan a Blackwater ride this morning so that should be fun.  I think Brad plans to ride/drive the new Can Am he and his wife bought.  He wants to get some miles on it before a trip to Daytona this week.  Shelley and I will be hitting Ducati Day Daytona this coming Friday as well.  Should be great!  I’ll post up a report when we return.

Enjoy your Sunday!

28 February – Another tool

Richard Budd sent me a link to a new Ducati rocker arm depressor tool for sale on eBay. The gentleman has a YouTube video at:


The above video shows the tool and his process. Unfortunately, the tool seems best used with the heads on the bench. Also, I’ve yet to think about tearing a valve seal when using EMS’s rocker arm depressor, so I think his tool is neat, but wonder about it’s utility on the vertical exhaust port and the horizontal intake port. One note on doing a valve adjustment with the heads on the bench – On the 851-996 motors, the head gasket is NOT reusable and after a few thousand miles you have to pry the head off the cylinder. It takes a lot of work with a mallet to remove the head. Then you get to replace the head gaskets at $100 each. I think I’ll stick to doing the valve adjustments with the heads on the bike, thank you.

I spent 6 hours today finishing the vertical cylinder. I got it all buttoned back up at 8:30 tonight. Tomorrow I start on the horizontal cylinder. Groovy.

My custom Brad zip tie. You can’t fit a standard ring compressor around the piston with the motor in the frame. Enter 1 NAPA big-ass zip-tie. This was Brad’s idea when I was stumped getting an ST2 back together in last Spring. Works like a champ

Ain’t that perty?

Again, torqueing the head nuts with the the motor in the frame isn’t a whole lot of fun.

Enjoy your Weekend. Don’t forget WSB on Sunday. Spies on Pole and the new Priller in 2nd. Should be a fun race.


27 February 2009 – Farewell Sidewinder

What a pretty boy you were. We’ll miss you Sidewinder

While casually strolling from the house to the workshop today, I spotted something I’ve been looking for ever since Sidewinder went missing back in December – A sign of his demise. 30 minutes later I had his remains buried next to Muzzy and The Little Gray Man. At least I have closure on his demise and won’t wonder what happened to him. Sidewinder got his name because he had a curved spine and walked sideways. He was hit by a car shortly before he showed up on our doorstep some 6 years ago. He was a Maine Coon variant, noted for their large size, broad-flat nose and beautiful markings. He was a great cat. He was wild when he showed up, but over time warmed to us and was a great outside cat, rarely straying far from the house. He was always a bit skiddish, but I suppose getting hit by a car will do that for  you. Last year he was diagnosed with Feline Leukemia. Since then he had slowed down a lot, but was hanging in there. I’m guessing the same Tom Cat that has been beating up Mr Tubby finished Sidewinder off. He was anything but a fighter. He loved to be pet and brushed. His favorite thing was head-butting you to show affection. I hope he has fun playing with Muzzy and the Little Gray Man.

Wow, I can’t believe that we’re already through with February. I thought last week was New Years. I suppose time flies when you’re having fun. Speaking of which,  I’ve been up late at night packing boxes. I’m guessing people saw that I had Army duty impending and are trying to get their orders in.

I haven’t been able to set up my reseller accounts with the contacts that I made at the Indy Dealer Show, but I hope to next week. The Rizoma stuff is important.

I had a chance to complete my State of the Industry update for MCN, focusing on the Indy Dealer Show. I also fleshed out most of my Fitness article for MCN. I’ll shoot the pics for that this weekend.

While Bob’s bike was here I measured the rearset bolt spacing to make up a set of peg plates. Charlie sent me a mock up set of plates to my specs and I mounted them up prior to Bob picking up the SS. He swung by today to pick up a few things, and I had a chance to test fit the production version. They fit perfectly. Charlie will cut a handfull of sets in the next few weeks and I’ll put them up on the website. They’ll fit all 99-07 SS models. 1/2″ back and 1.5″ down. They’re designed for long-leggers like my ST peg lowering plates. They’ll come with a longer curved brake light actuator bolt so that the rear brake lever can be moved lower to compensate for the lower footpegs. The pegs are quite a bit lower, but ground clearance is still ample. The stock SS footpegs are WAY up on the terblanche-styled SS.

 Ah, more leg room is a good thing.

Enjoy your Fr.

25 February 2009 – Not a whole lot goin’ on

I’ve been stuck in a rut of errand-running, with my days consumed by trips to take care of business, prep for teaching, and prep for upcoming military duty. If anybody needs anything, I suggest you order it by next Wed. After that, things will get a bit weird for me.

I’m hopelessly behind on the 2V manual. I usually use nights to work on the manual, but I lose three nights of the week to teaching and visits, and prefer not to write at nights on weekends. I’ve also been nursing another sick cat. Moe hasn’t eaten in the past week due to another gingivitis flare up. I’m off to the vets AGAIN this morning with her after my workout. I love my pets, but after this crop has passed onto the pearly gates, I’ll be going solo for awhile. Once a pet gets old, they cost more in vet bills than an AARPer spends on Viagra.

I have a rare free weekend this weekend. There’s a storm front passing through, so a ride this weekend looks iffy. I may try to get one in on Friday ahead of the front. Otherwise, I need to get to work on the 748 upgrade, dig out the paint to do some much-needed painting outside the house, and knock out some Army academic stuff.  Dennis Malloy’s M1000 rolls back in tomorrow to get a new set of skins, so I’ll work that in on Friday. Time to fire up the Brad tire changing machine.

WSB kicks off this weekend. We’ll know in short order how competitive Ben Spies is, whether Fabrizio will take over the mantle from Bayliss, whether Haga can keep from crashing, and how competitive the Aprilia and BMW superbikes are. I’m looking forward to it.

Readership of the DD hit a new weekly high this past week. Hmm, that always seems to happen when I’m away and other folks are posting. Maybe that should tell me something.

Enjoy your Wed.

24 February 2008 – Ken Scores a 999s

I write this to share some thoughts after having completed the purchase of a 2007 999S Team USA motorcycle from a gentleman in Colorado. The story is long enough to fill a couple of pages, but I think the most pertinent part of this experience is what frustrations this gentleman, whose name is Andrew, faced in attempting to sell off this particular bike over the past two weeks. Further, this story is of him passing on a piece of his life to me in what the rest of the world might see as just a two-wheeled package, but those of us who have our ears tuned to the hum of cam belts see as something entirely different.

The short story is this: Andrew listed this bike several times, only to have people drive up the price with fake bids from phony accounts, thus driving off prospective buyers, and finally having phony bidders win not only his original auction, but also the relisting the following week. Calls into ebay customer service were met with “that’s the chance you take” attitudes, and seeing the writing on the wall, I send him a message offering to buy the bike if his most recent auction was again a scam.

The magic here, and I hope all of you have been able to experience this at least once in your life, is how passionate Andrew is about motorcycles (and Ducati in particular), and his clear regret in divesting himself of what he obviously loves about this bike, but also his clear sense of relief (and even the “rightness” of it) in finding a good home for the bike that he himself cannot ride “the way it needs to be ridden” any longer due to an accident last year that left him with broken arms and legs and a new perspective on mortality (he has a daughter he’d like to walk down the aisle one day). We spoke of my bikes, his bikes, our riding experiences, why he bought this bike in the first place, what changes he had made to it since new, why he had made them, how much he’d regret selling it, how happy I’d be to get it, and how glad he was to finally be done with the whole ebay process and to actually be working to send the bike to a new home.

As to my part, I now ask myself the following question: Did I take advantage of his disgust with the whole auction process to basically steal the bike out from under him? Well, the answer is both yes and no. I saw an obvious opportunity given what I thought was another bogus auction close and was waiting to pounce; however, I did not try to cry poverty and beat him down on price, I paid what he was asking. My secret weapon here, if there was one, was to listen to him mourn the passing of a part of his life that he won’t be getting back. I think that is what is missing in the nameless and faceless ebay experience, the ability to select who buys your possessions based on more than just the highest price bid. Much like my 1995 SS SP, the seller was looking for more than cash; he was looking for someone to treasure his bike as much as he did.

Only time will tell how the 999S will fit in with the rest of my fleet, but I can honestly say that I’ll be thinking of Andrew’s story and how much he wished he was still well enough to ride this bike every time I struggle into my race leathers and look both ways before pulling out into traffic.

May all your ebay experiences, be you the buyer or seller, be as fulfilling as this one seems to have been.


2007 999S Team USA
1871 Miles

To view photos of the bike:

With the following additions:

  • Ohlins Rear Shock Upgrade
  • Termignoni Exhaust
  • Ducati Perf 999RS ECU
  • Acculign Rear Sets Complete
  • Sergeant Seat w/gel
  • Paulimoto Clutch Press Plate (Red)
  • Paulimoto Clutch Spider Ring (Blk)
  • Paulimoto Clutch Cover (Blk)
  • Paulimoto Sprocket Cover (Blk)
  • Paulimoto Clutch/Brake Res Covers (Blk)
  • CRG Brake Clutch Levers (Blk)
  • AFAM 520 Conv w/RK Chain (Gold) 15/40
  • Motovation Frt/Rear Axel Sliders
  • Motovation Swingarm Spools
  • STM Oil Breather (Red)
  • Ducati Perf Carbon Key Guard
  • Ducati Perf Carbon Rear Hugger
  • Ducati Perf Carbon Exhaust Heat Shield
  • Ducati Perf Carbon Tank Pad
  • Ducati Perf Carbon tank/key guard
  • Fast By Ferracci Locking Fuel Cap
  • Techmount Radar Mount/ Hardwired for Escort 8500

23 February 2009 “No Mar Hassles” (billg)

Well as luck would have it, FedEx delivered my No Mar tire changer Friday. And on top of that my tires came in Saturday afternoon. My tire changing experience is all spoons, so this is a big step up for me. I wanted to respect my bikes too by not throwing all sorts of pry bars into the rim, in hopes of getting a tire off.

First of all if you have ever been to most any AMA event, the folks at No Mar usually are there too. That is where I first saw them. Watching them mount tires like some people shuck oysters seemed too good to be true. Well last year at Barber I had arrived on practice day (Thursday) with my go anywhere credentials, I had time to speak to them as they were setting up. Nice folks, plain and simple. And getting a close up one on one show of how it worked sealed the deal for me. It was just a matter of money.

I bought the Junior model and instead of the floor mount, purchased the receiver hitch adapter. After all it’s not like I need to lose anymore floor space. Along with it I added the static wheel balancer and a large cone set (yet to be delivered) so that it will balance SSS monster rims.

I know you all like pictures, so I took a few and added descriptions on my Flickr page.

So how much did it cost? A little over $700. Was it worth it? Hell Yes!!! Tire changes only suck if you have to go by someone elses schedule. Not to mention you have to drop your rims off or the bike itself. And probably the biggest thing is being able to keep aware of what is going on with your parts. You get to spend your time when you want to. It weighs about 65 pounds and can be disassembled easily. Three bolts hold the mounter to the hitch adapter. Four set screws hold the vertical tube to the main assembly. It would be a perfect thing to have for track days if you were wanting to use up a tire prior to mounting fresh-eeze or in the chance that you had a flat.

My only hiccup was that on the initial demount, I should have lifted the tire as I lowered the bar. I sorta bent the nylon, No-Mar, tip. It didn’t break and No-Mar supplies spares with the unit. The other thing was I could not get the bead to set since I don’t have a compressor, so I had to run over to a friends house and do that. A compressor has been on the list of things to get.

Here is the linkage:


22 February 2009 – Saturday Ride (by Mark)

We had a great ride yesterday.  Twelve of us met up at 0800 a couple of miles down the road from me for a quick cup of coffee then off we went on the 400 mile day.  It was a good group consisting of a couple of ducs, a few Gold Wings, Honda STs, Beul Ulysses and a Bimmer.  My good friend Craig led the way on his trusty Gold Wing.  Craig is my self declared, official president of the local Gold Wing road racing association.  He’s our local proof that with a properly reworked suspension, anything can carve the corners given enough ground clearance with proper springs and damping.

We made a few scenic stops along the meandering route up to Camden, Alabama where we stopped for lunch at noon.  Four hours, 200 miles on back roads with three fifteen minutes stops along the way north of our starting point.

We had lunch at a small marina on a lake, as is usual for this ride.

With lunch accomplished we mounted back up for the return trip home.  For the return segment, we split into two groups of six; those that planned to return home at sundown led by Craig and those that wanted to return home mid-afternoon led by yours truly.  My group stopped only once on the way home and that was to force our 996 mounted buddy to refuel.  Despite a low fuel light, he rode on passing gas station after gas station until I forced the stop with 125 miles showing since last stop.  Note to anyone riding with me; if you need fuel then stop and I’ll circle back for you.  😉  Fueling accomplished we rode the last 80 miles without incident.

Craig snapped quite a few photos which you can see.  You can click on the image for a larger view.  They should look great thanks to his full size Nikon digital SLR.   You can carry those sorts of cameras when you’re on a Gold Wing.

On a maintenance note, I have an oil leak issue on the ST.  I have noticed a little leak during the last couple of months but wasn’t able to isolate it until a long ride.  I’m spewing oil from my vertical cylinder rear valve cover just above the exhaust manifold.  No matter how I try, those bolts appear tight but oil continues to flow.  I’d estimate I lost 2 or 3 tablespoons of it yesterday.  I need to clean that all up today as the entire ass end is now nice and oily.  I plan to pull the cover and see what kind of gasket it needs.  I’m sure LT will have some words of wisdom after he reads this.  It’s nice to have such a wealth of Ducati mechanical expertise as a good friend just down the road.

Enjoy your Sunday!

21 February 2009 – Down and Up

My site was down yesterday due to a server upgrade. The provider indicated a mere 2 hour delay around midnight on Friday. I knew better than to expect that. It was down almost a full 24 hours. Damn. Of course that happened on an Army day, of which I’m glad. While discussing strategic US policy, I missed out on some business. Oh well. There wasn’t a damn thing I could do about the server thing, so it was best that I’m out of town. Speaking of which, it’s 0520 and time to get ready for another day of fun in the classroom discussing Full Spectrum Operations.  I’m dragging Bluto and Michael with me to breakfast prior to heading back down to Montgomery.

Enjoy your Sun.

20 February 2008 – 7 Hours a week

While on the dip machine today, I pondered, among other things, the meaning of the universe. I also pondered the realization that I don’t enjoy working out any more than I did 30 years ago. I now work out, on average, an hour a day. M-W-F it’s weights followed by a 3 mile run, and on weekends I run 3-4 miles both days. Working out is only behind sleep and teaching duties in terms of priorities. The Army actually provides me the time to work out when I’m out of town on that gig. The only careers really to suffer my working out penchant are Desmo Times and my moto-journalist career. I argue that by working out I’ll live a longer more productive life, but that’s a tough sell when I’m sweating at the gym.

Oh well, time to head out to the garage and spend some quality final minutes with Muzzy, take him to the vets and then back here for a burial. Then it’s time to open up the books to study Army stuff for my weekend of fun in Montgomery.

No DT news. The shopping cart is very quiet. I guess everyone is waiting on their stimulus check before ordering anything. Maybe I should change the name of my business to Obama Times.

Enjoy your Weekend.

19 February 2009 – A mindless week

I didn’t get a whole lot accomplished this week other than keeping my head above water. Errands and losing Monday to driving kind of ruined my momentum. With another weekend of Army duty coming, I can cross off the next 3 days as well. Oh well, maybe next week will see me be more productive. I do have a bit of good news to relate. I negotiated $10 off the price of the barnett clutch packs for awhile. It ain’t much, but it’s a start. Sales are trickling in as people start to gear up for the Spring riding season. WSB is only a week away too.

Next week I hope to spend 1 day in the shop working on the 748. I’ll try to have that job complete by the 2nd week of March. We’ll see.

I need a vacation….

Enjoy your Fr.