Saturday, May 30, 2009

Great Article

People look at my new Ducati and think it's some 150 Horsepower crotch rocket. They couldn't be further from the truth. Sure it's faster than a Harley, but in it's unique trellis frame is a relatively simple air cooled V-Twin. The below link is a great article that sums up what it means to own this bike. It's not a sport bike, it's not a street bike but something remarkably in between.

"Rage Against the Machine" an article in Cycle Canada

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Side Stand and Used Leather

The side stand on my 900 is not original, probably from a left side drop. So I posted a thread on forums to see if anybody had one. Sure enough a couple of guys contacted me and I scored one for only $40. Actually it's the parts for two which I will combine to make one nice one. I want to sandblast it and maybe get it chromed or powder coated.

I am not really Mr. Safety but I want to be protected on long trips. Nothing protects like a nice layer of leather. I found a really nice guy, again on the forum, who had these Dainese Firefly Pelle leather pants he was selling. I shot him an offer and he accepted. He was very helpful and worked with me as I couldn't decide if I wanted the pants. They looked a little too Mad Max for me but at least they don't have knee sliders. I would feel pretty silly wearing knee sliders for the sedate way I am going to be riding. Dainese makes great products, I have their Ducati 80's Jacket and it is very well made.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Evoluzione Clutch Slave Piston Upgrade

On closer inspection it seems my clutch slave cylinder is leaking. I wanted to get a Yoyodyne billet aluminum replacement but they are $200. So again a compromise, a company called Evoluzione makes an upgraded piston for the stock slave so I ordered one.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Coils and a rear stand

My ignition and electrical system need a lot of love. As a first step a lot of 900 owners have advised me to get new coils for that extra zap to the plugs. There is a DynaCoils kit from California Cycleworks that has all of the proper mounting hardware to directly bolt on the improved coils. This is said to be one of the must haves to improving the 900ss city driving experience. I also got new timing belts which are supposed to be changed every 6000 miles (some people say double that if you keep the tension checked) and I will put these on before any serious driving gets done. I shipped all of the parts to Jacksonville. My parents are going to love storing all of these boxes at their house!

After searching around and reading a bunch of web reviews, I decided to get a T-Rex rear stand in silver to match my new Cycle Cat front stand. I found one on eBay including shipping for $76.45. It's supposed to be a pretty good stand so I went for it. I wanted the Pit Bull but this will do. Now I can have the bike totally off the ground for repair work.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Get up, stand up.

So I am back in New York and my 900ss sits in Jacksonville on the battery tender waiting my return. I have a lot of things I want to do to the bike so I figured I will need some stands. I was just going to shell out the quality Pit Bull stands but I need to be more practical. I need to get a lot of mororcycle related items so I decided to look around. I found out from a forum member that On Cycles had a killer deal on a Cycle Cat front stand. It was $175 retail and was only $20! So I nabbed one. I like getting deals!

Sunday, May 17, 2009

A bit longer ride.

I got up early and immediately went to look at the 900ss. She's a diamond in the rough but I see the potential. I have the parts list in my head of all of the cool upgrades I am going to do in the next few months. Unfortunately, the bike is staying in Jacksonville while I go back to New York where I currently live and work. I bought the bike because I am taking a one year sabbatical from the college where I work. I will have an entire year off with 80% pay which is unreal! For this year I am moving back to Jacksonville for cheaper living expenses and some other reasons I can't discuss right now (Hmmm...) but will be able to shortly. I fired up the Ducati again and this time let it warm up a little longer. It still coughed and burped here and there but I decided to take it out for a longer ride. I carefully exited the driveway and found a long side street. I carefully pulled the bike through it's gears and it was a wonderful feeling. I have not owned a motorcycle since 92 when I owned a 1985 RZ350 whcih I loved but unfortunately wrecked. The 900'sperformance is much more than any other bike I have ever owned. I continued down the road in bliss, the wind washing over me and I had a great sense of freedom. The harsh few months on a messing painful divorce seemed to be blown off by the wind as I envisioned my future ride. I had to turn around as the road dead ended and went under the canopy of a church that was in session. I twisted the throttle under the cover area and the bike bellowed like a wolf. I didn't purposely try to upset the people of the church as the motor thundered but maybe subliminally I did...rebellion lives...

Saturday, May 16, 2009

The very first ride

After letting the battery sit on the Battery Tender, I decided to crank her up and take a short ride. The bike turned over with a beautiful rumble and died. I cranked it again, keeping the choke full on, and it started. I didn't let it warm up too much. I took a short spin down the street and the bike kept stalling. I knew there was work to do on the 900ss to make her a little more streetable. I am willing to do that work and put in the time because to me this bike is so much more than just something to ride. It is a way of life and commitment to the art of maintenance. This idea is illustrated perfectly in a book I read called Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance. I could have easily bought a Honda and a have a much more dependable easy to ride machine, but this bike to me is special. Just like my father's relationship with British sports cars, I too have this desire to tinker and repair. It's genetic I guess. When you maintain a vehicle you become bonded with it and it transcends mere transportation - you know the inner workings. My first ride may have been short but the journey I am embarking on is going to be a very long one as I wrench and repair my way towards happiness. Here's the first video of Lucifina. I know it's a little dark but wanted to catch the first ride on video. You can hear her stalling and popping! I guess I have some tuning to do...

The eagle has landed.

I got into to Jacksonville at about 12:15AM. I had trouble sleeping thinking about the bike and got up very early and just drank coffee and waited with the garage open. Then I saw it. A pickup truck with a trailer and the Ducati strapped down on the back. The previous owner, Matt rolled, it off he trailer, I gave him the cashier's check for 3K and he handed me the title. It is the first vehicle I have owned in over 9 years and it felt great.

Matt cranked it up and it sounded heavenly. He pulled it up into the driveway, shook my hand and wished me well. It was nice of him to deliver it and put up with all of my long distance craziness. Trying to buy the bike from NYC was no easy task but now it's sitting here and it's mine.

I sat on the bike for a while and thought about how much my life had changed in such a short time. 2 months ago I was married in New York and bike-less, and now starting in September, I will be in Jacksonville for a year with a Ducati 900SS SP! I have always been one to go after what I want. Rarely are my hopes fully realized but this dream was so simple. It consisted of only 2 parts: Buy bike - Ride bike.

I tried to crank it up after Matt left, but the battery had just been sitting too long. I went to a Jacksonville chopper shop called Big Bike Motorcycles and bought a battery tender. The shop was insane! They have all of these huge rear tire choppers and nary a sport bike to be seen. I got a good price on a Battery Tender Jr. I got home and lifted up the tank of the bike. It was so cool to actually be working on a motorcycle after not having turned a wrench in a very very long time. I mounted the quick disconnect on the battery and ran the terminals through the terminal boots so it looked pro. I plugged the tender in and let it sit. I had to wait! Agggh! I felt like that kid in the movie A Christmas Story, who as soon as he got his Red Ryder BB gun, shot himself in the eye. At least I had the joy of sitting on the bike and basking in it's ownership.

This is the bike as I got it...

...and this is her shined up a little. Just a quicky wash.

Sitting on a dream.

Me, the Duc, and the Agostini helmet. What a family!

Friday, May 15, 2009

You have to have a lid...

I have been freaking out about all of the arrangements for the bike. I needed a cashier's check and I had to transfer money from a credit account. I was out on a financial limb here, but I knew I had to have the bike. I would need a helmet, but I wanted something really cool not just a run of the mill. I consulted my old pal eBay again and came across a very cool Arai Giacomo Agostini replica that had been unsold at King Cycles in Brooklyn.

They wanted $289 for it but I first offered $199 which was rejected, and then threw $220 at them which they accepted. I was heading to the airport on the A train and decided that I could make a short detour and pick up the helmet so that when I got the bike I could take it for a short tag-less spin. I picked it up and headed for my Jet Blue flight out of JFK. Here are pictures of the Helmet and one of the man himself, Giacomo Agostini an MV Agusta (and later Yamaha) rider and one of the most winning riders in Grand Prix motorcycle racing.