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!

Phone/GPS mount for the 250.

Readers may remember that the only time that I have ridden the 250 M3 was up and down the lanes around here. One thing that I noticed, apart from the gears being upside down, was that the speedometer was unreadable as the needle jumps all over the place. As this is going to be a bike that will be used, it is important to me to know how fast (or slow) I am riding. The solution is a small smartphone running a GPS speedo application. It just so happens that the phone that I own is small, I bought it so that I can use it on the 848, and is ideal for the solution.

First thing to do is buy a 4cm wide piece of aluminium extrusion. It is not super strength aluminium , but it only needs to hold a phone. I cut my bit 14.5 cm long and drilled a 26 mm hole in one end. I then put a slight bend in the bracket so that it should not get too many reflections on the phone, this is the result:

bracket bracket2

Okay it doesn’t look like aluminium extrusion, that is because I polished it with Micromesh so that it matches the alloy top yoke on the bike.

After fitting I stuck a piece of strong self stick velcro to the bracket, and then wondered why I had polished it!


And fitted the phone to see how it looks.


It will work just fine. It is a very functional mod that can be removed in seconds so does not alter the fabric of the bike at all.

My helmet, a Schuberth C3 Pro, is fitted with a Sena 10u intercom system so that I can communicate with my wife on her bike. The little phone can also be used in GPS mode with the instructions being bluetoothed to me.

Do you want to see the ST2, 848 or 250?

As many people know we have bike visitors for most of the year apart from the very cold winter. Some of the visitors love to camp at the St Leon campsite . It is a great place to be, in the middle of a medieval village but next to the river Vezere. The campsite is owned by the village and is very well looked after and cheap. There are toilet and shower facilities and loads of bars and restaurants in the village, and also within a few miles.
This year some of the bikers will probably be here in the second week of September travelling from the Republic of Ireland. So I thought that it might be a good idea to open this up a little and see how many others would like to visit for a week or two.
Jude and I will be available each day, as usual, to guide rideouts to local attractions, while fitting in a cheap but enjoyable lunch, showing people the places that locals want to see.
The cost for anyone who wishes to participate will be the cost of your camping, very cheap, the cost of your own fuel and food. On the subject of food, locals always eat at lunchtime and a 4 course meal with a glass of wine costs in the region of €12 to €14. We do not run this as any sort of business, so our time and fuel is at no cost to anyone else.
I may ride a sporty looking Ducati, but the pace of the rideouts is, within reason, governed by the group. Jude and I are on intercom and she will generally bring up the rear. If you have an intercom in your helmet then we can also discuss the various sights of the area as we pass them.
The main attractions are: Weather, food, history, a BBQ at the campsite and canoeing on the river if you wish. I speak A little French and fluent German as well as English if that is any help to visitors.
My house is about 8 kms away with a well stocked garage should anyone need any technical assistance. There are also local hotels around if anyone is a non camper.


The picture shows the campsite in red. Jude took the photo from the back of our microlight a couple of years ago.


Two Irishmen and an Australian packing up to leave St Leon.

Front fork top plug.

The nice thing about the 50 year old bike is that there is loads of aluminium to polish. I love aluminium, probably due to a life spent repairing aircraft made from the stuff. But aluminium has its place and that is not everywhere.

The 31mm fork tubes on the bike are made of steel, as one would expect, as they need to be strong. The top yoke is made of an aluminium alloy casting and that is also strong enough for the forces involved on that item. But the plugs that attach the two parts together are also aluminium and they have a screw thread that screws into the steel fork tops, never a good idea. This is where they are fitted. In this picture the one on the right is the new one, more later.


These pictures show the problems with aluminium alloy fork plugs.

two_old oldtop

As can be seen, the 12mm allen key holes have been damaged by a previous owner who probably needed to take them out but did not possess a 12mm allen key, but even worse the threads have been ripped off the alloy by the steel threads of the forks. I have no idea if this is due to over tightening or just wear and tear over the last 50 years. The reason that the top four threads are not damaged is that these do not screw into the fork tubes, but sit inside the top yokes.

The answer is a set of steel plugs. This arrived today in the post:


On opening I found this.


Which was kind of amusing. The manufacturer of these stainless steel fork plugs obviously has a fantastic quality control system which involves the local medical laboratory or he has reused a box, made me laugh anyway.


The packaging was superb!


This is the old and the new on my desk with the correct removal tool above them. This picture illustrates the lack of thread left on the old one. If you now go back to the first picture you will see that a new stainless steel one is fitted to the right hand side and the old alloy one on the left. They are both steel now.

The threads on the new ones were slightly rough on the skin, nothing to worry about, but being a perfectionist, I rubbed them over with some 4,000 grade micromesh just to polish the edges slightly before a quick wash off with degreasant, refitting of the o-ring and fitting to the bike. This procedure was overkill as they can be used out of the box.

The new plugs were bought over the internet from www.eurojamb.com and I will let you browse their website to find the price, but be assured that for the quality they are well worth that price. Joe at eurojamb is also a star, he is quite willing to answer emails promptly, even ones from people like me who try to avoid ordering anything from the US. Thanks Joe.


Speedometer on old bikes.

And some new ones too!

To tell the rider what speed the bike is doing involves a speedometer being driven off something that is directly connected to the road. The only things that touch the road while you are riding is the tyres and that is the problem. New tyres are a bigger circumference than old tyres and different makes can also be different. Then there are sprockets that drive the wheels, they may have been changed to give different gearing, this would not matter if the speedo drive was off the front wheel and that wheel still had a standard sized tyre fitted. For all of these reasons all bike speedos are designed to over read by up to 10%. If the speedo had been accurate with worn tyres at 100 kmh and then new tyres were fitted, the speedo would be showing 100 kmh while the bike was actually travelling at 110 kmh, speeding fines here we come.

The problem with the small speedo fitted to a 50 year old Ducati 250 that i happen to own, is that the vibration will swing the needle back and forth so that when travelling at 60 Mph (yes it is in mph), it indicates somewhere between 35 and 65, and I would need to ride with reading glasses on to see that. The other problem is that all of the cables from the handle bar controls want to pass the speedo face, and you can bet that with a bit of vibration they will find their natural place – across the middle of the dial!


The most accurate speedo that you could use is a GPS driven one, which will show you a very accurate speed at all times, whatever tyres or sprockets were fitted to the bike. Many of us have a GPS speedo in the form of a smart phone or tablet. I have a small Android phone that I use with an app called “GPS Speedo”. The app is free to download and looks like this:


Okay this picture is taken while doing 63 kmh in the car, but a strip of stick on Velcro on the back of the phone will let me attach it to a bike too. It is far more visible than the bike speedo, and even tells me an average speed in the bottom left corner of the screen.

It would be great is someone in China would make a small screen like this with a GPS receiver and an Android operating system, but no phone, SIM card, memory card or camera bits inside, to use as a GPS speedometer. It would not need to be expensive, after all the phone in the picture above was only a €59 item. Perhaps someone does.


No, a classic bike will never be finished. Dinky the Ducati is ready for the road but there are still some minor things to be done. I took her out for a quick 5 mile ride today and can confirm that she runs very nicely.

Things that are left to do: When I returned from the road test, I got my wife to sit on the bike while I checked the front to rear wheel alignment. A 2 meter long aluminium straight edge showed that the chain adjusters were out at the back meaning that the the back wheel was going in a different direction to the front. The steering head bearings are loose and there is play in them. This is a common fault on the Ducati singles and involves 48 3/16″ steel ball bearings. I have read that these have a tendency to escape around the room if disturbed. I priced just the balls up in the UK at a Ducati specialist and they came to £7.50 plus postage for 48. Knowing that I could end up paying double  with the P&P I looked on ebay, 100 ball bearings for £4.48 and free postage.

I will also have to look at the rear shocks, I believe that these can be rebuilt but parts will be needed, so I will have to make an order of those before I start.

I am in the process of making all of the tools that I need to set and adjust the ignition timing. Ducati never put any timing marks on the 250 narrow case bikes so pointers and timing discs are needed and then a piston stop to determine TDC. I have been looking into electronic ignition systems and quite like the one offered HERE.  The company is based in Germany, and surprisingly just a short distance from where I lived as a child for many years and where I was based in the Royal Air Force for a while. I cannot seem to get hold of anyone on the phone at the moment so will try again in the new year.

If I do buy the system then I will write a review and make a video of the installation.

Finally, here are a couple of pictures of the bike as she is now with a picture of the bike on the trailer when we collected her last month.

p1080041s p1080037s

As she was: