28 January 2010 – Product Updates

I rolled out three new products today. The first are intake plugs that fix the problem of what to do when eliminating the charcoal canisters. Up to now, I just put a screw in the rubber hoses. A much tidier approach is to scrap the hoses as well and install the brass plugs I sell. The second product is the promised fuel additive that countaracts ethanol’s tendency to congeal. It also prevents it from attacking plastic fuel cells. The third product is a rider item – Scott no-fog wipes. They’re reusable, work great and more convenient than spray-on applicators.  I have 4 more products to get to by the weekend – a cable luber, Arrow pipes for the 696/1100 Monster, FMF Pipes for the same bike, and a fork oil level gauge.

Weather looks good for a ride on Sunday, but it’s calling for a low of 36 Sat night. I’m riding anyway. I can’t miss riding in the winter. The heat is less than 5 months away.

26 January 2009 – New Products

I spent some more time with the M1100s this weekend. It will stay on the lift until I do a few more mods. Replacing the belts on the darn thing is going to be a challenge. The frame spars on the Monster are HUGE. That’s a good thing for frame rigidity. Likewise the subframe is beefy. But combine a thick frame/subframe with the upswept horizontal cylinder header pipe and you have clearance issues. The disconnecting the header pipe from the midpipe and swinging it out of the way seems to be the ticket. That pipe’s proximity to wires running behind it is kinda scary. There’s a plastic protector strip that shields the wiring, but I’d feel better if the pipe was heat wrapped and the wires ran inside a conduit.

A few new products will go up this week. Fuel stabilizer to tame the effects of ethanol, a cable luber,  adapter plugs to screw into the intake manifolds after eliminating the charcoal canister, no-fog wipes for visors, and a fork oil gauge.

Enjoy your work week.

23 January 2010 – Blah weather, short ride

5 of us did a local ride today under cloudy dreary skies. We rode today to beat the expected rain for tomorrow. I rode the 999s. It was the first time I’ve ridden it since last spring. What a great bike. It’s such a shame it didn’t catch on with many Ducatisti. I rode the 999 today so that I could wheel it over to the shop afterwards to yank the forks. Another case of Ohlins fork seal leak. I wish such leaks would occur on naked bikes, but at least the fairing is fairly easy to remove on the 999. I got to see Mark’s replacement ZX-14. It looks way better in the black version. I spared him the “keep the rubber side down quips”. The last thing that a recently-crashed rider needs to be reminded of is crashing. Brad’s out of town most of the week/weekend. Our ride next weekend won’t be nearly as special without him.

Keith picked up his MTS1100s today. I just did a first service checkup and added a throttle tamer. His MTS is way less snatchy with the wet clutch. I’m still a purist and prefer to see the working of the dry clutch, but wets are more practical and are easier to modulate.

The stuff is slowly exiting my closeout page. I’m looking forward to having bare cupboards for storage.

Enjoy your weekend.

21 January 2010 – The Monster 1100

I had a chance this week to turn a few wrenches on an M1100s. It was my first chance to check one out to see how they compared to the last generation in terms of being maintenance-friendly. My assessment is that Ducati designers have completely forgotten about designing stuff that is easy to work on. Gone is the flip-up tank. Instead there are a littany of screws that have to be removed in order for the left and right tank side covers to come off. Then there are 3 screws securing the fuel cell. The fuel cell is fairly straightforward to remove, but in all it took more than a few minutes to ditch the plastic/screws just so that I could install battery tender leads. There are some clever design details on the Monster though. The voltage regulator was moved into the path of the wind on the leading edge of the motor. Likewise, the oil cooler was moved higher for protection and aesthetic appeal. All in all, the bike is well laid out, but I think much more could have been done to make it easier for technicians and owners to work on it.

Firing up the DS1100 on the new Monster is an effort in faith. IMHO the battery does not put out enough CCA to effectively turn over the bike. If I’m not mistaken, the old YB16ALA2 put our more CCA than the newer battery. If the battery is a little low on charge, the big DS motor simply will not crank. The superbikes are no better. It used to be that with a starter cable upgrade or weight shaved from the clutch or flywheel were all that were needed to improve how fast the motor would spin over. There’s nothing an owner can do now except pray each time they hit the starter button. When the Superbikes hit 1300cc and the 2-valvers go up to 1200cc+, the battery is doing to HAVE to be upgraded. I wish Odyssey made a battery that would work with the post-2000 Ducs.

As soon as activity in the shop slows down the M900 needs to roll in for a checkup before I sell her. The last time I tried to sell one of my older bikes — the ’74 750 Sport – I decided the finicky carbs were too much for any newbie owner to deal with and I kept the bike. The Monster has no such issues, but it’s due for an oil change and a look over before I deem it worthy for sale.

Enjoy the rest of your work-week.

17 January 2010 – Washout

This weekend is another washout in the panhandle.  The only good thing about it was I got a chance to see Keith. He dropped off his MTS1100s for a service and we had a nice lunch together. I’m very glad that I have a carport in front of the shop to load/offload bikes. It’s no joy to do so in the rain.

I activated the Brakes & Rotors section of the website to organize needs for rotors more than anything else. I added EBC wave rotors to the mix. I put a set on the 1000SS last year to test them out and think they look and function great. The fact that they’re $200 cheaper than Braketech and Galfer is a good thing too. The only problem is availability. I can only get a few sets each quarter due to supply problems. I only have one set for now, and I’ll be activating/deactivating the link when I stock out.

A new section of the website is Bikes for Sale. I’m pruning the collection this year. The ’00 ST2 will be joining the ’98 ST2, and my ’96 M900 will also hit the for sale list. I’ll probably also shed the Gran Canyon. It’s a great bike, but I don’t know how much touring I’ll do in the future, and I’ve only ridden it twice in 2 years.

That’s about it for a soggy Sunday. Mark & Brad road-tripped it yesterday to Tennessee to fill the void in Mark’s garage. We’ll probably do a ride next Sunday, weather provided.

Enjoy your MLK day.

17 January 2010- Let’s try this again…(Mark)

Brad and I had a highly enjoyable, successful trip to Chattanooga, Tennessee yesterday.  He was nice enough to accompany me to check out and pick up a replacement ZX14 with me from a ZXForum member I know from that forum.  Brad supplied me with spicy beef jerky and I supplied him with a meal whenever he got hungry.  Very nice trip indeed.  We left his place around 0500 and had a nice Cracker Barrel breakfast about an hour and 20 minutes later on the road north.  We arrived at our destination after 7 quick hours and picked up an immaculate ’08 ZX14 from my friend Mike.  This one is extremely dark blue to the point of almost looking black.  Kawasaki calls it midnight sapphire blue metallic.  Gorgeous!  After pickup we had a delicious lunch at Firehouse Subs before getting back on the road south into the torrential down pour back home in Pensacola.  Today I’ll be going over her with a fine tooth comb and reinstalling all of my personal mod choices that I was lucky enough to salvage off the other bike.  Have a great Sunday.  I will!

15 January 2010 – Aftermarket Belts

The aftermarket belts for the 696, 749-999 testa, and ST3/DS1000/DS1100 came in today. They’re up on the site already. The other variants will be here mid-summer. I have another product to roll out to protect the clutch side covers on wet clutch ducs but the vendor has to do some finishing touches on the fasteners. I put one on the S2R and it looks great.

I commuted again today on the 916. I’m really impressed with the feel of the throttle tamer. Upgrading on the rest of the fleet will take some $$$, but I’ll do it bit by bit.  I didn’t wear my electric vest today. That was a mistake. Even the short 20 minute ride to school had me chilled. I ain’t bitchin’ though. Summer is only 5 months away.

Enjoy your weekend.

12 January 2010 – Tamed

I finally had a chance to install a Throttle Tamer today. Fit and finish was awesome. What a no-brainer mod. I installed one on my 916 and commuted on it today. The throttle tamer made things so much smoother. You can read the ad for the description. Just click on new products. I only stocked a few in case I’m the only one that thinks this is a neat mod. I wrote up some instructions and put them with the ad to help out with things during installation.

It hit 50 today, so I’m pleased to be able to commute. The car is great, but I’ve got too much invested in this hobby to ride on 4 wheels for very long. More products coming later this week.

Enjoy your Mid-Week.

10 January 2010 – My cage is my friend

The above pic is from a nice gentleman up in Wisconsin who read of Mark’s ZX demise.  I think his damage tops Mark’s, but then once a bike is totaled, comparisons are simply for amusement. Totaled is totaled.

I rode Mark’s ST4S yesterday on a short jaunt from his place to mine. The brisk 30 degree temps were enough to remind me why we decided not to ride today. One of the reasons I decided to stay in the sunbelt was to avoid such weather. But riding in this stuff is torture. Before I could ride away from Mark’s coolant began weeping onto his driveway. The culprit was the usual lower radiator hose clamp. A few turns on it and the leak was stopped. Getting the fairing back on with numb hands was a tougher matter. In the end, I just had him throw the fairing panel in the back of the car for the drive over.

My puny shop insulation is no match for these temps, and it’s tough to handle valve collets with mittens.  Mental note to self to redo the shop insulation before next winter. Of course, I’ll probably have to deal with another issue before then, like the burst water pipe somewhere underneath the Ark. Gotta love it.

Until it warms up I’m enjoying a heated car. Who would have thought that a seemingly silly salesman pitch for heated seats would have been appreciated in Pensacola. I’ve been leaving them on in the Kia like they’re essential equipment.  If we get much more of this global warming thing down here, I’ll be looking for block heaters to keep the oil from congealing.

Enjoy your Sun.

Monday Update – Last night I dropped my phone and destroyed the LCD display and this morning the cable internet was frozen so no internet. I was effectively cut off from the outside world… until I went to the office of course. The effectively makes three breakages in 24 hours, and since bad things come in 3’s I should be good to go for awhile…

8 January 2010 – Old Stuff & New Stuff

Two long-lost products reenter the mix next week – my sprocket covers and ’98 ST voltage regulator relocator plates. Every time I have a run of the ST plates made I swear it will be the last batch, but I keep getting inquiries. Perhaps this batch will satisfy the few out there that don’t have the mod. My inexpensive sprocket covers are also back. I really like them because you can see the condition of the sprocket through the venting, yet they still shield the rider’s leg.

I have just about everything up on the closeout page that I can offer from the “sitting on the shelf in the shop” dept. Some of the stuff I woudn’t mind keeping, but if it has taken me more than 2-3 years to install something, the odds are I’m not going to do it. Some projects seem like good ideas at the time, but desires change.

In terms of new products, I still have to build the Carrozzeria ad for the website. After using a few sets of their wheels, I’m confident of selling them. They’re the most cost-effective wheel upgrade available.  The quick throttles are on the way to me as well. I think they’ll work well. I’ll test one first of course. The most desirable product heading my way has been something I’ve tried to get made for years – aftermarket belts for the “other” bikes that bucci doesn’t support. I contacted Chris at Calif Cycleworks to see if he wanted to go in with me on having them made, and he decided to do it himself. I don’t care, just so long as they were made. He branded them with his own logo, and I’m going to resell them. They’ll be initially available for the 749/998/999, DS1000/DS1100/ST3, and the 696. The other fitments will be available in July. Prices will be half that of the OEM belts. Identical construction to OEM, meaning with kevlar reinforcement.  Perhaps Ducati will lower their OEM belts when these belts become more widely available. I’ll still sell the OEM belts for awhile, but will phase them out. Some people are always paranoid about using aftermarket belts, but I don’t know of a single instance of a bucci belt breaking from fatigue.

I’m also in talks to have another brand of clutch pack available. That would give us 2 US-based manufacturers and Surflex from Italy.

I finally got my application in to become an FMF dealer. I saw a set of their pipes on a 696 at the Indy dealer show last year. They looked great and the prices are good. I’ll be putting up that ad in short order as well.  I was going to order a set of them for the M1100s, but I’m just too good of friends with Greg from Arrow, and he was clearing out some inventory. The problem with Arrows (if it can be considered a problem) is that their carbon cans often don’t come with removeable baffles (depending on the application) like the titanium and aluminum variants do. Greg said it’s due to the added heat the baffles cause, which can lead to fading of the carbon. He had a set of homologated carbons on the shelf with the baffles, so I volunteered to be a guinea pig. If the carbon doesn’t fade due to a combination of the florida heat and the baffles, then it will never fade (sun isn’t an issue for my garage queens). I don’t know how other can makers deal with the baffles and carbon. As far as I know, they all have removable baffles in their carbon variants. Maybe Arrow just had a bad experience with a batch. Who knows?

I still get inquiries to do another batch of my long-gone LCD voltmeter kits. If I remember, I will call my LCD module vendor next week to order a batch. Waterproofing them is less than fun, but the ones on my bikes are still ticking after years of use. Getting the voltmeters isn’t the issue. Finding the time to make the kits is.

The overnight low on Sat is supposed to be 25. After seeing what the Mid-West is dealing with, I don’t feel bad, but I HATE missing riding time in the winter.

Enjoy your Friday.