Latest update took place August 4th 2007 Email link is at the bottom of the page
A Bit of History of the Ducati Monster model (along with a lot of history of mine).
The majority of the static images on this page link to larger pictures, click on them to enlarge
Everything is on this one page, but it can be a long trawl through as it has grown significantly larger than planned for what started out as a simple page, for that reason alone I have added the quicklinks below to allow for some of the more pertinent sections to be selected rather than having to read it all.
In the early 90's, Ducati gave a sneak preview of an idea for a new model in their Range. At the time their leanings were still firmly in the fairing models of machine. The Superlight still going strong and the 851/ 888 with four valve heads and a lot more speed being the de rigueur models of the early 90's. The 916 was still to make it's mark on the world scene.
Miguel Galluzzi was toying with an idea using the 888 rolling chassis, yet aimed squarely at a different buyer to those looking at the SS and 888 . In an almost 'cafe racer' inspired design philosophy, the design of the bike was as minimalist as legality would allow. Referred to as 'il Mostro', the monster was initially nothing more than a sculpted clay tank married to 888 components, though at this time lacking an engine.
The choice of motor finally being decided upon was the 'pompone' motor from the Supersport/Superlights of the era. Resulting in the monster being unveiled to the public at the Cologne motor show in 1992. Galluzzi's philosophy was that all you needed was 'a saddle, a tank, engine, two wheels and handlebars'. Looking at the production monster, you can see his design was corrupted a little in the final stages before the bike could be made street legal. The tray at the rear of the bike behind the seat was added to facilitate fitment of indicators and number plate. Structural support for this additional piece of plastic was given by an extension to the frame rails.
Often, owners cut these rails short and do away with the extraneous plastic, giving the bike a cleaner look, whilst allowing the rear wheel to soak the riders back in wet weather due to the water thrown off the wheel. A thought often not considered by those who actually hacked the rear piece of tubing and associated tray away.
The Pompone engine was not the most powerful motor around, but in the design of the monster, the engine 'looked' right in the frame. The only real aesthetic change to the engines layout from the SS and the monster was the relocation of the Oil cooler from under the front cylinder (SS) to above the cylinder on the monster. The 902cc V-twin motor ( referred to by many as an 'L' twin due to it's 90 degree piston formation) has been a good basis for the monster range, indeed for the whole Ducati range as the crankcases were virtually identical from the SS to the 916, only the inside components and barrels upwards making the transition to grander power delivery figures. There were some major differences between the monster and the SS, these being a completely different frame layout, wiring loom, bodywork (obviously), and suspension/swingarm. The SS having a pretty regular cantilever setup, while the monster used the 888 rising rate linkage. The pictures immediately below show the 900SS in full trim and part stripped, along with the 888 in similar shots. Although the SS and the monster shared the same engine, the frames rolling chassis can be seen in these pictures as being completely different, with the monster sharing more in the 888 frame design using a rising rate suspension rather than the SS cantilever setup.
The monster range has gone through some major changes since it's first release, There was a time when my modified monster was more powerful (at a great deal of expense) than anything Ducati released in 2 valve form as standard. That time is long gone, though mine is still sufficiently powerful to put a smile on my face, the Ducati manufacturing machine has churned out twin spark heads, larger engine sizes, and even 4 valve head derivatives. That said, I personally do not like the water cooled monster range. From a pure power and speed perspective, I can understand the reasons, especially when bikes like the MV Brutale and the Cagiva Raptor were directly competing with the niche style the monster had carved out of the market place, whilst at the same time fitting engines designed more for higher performance than the Pompone 2 valve heads could hope to keep up with. Especially so in the case of the multi cylinder Brutale. But to me personally, I have never liked the huge radiator and associated cooling pipework needed for the liquid cooled engine. The monster's lack of a fairing to hide all this extraneous clutter make the bike look a little too busy and a little bit ugly at the same time.
The monster is often referred to as a retro or a streetfighter design, though I think these are wrong on so many levels. It was a genuine style icon when released, in the same way the 916 was such a ground breaking design. Rather than Retro, the phrase naked is closest, though even the cafe racer term is an equally close description, and like many other owners out there, my monster gravitated towards the cafe racer look.
Ducati has understandably squeezed ever more powerful variants of the monster out of the factory to try and keep the buyers in their camp, with the recently released testastretta S4R S they have reached dizzying performance levels that the old monster could only dream of, bringing the Monster into a true superbike performance level. The monster range now has a model to suit just about any style of riding from lazy plodding to hardcore virtual race performance levels. For those not tainted (like myself) with the image of the original monsters release, the S4R S is the logical winner of the current Monster range. If I were looking to buy a new monster today, this would be it. But, and it is a big but, For the money it costs, the Brutale (despite having a truly ugly headlight), would also be screaming at me to spend my money there.
The Brutale and the Raptor both appear to show a number of styling cues related to the monster design (the V-Raptor less so with it's alien looking headlight and plastic firing bits going from the headlight fairing over the bars to the tank). Both MV and Cagiva using the trellis frame that had long become associated with Ducati. Yamaha also used a trellis in the early 90's as the frame for the TDX, a bike that shared a fair amount of it's appearance with the 900 SS, though using a parallel twin. Initially the Raptor was released using the 1000cc Suzuki TL thousand engine as it's only available power plant (though rumours abound that the deal with Suzuki has gone past it's designated engine supply period, meaning the Raptor may be approaching extinction in it's 1000cc guise at least). 650cc and 125cc models followed hot on the heels of the 1000cc model, opening the range up to those with limited finances and those requiring a less aggressive mode of transport.
The Ducati monster range actually starts at the 400cc mark. Often unheard of by many, the 400 monster was released only in Japan. Using the same engine as that of the equally unheard of 400 SS.
The smallest capacity monster uses similar running gear to the 600 monsters of the worldwide models, but having a 400 cc twin with a theoretical 10,000 rpm rev limit, Peak power is long gone by that point though and the little monster is rated at 42 BHP with the motor spinning at around the 7.500 RPM point. The Japanese market is known to have some impressively quick 400 models by all the major Japanese manufacturers. Consequently the minimal fitments to the monster of single disc up front (as seen in the European market on the 600 models) was something that was addressed quickly for the Japanese market, and while not having much chance of keeping up with the Japanese multi's of the period at higher speeds, the 400 still had sufficient torque to make the mid range interesting.
Despite the diminutive engine capacity, the 400 was no slouch, and like any other monster in the range, what it lost in outright power it gained in sheer handling, although any town riding was something of a nightmare like any other monster as the steering lock is better described as a lack of steering lock. Top speed was claimed to be 110 miles per hour. In reality, the 400/600 lump is really at it's limit around the 100 mark, with the engine/gearing setup not lending itself to anything more without the feeling that things are getting asthmatic.
Excluding this Japanese market model, the monster range is generally regarded as starting at the 600cc models. What isn't obvious in this day and age some 13-14 years after the monster first launched, is that the new monster 695 has been given a few serious changes to bore and stroke over its older (and even larger relations). The 695 actually produces more BHP than the original (standard) 900 monster. Only a couple of horses, but no mean feat under the circumstances. As a result, the comparison of a 695 to either an old 600 or 750 is really not something you would really be advised to do, the 695 wins by a very long chalk.
But returning to the early years of monster production, the first (and most would say main) modification to any new monster was the fitment of aftermarket open pipes and a stage 2 Dynojet kit. This released some 2-5 BHP more from the engine (Rated at a somewhat meagre 72 BHP (80 is usually a claimed figure) at the rear wheel as standard). The difference made in feel after this modification was instantly noticeable. giving the engine a more free throttle response throughout the Rev range. Fitment of a stage 2 kit also required you at least removed the rubber tubes from the airbox if things were being done on the cheap, though to do the job properly, a K&N filter was actually the way to go, doing away with the whole airbox top in the process. Despite the lack of horses the Pompone engine had available to it, the Torque was another thing altogether, rating up in the high 50's of foot pounds per square inch. The monster was an easy wheelie machine, with a top speed of around 130 mph.
Bought in 1994 as a humble 600 monster. I rode the bike for 2 years as a 600. It was a major budget cut down against the 900 specifications. 50 odd brake horse, single disc up front, Marzochi forks, steel swingarm, thinner wheels, and an engine based more on the original Pantah motor, having a wet clutch and a 5 speed gearbox. Top speed was just over a 100mph, and the bike was revving hard at that. The 750 engine later added to the range gave a little more power, though still obviously with wet clutch and 5 speed box. The reality being that the difference between a 600 and a 750 was a lot less than that of the 750 up to the 900.
Open pipes, stage 2 carb kit and K&N filter were done early on, and after getting knocked off within 6 months of buying it by an Iranian 'illegal' taxi driver, the bike was resprayed in a dark blue colour. It was around this time that a friend was involved in an accident on his 888. After his insurance paid out, he bought the bike back and sold it in bits for spares. I bought the Swingarm (aluminium), brake calipers, front discs and rear shock with a view to fitting them to mine. Something I did within weeks of getting them. The front master cylinder wasn't up to the job of handling 2 discs, and was replaced as soon as finances allowed. Fitting a decent Brembo race type master cylinder in place of the spongy old 600 item was a huge improvement. Though in truth, a regular monster/SS master cylinder made for a twin disc setup would have saved a lot of money, I did briefly use a normal 900 master cylinder and the brakes were fine.
I fitted an LED tachometer in the early days (picture 1 above) as the monster wasn't fitted with one as standard, but although it was nice in it's own way, I disliked the fact it only showed increments of 500 revs, it was later sold and replaced with a Road Racing tachometer (picture 2), this item still in use on the bike today. the third picture here shows the open space usually filled with a ducati airbox (and the Fram individual foam air filters used once the box had gone. The next 2 images being of the original indicators still in use during 1996, and the 888 suspension remote reservoir under the right side of the cowl. While the final image above shows the place I moved my rear indicators to beneath the cowl. They were useless to anybody unless they were directly behind you, but they looked good to me. The main criteria in most of the work done on the bike was always to be minimalist. The more naked the bike looked, the happier I became, and clearing the back wheel area of the indicators, extended plastic number plate mount and the exhaust gave the bike a far cleaner look.
After a couple of years of ownership, I took a gamble (with no guarantee's that it would fit the frame without modification), buying a 900 motor and electrics from a cosmetically written off SS, Along with wheels and Forks from a Superlight and a custom made pair of clip-on bars. After fitting it all to the 600 frame and giving the engine a respectable amount of time to prove itself, I had the engine stripped and rebuilt (using a few performance parts from the Ducati Performance catalogue) by Roy Armstrong at Italsports in Bury. With a lightened alloy flywheel, all the bearings replaced, 1mm oversized valves all round and a 944cc kit fitted, The engine was slotted back in the frame. Fitting this kit put a lot of strain on the starter motor and battery, although it never let me down in general use (not counting standing time when the bike wasn't used for a couple of weeks and then needing a full charge to start), starting was initially a worry. 3 strikes and you're out was the usual term. if it didn't start by the 3rd button press, it was time for a coffee or the battery would be just too drained to start it. This was only ever a worry for the first start of a day. Only once on the isle of man in the middle of a cold damp camp site did it need the half hour rest period, starting instantly after the 3 start failure 30 minutes earlier. More an inconvenience than a true worry.
I only recently found a cure to the starting worries of a high compression 944 lump. This bike has seen off more batteries than I care to remember. Even fitment of a brand new and fully charged battery only gives a very slow engine turn as it fights the compression. I forked out on yet another new battery in the never ending battle, but this time opted for a Gel battery, allegedly 30 percent more powerful than a stock battery, but definitely 30 percent more expensive. After fitting it, I am happy to say it was worth the cost. I hit the button expecting my usual straining starter motor pushing whichever piston was nearest up to TDC, a pause and a strained fire up, instead I was greeted to a sound not heard for a long time on this bike, that of an engine actually firing without complaint. I still get the initial struggle to TDC occasionally, but whereas before it turned so slowly that ignition was never going to happen, if it doesn't start first time, it turns over until it does, No more 3 strikes and you are out, now it's one until it does. The battery was bought from a German supplier, ordered on a monday and arrived on Wednesday. Being a Gel battery, it didn't need to be charged prior to fitment, it also removes the worry of a leaking overflow. Something that once happened to me on the Isle of man, the dripping acid etching a lovely stain on my original colour frame rails.
Somewhere about this time the frame and wheels were powder coated (along with the disc carriers as they also looked tired and faded).
The bike has gone through too many guises to even consider what was actually done on any particular date. From the initially bought red bike, through blue, into carbon fibre for pretty much everything except the tank (and even that was considered, albeit briefly), into a Ducati performance special edition tank design, and finally on to the Aluminium tank it currently sports (with the higher cut-out around the cylinder head showing more of the engine, though at the expense of around 10 miles worth of fuel).
Further additions being the rather miniscule exhaust system, slung under the swingarm (5 years before Buell cottoned onto it, and damn near ten years before the Japanese manufacturers started doing it). It was radical in it's day, and to a degree it still is now. One thing it does have over the Buells and Japanese even today, is a seriously loud growl that can be heard from a long long way away. Something Ducati's do really well, is make their own distinctive exhaust note, and coupled with the cacophony of noise from an open cased dry clutch, it is a noise you either love or hate. Once you know 'they all do that' and the bike isn't ready to explode, its an audio track of mechanical motion at it's noisiest.
Faults and Failures over the last 13 years:- In the bikes history from me buying it new, the 600 had a start relay fail, a cold seizure on the front cylinder (very noisy running initially afterwards gave it away, repaired/replaced/rebuilt by Italsports under warranty), both front forks regularly blew fork seals (something that later transpired to be a batch of badly chromed Marzochi's). The forks were re-chromed under warranty and never blew a seal again in the 12 months to two years they were in use on the bike, though they were later replaced for the Superlight Showa's so long term I have no idea if they would have stayed in good condition. Tail light bulbs blew with alarming regularity, (easily cured nowadays by fitting a heavier duty item that can withstand the vibrations, or an LED conversion to totally remove any worries) and the bike suffered 2 electrical gremlins in the main loom that caused the bike not to start. It never left me stranded, any faults always letting me get home before announcing themselves the following day. So the electrical gremlins must live near my house somewhere.
Since putting the 900/944 lump in, apart from the starting differences, it has had another 2 main loom shorts that both prevented the bike starting, the first repaired at a cost of 200 pounds to Italsports, the second repaired by replacing the Loom completely with a new one (300 pounds, but a better peace of mind feel knowing it is all new).
One slightly frightening moment in the bikes early days as a 900, involved a back wheel lock up at around 60 mph. It did my tyre no good at all at the time (or me come to think of it), but as I didn't fall off, the tyre was the least of my worries. I had already shut off and was on the brakes when the rear wheel locked solid, I had just felt/heard a clicking noise from the rear of the bike immediately prior to the lock up. The surprise culprit was a sprocket carrier nut, with yet another briefly confusing Ducati moment, as the nut hadn't come loose. The remains of the nut being firmly wedge up against the bottom of the swingarm (hence the lock up), but crucially it wasn't the nut that had initiated the problem.
So why confusing? The answer is another simple one. The Cush Drive bolt is a fairly large Ducati made shaft of metal bolted into the cush drive/sprocket carrier from the back (with the cush drive out of the wheel at the time obviously). Once firmly tightened from the rear, the flange of the cush drive bolt at the rear prevents it from going any further through. The whole assembly being doubly tight due the sprocket nuts on the other side of the cush drive using the cush drive bolt threads to secure the sprocket.
The offending nut that caused the lock up had been tightened onto the protruding thread of the cush drive bolt. So the confusion initially was based on the 'how the hell can it come out through the cush drive' theory. After freeing the back wheel I looked over the road to see a car maintenance garage. A quick, do me a favour and lend me some tools, resulted in the mangled cush drive bolt being removed. The reason for it's protrusion being a snapped bolt, inside the cush drive. It had sheared the thicker portion of the cush drive off cleanly and left the remains of the bolt to work it's way out, during which time it had been gently touching the swingarm and had cut a lovely 1mm groove into the metal before finally failing when it wedged against the swinger, the damage being minimal, thankfully the swinger is over engineered and I was happy for the thickness of the ally around the groove area, it still shows that groove damage today. While removing the cush drive bolts, I also found another of the studs had reached such a stress point that it also was shearing, the merest twist using an allen key to remove it snapped the drive pin off. I chose to replace the whole unit and studs with heavier duty items. The images below show the original failed cush drive, 2 pins snapped in situ, and 2 still left in place, along with one of the cush drive bolts (with the sprocket retaining nut on the bolt) to show what it should be like and to further illustrate how it fits. These two images were a bit blurred, but they still give enough detail to show the problem. These thin type cush drive bolts are threaded normally, the fatter recess type (not shown here) are reverse threaded into the cush drive, be aware of this when replacing broken items. I had a friend suffer the same problem with snapping cush drive bolts on an SS some years ago, his gave a clue it had happened as when the bike was rolled around, the snapped shaft was clonking around inside the wheel. I recognised the defect as soon as I heard it, luckily for him his sprocket nuts had stayed tight and hadn't caused any damage.
After thanking the garage guy and going home, first job of the day was remove cush drive, replace the broken bolt and check the others, only to find another snapped bolt as soon as I removed the drive unit, 2 out of a total 6 snapped bolts was sufficient to justify New cush drive bolts and rubbers being fitted the following week, and the bolts are now loctite affixed in the threads to try and prevent a further incident of a moving thread shaft in the future if a bolt fails. As mentioned earlier, the cush drive bolts (as they screw into the back of the unit) come in different guises. some models being a slim cush drive post with a threaded end, while other models have a similar sized post leading to a thicker screw thread for insertion point at the carrier (obviously stronger than the first) with the slimmer sprocket carrier thread continuing through the unit. Important for two reasons, number one is obviously which part you need to replace it, but another consideration is that the larger thread mount models have a reversed thread (Anti clockwise to tighten) and are less prone to failure. It is worth considering replacement of the inferior design slim post model for the thicker mount version. Both cush drives are directly interchangeable, apart from the stud securing thread difference, all other tolerances are identical.
Needless to say, the sprocket carrier bolts are now a regular check item.
The only real breakdown whilst out on the road I ever suffered, (that couldn't be fixed immediately due to component failure) was unfortunately on my first day of my holiday at the TT. Setting off from outside a cafe in Ramsey, in first gear and getting ready to select second , the clutch lever suddenly presented a complete lack of pressure and pulled fully back to the bars. After cutting the engine and coming to an uncomfortable stop, the toolkit came out and a quick check led to the removal of the slave cylinder to find the fault. As soon as the cylinder was removed from the engine, it instantly poured the contents of it's fluid out at a rapid rate. In the rapidly growing puddle of fluid, I saw a small piece of metal fall out, glistening in the puddle like a lifecraft flare to a search plane. Picking it up and looking at it was, at the time at least, a bit surreal, especially when the residing thought of the moment is 'the first day of a two week biking holiday and the bikes let me down'. It was one of those moments where all you can think is, what the hell is that? It was a tiny half centimetre disc of aluminium, less than a millimetre in thickness. Only when the piston was pulled from the cylinder did it instantly make sense. The clutch rod had popped the slave cylinder piston. It later transpired that the bearing in the clutch pressure plate had seized, as a result the steel clutch rod had turned into a boring tool, gently boring through the cylinders less substantial alloy until the moment it just pushed the neatly cut disc of metal through the end of the piston.
A hurried call to the lads at Moto Technique, and a further call to a friend due to sail the following morning saved my holiday from disaster. 2 weeks without a bike would have been a nightmare, and the only dealer on the island was charging double for the clutch slave cylinder, and no guarantee of getting it for a week. Luckily, both Don and Andy rode Ducati's at the time, so the call to MT was to ask (and or beg) for the slave cylinder off one of the 748's and pay them for a replacement when I got back. Pete collected the part and brought it with him the following day (along with a bottle of fluid, bike repairs on a campsite aren't the best places to realise you haven't got the stuff you need)). bike fixed and all happy within 10 minutes of his arrival. I should say here, that it was Andy's old SS that first made me want a Duke, the sound of his old 900 firing up with open cans in the arches was exactly the right sound I felt a bike should really make. Compared to what I now ride, his was actually quiet. But that was it, I was sold on the big twin exhaust note solely from that initial experience.
One final note here relates to the fasteners that Ducati use (or used in the 90's at least). They are crap. The gold anodised finish has a life expectancy of 38.5 seconds if ridden in the winter. No matter how clean you keep them, they fur up far too easily. Worse still was the fact that many of the fasteners seemed to be almost wrongly sized for any Allen key you put in. Even brand new 'snap-on' tools often didn't fit the heads snugly, add the fact that the heads of the bolts themselves were so easily damaged, if you want to make a round hole from a hex head, try a Ducati bolt meeting an Allen key.
I mentioned earlier that the forks needed re-chroming. I took the forks out to take them to Italsports. This was in it's first 6 months on the road, yet one of those lovely anodised 'made of cheese' Allen heads in the yoke stripped as soon as I put pressure on it. After cutting through the bolt down the slit in the yoke with a hack saw (and how glad was I that it was an upper yoke bolt), the bolt shaft was removed using tweezers. I am glad this happened when the bike was virtually new. A few years in there would likely have made the tweezers option untenable and caused me a major headache. Finding these lousy bolts was enough reason to justify replacing every bolt I could get to with some quality stainless items.
The bike has been ridden hard over the years, especially on the TT circuit. It has no carrying capability in regards storage space (unless you count the area under the seat that could store anything up to a small bar of chocolate and a flake, and even then you might have to lose the toolkit. That said, I did decide one year that I wasn't going to wear a everything on my back on the way home from the TT, all the camping gear was strapped to the bike ready for the journey home. Looking at the picture now makes me wonder just how crazy I really was to have come up with the idea. It worked, but it didn't look good.
Something that is worth noting here, is that the people who modify their bikes often hit on ideas that Ducati later implement. That isn't to say that Ducati do it because their buyers have done it, but sometimes it is good to see things that myself and others have been riding around on, only for Ducati themselves to then do a model with the same ideas in place. Whether that be something as simple as having a black frame, or something more technologically advanced as a single sided swingarm. Long before Ducati themselves chose to do the single sided swingarm on a Monster, I had a friend I met at the isle of man riding a monster with just such a bike. Taking the swinger from a 748, wandering into an engineering shop and butchering things to fit, he had a good looking bike long before Ducati bit into that particular sandwich.
My old site from many years ago is still running as a ghost site, that is to say I no longer control or have access to change or update it, as I left the ISP that hosts it over 5 years ago, it isn't spectacular, I was learning to create a site as I went along at the time (look at the Zippo site to see how I do things now compared to the humble beginnings of the original Duke site). What it does have is a lot of information related to the bikes rebuild after the initial topple in 94, along with a fair amount of images throughout its life over the first 5 or 6 years. Adding a parts interchangability page was an idea that I will implement here at some point (which bits fit which other models). If you do look at the old site, try to use only the 'next page' option at the bottom of the old page to navigate through it. The site was actually spanned over two sites at the time, but the other ISP (Breathe) deleted the server space as soon as I left them, so some links do fail, but the next page option goes only through the I12 server and keeps continuity. All the picture links bar one on the I12 server are also intact.
The old site is www.ducatimonster900.i12.com in case you want to take a peek before looking at the bike on this page as it is now.
All the following images are of the bike as it is in 2007. Recent changes were done solely for aesthetics. The bike had been mothballed for around 2 years. There were many reasons for this, but the main one was due to a wiring fault. I had picked up a small fault with the lighting circuit on the way to the isle of man TT races a few years back. The fuse occasionally blew with or without lights on. After not using the bike for a while, I came back to it only to find a new fault had developed during it's enforced rest, that of the start circuit fuse blowing every time I tried to start it. I fitted a complete new main loom to the bike (rather than just fight a 13 year old loom). It cured the problems, but also made me look for a few things to change again. As a result, the bike got a nice set of polished belt covers, a new clutch slave cylinder, clutch pressure plate and cover, along with a number of other small (but expensive as they weren't really needed) items to bring the bikes appearance back to a respectable finish.
The LED tail light was one of my favourite buys of late, finally allowing me to junk the indicators from the rear under the seat, to have them built into the tail light itself. There are a fair amount of these LED conversions out there now, and this was not one of the most expensive, it was however exactly the look I wanted. I've always liked the 2 circles of light type brake lights (ironically, this part is the one I see the least of being as it is always behind me), and although there are different and some would say more impressive tail lights out there, this was the one I most liked. Previous to this mod, the indicators had been fitted under the seat cowl using a pair of tear drop fairing indicators fitted to the cowl bracket bolts. They worked, and they looked the part, but seat removal was always an awkward task due to the wiring to the indicators. The oil temperature gauge was just something I liked the look of at the time. More a talking point than an actual functional item. Since fitting it and finding how hot the oil can actually get on a 2 valve motor, I sometimes think I should go back to the plastic oil cap it replaced.
A small change recently was the use of a 748/916 front mudguard in place of the SS carbon fibre model previously used. Unfortunately, like everything else that gets done to this bike, it wasn't necessarily one of the easiest of jobs to do. One of my mates sold me a Red 748 mudguard (thanks John) as he had decided against trying to fit it to his Ducati. I'd been watching a few on eBay, but they always went for silly money. To cut a long story short, a nice crisp tenner was handed over and the front fender was taken home to be introduced to the bike. At this price I was free to butcher it if required, whilst working out the best arrangement for fit and appearance before finally deciding if it was worth stumping up for a 916 carbon item.
The mounting holes of a 916/748 mudguard are wider spaced and in completely the wrong position to fit to the Showas of my bike. A small bracket was made up for each side using a piece of metal (from a locking mechanism of a junked office desk in order to see if it would work out ok). Once cut to size and drilled with three holes for the task, the job of fitting it was fairly simple. Three holes needed rather than two because the first hole at the top of the bracket was used solely to bolt the bracket to the uppermost mounting bolt of the fork leg, then the upper hole of the mudguard was lined up with the lower fork leg bolt (and through the brackets middle hole) and bolted in place, with the lower mudguard bolt hole needing a nut adding to the back of the bracket before bolting through the guard and bracket to secure the mudguard.
Using the lower leg bolt to secure the upper bolt hole of the guard was in fact a perfect arrangement, putting the guard at more or less where I wanted it to be in relation to the wheel. Most importantly, I had to be sure it was also clear of the fork stanchions. The clearance between the guard and the legs being reduced as soon as the brake lines came into contact with the mudguard. It was only a couple of millimetres, but even so, it could be enough to cause damage if things were wrong at this stage.
The rust on the bracket is actually throw off from the cast iron discs, though I appreciate it isn't the nicest bracket in the world, it was intended solely to test the waters to see how it would work out. Now it has proved itself, I'll eventually source something a little better suited to the bike, in reality it is something that will rarely be seen unless the mudguard is off so it may stay there forever.
As always though, things didn't end here. The brake lines on my bike (A set designed for use on a 748 and not the monster) didn't quite sit where they should. The 748 mudguard has a recess groove and ridge type moulding for the brake lines, but the different bars and available routing of my bikes lines compared with where they would have been on a 748 didn't allow things to run in the same alignment. Initially I was tempted to just leave them hanging behind the guard (anything but actually replace the brake lines at this point), but this then left the ridge at the rear of the guard looking vacant and a little out of place.
Options left were:- I could either cut it short and lose the ridge, which apart from being a drastic move, also may not have worked aesthetically, or I could remove a bit of the plastic from the side/rear of the guard to allow the lines to sit where they should without pulling the guard into the tyre (contact with the tyre being something I discovered the first time I tried to mount the lines in the groove). So, Dremel in hand, the sides of the guard at the rear were trimmed down. Not a great deal was removed, but it ensured the fitment caused no contact problems.
However, due to the run of the brakelines, they were prone to shift after a hard ride. It meant a few more holes being drilled and a couple of cable ties being fitted to keep things in place. being truthful, I wasn't impressed with the appearance at this stage mainly due to the efforts needed to keep the brake lines in situ, it all looked a bit Heath Robinson but it did the job, and it proved the idea was sound, if potentially a little awkward. In total, there were 5 extra holes drilled in the guard, 2 on each side to allow for a cable tie to hold the brake lines vertically, with an extra one opposite the existing hole in the top (where the proper brake line retainer should have been fitted) to allow a third wider cable tie to be used to hold the pipe horizontally. The last of the 5 images below shows (the not too attractive) view from the side.
Jump to a week later and with a few miles on the bike, and a problem I had spotted at the time of fitting the guard reared it's ugly head. The cocky 748 brakelines have sharp edges on the unions, and the slight movement available to them as the bike was in motion had playing havoc with the makeshift paint job of the mudguard, but by this time the new carbon item had arrived, so it was an ideal time to address the problem prior to fitment of the new carbon fibre guard.
In the photographs, there doesn't seem to be that much of a difference between the old SS shaped guard and the 748/916 item. But in the flesh, the 748 guards sculpted lines are far better than the somewhat drab shape of the older SS/888 unit, The 748 item being A little more angular, whilst accentuating the ridge over the wheel and on the whole, a lot nicer to look at. A quick blast over with PJ1 had sorted the original red colour of the guard, leaving a nice black matte finish, but again, this was always to be temporary as a new carbon fibre unit was planned to replace it. Fitting of the carbon fibre mudguard brought out a few minor changes compared to that of the plastic guard. The changes are dealt with in more detail lower down the page.
Cast Iron floating discs temporarily replaced with Aprilia items.
A major downside to having a bike with cast iron discs is the rust issue. I got caught in the rain yesterday. When I set off it was dry, and the bike was virtually spotless. After the bike getting wet, I rinsed it down when I got home to get some of the crud off, gave it a quick wipe down and then put it away for the night. The following day the discs were (as always after any water gets on them) Red rusty. The brake pads don't initially release after this situation without some serious bouncing on the front end. The cast discs are awesome when it comes to stopping power, but if you want a clean front wheel (and mudguard, calipers, oil cooler, engine cases and even the seat believe it or not) then cast iron discs are a very bad idea. The rust gets everywhere. Even after a good clean, it is still hidden in the calipers recesses. I finally reached the end of my tether with them this week and decided to switch them for a set of steel rotors.
I rarely need the stopping power of the casty's, and decided to shelve them for use on trips like the isle of man where the increased performance is of some real benefit and makes up for the extra cleaning issues.
Without any hint of humour here, on a good sunny day, with a spotlessly clean bike and nice shiny cast iron discs reflecting the sunshine, if a really light shower of rain visits and clears up 10 seconds later, you can see the rust spots and runs where every drop has hit the discs. If it rains, then stops, then rains again while you are riding, the mess the rust makes is almost unbelievable.
The Aprilia discs used to replace the cast iron 888 rotors were originally for an Aprilia RSV Mille. Any pictures later down the page with the Mille items fitted are easily identifiable as the carriers are gold. Incidentally, the original carriers for my 888 cast iron discs were also originally gold, but as time and rust had gotten to the finish, I had them powder coated in black when I had the frame done. Love them or loathe them, the free floating cast iron discs were always a talking point. I even had arguments with MOT stations about them. It's hard to believe that an MOT station could think the rattle was a fault. You would think they had seen loads of them, but the reality is, floating discs were, and still are a rarity. It's just a shame they make such a damned mess.
Different types of alternator casing, yet the same alternator inside.
In a monumental cockup, I discovered a problem with the spare alternator casing I was fitting to the monster recently. To cut a long story short, there are two different styles of casing around the same era, the one seen in the shots where it is black on this page, are all shots of a bike that was destined to suffer a dramatic engine/alternator/crank failure if it wasn't replaced quickly. The extra bulge of the casing shown on the left of the image is enough to ensure the bearing does not integrate fully with the crankshaft. Something to be aware of if you need to buy a spare from eBay.
Once you know they are different it is blatantly obvious, but I somehow missed it in my attempts to tart the bike up a little, and being tired at the time didn't help with this. Once the problem was spotted, it gave me another small headache. The original (fully functional) alternator cover was showing the effects of 12 years riding in all weather on a bike with no fairing to protect it. When I first fitted the engine, the case was already battle scarred by road grime and stone chips, along with peeling paint (a known issue with engine paint used by Ducati in the early 90's), leaving me with only 2 options, do a quick paint strip and repaint in black before a refit, or take the gamble on a complete paint strip to the metal and go with the polished aluminium look.
I initially took most of the paint off, but left the polishing scenario on the back burner as I was in a rush to get the bike back on the road, and also to see what others felt about the silver case look before committing myself one way or the other. Everything at this time was geared around having the bike roadworthy and available to play with. The sun was out, and the UK summers only last for around a week these days.
Approximate time for normal task = 60 minutes
The Alternator casing requires a special tool to remove the casing. Essentially nothing but a dedicated bearing puller. The tool bolts into the case, while a central shaft rests against the crank and forces the casing off when the centre bolt is turned. I last saw one of these tools on eBay for around 40 pounds, and the bids were still coming in at the time.
The official tool for generator/alternator case removal.
I'd already spent far too much on the bike of late and knowing the official tool was a simple design, I chose the cheapskate option of making my own puller from a piece of old scrap metal and a few bolts sourced from the garage bolt box. The principle was the same, (if not as pretty), But it worked perfectly first time and that was all that mattered. All that was needed was a piece of strong metal, 2 bolts to secure it to the engine, and a long substantial bolt (thin enough to slip through the bearing) and a nut to act as the puller. Holding the inside nut with a spanner whilst turning the bolt drew the case off easily. One other important thing should be mentioned here, there is an Allen bolt fitted behind the Clutch Slave Cylinder. It may seem obvious when the engine is nice and clean, but the area behind the slave cylinder is prone to collecting chain lube to such a degree that this bolt can be hidden amongst the grime and goo that develops in this area.
The bolt can easily be missed when coming to remove the alternator casing, bear it in mind if you do need to remove the casing, this should be the first bolt you remove after the slave cylinder has been taken off, solely to be sure you have done it. It will save you deforming the casing with the puller.
The starter motor is held in place by 3 bolts, one is accessible on the outside of the engine casing with the others only accessible after casing removal. Once the casing is off, you can clearly see at least 2 of the 3 bolts retaining the starter motor. The 3rd bolt is highly unlikely to be visible at this point, being hidden by the gearwheel directly meshed to the starter motor. The freewheel/starter gearwheel has a number of access holes bored through it at different distances from the centre. Only one of these holes will perfectly line up with the hidden starter motor bolt. In order to rotate the wheel, it must be turned by hand in an anti-clockwise/freewheel direction. It will NOT turn clockwise.
The Gearwheel is part of the starter clutch assembly and put simply, when the starter motor is fed power, it spins only in a clockwise direction, the starter clutch locks the motion to the engine and in turn rotates the crank for starting, after the engine fires, the starter clutch assembly goes into freewheel mode (as the engine spins faster than the starter whilst running). At no point does the starter motor gear itself disengage from the starter assembly wheel, it relies solely on resistance in one direction and freewheeling in the other. (as I write this, I suddenly find myself doubting the direction of rotation for the starter, but in truth it is irrelevant, all you need to know is that the gearwheel will only turn in ONE direction (a process you will need to do by hand in order to align the hole with the 3rd starter bolt).
If you are removing the starter motor for replacement, it is advisable to disconnect the external power feed now rather than struggle after releasing the motor. One other thing worth noting here is that once removed, the motor itself has 4 holes in the flush mounting face, obviously only 3 are used. If the motor is to be replaced using the same item (i.e., you are only addressing the brushes and not replacing with a new motor), then it is a good idea to mark the motor and engine case to align the holes more easily when replacing it, alternatively, try to take notice of the power connections orientation before removal so you can more easily line things up later, (on most, when fitted normally, there is very little clearance for tightening the power lead nut due to it's proximity to the engine case).
Once all 3 bolts are removed the starter motor will fall out of its (slightly recessed) mounted position, so keep hold of the motor as you remove the final bolt.
Be advised that refurbishing the starter, replacing the brushes and putting the motor back together can be a fiddly operation depending on the internal brush plate. Older models allow the brushes to spring out (later models hold them in situ), and if you have had the motor totally apart, it is possible to get things aligned so badly that the power feed will foul the engine. Get the magic marker out before you open the starters casing up. I will tell you now, that the job of aligning the motor and fitting it all back together can be a real awkward job if you haven't marked things out. The last thing you want is a motor that will not allow you to fit it as the power connector will not clear the engine case.
In the true tradition of an old Haynes manual, fitment of the starter and casing is the reverse of the removal. Only 3 things need to be mentioned:-
The mating face of the starter and engine casing where they meet must be clean to ensure the seal is oil tight.
If you have replaced the starter motor, It is advisable to check the starter turns the engine in the right direction prior to replacing the alternator casing. As described elsewhere, I had a major issue with a replacement motor, that I only found after the job was (to my mind at the time) completed. It only takes a moment to do this, first remove the plug caps so you can be sure it won't start. Do a quick push on the starter button to ensure it turns the engine, once this is confirmed, you can finish putting the casing back on (and obviously replace the plug caps before you forget). The main dealer swore blind this could not happen as all starters in Dukes spin the same way, but as I was sat watching mine do exactly what they said it couldn't do, I don't believe them. It is better to check and be sure than find the anomaly may afflict your motor as well as my original replacements.
The alternator/engine casing needs to be fed gently into place to ensure the alternator case bearing slides into place on the crankshaft.
All that said, it now brings me back to the refurbishment of my casing:- after much sanding and polishing of the case, and the starter motor refurbished using a spare as a donor (as stated elsewhere above, a replacement was tried, but the replacement rotated in the wrong direction for some obscure reason, and was instead cannibalised to get the old motor operational again), the bike is once again up and running. It starts every time now, and having the correct (original) casing being back on has avoided my earlier and potentially very expensive mistake. Ironically, I actually prefer the silver casing now, so the near disaster with the other cover has actually turned into yet another style change for the bike.
Just for comparison, here it was with the black cover. and with the polished alternator cover.
Polishing has only been done to a basic level on these shots, but has since been taken to an almost mirror finish. In an ironic quirk of aesthetics, the engine cases are now actually odd, one being black and the other silver, but the polished aluminium belt covers on the right side of the engine seem to fool the casual observer in such a way that nobody actually notices the clutch and alternator casings are different colours. It's such an impressive illusion that I have no intention of polishing the clutch side. I like this anomaly the way it is.
Approximate time for task = 10-30 minutes
V Twin carburettors are notorious for going out of synch in a relatively short space of time. whether it be a monster, Elefant, an SS? 600, 750, 900? they are all prone to this problem of going out of balance. It is rarely something that will cause too much of a headache, but it can and does affect the throttle response, and to a degree, even a small amount can be felt when riding. To somebody who rides the bike daily, it eventually becomes apparent that it just isn't as smooth as it was. It is a gradual process, and not something you would instantly realise in normal use, but eventually you realise it is sounding that little bit different. Worse case scenarios can see you fouling plugs (it can even mislead owners into buying a new set of plugs to try and sort the problem), unbalanced carbs can even cause starting issues as one pot fires slightly different to it's relative. In a bike with a minimal tickover setting, the unbalanced carburettors leave the bike open to stalling, especially when first started, or when shutting off the throttle from high revs to coast or stop.
A set of carburettor balancing gauges are not necessarily that expensive these days. Avoid the really cheap models unless money is really tight. A quality set have some form of damping arrangement that attempts to hold the reading at a more readable level, while cheap items can bounce around so much that they are almost impossible to read accurately. Whether you choose the older looking style of round gauges or the equally functional vertical tube arrangement is solely down to your preference.
Be aware that some of the older vertical tube balancers were mercury filled gauges (as is the yellow one shown below and if memory serves, the original model of the Morgan Carbtune also used mercury). Many overseas sellers will either be reluctant or unable to post mercury based models, it is now apparently illegal to use mercury type balancers in some US states, or at least banned from bringing new ones in. Later models have gotten around the mercury content issue by using metal rods in place of the mercury, something that as well as making the gauge less hazardous, it also makes the tool a lot more durable.
The gauges alone are not the only item needed as different models of bike use different connectors for the inlet manifolds (different models from the same manufacturers may also use different connectors). It is essential you get the right connectors for the job. If in doubt, it is better to buy a range of different ones for the job at hand and some you don't need, than not have the connectors you do need. Having more connectors also increases the usability of the balancing kit amongst other bikes. After all, there aren't that many people buy one bike and stay with it forever.
It is always a good idea (even for a Ducati owner) to get a 4 bank set. There are gauges for twins, but having a 4 gauge set enables you to set up everything from a single, through twins and triples and up to four cylinders, but it also means that if you do damage one of the gauges, you are still able to use the rest of the set with your bike (and still have one spare).
All Carburettor balancing kits these days come with detailed instructions of how to use them. All the instructions are all the same, connect gauges to inlet manifold, start bike, twiddle adjusters on carbs until gauges read similar settings throughout. What they can't do is try to guess every carburettor arrangement. Mikuni carburettors may well be in a great many bikes from a large amount of manufacturers, but it doesn't necessarily follow that they will all be exactly the same. Regardless of this, read the instructions before you settle down to the job.
Balancing gauges are nothing more than a bank of vacuum gauges, with the appropriate number of gauges being connected into the inlet manifolds via the screw in adaptor tubes.
The blanking screws in the inlet manifolds are blatantly obvious and require very little information here, once located, you remove the screw, select the appropriate adaptor and screw it into the hole before finally connecting one of the gauge pipes to the connector, doing the same with the other inlet manifold and another connector and gauge pipe.
What is often far less obvious is the actual carburettor balance screw and throttle adjuster. With a pair of carburettors in your hands, the screws are obvious, but when the carbs are fitted to a bike, hidden under an air box and worse still, viewed from underneath by you while lay on your back with a torch, they can initially be very hard to locate. Once you have the driver in place, you can actually do the job stood up, lying down is only likely to be an initial requirement to locate the adjustment screws.
There are only 2 adjustment screws of interest for the relatively simple task of carburettor balancing, the throttle screw and the actual Carburettors balance screw. It is always a good idea to turn the revs up a little prior to starting the actual balancing act, consequently the first images in the next section show the location of the Throttle adjustment screw.
RPM/Throttle adjuster screw.
My bike has no air box, so showing the actual carburettor location for a Ducati in the first image below was ideal. All the carburetted SS/Superlight/Monsters share this same layout. Mikuni carburettors all have the same adjustment screw locations, whether 600,750 or 900, they are all identical when it comes to this job. You can use either a slot head, or philips head screwdriver (provided the screws are not rotting away with age), but a small headed philips is always the better deal for a ducati, especially as it can be a bitch to get the screwdriver in place, and slipping off isn't something you will want to do, not that you will cause any damage, it is just the irritation involved in relocating the screw and getting the driver back in place.
Carburettor Balance Screw
Carburettor Balance and Throttle adjustment Screws both shown here.
Approximate time for task = 3-4 hours.
I should point out that in a great many countries, (of which Britain is included, and Wales being particularly vicious in their approach), the practice of having loud exhausts is seen by the law as being more eligible for prosecution than being a Serial Killer, Second only to illegal sized number plates and any form of speeding, the exhaust system can be one of the easier targets for the constabulary to home in on. Add the fact that any Ducati on race pipes or other similarly modified silencers is definitely not going to endear you to either the police or your neighbours. This section is solely to show what to expect from an engineering/mechanical perspective if you do decide to carry out the modification to ride around your country mansion, (obviously you won't be riding it on the public highway after doing such modifications).
This exhaust modification section is solely for the SS, 888 and Superlight models as the monster silencers are an altogether more difficult task and not recommended to anybody without access to a serious engineering establishment with good quality equipment and welding gear.
Lets get something out of the way straight off the bat. There are those who will tell you that doing this job is easy,' just remove the end cap by drilling out the rivets, pull out the central tube and rivet the end cap back'. BOLLOCKS! Complete and utter lies. It makes it sound like a five minute job you can do alone. In reality you need to budget for 3 or 4 hours work, and that's with two people and all the right tools for the job immediately to hand.
The best way to de-restrict an exhaust silencer for a Ducati is to not do it, buy a proper set of race cans and put the originals in the spares drawer. It costs money, but it is by far a better prospect and will save you a lot of stress and hassle.
Either way, once you have done the job of gutting your silencer (or fitting new race items), the bike needs to be stage 2 jetted and fitted with a K&N filter. The original filter is nowhere near up to the job. Further to this and slightly more uncomfortable (for those wanting to keep things as near standard as possible at least) is the need to butcher the airbox top (The original K&N kits used to come with a bracket to remove the top part of the airbox altogether, though this replacement bracket also allowed the front of the filter to get wet). Modifying the original is a better proposition to prevent this issue.At a minimum you need to take the rubber nozzles out, but this isn't really enough. To truly ensure enough airflow, two thirds of the box top needs to be cut away, ideally leaving a big enough area at the front of the box top to allow water to run off the tank onto the remaining plastic rather than onto the filter. Ensure you keep enough of the airbox tops lower sides to ensure the retaining clips still function correctly. Doing the mod in this way will allow you to fit the filter and keep it relatively dry, the only issue being the tightness at the front of the box as the top will push hard on the first couple of fins on the filter itself. This is in no way detrimental to either the filter or performance.
Both the monster and the SS share the same design of airbox, so the modification is virtually identical, the only difference being how much plastic you leave behind to prevent water running off the tank and onto the filter (the tanks front edge being slightly different in relation to where the water runs off). It's a personal thing as to how much you cut away. I know of people who have cut almost every bit away and had no troubles caused by the front area of the filter getting wet, personally though, I used to always keep some plastic at the front on any mods I did, if nothing else, it will give the filter a slightly longer life expectancy.
All this exhaust modification stuff detailed here is based on the bike being a carburettor version, if it's fuel injected, don't bother with this job at all, you will never get the fuel mapping right without some major expense on a rolling road at a good tuning centre, it's new race cans for you injection guys.
So has it put you off yet or do you still want to see more?
If you are still reading this, then first you might want to understand how the original silencer works, and for arguments sake, I will include a true race type silencer description immediately afterwards. All the diagrams are as simply drawn as possible and hopefully are equally easy to understand.
A standard Ducati Silencer setup.
A standard exhaust can is basically 3 separate semi contained chambers. It is actually manufactured as a mild steel insert slotted into an aluminium sleeve (with an additional end cap added to the atmosphere end solely for aesthetic purposes). The steel insert comprises the Hot exhaust chamber, a connecting pipe and the primary silencing chamber (along with the 5 associated pipes welded into the primary silencing chamber). Sliding this steel section into the aluminium sleeve is a tight fit, and once fully inserted, it is the aluminium sleeve that encloses the central open area and creates the Secondary Silencing chamber.
Hot exhaust gas from the engine flows into the Hot gas chamber only to find there is only one way out (a single large pipe), after a brief rest swirling in the chamber (marked as number one above), the next batch of exhaust gas from the engine arrives and pressurises the the gases, forcing them through their only escape route into the Primary Silencing Chamber at the opposite end of the silencer (indicated above as number 2).
On arrival in the primary silencing chamber the gases find they have 4 pipes to choose from (only 2 shown on the above diagram), All four pipes lead back towards the centre of the silencer and into the Secondary Silencing chamber (shown as area 3).
Another brief moment of swirling madness in the secondary chamber ensues before the gases leave through the only exit from the secondary chamber, this being a single large bore pipe leading to daylight and the atmosphere. This pipe passes through (though is completely sealed from) the primary silencing chamber at the rear of the silencer and out to open air.
Put another way, picture the above diagram as the left side silencer and the bike pointing left, if a portion of exhaust gas were imagined as a rubber ball, it would be shot into the silencer travelling left to right bounce off the wall and travel right to left, get hit by the next rubber ball and again travel left to right through the escape pipe, hit the wall of the primary silencing chamber and travel right to left through any of the pipes leading into the secondary silencing chamber, hit the wall of the secondary silencing chamber and again travel left to right before finally escaping through the exhaust pipe to atmosphere.
No matter how you describe it, it is obviously a convoluted route. All primarily designed to remove as much noise as possible. It is also the reason why a standard early model 600 couldn't pull the skin off a custard up the mountain on the isle of man. The little motor just didn't have the ability to give enough power to overcome the restrictive design of a standard can. It just couldn't get the gases out quick enough and ended up bogging itself down at high revs/speeds.
Why such a long description? because if you are going to butcher your pipes (explained after the race pipe below), it is a good idea to fully understand the principle of how it works.
So how does a race can differ from a regular silencer?
This one is the Easy one to explain.
A race pipe differs totally to a standard silencer. Outwardly looking similar, but inside is a completely different arrangement. In the case of a race pipe, the main task is to shift exhaust gases as quickly as possible, with scant regard for volume and decibel meters (and the law of course). Basically put, a single perforated (and unobstructed) tube runs the length of the silencer. The tube is wrapped in a tight metal gauze (similar to the type used in the removed piece of pipe shown in later images).
Packed between the gauze on the outer edges of the tube and the inner shell of the silencer sleeve, is a roll of sound reducing wadding. The idea being that some of the passing pressured exhaust gas will be pushed into the deadening material and reduce the overall exhaust noise. In reality, most of the exhaust gas runs straight through the pipe and out to open air, with the deadening material only serving to take some of the bass like quality out of the noise. Were the can devoid of the wadding, the enclosed empty space would act as an acoustic chamber and amplify the noise.
It's worth noting here, that the silencer wadding can (and does) break down. The heat inside a silencer cooks the wadding to within an inch of it's life throughout the whole time the engine is running. When ridden hard, it can get so hot that the wadding scorches. The results of scorched wadding can often be seen on carbon silencers by the change of colour in the burnt area. Black shiny carbon will start to lose it's sheen and turn brown as the gases (and the now superheated wadding) begin to burn the carbon. The silencer itself in the affected area will become overly hot very quickly. In the case of only one of two failing, you can touch the can relatively quickly after starting the engine, but the heat on one will become unbearable in no time, whilst the other will still be cool.
To make matters worse, once the wadding has been burnt in this way, the heat around the scorched area will actually increase the more the wadding fails to do it's job, Effectively the inside of the silencer begins to retain and increase the heat like a Brillo pad under a blowtorch (the Brillo pad analogy isn't something I would advocate trying by the way, although I bet you are thinking about it now).
Eventually the scorched wadding will cause the whole wadding wrap to fail, turning it to a blackened useless lump rather than a fluffy sound deadening weave. Once the wadding has degraded to this point (and by now you will probably be crying if your cans were carbon as the brown burn marks will not be going away), the exhaust gases will start to pull away small amounts of wadding, and blow this blackened dust around the inside of the silencer and out of the pipe. The effect (to the human eye) is that of a smoking exhaust. Often this will happen in one silencer and not the other. This illusion of a smoking exhaust can instil panic in an owner and lead you to (wrongly) think something has gone very wrong with the engine, the fact it may be coming from one pipe and not the other further convincing you that maybe your piston rings are failing, or the valves are out, when in reality it is nothing more than a roll of wadding on it's last legs. Replacement wadding is easily sourced, and fitment to most race silencers is one of the easiest jobs to do. Drill the rivets, remove the endcap, dig out the blackened mess, replace with new wadding and rivet the cap back. It's a lot simpler and cheaper than replacing the cans or ripping your engine apart for the wrong reason.
Standard silencer modification
In the simplest description possible, the whole idea here is to get the gases to flow as freely as possible with a minimum of effort. To do this, only one pipe needs to be removed from the exhaust silencer, this being the the pipe that runs through the chamber nearest to the open air (atmosphere). As a result, apart from the exhaust gas having to still use the pipe through the centre chamber, any exhaust gas exiting this pipe is then free to directly make a break for atmosphere.
The plus points? you get to keep the BS exhaust marks and standard look, as well as saving yourself the cost of a new set of race pipes.
The negatives? get it wrong and it is an expensive mistake, and the volume can be even louder than a race pipe due to the resonances created in a silencer with no wadding. Further possible negatives being how things look inside when you look down into the exhaust silencer after completion as a standard silencer was not made to have this modification done to it, and the fact that although infinitely closer to a race pipe in it's flow, there is still some initial (albeit very little) loss of flow caused by the first chamber.
For those still intent on butchering a perfectly good set of cans, read on.
We recently carried out this same modification to a 900Superlight, Though as can be seen in later pictures, it is a somewhat drastic measure to take in reality, and definitely not for the faint hearted.
Tools recommended for this task are, a good power drill and some sharp drill bits. A Dremel multi with some metal cutting discs. A large lump hammer, a rubber mallet, one tin of lubricating oil (WD40 type stuff), a grinding wheel, a rivet gun and some suitably sized rivets (for reattaching the endcap), and one patient helpful friend. A sheet of steel mesh is also worth having, though not essential.
First job is to remove the rivets holding the end cap in place (note that the end cap is not shown fitted in any of the above diagrams, I didn't decide to add this section until the job had actually started, so I missed these first few pictures). On a standard exhaust, this cap is nothing more than an aesthetic addition. Used to cover the end of the internal silencing unit and nothing else. Carefully drill out the three rivets with a bit around a third larger than the central shaft of metal visible in the centre of the rivet.
If you have never removed a rivet before, read this next paragraph carefully. You should by now have replacement rivets to work out what we are trying to do here, which is nothing more than take away enough metal to break the rivets neck, when enough metal has been removed, the circular outer area of the rivet collar will break loose and you will end up with a washer type piece of metal spinning on the drill bit. As soon as this happens, you stop, the rivet is now no longer holding anything in place. Repeat this for all the other end cap rivets.
once the rivets are out of the equation, the end caps will just slide off revealing the end of the primary silencing chamber. The intention from here is to remove the pipe that runs through the chamber. As will be obvious at this point, the (sealed) chamber face has the exhaust pipe welded to it (sealing it from the chamber). In order to remove it, you will need to cut around the pipe. The easiest way to do this is to drill out a ring of holes in the chamber, far enough out to make the task of removing excess metal later a less intensive task, but ensuring you leave an outer ring of the chamber large enough to allow you to rivet the end cap back. This part of the job is best done while the silencer is still on the bike. It save you risking damage to the finish of the silencer for no reason. Try to keep the holes as close as possible, mainly as when you have finished the ring, you need to cut out the rest of the metal holding this end of the pipe in place. The dremel cutting discs will go through small bits of metal (2-3mm) infinitely better than trying to cut longer pieces. It took 7 discs to do both silencers on this job, and if you do it without breaking any, you can call yourself a dremel master (like me, as I didn't break any).
Once you have fully cut around the pipe, you arrive at the point where the wishful thinking brigade tell you the pipe just slides straight out with no further work.
So, bowing to their alleged wisdom, if the pipe comes out, you can skip most of the rest of this tutorial and go straight to the part at the end dealing with cleanup and replacing the cap.
That said, I think you are still here and reading this as the pipe still feels seriously solid in there. You can try and give it a bit of a belting to see if you can free it, but be aware you are relying on the aluminium exhaust hangers not to suffer. At this point you should be considering removal of the silencer so we can slide the aluminium sleeve off. With the pipe off, the best way to get the sleeve to start moving is to get a firm grip with both hands (not one like me as this picture was taken, have to hold the camera somehow you know), and bang it forcefully against the floor, the hardest thing to free here is the bit where the sleeve meets the exhaust pipe. It wouldn't hurt to spray some WD down between the insert and the sleeve from the open end, and leave it to run through of course. The downside being the awful mess you will make on the floor if you choose this option.
Once initially freed of the stainless exhaust's lip, we switched tactics, one person holding the silencer and the other rubber malleting the insert out of the sleeve. There comes a point where a tug of war will get the two pieces apart, one pulling on the sleeve, the other pulling on the stainless pipe. Trust me when I tell you that this was a lot easier to write here than it was to actually do it. It is one of the worst parts of the job.
Once free of the sleeve, you are left with the silencer chambers exposed, put the sleeve somewhere safe, it would be a shame to damage it now.
If getting the sleeve off was an uncomfortably awkward job, then removing the pipe is worse. If you look at the drilled/cut metal around the now squared off pipe (shown above), you can see the edges have been hammered slightly inwards to allow for movement of the pipe from side to side.
You are reading this is because the pipe didn't fall out after you cut it, and the reason for this situation is the welding (on the inside of the chamber) that is holding the pipe in place. Before you set to removing this pipe, make sure you have the right one. In this silencer at least, it is the largest of the five short pipes. It is theoretically possible to have a different amount of pipes in this area, and size (as some women may say) is irrelevant. Regardless of how many and what size, only one of these pipes will go straight through (and before we drilled and cut the end, would have been sealed from the chamber it passes through). The straight through pipe is the one you are removing.
You have two options on how to break the weld to knock the pipe through, the first being copious amounts of hammering away at the sides of the exposed bit of pipe at the end of the silencer to try and break the welds with sideways movement, (try not to damage the riveting area of metal as you do this though). Alternatively you can try hammering the pipe through from the other end of the chamber, being careful not to distort the shape of the chamber with any careless impacts. You will most likely end up doing it from both ends.
Once you do break the weld, it will drop out of place, depending on how much you bent the end, it may need to slip out in the other direction.
you can see from the above picture that removal was something of a violent affair, with some collateral damage to neighbouring pipes, it doesn't matter about the damage to any of these small surrounding pipes. It should go without saying that the long connecting exhaust pipe should stay immaculate though.
Effectively that's the majority of the work done. I have heard of people filling in the central chamber (the one created only when the sleeve is in place) with heat resistant exhaust wadding to dampen some of the noise, but in this instance none was used. The hole we cut in the chamber to release the pipe however, is still in need of attention. Place the end cap in situ over the hole to work out how much of the metal you want to remove, we are only aiming to remove enough so that the edge is hidden from view when the silencer is put back together. You can do this now, or alternatively you can rebuild the silencer (excluding the cap) and do it while fitted to the bike. A good quality grinding wheel on a power drill will easily attain the required results.
Now you need to put the sleeves back in place. Be sure that you have the right sleeve for the right silencer as you don't want things upside down at the end. Lubricate the outer contact surfaces of the chamber unit, wipe out some of the crap from inside the sleeve and lubricate the whole inner lining. Now align the two pieces and slide them together. It will likely be another brute force job and require 2 people and a large rubber mallet. If there is the slightest sign of being out of line as you are doing this, abort the operation and start again as it will be virtually impossible to drift the sleeve around (without damage) once the sleeve butts against the exhausts lip.
Refit the silencers to the bike. Place (do not rivet at this time) the end caps in place and start the bike. If you are happy with the results, then you are ready to finish, if it booms a bit too much, then it's off to source some sound deadening material for that central chamber and a bit more work for you.
Something worth noting here is that things can look a bit ugly in there if you don't do a little bit more before finally riveting things together. It's perhaps an acquired taste, but definitely not something plod would appreciate (at least not in a way you might want). Further to this, you need to actually take the bike out for a ride to decide if the exhaust note is how you want it, having an empty can may produce some unusual and unwanted metallic noise. The cap should fit tight enough without rivets to try out a short ride up and down the high street, if in doubt, you can always stick a single rivet in for the purposes of the test run.
A quick and easy alternative to the exposed viewpoint can be achieved with a quick trip to a B&Q store. A sheet of mesh (choose your own style) can improve the view immeasurably. By cutting to length and making a slightly conical cylinder of mesh, you can slot it down the hole, whilst keeping a sufficient area at the outlet to bend over securely fasten in place for when you rivet the end cap back into place. It may be an idea to paint it with fast black heat resistant paint before fitment to make things less obvious, whether you do or not, it won't take too long before the silver mesh is covered in enough exhaust soot to make things look normal.
Bear in mind when making the cone that it needs to butt up tightly against the opening left by the removed pipe, and the top of the mesh should protrude and fold over to allow the rivets of the endcap to hold it firmly in place. The image above shows the wadded areas in green. By only doing the farthest chamber from the engine, the volume level should be fine, filling the central section will only reduce the bass noise by a small margin, but this may well be the small margin you require. Either way, you Should do at least some of the wadding, it will make a big difference to the sound of the pipe.
Once you are totally happy with the results, it is finally time to rivet the cap back into place.
Whether or not any of this exhaust modification was an advisable course of action is totally down to the owner. At the end of the day it is all down to the individual as to what you want from a bike and what you are willing to spend or do with it. I would be tempted to either get the bike on a rolling road sometime soon after the modification of a set of pipes like this (and the obvious additional work of jets and air filter). Or at the very least, it is probably a good idea to check the plugs on a regular basis for a while just to be sure they aren't fouling up or worse still, running hot. The exhaust modification is nothing new, many owners have taken this route with no obvious ill effects, but when all is said and done, if it is your pride and joy, then it makes sense to be careful. Especially at the costs of Ducati repairs if things do go wrong.
That said, even going down the route of a third party open can would also carry the same caveat.
Time for task = 20 minutes
Much is made of the noise made by a Ducati dry clutch, but love it or hate it, when it comes to replacing a worn out set of clutch plates on a dry clutch, the job couldn't be much simpler if it tried.
All you need for the job is 2 Allen keys of the appropriate size (usually a 5mm for the cover and a 4mm for the spring retainers), a couple of pieces of bent coat hanger (or a set of the scraper/poking dentist type tools with a bend on the end), and of course, a new set of clutch plates. Whether you go for the OE steel plates or the more expensive (and potentially less hard wearing) aluminium plates is solely down to your own conscience and the depths of your wallet. With a standard Ducati clutch rolling in at over a 100 pounds sterling, it is already an expensive part to replace without having to outlay more than is needed. If for some insane reason you are opting for an alloy clutch plate set, it is essential you check the basket for wear, what is easily tolerable for a steel plate set may be enough to cause undue wear to an aluminium clutch set. Put simply, if you can afford to justify the money for an aluminium set, you may as well go the whole hog and get a new basket at the same time. Fitting both will also give you a much quieter clutch than the steel items.
That said, if money really is no object, then there are clutches out there with more spigots than the standard items. These obviously require a basket as well, but in the land of quieter clutches, they are king. For me though, I like the noise, so mine is staying noisy with a standard type steel set.
So, back to removing the clutch plates, first remove the 4 clutch cover retaining screws (on some covers there are 6 bolts holding it in place, but the majority only have four, with the other 2 engine bolts staying in place.
Once the cover is removed, the 6 Pressure plate/Clutch spring retainers need to be removed. Don't worry, the springs don't spring the caps off when they release. There is actually almost no compression on the springs when the bolts are almost fully out.
With all the clutch springs released, it is time to lift the pressure plate off. The only thing to be aware of here is that the centre bearing of the pressure plate is actually slotted onto a cap that slides onto the clutch rod, If it stays on the clutch rod after you remove the plate, then leave it there for the time being (give it a push though to ensure it is fully home on the rod), alternatively, remove it and put it with the pressure plate for greasing later.
The first few plates are easy enough to slide out by hand. No tools required initially. You will notice that the clutch plates are (for the most part) alternated between a steel drive plate and a friction plate all the way through. All the plates obviously have to come out for replacement. After removing the first few however, the rest are a fair way inside the casing and need to be teased out from an area with very little room to manoeuvre. This is where a couple of pieces of bent coat hanger or something similar will make the job very easy for you. It is better to use 2 tools and pull them straight out from opposite sides as using one piece of bent metal will frustrate you and make the job a lot more fiddly than it should be, the later plates will prove more stubborn to remove using only one tool.
A quick and useful tip here is to have a couple of bolts partially screwed into the upper clutch drum pegs. It will allow you to pull the plates free and have them drop onto the pegs for easy removal, rather than constantly having to stop as you get the plates free to put them down, or having them just drop on the floor (and who knows, they may come in useful at a later date, so banging them about isn't a great idea).
At this point it is a good idea to check the inside of the clutch area for any trace of oil. If there is any oil in here, the clutch seal has most likely failed (in which case the clutch plates will likely be contaminated and may explain why your clutch was slipping), don't put the new plates in if this is the case, get the problem sorted first. If all is fine in here though, then it is time for a quick check of the clutch basket before putting the new plates in (last image immediately above this text). There is always a bit of play between the friction plate location lugs and the basket, but you will almost definitely see some signs of wear on the surfaces of the basket where the plates have been in contact. Small indentations are nothing to worry about and will cause you no problems. Deeper ridges will make for a difficult clutch action, and obviously require a replacement basket.
For those who are not actually replacing a clutch and are only checking for wear, advice says that when you put the plates back, reverse the friction plates so that what was the drive side of the plates is now the overrun side. It may reduce some of the effects of wear on the plate lugs. Chances are though, if you have opened up the clutch and removed the plates, you are actually replacing the plates.
When you open the plain steel plates, you may see that one of the plates is thinner than the others (some models of clutch also have an additional convex plate, and a third clutch set has all the steel plates in the same width), this set didn't have a convex plate and had the differing (slim) plate that needs to be correctly identified before starting fitment.
The thin 2mm steel plate is the first to go into the basket, immediately followed by one of the eight 3mm steel plates. It may seem strange that you are putting 2 steel plates together, but it is the correct order. (for those with the same sized plates throughout the kit, any 2 of the steel plates are first to go in the basket).
Next it's a friction plate, then plain steel, then friction plate and so on until you run out of plates, the last one in being a plain steel plate.
All the plain steel plates have a notch cut into them (only one being visible on the above image). As you fit each of the plates, the notch should be offset to the last steel plate every time you fit the next. That is to say, if the first notch is at the 12 o'clock position, the next steel plate should be roughly at the 2, the next at 4, the next at 6 and so on. The reason for this is to ensure the plates are as balanced in the basket as possible. If all the notches are aligned in one spot, the weight differential at that point in the rings will be quite noticeable. Only the steel plates are notched.
Although the retainers need to be tight, be aware they are small bolts, don't put so much effort in that you end up snapping a shaft or stripping the thread. The cast aluminium drum shafts are not particularly strong in any direction but that of the spring pressure direction, shearing or stripping is always a very real risk. For reference, hand tight and a slight nip is all they need, and if you use loctite on all of them as you insert the bolts, you should never have a problem. A replacement drum is around the 60 pounds sterling mark. The same drum type being used on virtually every 900,748,916,996 and probably the newer models as well. Replacement however is a bitch to do if you don't have the correct tools. The clutch holding tool being around 60 to 70 pounds, and a Good quality Torque wrench also being required. It's better to just be careful than to have to replace a drum.
For those who have already found or snapped a shaft (and some unscrupulous individuals have been known to fit a closed cover to hide this fact on a bike they have damaged prior to it is being sold), all is not lost. Don't panic, and don't think this is an immediate need for a new drum.
Advice goes that you should remove the opposite retaining bolt/spring (to maintain clutch balance). Most riders will likely not realise while riding a bike in this condition that there are 2 springs missing off the clutch (though the clutch action will be noticeably lighter than normal). The clutch is unlikely to slip unless you do a lot of 2 up riding and both you and pillion are of a hefty stature. If you are both hefty and it does slip, a set of heavy duty springs will likely deal with the problem. It may be preferable to fitting a replacement drum to again get the full complement of 6 retainers, and if money is tight, the 4 bolt alternative will save a considerable amount of outlay for new components and fitting. Obviously it will not look pretty, so an open clutch cover is a bad idea, unless you want to spend the rest of your time explaining why there are gaps in your pressure plate/spring retainers.
Stripped Thread? again:- don't panic
If you are heavy handed and strip the thread on a shaft, all is not lost. The thread in the shaft is actually around a centimetre longer than the bolt used to secure the spring/cup. Sourcing a slightly longer bolt will cure the problem. That said, you need to be aware you are not using the full thread of the shaft anymore so extra care must be taken when doing this bolt up later.
Carefully thread a bolt into the shaft (without the spring or cup) to see if it goes fully home, if not, note the difference, remove the bolt and run a nut down the thread towards the head, now dremel cut (or hacksaw) the relevant amount of thread off the bolt. If the end needs burring afterwards, by all means do so, but when you remove the nut it will act as a thread cleaner and should negate the burring requirement. Ideally you should do another bolt for the opposite peg if you want as near perfect balance as possible, but in reality it doesn't make any noticeable difference.
Note:- mark the offending stripped thread peg with a drop of paint or an indelible ink pen, You want to be sure that the only bolt to go in this thread at a later date is the long one. It will also ensure you don't get tempted to over tighten this one again (especially as you only have around a third of the thread left usable), as long as it still nips up tight, there won't be a problem (Loctite being essential in this instance). If you are too concerned about the amount of thread left in use to use this method, you only realistically have 2 options available. Replace the drum, or get a clutch brace.
There are all sorts of claims about better clutch action from a braced clutch, along with better crash properties, after fitting one to my bike, I cant say the clutch felt any better. What I can say is that a clutch brace will spread the load between the bolts to a small degree. Whether it will be enough to justify the cost is another matter altogether.
A major plus point to a clutch brace is that it looks a lot better than the standard retainers. But, and it's a big but, the only time I have seen clutch braces available, they have been in the USA. By the time you have paid for the brace, postage and probably UK customs and post office charges, it will cost you as much as a replacement drum.
The above clutch plate didn't see that many miles before I saw something I liked better. More money spent on the bottomless pit of Ducati ownership and a new pressure plate now in place. Bearing in mind that the clutch plates and blue pressure plate had only been on for a month or so, and the mileage done was less than a hundred or so, I was surprised to see how much things had rusted in such a short time.
The remains of this section in relation to the clutch, give an insight into the thoughts and changes involved when fitting a part without actually planning how you want it to look in the end. After initial fitment, the colour scheme and cover issues raised their head, and I hadn't initially considered what I wanted the final look to be at the time.
The new Clutch pressure plate is seriously minimalist, with the brace fitted it looks larger than it actually is. But this brought a new problem with the aesthetics. I didn't want a rusty looking unit with a shiny plate on top, so in an attempt to try something different, I wire brushed the plates spigots and edges, and painted them all in heat resistant black (obviously avoiding the friction material). For those who wonder why this painting was done, a look at the images above showing the rusty mess that presented itself when the clutch was initially replaced should give an instant answer. I don't expect this to stop the rust altogether, but if it at least minimises the issue, I will be relatively happy. Whilst doing the spray job, I also chose to paint the outward facing surface of the 1st (outer) pressure plate. Deciding that this would present a better look than a plain metal (and prone to rust) plate would provide.
The only thing I didn't do at this point (and wish I had after looking at the finished job), was to repaint the basket, and to a lesser extent, change the colour of the first friction ring to another colour, something that would have finished things nicely. Much as I love the look of the new clutch layout, I think the black may be too much. Those who know Duke clutches would probably understand and appreciate the effect, but after having the blue plate for so long, I had gotten used to seeing the colour in there. The biggest appearance issue now, is the fact the carbon cover is now too restrictive in relation to seeing the STM pressure plate. You have to get in close to see how impressive it really looks as the cover hides too much of it.
Less than a week on and already changed the look of the clutch. I added some colour to the clutch area as planned, and also replaced the carbon cover with a more open design that gives a more immediate view of the clutch workings than the carbon cover ever could.
The images of the clutch cover show it in a base colour ready for a final (and much darker) blue finish to be added, but I wanted to show it in it's current state. One thing needs mentioning here though:- the cover was actually a slightly more shallow dish than any of my other covers. As a result it fouled the brace and could not be fitted without a rubber spacer or something similar to move the cover out by around 2 millimetres. Logic said the official rubber item would do the job quickly and simply. I'd seen them fitted to many bikes of late, and apparently they are more for keeping the clutch noise down than anything else (as I run an open clutch, the value in that respect would be zero), but the rubber seal/spacer was ideal for the task of gaining the extra clearance. The point was, I didn't have one (the item only being fitted to later models and not early bikes like mine). Knowing this, I went to the main dealers (Italsports) in Bury to source one while fully expecting a stupidly high price for it. Andy at Italsports had one spare that he had removed from his bike and kindly donated it to the cause, though when he priced up a new part, it would have actually cost less than a fiver to buy, so either way, it's not a part that will stress the bank balance if one is needed.
I made the clutch cover from an old (standard aluminium) cover. I wanted the STM pressure plate assembly on show as much as possible, and this 'show it all' philosophy proved to be the final push into finally doing something I had wanted to do for some time:- Create a unique cover rather than have a shop bought item.
The design of the clutch cover is using elements of the more recent Cagiva logo (shown below). I had already started the elephant head some time ago and prior to seeing and ordering the STM plate (initially with the intention of only cutting out the flat face of the cover). The desire to show the new STM plate at it's best forced a redesign of the cover in order to expose as much of the plate as possible, whilst still trying to keep the design style of the elephant head in the modified version I was now creating. Had I originally planned to remove so much metal from the cover, I would have done it differently. The irony of this being the fact that the finished item is actually something I now prefer. Adding a trunk section and extended tusks to the design retained a bit more rigidity (though perhaps reducing the visual effect a little). You can see when looking at the genuine logo that it would have taken a lot loss work to slightly lengthen the breaks and cut out the design in a covers flat face plate.
My bike was originally bought in 1994, manufactured during a period where manpower put the machines together much more than the 1995/6 onwards era where more mechanical production line practices were brought in (though having personally stripped and rebuilt the bike on at least 3 occasions, I can say mine is truly handbuilt).
More importantly though, it was built during the Castiglioni era and Ducati still had Cagiva as a business partner. As a result of this, the bike has numerous small elephant symbols cast into various components from the wheels and engine block all the way to the fuel filler cap. Using this historical link, I chose to use the stylised elephant in the clutch cover design . You might have to stare at the cover a little to see it, but it is there. Most importantly though, the design has allowed for a minimalist cover that shows off the clutch to the full. It may rattle and clang (as all good duke clutches should), but it looks the part, and all for the cost of a few hours with a dremel, file and sandpaper. It could still do with a few more fine adjustments with a needle file, but for the time being and as a first attempt, I like it.
New modifications are taking place on the bike at the moment, mainly the addition of a decent set of rear sets so I can carry a pillion when I feel like it, without having to fit the grossly horrible (to my mind at least) original footrest hangers, while at the same time I am having an extra fuel feed added to the aluminium tank to give me a switchable reserve supply. I do not trust the fuel light, never have done, and consequently feel the additional feed is more of an acceptable solution. So while the tank is away for this mod, I have fitted the Ducati Performance tank for the time being (A Claudio Mazzi creation for those interested enough to wonder who did the artwork). It looks better in the flesh, and I wish it hadn't been raining when I switched them over and took the pictures, but even so, they are all I have at the moment and will have to do. The following images are of the bike as it looks at the moment this is being written.
I always liked the look of this tank, especially as it makes the job of explaining Desmo valves to people that little bit easier, that said, I prefer the cut shape of the aluminium tank over the top of the vertical cylinder head, rather than the standard tanks design that obscures the view of the head. Still, it cant be all bad when your reserve tank looks this good.
As mentioned earlier, I finally lost my rag with the rusting cast iron front discs. I was sick to death of having a clean bike, only for a slight rain shower to make it look like I never washed it. The front wheel was virtually rust in colour after the discs were used in anger during rain, and the rest of the bike faired little better. I had a set of Aprilia Rotors That fit perfectly. They are still Brembo items, and in keeping with the look of the bike they are different enough to stand out rather than have a standard set of Duke items.
The arrival in the post of a Carbon Fibre mudguard has once again had me working on the front of the bike. As detailed elsewhere higher up this page, the guard mounting brackets needed to be redesigned to accept the newer styles hole arrangement. All the work related to the initial bracket manufacture was detailed above and doesn't need repeating, but the lessons learned with the plastic guards fitment made the final act of adding the carbon unit to the bike a little different, As a result I added this as a new section.
The mounting points were obviously dealt with already, but the potential tyre contact and the destructive nature of the brake line unions were now a larger issue. It was one thing to damage a 10 pound piece of plastic (bought solely to see if I liked the look and could fit it without compromising the bikes aesthetics), but it was an altogether different prospect with the new (and to be permanently fitted) carbon fibre unit. Forgetting the expense, I didn't want to fit it and have to change things later if unforeseen problems developed.
To that end I decided on a different approach to the whole scenario. Most (if not all) my problems in fitting the carbon unit in place of the plastic item were caused solely by the brake lines themselves and their lack of alignment. When the lines were first fitted, they were married up to a different set of clip on bars, at the time the master cylinder line had to be routed outside the fork leg. When the bars were changed I just left the line where it was as I had gotten used to it being there. Moving the brake line to a more natural placement did alleviate the problem but didn't actually cure it. While still leaving the sharp edges of the unions as an issue to be dealt with.
As a result of the potentially damaging edges of the unions, I disconnected the lines and used clear heatshrink to cover the unions in the areas where they came into contact with the mudguard, this hopefully will prevent any damage and has actually made the lines sit more snugly due to the friction fit of the rubberised heatshrink in the groove. Only time will tell on that one, but so far it looks promising.
The mudguard itself is actually unmodified this time, no part needing to be removed, although the clearance is minimal between the back edges of the guard and the tyre. I know from the previous plastic guard experiment, that if it does touch, it can be heard and felt instantly, so I am watching this aspect very carefully at the moment. I don't want to cut it at this time if I can avoid doing so, The reason being I may not stick with it, and selling a butchered item isn't an option.
The final change from the original plastic guard to carbon fibre was the new brakeline retainer for holding the lines in the groove. There is already a hole drilled in the mudguard for an original retaining component to be fitted. I didn't have a genuine retainer, but more importantly, I didn't particularly want one. It goes against the grain at times to take the easy way out, and keeping things on a more unique footing is always preferable to me. Instead, I chose to use a small piece of metal rod, bent around an appropriate staniless bolt to form the shape, and then further bent at the tips to form a pipe clamp. The tips were filed and sanded to remove any sharp edges and then the whole assembly cleaned and painted to weatherproof it.
For those with any interest in this overly complicated approach, the rod assembly is nothing more than a piece of metal coat hanger and a stainless nut and bolt to secure it in place. Personally, I like the final effect, and the whole design ethos has worked out fine with no issues of tyre contact or brakeline movement. The following pictures show the new mudguard fitted and finished, brakelines securely routed, and the 'handmade' (and cost effective) retainer used to hold the lines to the mudguard . Closer examination of the middle 3 pictures shows the retainer, and also the heatshrink fitted to cover the 2 lower brake line unions where they come into contact with the carbon fibre.
The bike is never finished, there is always something new to add. I long ago gave up on trying to squeeze any more performance from the engine, it was already stressed as far as a 2 valve motor could be expected to give, so aesthetic changes are always the only thing to now take place on my bike. Within a week of adding the 916 carbon guard I decided to change it for a vented version. Unfortunately, whereas the first carbon mudguard fitted with no mods needed and no issues in the 9 miles it was on the bike, the new vented guard fouled the tyre instantly, and unfortunately required some of the guard be trimed away. I say unfortunately, but the reality is that it looks better after the mod, so all in all, it has worked out nicely. New guard is shown below. It isn't quite as shiny as the first, but it looks that bit nicer on the bike.
The pillion hangers issue has long plagued me. Changing the riding position with the SL rearsets and cafe racer clipons, removed the original bracket and pillion hangers, effectively turned the bike into a solo machine. The only way to take a pillion out (read attractive and sexy girl) on these rare occasions of 2 up riding, involved a laborious and/or potentially dangerous change to the bikes setup.
The laborious method being the removal of the SL hangers and refitting of the original (huge and ungainly) monster footpeg mounts.
This is a painfully annoying and time consuming thing to have to do, involving removal of the fiddly (to refit at least, due to it's idiotic design and lack of clearance to screw in) rear brake switch, both rider hangers, and more importantly, removal of the master cylinder and brake line for the rear brake (due to problems caused by the relocation of the master cylinder and length of line). As a result, this obviously involves bleeding the brake afterwards, only to have to reverse all this work later when it came to putting the bike back how I like it. Add to all this the simple fact that, I just don't like the original hangers and the original position of the pegs for a standard monster. I was further aware when arriving at a destination with the old hangers in place, that the bike just looked wrong ( to me ), and after so much work to do what I liked, this was an unacceptable change.
The more dangerous but less intrusive method of adding pillion pegs, was to have a bar mounted to the rising rate pivot frame rail. Although I have done this a couple of times, the riding position for the pillion is less than comfortable, and the fact that the bar was held in place by nothing more than a couple of exhaust U clamps, although being a novel and operational idea, it wasn't the best.
A third idea was to use the extraneous hugger bolt hole brackets of the 888 swingarm and mount the pegs there. I did actually make a set up, and they looked effective enough, but I had concerns about having pillion rider pegs mounted directly to the swingarm, and the hugger mountings ability to withstand any real world abuse, being as thin as the aluminium mounts were. In the end I ditched all these idea and came up with a new design, though this did need somebody else to make up the relevant aluminium brackets.
The newly engineered pillion hangers use the existing riders footpeg hanger mount holes, requiring only 2 bolts per side be removed in order to fit the pillion pegs when required (and the same in reverse obviously).
2 additional modifications were carried out in relation to this design. The first was fitting an inline connector to the brake switch. Limited wire length meant it couldn't go under or over the pillion hanger plate, it had to through at some point. I couldn't face the fiddly job of removal and replacement of the switch at every changeover, so a quick release connector changed a 20 minute irritation to a 5 second unclip and clip arrangement. The second modification was to change the location the engine earth strap fitted to on the frame. Rather than the stock location held by a nut on the rear of a Hanger bolt (right side), it is now routed to the unused bolt hole next to the rear master cylinder reservoir. The 2 holes used by the reservoir and earth strap originally being the location holes for the fuel cutoff valve. I removed the valve (as apart from removing the tank, the valve has no real use and is only an on/off device with no reserve function) solely to mount the rear brake reservoir on one of it's bolt holes as it proved to be an ideal location. Utilising the other hole for the earth seemed equally logical. I should say that an additional earth strap was fitted on the battery side some time ago, so I have no worries about having moved the earth strap from a substantial frame tube to a thinner point on the frame.
For a first attempt at something new, they have turned out pretty good. Remember that these things are only going on the bike on the rare occasions that I want to take a pillion out, so perfection wasn't essential, while functionality was. Now they have been fitted proved themselves operational, the task of final polishing and removal of some small scratches and marks can be completed. I probably won't update the images, unless the difference when finished is hugely noticeable, but after the previous incarnations of pillion peg devices, these hangers were a huge improvement.
The Pillion hangers were made by Rancid Tom at ID engineering (Hyde). I have temporarily misplaced his card, but will add further details later.
A very quick note here. Despite the rear wheel having markers for wheel alignment on the swingarm, using these invariably fails to align things as well as you might like. They are more a guide than a true reading. For those wishing to get things accurate, there are two options (3 if you count line of sight and any other tricks you have learned over the years). Tools are available for the task of aligning chains accurately. Two worthy of note are the simple but very effective rod on a block design and the similar designed system using a laser instead of the rod.
Clamping the tool to the rear sprocket allows the rod (or laser) to be accurately lined up with the chain run to the front sprocket whilst doing adjustments as normal. I am a bit of a tech head, but for me at least, I prefer the rod to the laser. It works, and I dont see the use of yet another tool that will likely have flat batteries when I need it most.
Temporary links to both are shown below.
Approximate time for task = 13 Years
The bike currently stands in roadworthy trim with the following modifications from standard:-
Carburettors - 900 SS with stage 2 Dynojet kit fitted
Wheels - 900 Superlight
Front Forks - 900 Superlight
Front Mudguard - Modified 748 item
Front Brake discs - Ducati 888, cast iron race with powder coated carriers
Tank - Aluminium (Road Racing) or Ducati Performance (desmo valve paintjob) Steel Tank.
Tachometer and housing - Road Racing
Engine, Coils, and ancillaries - 900 SS
Riders footpegs and brackets - 900 Superlight (chromed)
944 Barrels and Pistons kit (Ducati Performance)
Highlift Cams - VeeTwo
Aluminium Flywheel - Ducati Performance
1mm Oversized Valves - Ducati Performance
Uprated Battery fitted to compensate for higher compression
Stainless Steel Exhaust Pipe and Cans - Road Racing
Carbon fibre Front Mudguard - Superlight or 916 (depending on current mood)
Headlights - Bosch
Tail Light and rear indicators - LED conversion (LED indicators are inside the lens unit giving a much cleaner look to the bike)
Swingarm - 888 (Though I have a 900 swinger, I am loathe to fit it now as it will make the bike appear more 'standard')
Flyscreen - not saying, but it comes from something Aprilia that isn't fast, not even a little bit.
Front Brake and Clutch Master Cylinders - Race type (Brembo)
Handlebars - Ducati performance Clip-ons
Clutch Pressure Plate - Domed Race item with stainless springs and aluminium brace now fitted
Clutch slave cylinder - replacement type giving 30 percent more pressure than normal for lighter clutch action
Carbon fibre clutch cover - Unknown, and gives almost no protection in a crash, relying on the Domed pressure plate for protection.
Airbox and all superfluous plastic items - removed
Rear seat cover and side panels - Carbon fibre (Ducati Performance)
Front sprocket cover - Road Racing Aluminium
Sidestand Cutout switch removed.
Sidestand auto retract mechanism removed.
Mirrors :- from a place down south that my uncle used to pass regularly, actually blindspot mirrors, but they work well on the bike.
Virtually every visible exterior bolt replaced with Stainless steel items.
The bike won 'Best special' at the isle of man Duke meet for 2 years running, so it must be acceptable to others as well.
My old site from the late 90's detailing the bikes progression at the time is still up and running. Long abandoned by me since I stopped using the ISP that gave me the space, but the majority of the site is still intact. If you do go and have a look at the old site, be aware it was actually spanned over the two webspace accounts I had at the time. The Breathe account was terminated and the site links to that site failed immediately. But using the 'next page' link at the bottom of the old site goes through every page individually with almost no failures at this time.
The site link is www.ducatimonster900.i12.com and deals with the bikes history from being bought new to what it was in 1997.