29 November 2010 – From Hot to Cold

48 hours after my toasty Thanksgving romp on the M1100s I mounted the ’98 ST2 for a run to the Oasis. I was planning for a Superbike, but it as 40 degrees Saturday morning and I was looking for some wind protection. I plugged in my electric jacket and gloves and there wasn’t any heat coming from either. I’m guessing the fuse on the tender lead popped again. Needless to say, it was a chilly ride. I don’t know which is worse – baking or freezing on a ride. I’ve done more of each than I care to ever relive, so comfort is pretty important. Of course, if I wanted comfort I’d have a whole different catefory of motoryccle.

I didn’t have a Black Friday sale this year. I’ve been so busy that I just didn’t have time to put into building inventory for it and then spend a full day packing orders. It was a good thing I didn’t, because I awoke Sunday with a cold and have been kind of out of it since then.

The M900 is in the shop. I was going to ride it last TH, but I can’t keep her running. She’ll fire up if I prime the accelerator pumps, but it won’t run without a full throttle. I’m guessing the pilot jets are screwy. Time to check for flow from the vacuum petcock and then pull the carbs if need be.

Bill,  you’re a glutton for punishment. There’s no way I’d ride my HMs on a long-distance trip. That’s what the ST is for. My HMs isn’t much fun above 70 mph because of the ergos. Kudos to you for pulling it off.

TTYL – LT

26 November 2010 – Solo Fun

Above: my M1100s parked at the beginning of the famous left-left-left-left corner in Blackwater. Back in the day I used to get white knuckles taking the corner at speed on my Katana 1100. Better bikes have me yawning at most speeds in the same corner.

I had to put some time in at the workshop this week. I finished Ken Ford’s service. Have I mentioned lately how much I hate the 2004+ ST fairing setup. How could the engineers have taken the already PITA 1997-2003 fairing and made it harder to get off? Anyway, I finished that bike and start this weekend on Keith Forehand’s idle gremlin issue. It’s been awhile since I wrenched on a duck, so I don’t mind that much.

I almost bid on another Ducati this week, but sanity prevailed and I remembered why I wanted to pare down the collection a bit – simplicity. Old habits die hard. If there was a rehab for multiple bike disorder, I’d spend a lot of time there.

I enjoyed a solo ride through Blackwater yesterday. One nice thing about riding on holidays is that the traffic is reduced. Unfortunately, the hunters were out in force, which meant the florida game wardens were out in force as well. Luckily, their focus was on the hunters and not me. I was a good boy when I came through their rally points. I took the M1100s and had a blast. Sometimes it’s nice to just go your own pace and not worry about anyone else. I went blistering fast at times and tooled along at sight-seeing speeds other times. 175 miles later I was all smiles and relaxed. The M1100s really rocks. The power and handling blow away previous generations of air/oil cooled Monsters. Only the S4RS and Streetfighter offer the same feel of power for a naked, but I like the chassis better on the M1100s. You have to go stupid fast to really test it’s cornering prowess. I did have a tank-slapper incident after blazing over a wooden bridge at a lean angle. I need to look into fitting one to the bike. Tank slappers are no fun, at any speed. 

The weather was perfect for the ride. I was comfortable in leathers without any extra layering. A cold front blows through here tonight, and the temps for the Sat ride will be in the upper 30s. Time to roll out a Superbike. Yippee. 

I ran into a fellow rider at the Thanksgiving party I attended. He raced in the Canadian series a decade ago. I’m usually keen to chat with somebody who loves bikes but this was a bit different. He was one of those racers that foregoes riding on the street because it isn’t enough of an adrenaline rush. He quit racing 8 years ago when he got married. I was a trooper listening to his racing stories. IMHO there’s something wrong with a story if it lasts longer than the actual event. His one lap desciption of a race lasted 20 minutes. I was exhausted afterwards. I didn’t even look at my Superbikes in the kitchen when I returned home. Talk about motorcycle overload.

I chatted with Ken a few nights ago. I wanted his opinion on the Ural motorcycle. Marina is from Russia and indicated that nobody there rides a Ural, at least on the street. I tried to explain to her that the bike has been significantly revised in terms of engine durability, but she wasn’t buying it. I always thought the Urals were cool. They’re certainly a change of pace from trying to hit the corner depicted in the picture above doing 100 JUST so that raises my pulse a few ticks. I’ve always thought they were cool, in a sort of military, utilitarian, masochistic sense. 

Buddy Greg Calhoun called to tell me he’s going to our old club reunion at Scott’s house in a few weeks. I’m looking forward to seeing the old crew. Thanks to Scott for thinking of the idea.

I’ve noticed the comments on the blog are down significantly since my omission of skinny on my personal life. Sorry, but I’m keeping non-motorcycle activities to myself. Motorcycles and my Ducati life will be the mainstay of my posts.

TTYL – LT

22 November 2010 – Ride on Turkey Day

There will be a local ride on TH and Sat. Thanksgiving is Blackwater and Sat is an Oasis run. If interested send me an email.

I made a blitz drive to Tampa this past weekend to attend LTC Nolden’s wedding. I’m SO sick of driving right now. I’ve driven 5K miles in the last 2 months. John’s a good guy though, so I’m glad I attended his wedding. I passed a slew of riders on the Interstate on my way back to Pensacola. This weather has people out and about. It’s supposed to be sunny and in the mid 70s all week.  So THIS is why we live in Florida

Wherever you are, Happy Thanksgiving to all.

TTYL – LT

20 November 2010 – Choices, choices

Hey there LT!

I hope things are well with you & that you’re enjoying this great weather.

So I was wondering. What do you think of Ducati’s Streetfighter vs. the older S4RS?

I’m finally getting off my bum and my New Year’s Resolution is to get a bike in the garage, preferably a good all-rounder.

Been working my tail off and it’s time to reward myself. All work and no
play makes John a very dull boy!

Enjoy your weekend LT.

– John

Hi John,

I’ve ridden both. I prefer the looks of the Streetfighter and the out-of-the-box readiness of the S4RS. The Streetfighter’s suspension needs a lot of work to make it right and the F/I setup requires aftermarket fixes, but it is a mean bike and I enjoyed riding it otherwise. The S4RS, like the rest of the water-cooled Monsters, just doesn’t look “right” to me. Maybe I’m a purist and prefer the air/oil-cooled bikes and their lack of a radiator and hose plumbing. You can’t go wrong with either bike though, and there are people that frequent this blog that own said bikes. Before you decide, you may want to check out the MV Brutale and the Monster 1100. Their worthy candidates as well. Remember, the best part of bike purchases is looking. There are endless possibilities that vanish as soon as you plunk down money to purchase a particular model.

LT

16.5 November 2010 – The day we’ve been waiting for

Stoner may have stolen the headlines with his lap times on the Honda, but if this video of Rossi’s first outing on the Duke doesn’t get you excited, you aren’t a true Ducatisti.

Enjoy.

Rossi’s first ride on the Desmosedici

I rolled out 3 new products today. An ST axle nut wrench with an integral alternator cover puller, copper crush washers for the water pump drain plug and maintenance-free batteries to replace the old 1991-2000 YB16ALA2 batteries.

TTYL – LT

16 November 2010 – What’s that smell?

above: A roadside display made me do a double-take, then a turn-around to snap a pic. You have to appreciate this homeowner’s sense of humor.

I rolled out the Gran Canyon for a spin last weekend, and got out of town for a short ride. It only takes a few minutes to get to deserted roads, and I needed a break after packing boxes all weekend. I had to think back to the last time I rode the Gran Canyon. It hasn’t turned a wheel in anger since my trip to the Barber’s museum back in April. Man, time flies.  Before I to0k her for a spin, I did my usual prep – clean up the bike, look for anything suspicious and spot check a few fasteners. I found a missing bolt on the chin fairing. While looking at the engine I thought to myself that the OEM quick-disconnects were still in place on the fuel system. I’ve never had one break on me, so I didn’t think anything to their 10 years of age. On my way back from my short ride, I stopped at one of the few traffic lights near my house. I suddeenly smelled fuel and casually looked down and drops of the pricy stuff spitting out by my left boot. Shit!! That could only mean one thing — a plastic quick disconnect had given way. I made it the remaining 3 miles home and pulled the GC up under the carport and put a drain pan beneath the offending leak. A quick drain of the saddle tanks allowed me to inspect the quick disconnect. Sure enough, it had cracked. I went to the parts bin and pulled out 3 of the brass fittings I’ve been selling for years. 15 minutes later I had replaced all 3 of the male fittings. I’m glad the leak occured close to home. Such a leak would have been a show-stopper out on the open road. I’m recommending changing out the plastic quick disconnects on 748-998 superbikes and on the Gran Canyon after 5 years of use. If mine went 10 years after meticulous care, age was the likely culprit. I should have changed mine out several years ago. The upgraded brass fittings should last for decades.

above: Plastic fuel fittings work well… until they leak.

I have  a buddy at SOCOM that met a gal online this summer, and he’s getting hitched this weekend. Talk about a whirlwind romance. He’s 44, and neither he nor his 42 year old fiance have ever been married. I suppose they just wanted to end their singularity. Military guys are brutal with their humor, so we’ve been all over him with smart-assed comments. Mine has been that he should look forward to marriage. After all, you can’t have an ex-wife unless you get married at some point. In all seriousness, he’s a good guy, so I wish him the best. That event will keep me off two-wheeled vehicles for another weekend. C’est la vie.

TTYL – LT

14 November 2010 – Back from Vacation

above: Final formation at the finish line at Busch Gardens. 24 runners and no injuries after a 650 mile run.

I got back from my “vacation” last night. It was a good trip. As was the case with last year’s team, this year’s team was full of overachieving athletes. Of the 24 people on the team, 6 were tri-athletes, and everybody on my shift could run consistent 7 minute miles all day long. I racked up 31 miles in my 4 hour-long shifts and had a good time. The weather was chilly, but I prefer to run under those conditions. My shift was early morning – 2:00-3:00. There’s something peaceful about running at that time of the morning. Low 40s for temps, frosty breath, still air and a comforting police escort front and rear. Our path was identical to last year’s – Duluth GA down through Columbus to Tallahassee, and then down through Chiefland FL on our way to Tampa. Prior to the event’s start I went to the VA hospital in Tampa to visit one of the guys we ran for – SSGT Corry Remsburg. Corry did 10 rotations in Afghanistan serving with the 75th Ranger Regiment before an IED slowed him down. Severe head trauma has him starting over in a lot of areas, but he’s a trooper and is tackling rehab with the same dedication that he showed on his missions. Some of the Operation One Voice funds are going towards a specially equipped van for him.

above: privacy in motion – one of our team runners on a lonely stretch of highway

The run again finished at Busch Gardens, and I did my best to lose my lunch on the roller coasters to no avail. Maybe next year. Since getting back, I’ve knocked out all 30 orders sitting in the shopping cart. That frees up tomorrow for a nice ride.

I talked to a friend/fabricator about some product ideas on the drive home yesterday. He’s all about the design and I’m all about their economics. Sometimes I’m off the mark when it comes to knowing what products will sell, but not often. He has a few things in the works that are neat. I cautioned him about such products in this market, but doing a small run of billet stuff is a good way of hedging one’s bets.

I see there hasn’t been any action on the DD. Either Mark, Ken and Bill haven’t done any riding, or they are decisively engaged elsewhere. I don’t have any more trips planned for awhile, so posts will be back to normal. Time to go prep a bike for a ride tomorrow.

Only 6 more weeks remain to 2010. This year FLEW by.

TTYL – LT

4 November 2010 – Soggy but happy

We’ve gotten our share of wet weather this week, but I’m glad to see the grass get some green back. I’m also glad to see cooler temps return. Here’s my hodge podge of comments to round out the week.

1. I’m sourcing a maintenance-free battery for pre 2000 Ducatis. I thought about carrying the stock YB16ALA2, but I can’t ship it with sulfuric acid so what’s the point.

2. The ST style billet sidestand is being entered in the CAD program this week. The prototype should be finished this month.

3. And the winner of the most annoying commercials is Progressive Insurance. It is me, or have their commercials been spotlighting effeminate guys? The guy who didn’t drive because his Mommy didn’t want him to and the other guy with the man-purse. What’s up with that? It wouldn’t be so bad if they didn’t occupy half of all advertising time, split between them and Geico of course. I wonder how low our rates truly would be if they didn’t spend so much on advertising.

4. So what are the odds that the Republicans will “get it” and be able to do what we want, meaning stop the spending, let the private sector create jobs. and make government smaller? Yeah, that’s what I thought. Well, at least I voted. You can’t bitch if you didn’t vote.

5. I eagerly await the edits to my book from Chris and Eric. I hope to have them by the end of the month.

6. I finished my audit with the Fl dept of revenue. They poured over my books looking for instances of my failing to pay sales tax on either shipments to FL or anything I used in the business. I get a kick out of the sign they have hanging in their lobby of “welcome business partners”.  That’s like saying cancer is a partner with its host.  It looks like Happy Meals and water rations for the rest of the year.

7. I’m again running in the Operation One Voice Charity Relay from Atlanta to Tampa next week. I’ll represent SOCOM with a team of fellow-runners. I’ll be on night shift again, which I prefer. It’s peaceful to be running the highways under moonlight, and having a Police escort takes away worries of hit-and-run drivers. I’m hoping to amass 28 miles during my shifts Mon – Th. In case anybody is interested in donating, the link is http://operationonevoice.com/  It’s supposed to be chilly this weekend. The cold I can handle. I’m hoping the rains stay away. 

8. I was at Brad’s shop Tuesday afternoon and saw the MTS1200 on the cover of the latest RoadRunner magazine. There’s a good writeup of the bike in the issue. I haven’t been on the MTS list to see what owners are saying. Fatduc was working on an 02 manipulator for that model, but he hasn’t returned my email about such an offering for the Siemens ECU.

9. The 2000 ST2 gets picked up in a few weeks and is headed to Canada. I’m looking forward to the freed up space.

10. Honda broke cover on a new liter-class CB naked with a single-sided swingarm. I think it looks better than the Diavel, but I’ll reserve judgement until I see both in the flesh. That could take awhile. I haven’t even seen the MTS1200 yet.  That reminds me of a story. 3 months ago I got an email from a customer asking if my 1098 style rear wheel nut removal tool would fit the MTS1200. I said I didn’t know since I can’t keep up all the new models and hadn’t seen the MTS1200 yet. The customer emailed me back saying that wasn’t the answer he was looking for and he wouldn’t do business with me again. I was dumbfounded, shrugged, and deleted his email. I guess I should request that Ducati send me the specs on all their design aspects as soon as they manufacture a new model so that I can develop tools for it.

10. I’m working on having a Christmas party on the 18th of Dec with a ride the same day. Attendance at parties always seems better than rallies. I guess people prefer to eat than ride. Not everybody can be like Brad, who likes to eat AND ride.

TTYS – LT

1 November 2010 – EICMA

The EIMCA Milan show is this week, but pictures of most new models have already leaked out. We now have closure on what the Diavel looks like. I’m not interested, but I wish them well with the model. The next version of my 4v manual (don’t get excited because I haven’t thought about revising it yet) will not include the MTS1200 or the Diavel. Sorry.

I didn’t do much riding last weekend. Saturday was a short breakfast jaunt, of which I ended up riding back alone while we split into 3 groups after the mid-way eat-fest. I rode the Sport Classic. John Robinson showed up at my place on his FZ-6, along with 4 others. As they lined up and waited for me to put on my gear, John’s son noticed that there was oil all over the right side of John’s engine casing. The cause? John had checked the oil before leaving that morning, and had forgotten to reinstall the oil fill cap. Doh! I’ve got 50 billet oil fill caps on hand… for Ducatis. I dug through the spare parts in the shop and came up with a rubber frame plug. We jammed that in the hole and duct-taped it in place. Voila, no more leak. Of course, the duct tape was Ducati red.

Lorenzo topped Rossi in the race last weekend. The little guy is tough. It was nice to see Edwards have such a good performance. He hasn’t really been mentioned much this year. Nicky was beaten by a Ducati rider on the satellite team. That is just plain unacceptable. His work ethic is beyond reproach, but his consistency isn’t.  Doh – I just realized I looked at the pre-race qualifying results instead of the race results. Happy to see Nicky finish well… Not so much with the rest.

Friend and customer Ken Ford dropped off his pristine ’04 ST4S for a service. Ken is a globe-trotter and one of the smartest men I’ve ever met. Unfortunately, has degenerative shoulder issues that have prohibited him from riding the past few years. His ST4S is cherry, and has cyclecat rearsets and bar risers and all the DT goodies I could dream up. It’s a shame he can’t ride because the bike is begging to be ridden. It just goes to show you that if you don’t have your health, you can’t enjoy life.

No other big news. I won’t be able to post next week, so hopefully Bill, Mark or Ken can drum up a few posts.

TTYL – LT