30 March 2010 – Hose Kit Update

The prototype for the ST4/ST4S hose kit is on the way to me. Barring design issues, the production run will take place in a few weeks and I’ll meet my 1 May ship date. Half of the first production run is already spoken for. The hoses are the last item I need to get Mark’s ST4S on the road. I can’t wait to tackle Blackwater on it.

Send me an email if you own an ST2 and would be interested in a silicon hose kit for your model. Same intro price of $160 for the full kit. Due to the low production numbers I’m not planning one for the ST3. Sorry.

I had somebody send me an email asking if I would make a hose kit for his MTS1000. I thought he was serious until I saw the email was from Lance. Good one Lance.

7 of the 10 slots for the maintenance seminar are taken. I’m looking forward to the seminar,

29 March 2010 – Losing it

I worked on bikes most of the weekend, including Bill Davis’ ’99 900ss. I’m used to having to pull the shocks on SS and Monster models to do the vertical exhaust valve, but it’s never fun. Bill’s bike was a quick affair though. Whoever did the valves before me, did them right. I didn’t have to change out a single shim. The bad news for Bill is that he’s been having F/I issues at low rpm — a notorious feature of the SS. He bought the bike with a PCII, but IMHO the PCII is very inferior the PCIII. The PCII just adds fuel to the existing map, but isn’t load-based. There isn’t a TPS sensor and the connector is upstream of the ECU, so it can’t read injector pulse widths. I’ll set up his F/I, but the cure for any running issues will probably be to get either a PCIII, my Powercard, or reflash the 15m ECU.

Bill’s bike is cobbed together SS. It has mismatched fairing fasteners, homemade fairing brackets, non-standard narrow clip ons, and looks kinda rough beheath the copper colored paint (yes copper as in busa copper). His clutch pull is WAY stiff, a fact I commented on when he dropped it off. I peeked down to notice the OEM 90s style clutch slave cylinder and commented that it’s rare to see one of them still on any bike because they all leak eventually. Well, sure enough, I pulled it just for a look-see and his slave cylinder is blown. So much for the inexpensive valve adjust.

The valve adjust I performed on Bill’s bike was the first where I had to use cheater magnifying glasses. My eyesight started to take a crap a few years ago, and for close up work I need .5 magnifying glasses. Getting old is a bitch. I’m losing it.

I watched WSB yesterday. It was great to see the Aprilia do so well. One race doesn’t make a season, but Ducati Corse needs to rethink things. Maybe Tardozzi knew something when he jumped ship. Of course he said he was doing so because he lacked the drive, but then he signed up with BMW so I guess he took his vitamins.

No new products this week, but a bunch of old stuff that was out of stock — OEM parts like starter solenoids — are back in stock.

27 March 2010 – Covered up

I took a break to get in a motorcycle ride today with Brad. We went exploring in Blackwater. The verdict? We already ride on the best roads. There are a few offshoots, but they’re difficult to link into a continuous ride. I didn’t have time to prep another bike, so I rode what was already in the garage – the ST2. We did a very casual ride, so I didn’t have to flog the bike. On the way back we stopped at a cool bistro in Milton. We’ll have to make that a destination.

I’m covered up in the shop. It must be riding season because everybody wants their bikes worked on. I’ll be busy in the shop the next few weeks getting them done. Until then, I’m not accepting any more bikes.

That’s about it. It’s a rather boring weekend.

Enjoy your work week.

25 March 2010 – Supplier Issues

Ducati continues to be woefully slow on filling orders. Trying to get a set of belts is like pulling teeth. I stocked out of 999 belts, and my supplier says MAYBE they’ll have more in the next few weeks. If I ran my inventory like Ducati, I’d be out of business. I found out another tidbit.  When I contacted Chris Kelley about getting aftermarket belts, he said he had a contact and he  ended up having them manufactured. My assumption was that they were to be made in the US. Not so. The reason I can’t get any more 999 series Exact-Fit brand belts until May is because they are made in CHINA, and the lead time for another production run is 2-3 months. That’s right, Chinese belts in an Italian engine = Hell on Earth.  Am I concerned those belts are made in China? I worry about anything made in China, but the belts appear to be identical to OEM.  I’ve got them in a bunch of my bikes already.

Remember my post last week about suppliers and the one who emailed me with his plans to clone the Pr0-Cutting sprocket cover? Well, I don’t feel compelled to hide the vendor anymore since this isn’t the first time they’ve ripped off Charlie’s designs and farmed out the manufacturing overseas. The company is Motowheels.

I’m hoping to have the prototype of the ST4S coolant hoses in 2 weeks. That should put me on timeline to get the rest of them in. We’ll see.

I had to raise prices on Megacycle Rechromed opener Rockers from $86 (2008 prices) to $98 (2010 prices). I just sent another batch of 20 rockers off to get them rechromed. Ducati prices for OEM rockers for the 748-996 series are now $200 a pop.  Ouch.

Enjoy your weekend.

22 March 2010 – Testa Woes

I spend a lot of time since Friday morning doing a service on a 999. I’ve decided I hate working on the Testas. Yes, the valvetrain is more accessible, since you uncover everything when you take the valve cover off, and yes, the valvetrain is superior to the older layout and it’s easier to check closer clearances . It still takes longer to do a service. The problem is the damn cams. You have to remove the journals and pull the cams to get at the shims, and while the closers are easier to check, the openers aren’t.  It’s also a pain to have to reinstall the cams/journals just to confirm clearances. To get the closers perfect, it takes several iterations.  It also takes longer to install belts on an early 999 due to the multi-piece belt eccentric, plus the nightmare of injection setup with the airbox setup, and the added prep just to get to the valvetrain all combine to make me spend more time doing a testa service than a 996 service.  Time will also be added on Kirk’s 999 because he has the dreaded Ohlins weepy fork seals. It’s rare that I get a low-mileage 999 in the shop without weepy fork seals. So much for Ohlins quality.  I don’t mess with ti-nitrided sliders, so off they go to my suspension shop of choice. Oh, and one more note on a testa valve adjust. I was thinking of Debby’s valve clearance woes when I did the service on Kirk’s valvetrain. On the testa, the closer shim has a tendency to hang up on the valve stem. The collets must be ABSOLUTELY seated on the stem before pulling up on the closer shim. I take a pair of needle-nosed pliers and pinch the collets to ensure they are seated before pulling up on the closer. I also ensure the top of the closer shim is flush with the top of the valvestem before installing the opener shim.

When Kirk dropped off his 999 I noticed how pristine his fairing lowers were. Due to the shape of the lowers and their proximity to the front tire, the lowers on a 999 take a beating. Kirk’s look brand new. When I asked how he did it, I was informed they were new. He took it to a dealer to have it dynoed and they dropped the bike. Now THAT’S an expensive dyno run.

Several more bikes are wandering into the shop in the next few weeks, but they’re all 2-valve bikes. Ah, the simplicity of the two valvers.

3 slots remain for the maintenance seminar, and half of my initial batch of ST4S coolant hoses are sold.

The 916-series LED tail lights go up on the website this week, as well as degree wheels for the engine turning tool I sell.

Enjoy your work week.

17 March 2010 – Billet the blue sky…

While I am far from perfect when it comes to picking products that the market wants, I’m better at it than many vendors. Right now, billet products are a hard sell. Folks might be able to scrape up enough money to afford maintenance on their Ducati, but billet mods, particularly ones that are merely bling, usually aren’t in the budget.

A few cases in point will illustrate things.

1 – Several years ago I went to a few machinists to pitch the idea of getting billet sidestands made that were 1″ longer than stock to correct the dreaded leaning Duc tendency. Cyclecat used to make such sidestands for the ST/Monster series, but they went kaput 2 years ago. None of the machinists I contacted was interested because their business was brisk. Flash forward to 2010 and one of the original vendors I contacted sent me a CAD drawing of a nice billet sidestand and informed me that he was going to do a run… of stock length sidestands. I told him that I appreciated his efforts, but a billet sidestand that offered no added functionality was a dead product in this market. He’s a good supplier and a very nice guy, so I hope I didn’t hurt his feelings. I have a +1″ sidestand working its way through the prototype phase with another vendor (don’t email me about it – I’ll report here when there’s anything to say about the product).

2- Another vendor contacted me saying that he had made a clone of the Pro-Cutting sprocket covers, but his were billet pieces and came in a variety of colors. He wanted to know if I wanted to purchase them from him. I sent him an email asking if  he knew that I helped design the sprocket covers, that Pro-Cutting was my best supplier and good friend, and if he knew that copying somebody else’s design was lame. I never got a reply.

3 – When Speedymoto finally came out with a billet water pump cover that was functionally superior to the stock piece I considered stocking it, until I found out the cost and that the covers were ONLY for the later model 5-hole pattern bikes. What the market needed was a cover to replace the older corroded water pump covers on the earlier water-cooled bikes up to 1999. Speedymoto wasn’t interested in making such a cover, but I found a vendor that was – hence the Slingshot brand I now sell.

4. – A new vendor contacted me last month offering to sell me a new brand of clutch pressure plates. I asked who the manufacturer was, the price point and whether the manufacturer was  a Ducatisti. I was informed that the vendor was just a machinist in Hong Kong who had modified existing designs of aftermarket pressure plates. I informed him that I preferred to purchase clutch parts from Ducatisti – meaning shops that were passionate about Ducatis. If there’s a problem with a vital part like a pressure plate, I needed to have immediate access to the ear of the manufacturer. I passed on the new pressure plate. And, BTW, the last thing the market needs is ANOTHER variant of Ducati pressure plates, or clutch covers for that matter. eBay is flooded with the damn things. Speaking of which, I had a customer mail back a pressure plate to me demanding a refund. He indicated that the pressure plate made his clutch wobble. I would have gladly given him the refund… if the product was one that I sold. He mailed me a pressure plate he had purchased on eBay. I got a chuckle out of that one.

It looks like the riding this weekend will be limited to Sunday. I have a 999 to work on on Sat. Brad was talking of an abbreviated Camden run, but I don’t know how abbreviated you can make it. It still chews up the whole day. We’ll see. I’d rather go exploring for some new roads above Hwy 4.

Enjoy the rest of your work week.

15 March 2010 – Springtime in the South

It was windy but glorious weekend in Pcola. Today’s ride was minus of the wind, and it was a tad warmer. The 1000ss got the duties yesterday and the SC1000 tackled Blackwater today.  I’ve started to see some greening along the roadways, which is a sign that Spring is upon us. I still needed the electric jacket, but in a few weeks I’ll be able to shed that. Since today was a retro day, I pulled out the goggles, balaclava and cafe helmet for the SC1000. No, I was never in the Village People. I look like the bad guy Resputin from Hell Boy. Daryl and Brad enjoyed the weather with me today. Yesterday Mark and Mr Robinson joined us on the ride-to-eat. There’s talk of a Camden run some time soon.

No DT news other than a 999s rolled into the shop yesterday for a 6000 mile service.

One other new product will enter the fold this week. I’ve finally sourced some LED tail lights for the 916 series of superbikes with integral progressive turn signals. They’re very bright,  very cool and the price is right.

Enjoy your workweek.

13 March 2010 – The Japanese ain’t so smart either…

The 1000ss gets rolled out for this weekend’s chores. I haven’t ridden her in ages, so I’m looking forward to it.

I expanded my wet clutch selection to include the wet slipper clutches on the S2R800. This model of Barnett will also fit the M696, M595 and M620.

A few new products will be up next week – fender eliminator kits for the 1098 and 748-998 series.

Enjoy your weekend.

10.5 March 2010 – It’s a go

6 people are already signed up for the maintenance seminar, so it’s officially a go. 4 slots remaining


10 March 2010 – ST4/ST4S Silicon Hose Kits


7 of the 25 kits were grabbed up today!