The next Generation

So far this blog has covered three Ducati models, the ST2, 848 and the 250 mk3. There is another blog out there in the ether about the restoration of my 1991 BMW K100RS 16v.

Times are changing though, the 848 will be going. We still have the other bikes and have no intention of selling them at the moment, but it is time for a change. We have ordered a new 2017 Ducati Supersport 939.

The 848 has been one of the nicest bikes to ride that I have ever owned, and I started in 1975 with a Honda 250K4, a Honda CJ360T, a Suzuki T500 and a brand new BMW R75/7 shortly afterwards, and I had all of those bikes together too. Everything that I have owned has been a tourer or an all rounder bike and the closest thing to a sports bike was the BMW R1100S, we had two, one for me and one for my wife. I bought the 848 just for a bit of fun and what a bike. Not too comfortable – my wife only tried it once, but a delight to drive as long as it was not in town. Smiles per mile were ample, screaming around country roads with the loud exhaust was a real hoot, but things have to change sooner or later.

I have some plans for the Supersport, but I will not go into them yet and will drip feed them as posts with plenty of pictures and videos as I usually do.

I have not ordered the S version of the bike as I cannot see that I need any of the toys that it has fitted. The quick shifter on the S might be fun, but is not needed for my sort of riding, the expensive suspension might be something to brag about, but I don’t need to brag and I have no intention of going on a track, so the non S is what I chose. If my wife also likes riding it then she will have one too, but she will have the S because she wants the white paintwork that is only available on that version.

A non technical post for a change.

Since we first bought the ST2, the Ducati brand has impressed us with the precise handling and the wonderful sounds that the L twin engines produce. Both the ST2 and the 848 have aftermarket “loud” cans on them, not a problem in France where there are no MOTs (annual technical inspection) for bikes, and the police have got better things to do than be petty about a little noise.

Jude has been offered an upgrade to an ST3, but is very happy with the ST2 and does not seem to want to change it. My 848 is a very sporting bike, the handling is light and precise and the roadholding is fantastic. I can happily say that I have never ridden a bike that puts such a big smile on my face for so long. The downside to riding a bike that fits like a glove is the comfort levels. The wrists can get uncomfortable after a couple of hours and the neck a bit sore after a while but the enjoyment factor means that you don’t notice too much.

We were in our local town, Perigueux, the other day and decided to look in at the BMW dealer, there is no Ducati dealer there. I have owned BMWs since buying my first new one at the age of 18, but went off them when the bikes were getting taller and taller. What I did spot that caught my eye was something called an RnineT Racer. The RnineT is the standard 1200 boxer engine in a naked bike with some trick bits like upside down forks etc. The Racer has a small ’70s style fairing and is a single seater (we never carry passengers anyway) but has the cheaper option of normal forks.

I thought that the bike looked rather cute. The price tag is over €14,500.

That got us thinking that Ducati had just released the new Supersport and Supersport S. The Ducati is about the same price for a very well equipped bike. Off we went to Limoges, to the nearest Ducati dealer, and found a Supersport S in white standing outside in the rain. What a machine! It took Jude exactly 10 minutes to decide that she wanted one and not the red one, but this white one. She immediately took some pictures so that there was no chance that she would forget what it looks like!

I would say that for about the same money, the Ducati is much more of a bike.

I now have for sale my beautiful red 2010 Ducati 848 as seen in many of the posts in this blog. I will get a Supersport and so will Jude, it will take a little time, and I will probably get a red one, but we are having a pair!

Chock stands

I bought a chock from ebay a while ago, it was mad by Constands. and works very well with all of the bikes. I eventually bolted it to the front of the hydraulic workbench to make life easier when loading a bike. I have always intended to buy a few more for the bikes that are parked around the garage as they are very useful items.

I was in Perigueux the other day and happened to pop into Dafy Moto, the local bike shop to have a rummage. They had a pair of chock stands in boxes on the floor with no price on them, upon asking I was told that they were €88 each. After pointing out that they were only €65 on ebay, I walked out with both of them for €130 – great saving.

These were slightly different to the Constands ones and were not quite so easy to wheel a bike onto due to the steepness of the tipping ramp.

wheel chock

The answer is to remove the two rubber feet from the back (left in the picture) and bolt the stand down to the floor. this lowers the swinging ramp fulcrum by about 8mm but makes a huge amount of difference when putting the bike on or off the stand.

Only need another two or three and I will have enough for all the bikes!


Titanium (Ti)

Throughout my life working on aircraft I have used Titanium bolts. They are used for a number of reasons two being strength and lightness. The Ti that we used on military aircraft was about a third of the weight of a steel bolt of the same size, and was coloured a blue/grey. The picture below shows three titanium bolts that were laying about in the bottom of my toolbox with one steel one as a colour comparison. The titanium ones all together weigh about the same as the single steel bolt.


The place where titanium is very useful is in very high heat areas like exhaust systems and jet engines. I have, in the past, heated one of the Ti bolts up till it was glowing red and hit it with a lump hammer, that did not even distort the threads and I could screw a nut onto it by hand afterwards.

Titanium is freely available these days from many places as people want lighter bicycles and lighter parts for racing motorcycles. The wheels and tyres are a great place to save weight as lighter a front wheel is, the more it will stay in contact with the road over uneven surfaces and the less gyroscopic effect the spinning wheel will have on the control of the bike.

Back to the reason for this post. The four bolts holding the brake callipers on my 848 looked a bit tatty, the chrome was scuffed in places and although most people would never notice, I did. I looked into changing them. I could buy 4 bolts claiming to be titanium from ebay China for the same price as it would cost to buy one of those bolts from the leading company in titanium fasteners in the UK. The link to the ebay ones is HERE.

They arrived today so the first thing that I did was weigh one against an old steel one as fitted to the bike, the pictures are next.DSCN0483


As you can see there is 15 grams difference, that makes 60 grams for all four – this bike should fly with all that weight saving 🙂

The next picture shows the difference when fitted.


The top bolt is the steel and the bottom one titanium.

All the super bike racers out there are now going to want to know about the huge performance increase with these fitted, well after going out for a spin and a coffee, the bike feels exactly the same as it did before. It may be the fact that I drank a small coffee but it could be that the 0-60 acceleration was 0.00000000000007 seconds slower afterwards, but there again I had €1.20 less coins in my pocket. I must stop being sarcastic about people spending a small fortune on carbon fibre to save the weight of half a litre of fuel!

My aim was achieved, the bolts look nice.

An 848 update

Folks will remember that I fitted the Lithium battery, not to save weight, but to see if they were all that they are cracked up to be. I still can’t feel the 3 kgs weight loss when riding the bike, but the battery is performing well. It cranks the engine quicker than the old battery did and has not needed any charging while the bike is idle in the garage.

The Worx exhaust is also working fine, it is a very pretty exhaust with little cut outs in the ends of the db killers. You will need to go back to that post to see the pictures. The exhaust is LOUD, but is a very pleasant sound. I fitted discs (old pennies beaten down to 30mm diameter) into the db killers to see if anything changed, it made no difference at all. With the Worx fitted the bike pulls a little stronger from lower revs, perhaps that is due to the lack of catalytic converters. The Worx is also quite a bit lighter than the original silencers.

There is also a post earlier about the exhaust valve motor eliminator. That is still fitted with no problems and I could not even say if that makes much difference any more, I have forgotten how it felt with the valve motor.

The headlight is fine as it is with the bi-xenon projector and HID in the right side and a H11 LED in a fixed Ducati projector (dip only) in the left. In normal daytime riding it looks like both lights are on and they look the same, but in the dark the LED adds nothing to the illumination of the road ahead. The next generation headlight with two HID bi-xenon’s is being built at the moment, but this one is going to be fitted with a relay and switch so that the headlights do not need to be on during the day and a pair of angel eyes will be fitted for daytime riding.

The Metzeler M7RR tyres are great and give confidence over every road surface, but the bike is such a peach to ride that I never expect it to frighten me. A great combination of tyre and bike then!

The back of the bike has the TST tail light and the LED indicators with LED brake light fitted to them. Everything is working fine with it as it is. I have not had time to fit the flash rate controller that I bought from ebay to see if it slows the indicator flash, but will do that over the next few weeks.

I have yet another video camera to add to the Gopros that I own, this one is called a Polaroid Cube Plus, and unlike the Gopros has built in image stabilisation produces better videos. The mounting options are also better. The cube also does time lapse so I made a little video of the bike on a windy day to test that function. Here it is:

Hydraulic bike lift.

As we own a number of bikes, and I do all the servicing and work on them myself, A hydraulic bike lift has been one of the best things that I have invested in. It was a standard lift with some minor modifications. The first mod was to drill a hole on each side of the platform and insert a long bolt so that I can strap any bike to the lift before elevating. The second mod was to remove the very poor design of front wheel holder and fit my Constand wheel chock. This makes positioning a bike very simple and a one man job. Here is the standard lift.


I have a pair of magnetic screw trays at the front for placing fairing screws in.

When I was working on the Ducati ST2 starter the other day I found that the biggest problem with working under a bike is the light. There are florescent tubes on the garage ceiling, but that is not much use. I could fit the same to the lift, but they break easily and they need 230 volts, which I don’t want in my work area.

I ordered a 5 metre strip of waterproof, self stick, 5050 LEDs from ebay for less than £8, LINK HERE.  These can be cut to any length and I stuck 1.8 metres on each side of the bike lift.



These are connected to a small 2 amp 12v wall transformer, but will eventually be powered by a small battery fitted under the front of the lift, with switches to switch either or both sides on.





Some of the pictures look very poor quality, that is due to the camera trying to compensate for the brightness of the LEDs.

Thank you Will in Ireland for giving me the idea!


Weight and batteries.

I am not a great believer in saving minuscule amounts of weight on a bike as in my opinion it does nothing. As an aviator I know that weight is proportional to acceleration and aerodynamics is proportional to top speed. Many vehicle manufacturers harp on about 0 to 60 mph, or 0 to 100 kph times, a totally useless figure for a road bike as there is never any need to accelerate that fast. To change a plastic part for a carbon fibre part and save 50 grams at a cost of £80 is only any good if you want to look at that part and it looks pretty. Joe Public will never notice that it is carbon and not plastic and you will not notice any increase in performance. What if we could save 3 kilos? I very much doubt that anyone would feel the difference in that either, after all it is only about the weight of 4 litres of fuel, and you could just put 4 litres less in your tank. The 848 is a fairly light bike in standard trim.

I am, however, a huge fan of technology and “toys”. I had a bit of money to spare, we don’t have road tax or MOTs on bikes here, so wondered what I could play with next. I found a battery on the web for the total of €105 (£80) but it was a Lithium rather than the old lead acid technology, so I ordered it to play with. When the box arrived this morning I thought it was empty!


Here it sits on the scales at 605 grams. It claims 290 CCA (cold cranking amps)a measure of the ability to turn the engine. The battery behind is one that was in my garage with a claimed CCA of 210.


As you can see it is 3.5 kgs heavier! According to the label on top of the new lithium battery, it is a replacement for the above battery.



But that great big heavy battery is not the one that is fitted to my 848, that has a much lighter battery fitted as shown below.


So the 848 battery is only 2.8 kgs heavier than the new battery, there is no CCA marked on this battery but I assume that it is over 200.

Ten minutes later I had removed the side panel and the battery clamp on the bike to reveal this.


A nice tight fit on the bike as that was the size of battery needed back in 2010 when my bike was built. After removal of the Yuasa YT12B-BS the scene ended up like this.


The lightweight rubber spacers come supplied with the new battery and when the retaining strap is fitted, it is very stable.

I switched the ignition on and watched the gauges go through the motions and the HID xenon dip beam headlight come on, and then I pressed the starter button. I was completely taken aback at the speed at which the engine cranked. As it ticked over I pushed to info button up one click to see the dashboard indicate that it was charging at 13.9 volts. The maximum for this type of battery is 15 volts but my 848 stays at around 13.8 to 14.1 volts so all should be good.

Rather than take the battery out and play with it on one of the other bikes, I decided to leave it fitted and see how it holds charge and how it performs. It should be fine as I understand that Ducati now fit lithium batteries to the 1299 Panigaleas standard.