29 August 2011

Indy was another disaster for Ducati, with a B-team scoring higher than the A-team. I’ve been getting texts from fellow Ducati fans expressing outrage over their performance. Even Rossi is sanguine about the prospects for the future. I hate to beat a dead horse, but I don’t think MotoGP is worth the effort. Of course, everybody likes a winner and if they were winning, people would be whistling a different tune.

Lesson learned – never work on a bike whereby a customer drives it in from 1000 miles away and then flies home/back to retrieve it. I had to teach an MBA course at a branch campus this past weekend. Of course, this coincided with said customer flying in to pick up his ST3S. Murphy then interviened and gave him an oil leak before he made it to his hotel Friday night, forcing me to drive 75 miles back to Pcola Friday night to locate the offending leaking oil line (that didn’t leak during my tuning or check ride). Problem fixed, I drove back to the branch campus and taught all day Saturday.  This ST3S job maxed out my patience for wrenching for awhile, so I’ll be enjoying an empty shop for the time being.

A redux occured on the 996 I worked on last month. It too sprung an oil leak, this time from a rocker pin gasket. I replaced the gasket to cure it. The owner also reported about hard-starting conditions, but the damn thing fires right off whether hot or cold for me. It’s hard to simulate such problems if they’re intermittent.

Other than test-riding customer bikes, I haven’t ridden in months. I’ll think about riding one of mine in a month or so when the overnight lows go into the 60s.

See you next week.

LT

22 August 2011 – The end of air/oil-cooled motors

Spy shots have revealed that the 2012 BMW R1200GS will be water cooled. Blasphemy you say? I’m with ya’.  The problem is the impending Euro 4 emissions that hit next year, followed by Euro 5 in 2015. Manufacturers are being hard-pressed to make an air cooled motor that have any degree of performance yet are capable of meeting the upcoming emission standards. I think this will spell the end of the 2 valve motor in it’s current form unless some revolutionary innovation is revealed. As far as the GS going water-cooled, I’m not interested. Water-cooled bikes are great under most circumstances, but I prefer my touring motors to have the capability of staying cool on their own without the need of a water jacket and the subsequent baking of the rider from the heat.  I’m guessing you’ll be seeing the DS1100 motor morph into water-cooling. If you thought ethanol was bad, just wait until the new emission standards hit.

Enjoy your workweek.

TTYL – LT

17 August 2011

The knock on the door on Sunday afternoon startled me. I was further surprised to see a guy in riding gear standing at the door. As I opened the door I suddenly remembered that I had scheduled a service for a customer living in Chicago. His ST3SABS sat outside. He had ridden 1000 miles to get a service. The August heat was wilting, so I ushered him into the Ark while I wheeled his scooter into the workshop. I let him relax and later took him to the airport to fly home.  Prior to his departure I asked him the usual questions – who did the last service, at what mileage, any running issues and what mods he wanted done. With that info, I tore into the bike on Monday, completing 75% of the valve adjust. The valves were so far out of spec, I’m surprised that the bike ran at all. I really dislike the ST3 motor. Working on it is like working on a bevel drive. No thought was given to removing the shims on the right side intake, the intake closer springs are too weak, the exhaust closer springs are too strong, and all in all it’s just a bitch to work on. I’d rather work on a superbike any day. That being said, you can really make an owner happy by doing a good service and putting the clearances where they should be on an ST3. But every time I work on one, I say to myself that I need to charge more.

I finished the valve adjust yesterday, replaced the belts, fuel filter, and changed out all the fluids. Later this week I’ll tackle all the mods. The owner is flying here in 10 days to pick up the bike and I want to finish it this weekend so that I have a week to troubleshoot/ensure things are perfect for the 1000 mile ride back home. My advice to the owner is to use a different bike as a tourer. He indicated he puts 10K plus each year on a bike. That means a $500 service every year excluding parts. He also has a BMW RT. My suggestion was to keep that and use it as his touring rig.

I’m trying to find the motivation to finish the desmoquattro book. I promised it would be finished by the end of the year. There isn’t enough of a panic to get it done, so I’ll probably procrastinate some more.

The evening air has the slightest feel that fall isn’t that far away. No coolness, but perhaps a slight lessening in humidity. That’s a good thing.

I’d change the banner from the daily desmo to the weekly desmo, or the monthly desmo, but that too would take work. Maybe I’ll just leave the name the same, because I do think about desmos daily.

Kind of like my daily constitutional on the hopper…

TTYL – LT

12 August, 2011—Thank you, enthusiast freaks!!–(John)

Howdy, Gang!

So I’m tracking down Unobtanium. You Ducatisti know what Unobtanium is, don’t you? Parts that aren’t being manufactured anymore, that is Unobtanium. Remember Cycle Cat?

So I bought these BST carbon fiber wheels for my Honda RC51 and I needed new brake rotors. I ended up buying some used Brembo rotors from the same guy I bought the wheels from.

Now I needed brake pads. After some research, I discovered that Honda Racing Corporation (HRC) sold two pad compounds that experts in the “community” cite as being the best brake pads ever offered for the RC51.

I bought the last two sets of the “soft bite” versions of these pads left in the world. One from a vendor in the the good ole’ USA who is a lot like LT evo, and the other from a guy in Japan from eBay. The last two sets of these brake pads in THE ENTIRE WORLD.

So, I have one set installed on the bike right now. Holy Mu Batman!!!!!!! Talk about one fingered braking with perfect feel, these experts were not kidding about how great these pads really are. Amazing feel and performance.

So I wanted to share a story about a motorcycle enthusiast finding like minded enthusiasts who help to make being an enthusiast that much easier and more satisfying.

As fellow Ducatisti, you know how hard it can be to modify these beautiful machines, much less keep them running in fine form.

LT evo is an invaluable friend, and resource. He has helped me tremendously. His knowledge, his books, his good humor, his blog, his friendship, has made my life better. I’ve been struggling for a few YEARS to get my 1997 Ducati Monster running. Thanks in large part to LT evo, she’s running like a top now.

So, I have discovered that LT evo is not alone. There are OTHERS out there. Thanks to the internet, it is much easier to find fellow freaks out there who are as driven and crazy as we are. I have discovered a guy in New Hampshire who makes custom carbon fiber motorcycle parts in his garage. I discovered a guy in Maine who rebuilds, fixes dents, paints, and POR-15 (look it up) coats Ducati steel gas tanks. I discovered Chris at California Cycle Works who builds big gas tanks for Hypermotards and other fun parts, I have traded money and parts with fellow enthusiasts all over the world thanks to the internet, forums, and phones.

Stop and think about this for a minute. LT evo has written a BOOK on Ducati maintenance. Who does that? If I go to the bank, and do laundry, in the same day….I need a nap. Thank God for people like this.

So, I logged onto the “Speedzilla” RC51 forum and I found a guy selling a used set of HRC “Hard Bite” brake pads—-Unobtanium. He says they were on a magazine show bike and only had 100 miles of street use on them. I checked out his story. It was true. I saw the magazine article on the bike. “Big deal”, you say? Get this, he KEPT THE ORIGINAL PLASTIC WRAPPING for the brake pads. When they arrived at my house today they were in the OEM plastic with the right serial numbers. These were used brake pads. Who keeps brake pad packaging?

This freak does. I emailed him to ask and he replied, “I’m kinda anal about this stuff and always keep the original packaging.”

Wow!!!!!

Thank you. Thank all of you out there who are as fanatical and crazy about this sport as I am. You all make riding motorcycles even more fun and enjoyable. It also gives me great ammo to show my wife that I’m not as big a freak as she thinks I am. Shhhhhhh, don’t tell her I really am a nut job.

Thank you, LT. And thank all of you out there keeping your Ducatis, and other machines running.

Keep riding my friends.

5 August 2011 – On Vacation…

With business on its heels due to the economic slowdown, now is as good as any for a vacation. I’ll be away until the 13th.  Daryl will ship next Wednesday August 10th, but daily shipments are suspended until I get back. If you placed an order prior to August 5th it either shipped or will be shipped next Wed.

TTYL  – LT evo

1 August 2011 – Kicking the can…

My daily constitutional – My copy of the Economist and a not-so-good-for-you Energy Drink.

Non-Ducati Content:

It’s hard to listen to the radio or watch the TV without being inundated with stories about the debt crisis. I have select sources for where I want to get the skinny on the topic, and they AREN’T the traditional news media. Why? Because nobody either wants to hear or can grasp concepts about the roots and depth of our financial woes. If you want to see somebody’s eyes glaze over, start talking about the extent of our debt crisis and what it will take for us to get out of it.

A case in Point – I was chatting with a gal at the movie theater last week. She was a furloughed government worker and was screaming for her job back and an increase in taxes if necessary. I just stared at her and told her the following… “your job is dependent on others providing your income and as such is subject to the whims of budgets. You don’t raise more taxes to support more government jobs. That’s a surefire way to a dead economy. That’s like saying I demand customers buy my products so that I will have a job. Any public-sector employee should know the deal.”  She then lamented the state of social security, and was flabbergasted when I told her that Social Security was a privilege, not a right, and was subject to the whims of politicians. She was further amazed when I told her that the money she paid into Social Security trust fund has been borrowed by the government with no promise of repayment. Needless to say, she didn’t give me her phone #. That’s okay though :)

I’ve mentally checked out on the debate in Washington. There’s just no hope. Debating about cuts of one to two trillion is ridiculous. Both parties pander to their constituencies, and neither side is capable of making the cuts necessary to get us out of this mess. We’re currently at almost 14.6 Trillion in debt, and growing at a rate of $1 million every 26 seconds. The Democrats say that cutting government spending in a recession is bad for the economy. That’s like telling a person that although they can’t afford their credit card balance, they need to keep spending because merchants need their money. Talk about stupid. I’m afraid I’m with the Tea Party on this vote- NO DEAL !!! If I told you that you had one two options with regards to  your future, which one would you take?  – Option 1 is that I break both of your arms today. The pain will be excruciating, but you will heal up and be as good as new in a few months. There will be no further assaults to your body other than what you yourself do to it.  Option 2 is that I don’t break your arms, but instead make you take daily blood thinner pills and apply a razor cut to your body each day until you bleed to death. It will take a long time to bleed to death from a single daily razor cut, but it would happen. I just can’t tell you how long you’d have to live.  So, which option would you prefer? We’re picking Option 2 in this country because there aren’t enough Statesman who have the courage to break our arms. Cutting one billion or two billion over ten years is like sticking your finger in a failing dike to plug a leak. It doesn’t matter. Check out the US Debt Clock and you’ll see how fast our debt is expanding. Entitlements have to be cut and the government has to shrink – but neither will in the short-term so we’ll kick the can down the road until the can is so big that nothing will move it. Diatribe over…

The new furniture is in and I’m a happy camper. The inside of the house looks completely different. I even swapped out the 750 sport for the Hailwood special just to change things up.  The verdict is still out on the new fancy mattress.

Waking up refreshed on a Monday morning is made more difficult when you spend all day Sunday at the beach, and then top off the day by drinking alcohol and dancing that night.  But the workout today still happened, even with the bongo drums going off in my head.

Ducati Content:

I was excited to see Hopkins quailify first at the Silverstone WSB, but it wasn’t meant to be in the races. At least Checa reasserted himself and stopped the point loss to his gap over his rivals. Great racing Carlos.

The 996 is truly done. I had buddy Eric reflash the FIM chip and add fuel to the midrange. The flat spot is history. Garry will get her this week at some point and the shop will be empty again.

I’m going on vacation next week to visit friends and family.  Daryl will fill in as need be, but he’ll probably only ship two days next week.

It’s hotter than hell, so riding isn’t even a remote thought. Two more months of bad heat.

Enjoy your week.

TTYL – LT evo