The latest platform for this years 2018/2019 project.
Slightly behind the 8 eight ball, as I’ve only just purchased a 2002 Ducati SS 900 ie. The donor bike was in pretty good shape. But needed to be really cleaned up from top to bottom. The clean procedure took a a good few weeks.
The image below shows the bike after its full clean down.
The belts, oil and filter were changed as a matter of course.
The Boys giving their approval
The Ducati SS is a great platform, and will hopefully all going well transform into a good 5th Cafe Racer.
This particutlar SS came with Light Weight wheels, GPR Racing Pipes, Brembo Brakes, Ohlins and progressive linkage monoshock. I believe these were factory extras that customers could add to the SS.
I always start with a couple of sketches to get started with, so I have direction during the build.
This past few weeks have been spent stripping off the fairing to take a good look, at what is underneath. Fairings on bikes rarely come off, so I was expecting some crud. But to my delight the bike was in real good shape under there. Just the usual grim. But no rust or paint peeling
More cleaning on the Engine, prep, prep, prep
Rub down the components of the Engine ready for paint
Order new Chain
Order New LED Indicators
Order New LED rear brake light
Start the hunt for a replacement tank.
Start marking up where the end of the frame needs to be shortened by .e.g 10cm?
Source ali hoop to finish rear frame
Sketch out how the tail tidy should look
Order new exhaust (Conti style)
Will need new stainless piping to connect the header pipes to the new exhausts
Look for a replacement header pipe as original one has a dent
Book in the painting for the wheels
Look for a new front tyre
Source a new fairing
Then source a new headlight and headlight surround
Source new grips to replace the oxford heated ones
Source Carbon fibre instrument panel overlay
source replacement carbon fibre front mudguard
Adjust front shocks as they have been set to hard.
I sourced a new fairing. To fit the fairing, a new frame had to be made which bolts onto the bike and then secures the fairing.
I also sourced a replacement tank. To fit the tank the coils need to be moved to underneath the tank. The following photos of the tank are not actually fitted, but was laid on the bike to get an idea of what needed to be moved. The airbox and fuse box also needed to be moved.
Purchased a new 7 inch flat headlight that will fit the fairing. Also required a headlight bowl
Order the fairing glass from Germany along with a new Front Carbon Fibre mudguard
Designing a Cafe Racer is as much about art as science, and each bike is different in its own way. It reflects the environment, the era and my perception of the bike. Yet there are things we can do to ensure that the result will look solid and professional.
The make or break of a cafe racer comes most from the structure, direction and I think the general ‘easiness on the eye’ that really makes a bike a café racer.
My view (which comes from looking at many builds over the years,) is that Café racers are generally defined by the flat line that runs front to back. This gives an uncompromising look. Which also provides the impression of strength and speed to the design. So where I can it is a good idea that this line remains uninterrupted.
The next challenge is defining the cut off points. The cut off points are the wheels centerlines. Anything going beyond these lines can make the bike look weird, too rear heavy and then promotes a poorly planned bike. And it is key that the seat cowling does not hang over the back end of the bike. Of course the front end of the bike is less of a problem.
So with all this in mind I use blue masking tape to run a line down the bike and define the cut off point. Keeping in mind that the seat will stop at the cut off point.
The cut off point for the SS seemed quiet far out, especially when looking down over the bike. But stuck with and kept with the vision.
Whats next on the list
All the wiring has now been completed. This involved repositioning of the coils, fuse boxes, indicator and much of the front loom was changed, so it was not visible at the down at the front of the bike. The headlight was connected.
The frame for the fairing was painted and positioned on the bike. Once fitted the screen was connect to the fairing. The fairing was too big, and was trimmed to make it lower.
The tank was refitted and all the wiring to the pump which is inside the tank was reconnected. The tank strap will be fitted once the tank is painted.
The basic seat was made. I took the seat to the spray shop which smoothed out all the imperfections. Whilst the seat was a the shop, someone added screws into the exterior of the so it would connect to the rear of the frame. This really bugged me, so an additional fixing need to be made up. The fixing was added into the middle of the seat. The holes were fixed up using some additional glass , then filled.
The seat pad
I did not have time to do this myself. So I got someone to make a Ali base for the seat cowl. The base would fit onto the set cowl. The seat pad could be added directly onto the Ali Base and securely fit onto the seat cowl
The seat Cowling
The front part of the seat which approaches the tank is too sharp, and does not match the rest of the curves on the bike, eg, tank and fairing. Therefore a small part of the front of the seat will be cut away. With the seat fitted to the frame, it become apparent that the seat interrupted the back and forth lines. So the bottom of the seat will be modified to ensure that the seat is level with the tank.
Carbon fibre instrument panel.
I ordered a a carbon fibre surround as the original SS Dash has the grey foam material.
- Belt cover needed to be repainted, as it was stratched
- Carbon Fibre Front mudguard has been ordered
- Rear hugger was in good condition, but will get that repainted and tidied up.
- New Clutch cut away cover will be fitted
- The bike has oxford heated grips, which do come in handy :) - but the grips had oxford embedded, which I did not like. So I ordered a set from an italian seller.
- Ordered some new bar end mirrors
- Dellorto stickers from Italy
After this, then what ?
Once the seat has been fixed up, I need to meet with the painter and go over the my ideas for the design for the bike e.g Seat, Fairing and tank
Finally, after months of work, the project is starting to come together, and I can now start to see the Cafe Racer emerge from the SS :)
A photo of the original SS is below for a compairson
This week the bike was given a first base coat. It is Winter here in New Zealand so drying can be a challenge and can take longer due to outside temperature.
After some time with the sprayer, he suggested that he mask up my ideas onto the bike and discuss and review further.
Here are some photos showing the masking tape on the bike, which is really good idea. As it ensured that we were both on the same page. During the review I discussed the colour scheme, and fonts I had in mind.
The seat had also been cut level and the front of the seat has been rounded off, rather than having a square edge.
The Paint work is completed work
The paint work on the Ducati has now been completed. After months and months of work the bike was ready to bring back to the workshop and finish up some small items.
Before bring back the bike, it was checked over mechanically and test ridden to ensure bike was running correctly.
Once home, the bike required another full clean, as the bike had been sitting in the sprayers workshop. I spent the new few days giving the bike another detailing. During the detailing I noticed that the top belt cover needs to be repainted as it has silver overspray on it from the frame paint!, The cover is to be taken back to the sprayer to be corrected.
The bike now required a WOF, so the next day I took the bike to a garage to get it inspected and road legal. And was glad to report the bike sailed through the test, and now has a certificate for 12 months .
I will adjust the front and rear suspension back to factory, as the ride is still a tad too hard, which may be due to the removal of weight from the bike,
The next step is now to have some professional photos completed and present the bike as it should be. This is where I enlist the help of my wife Stacey Cavalier who is a very talented photographer. Photographing machines is not her forte, but she seems to be able to turn her hand at photographing anything.
This build has been a challenge with always trying to achieve the best results, mixed in with budget constraints, and keeping true to the build, even when external voices try to interfere and steer me in a different direction.
There were parts along the way when my motivation dropped off, which was mostly due to time delays on obtaining parts or technical set backs. And if truthful I did get dishearten and frustrated along the way, more so than any other build I have done. But it is at these low points, that you pick yourself up, keep you initial designs in focus and solider on.
Am I please with the finished build. For me this is what Ducati should have built in the first place :) I like the mixture of new and old. For me this bike is a piece of moving art and cant stop staring at it ...
The bike will stay with me for a short time and then like all other builds will be advertised on ebay for the next custodian to enjoy.