30 September 2009 – When is “New” new?


Yesterday MV Agusta announced a “new” brutale for 2010. At first glance, the bike looks the same. Most of the changes are subtle. I zeroed in on the engine changes, paying particular attention to a redesigned water pump designed to flow more coolant (I tried that on my F4-1000R and it didn’t make a spit of difference). Taken in total, the Brutale isn’t a complete redesign, regardless of MV’s claim that 85% of the components are redesigned. In their defense, it was probably a good idea for MV to keep the same basic styling. However, in order to jump start sales, a “newer” look might have been justified. Artist sketches of the next generation superbike and naked had looked particularly tasty. However, if given the choice between tweaking a tried-and-true design or redesigning something from the ground up, I’ll take the former. I’ve had fairly good experiences with purchasing first-year designs, but much better luck at purchasing the last model year of a particular design. The same holds for automobiles. For while CAD/CAM has come a long way, nothing compares to the the field-testing of owners, at least when it comes to  spotting design flaws.

So, is the MV a “New” bike? I think if it looks the same, it is the same. I’d call it redesigned or “tweaked” rather than “New”.

The Milan show is next month and a number of other “new” bikes are expected, including the Testa-based Ducati touring bike and an MV Agusta F5. Like the Brutale, spy shots have revealed it look much like the older F4. Of course, how do you upstage the iconic F4 in terms of looks. I’m just hoping they shed weight. The MVs need to lose about 40 pounds to be competitive with other exotics.

Enjoy your Wed.

28 September 2009 – Back in Tampa.. again.

WSB Spoiler below.

I thoroughly enjoyed my mini-vacation in the mountains last week/weekend. The weather held up enough to get in some great riding, and even the wet day on Saturday didn’t dampen the tailgate shindig that the Reap family sponsored. On Thursday, I did the Tail of the Dragon/Cherohalla Skyway loop twice and followed it up on Friday/Saturday with another loop each day. COL Reap and one of his sons rode with me on Friday – 3 Ducs, Vinnie’s 998, Steve’s S2R, and my Hyper. On the Dragon, the Hyper is the bike to have. On the Cherohalla, not so much. The fast sweepers on the Cherohalla revealed the lack of wind protection on the Hyper. Regardless, the riding was a blast.

I made the 675 mile drive back to Tampa yesterday, offloaded the Hyper into the garage at the house I’m staying at, and took the whole wad of riding gear and threw it into the spare bedroom. That’s probably the only riding I’ll do the rest of the year, so I’ll savor it for awhile.

It was a big day for Ducati in WSB. Two wins for Haga and he has regained the points lead. Just when I counted him out, he performs like that. Both the Ducatis and Aprilias outpulled the Yamaha. I plan on downloading the Eurosport feeds and watch them with COL Reap.  

In Ducati news, it was announced that a 796cc version of the Hyper is coming to the US. The big plus is it will be priced significantly less than the current 1100 HM. For the average rider, the 800 injected twin will be more than enough, but I even find the 1100 could use some more grunt, especially if you’re riding 2-up. I don’t know what they’re going to cheapen to get the price down below $10K.  

I’m settled back in Tampa for a spell. I’m watching the rest of the country slowly cool off for the fall, wondering when the cool temps will hit Tampa. I have another PT test in Oct, so I’m hoping it’s a bit cooler.

Enjoy your Monday

24 September 2009 – Twisty Heaven


22 September 2009 – Ducati Hottie and I’m outta here…


I popped up the DucatiHOTTIE.us site last night. Other than the order link, it’s finished… at least for now. Enjoy! 

Ducati signed Fabrizio and Haga for next year, so there won’t be any lineup changes for next year for either the MotoGP team or the WSB team. That’s a rarity in motorcycle racing. If Haga is lucky, Spies will punch out and head off to MotoGP.

I’m outta here for some R&R to celebrate the passing of another birthday tomorrow. Enjoy the rest of your week/weekend. I’ll be back next Monday.

21 September 2009 – I have no idea what you’re talking about…

It was a balmy 95 in Tampa yesterday. Even in this heat, I see quite a few motorcyclists braving the elements and the incessant Tampa traffic to get some riding in. Good for them. Let it be never be written on my tombstone that I spent a full Summer in Tampa. If I lived here, I don’t think I’d be into motorcycling very much.

My message board heads off a lot of personal emails on technical matters, but some people still try to email me direct with questions. For those that get past my spam filters, I try to answer, or at least point them to the message board. Of the ones I receive, approximately 90% involve clutch-based questions. For some reason, the dry clutch on Ducatis stymies the heck out of folks. It really isn’t a very complicated system, but the possibilites for clutch issues can still be hard to diagnose. The permutations of possibilities for where the problem might lie is complex. Still, I try to not just recommend throwing money at a problem, unless I’m fairly certain that said part will be a cure. Throwing money at a problem must be balanced against one’s sanity and an assessment of the cost of time. I find that if an important ride looms, cost is no object to get a bike back on the road. Time is also important. Time is money to me, and rather than investing a lot of time into an problem on one of my bikes I look for fast solutions. Still, sometimes it takes a night or two of sleeping on something before the answer is more apparent.

My office mate here in Tampa is an Army Ranger. He has a very dry sense of humor. On the wall of his cubicle is a picture of a bunny with a pancake on it’s head. Underneath is a slogan that says “I have no idea what you’re talking about, so here’s a bunny with a pancake on it’s head”. It took me weeks of wondering what the hell the words meant until I got a phone call from USASOC (US Army Spec ops command) asking me something that I had no idea about. The question was so vague that I instantly knew why my office mate had the picture on his wall. I sometimes feel that way when I get a Ducati question that is so obtuse that I have no idea what they’re talking about. Like “I heard if I put a new seat on my bike I would be faster because I would be more comfortable riding it, and thus more likely to accellerate more quickly. Do you agree”. Dude, I have NO idea what you’re talking about, but here’s a bunny with a pancake on its head.  If you ever hear me say that, you’ll know that I think your question is coming from left field.

Enjoy your Monday.

17 September 2009 – Farewell Summer

Another day, another Command run. Take about 500 SOCOM folks in matching yellow shirt and black shorts, a muggy Tampa morning, 3 miles of tarmac and a shitload of boring running cadences and you have a Command run. There are a lot worse things to partake in, and, in fact, I kind of enjoy them.  The pace is barely enough to elevate my heartrate though. It’s more of a sweating event than a cardiovascular event.

This week is the last full week of Summer for most folks. Of course, that depends on where you live. Here in Tampa, fall won’t start until November, and the only indication of the passing of the season is it gets dark earlier and the sunrise is later each day. I find nothing as unmotivating as being faced with darkness while driving into the office, but then that depends on the day of the week. I hate Mondays.

No racing this weekend. The WSB boys are back at it next weekend though.  I’ll spend the weekend in Tampa having some fun. This week I threw up a boatload of cashola to go to a U2 concert here next month. I haven’t seen them since I attended ASU, and don’t think I’ll get another opportunity. I had almost forgotten what it’s like to live in a city that has good restaurants and gets good bands.

One thing I have noticed in Tampa is what appears to be a lower percentage of overweight people. It may be the environs that I frequent, but the city seems much more health conscious. I make this assertion apart from my current culture of SOCOM, where most of the people are fit and trim. Last night I had to drive to a friend’s promotion party. The route took me down Bayshore parkway, a long-ass strip of road and sidewalk along the Bay. Hundreds of runners, bicyclists, and skaters frequent the route at any one time. It is a motivational sight for anyone interested in fitness, and gives the impression that all of Tampa is working out. Of course, the rest of Tampa might be watching these athletes from the confines of their high-rise condos, eating bon-bons and ice cream until their hearts congeal.

A few product notes – due to the weak US Dollar, prices on the Surflex clutches will go up. How much depends on when they ship them… and how far the dollar continues to slide. I’ll probably have to tack another $10-$20 onto the already high cost. Not my fault guys. Tell the USG to stop printing money.  I’m also working on adding two other functional products to the mix, but I don’t have the sourcing worked out as yet, so I’ll keep them quiet for now.

The printed proof of the calendar is on its way to me. Once approved, the printing will commence. The website goes live in 12 days.

Enjoy your weekend.

15 September 2009 – Sure I can install that for you….

I got an email last weekend from a good friend of mine, Donnie Searles – the brother of Editor Dave from MCN. Has a long-in-the-tooth Ducati ST2 with a ton-o-miles on it. Donnie is a functional guy, and eschews bling in favor or practicality. So when his clutch got loud enough to set off car alarms a city block away, he decided to upgrade to our clutch basket/plate combo. Donnie likes to tinker, so I figured he’d install it himself. Well, he didn’t have a 32mm socket and breaker bar, so he decided to let a shop install the clutch basket and plates. You can surmise what happened. $250 later he gets the bike back from the shop. The charge was for labor to grind down the barnett clutch pack to fit the basket. The only problem was that the basket is designed to allow the barnett pack to slide right in. The fit is snug, but that’s the whole purpose of the setup – less noise, more longevity, and better feel. Occasionally Barnett gets sloppy with the glue on the friction plates, and that has to be dremeled or picked off the tabs, but otherwise the kit just drops right in. I told Donnie that I wished he would have let me know he was going to have a shop do the install. Shops won’t take the time to fit something. If it looks snug, they start grinding and whacking. In this case, they ground down perfectly good friction plates to fit a new basket. Donnie said the clutch is now quiet, but I guarantee it isn’t as quiet as it should be. The lesson – do it yourself. Take your time, get the right tools and do it yourself. Nobody cares for your bike as much as you. And, if you take a bike to a shop to fit an aftermarket part, get ready to bleed. Shops HATE to fit aftermarket parts, especially if they didn’t sell it to you. They make money off parts AND labor. If they install your part, they’ll mark up the labor to compensate for the lack of profits from selling you the part. To be fair, I HATE when customers bring me parts to install. First, I prefer the stuff I sell. Second, fitting somebody else’s stuff usually involves fiddling, which takes time. Am I speaking out both sides of my mouth? You bet, but then I live in both worlds… as a customer AND as a shop owner.

Enjoy your Tue.

11 September 2009 – The Calendar that won’t die, Elbows and Ducati

I got up this morning and sat at the computer to download the proofs of the calendar from the printer. Freakin’ typos in the subtitles for each photo abounded. I made the corections and sent them to the printer, then emailed Bill on a few tweaks needed on the the inner liner page and back cover. I SO want to be done with the calendar.

There’s a hilarious video up on Superbikeplanet of a mock interview with Ben Spies. Funny stuff


I chatted with my buddy at a Ducati dealer today about future stuff. Many of you probably know that Ducati didn’t hold a dealer show this year. Now dealers will have to wait for the Milan show to find out about any new models. The problem with that is that new unit orders are due prior to that. Other than the expected Testa-based adventure tourer, nothing new is expected. It would be nice to see a revamp of the SS, but I don’t know if Ducati has that in the works.

I’ll be packing some crap in the Prius and heading out tomorrow afternoon bound for Pcola. Even getting away for a day is worthwhile. Tampa is cool, but I need to see some green.

Enjoy your Weekend.

8 September 2009 – Depeche, The Rays, Crashes, the 1098s, Calendars and the Book

Moto-GP and WSB spoiler below.

The Depeche Mode concert was awesome. The Ford Amphitheater is a great place to see a concert. Other than the sucky parking and traffic flow situation, I enjoyed it. After an uneventful Saturday, I caught a Devil Rays game on Sunday with a few of the boys. Tampa blew a 2 run lead in the 9th. Oh well, there’s always the next game.

Nicky crashing at the start of the race sure was anticlimactic. What a shame. He was really on pace too. While his crash was a surprise, Haga’s crash in R2 of WSB wasn’t. Some people are just snake-bitten and can’t get over it. Haga will never win a title because he can never find the consistency to be a champion. I’m sorry, and really like him, but being a Haga fan is like being a Chicago Cub fan – you have to have another team to rout for or else you get heart-broken each year. I used to have a girlfriend like that. I dated her, but knew she’d be extracting a live heart donation from me, so I had to preempt her surgery by lining up a gal who didn’t use hearts as garnish on her salads. Backups are a good thing.

I’ll be heading home next weekend to check on things and prep the 1098s and bring it back with me in the bed of the Avalanche. I’m doing a jaunt up to Tennessee in a few weekends to ride with COL Reap. It’s a long haul from here, but at least I’ll be driving to do something fun as opposed to driving for the Army.  I haven’t been to the mountains to ride in years, and I haven’t ridden the 1098s in a LONG time, so it needs to be gone over from top to bottom. I plan on finishing off the tires that are on the bike. It’s a shame I don’t have stickies on there, but I don’t have time to be yanking wheels next weekend. Driving home is a PITA. I get in late Friday and have turn right back around Sunday morning.

Bill and I are still diddling with the Calendar files. What a PITA. Damm imaging software. The stuff HAS to go to the printer early this week or I’ll fall off my timeline. I’ve already started building the website for the calendar. Love that Macromedia Fireworks. 

The first 2 Chapters of the book have been reedited and put to bed. A net increase of 2 pages from the last edition. I’ll knock out updates to the entire Alternator Cover Components Chapter this week. The”Desmodue Edition 3.0 link up top from this page on the DD will track the progress of the book.

Enjoy your Tue.

6 Sept. 2009 “I Know You But Can’t Remember…” billg

Last night was another late one editing the calendar. I hope everyone likes how it turns out. I’ll be sending LT proofs of the pictures tomorrow (Sunday) Didn’t have time today since I had to work. At least I got to ride the SF to work… come to think of it, I always ride the SF to work. Friday I didn’t ride the bike. I drove my 93 Jeep Cherokee into work so I could help a guy at work install a rooftop antenna. Something about a football game involving dawgs.

Funny though, on my way home I stop at my usual gas station. Walk in, grab a Monster energy drink… head to the counter and they look at me as if I was someone they knew but couldn’t place me. It actually takes them a full ten seconds until the girl belts out, “Your motorcycle man!.” I look back and say, “Yes, and I’m also called “that guy on the Ducati”.” She answers back, “What are you doing? Where’s your bike? Did you wreck?

The conversation confirmed that I had completed my metamorphisis. I am no longer even thought of as owning a car. She didn’t know I owned one and more so the fact that I don’t look right without coming in wearing my Ducati jacket and backpack. I think about it later and also realize that for the last 4 years I haven’t driven to Florida. I’ve taken one of the bikes even for my Christmas visit to my parents.

Last weekend, a friend comes by after getting his bike fixed and he’s had it for two years. I ask him how many miles now and I am estonished that he says 6k. Six K!? You’ve got to be shitting me? I bought my ST when he bought his Triumph ST. I sold my ST with 12k, I put 12k on the Monster S2R, and I’m over 3,400 on the SF which I bought the end of June.

And yet still I feel I don’t get enough riding time. More so “quality” riding time, which is why I chose to ride everywhere. I figure as long as I’m not in a car, life is good. And it’s not a “Ducati” thing. I was happy riding my two Yamaha’s before changing from saki to chianti. And now it’s freaking September and the weather is beginning to “soften”, so it’s time to start thinking about a getaway. Shame it does not look like I’ll get up to North Georgia for the usdesmo thing. Too much going on at work. At least I can get a guaranteed half hour in the seat with commuting each day, but nothing really compares to heading out to somewhere out of the way. Burning through a few tanks of gas and just letting go for a full day of riding. Just what the doctor ordered. At least this way I can stop thinking about wanting to kick a “Truther” in the nutz, and denying it ever happened. I just have to remember to take the Jeep when I do it, no one will remember who I really am.