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.

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

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

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.

one

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.

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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.

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fiverear

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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!

 

Starter motor blues

The Ducati ST2 has been a strange starter since the day that I bought it. When the starter button was pressed there was a 1 to 2 second delay before anything happened at the starter motor. I had changed the battery on the bike from the almost new lead acid to a gel for other reasons and that had made no difference. I fitted a voltmeter to the bike to make sure that it was charging at all times and it was. The thing was that I did not trust it!

My wifes BMW F800ST was also playing up in that it was very sluggish to start despite a newish battery, and that would sometimes not start at all. Because of this she had started using the ST2 and found that she preferred it to the BMW. So the F800ST will be put up for sale.

While I had the BMW up on the ramp I removed the starter motor from the front of the engine, just two bolts and a power lead. On stripping it I found that the surface of the commutator (the copper bit where the brushes touch) was a bit black rather than copper coloured. A quick rub over with some very fine wet and dry, then a wipe with acetone to clean it had it looking like copper again. After refitting it (5 minute job) the bike sprang into life with a weak battery. It would probably now start on a watch battery!

That got me thinking about the ST2. The only problem is that the lower fairings have to come off, the left hand engine casing has to be removed and the flywheel has to come off just to remove the starter! Someone at Ducati needs a new job. I found that instead of all that work, I could get to the back of the starter from the right side of the bike and with the use of some bent 8mm spanners, I could remove the rear plate with the brushes on it. The commutator stays hanging on the bike, but there is enough room to clean it up in the same away as I had the BMW. It took quite a while to refit everything as it was not designed to come apart like that.

The ST2 was on the ramp, but I pressed the button anyway, I would not normally start a bike that is over a meter of the ground on a ramp, but it was just pure music. A mere touch of the button had the motor burbling away through the sweet sounding GPR exhausts. 30 seconds later my wife was at the garage door with a cup of tea for me and a huge smile at the sound of what has become her bike.

Fuel sender

The fuel sender that is fitted to the ST range of Ducati motorcycles can be problematic, just try a Google search to see what I mean. After filling the ST2 up with fuel and resetting the trip meter I was stunned to find the low fuel warning light came on at 209 kms and there were no bars showing on the fuel gauge.

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The green arrows show the fuel light (off) and the gauge showing all bars (full).

When I filled up at around 215 kms and measured the amount that went in I found that there would have still been at least 9 litres in the tank despite what the indications were telling me! This was something to be investigated as I understand that there is no way to adjust anything on the system.

A few weeks later my wife (BMW F800ST) and me on the Ducati filled up with fuel, my gauges were showing full for about 30 kms then everything went down to empty. I stopped and looked into the tank, it was still full. Off we rode again, the light went off and the gauge showed a quarter full for 10 minutes and then went back to zero. Time to investigate.

The first thing that I did was to get a large spanner and tap the fuel level sender in the tank (shown in the next picture) to see if anything would happen, nothing did.

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Time to start draining the tank to look at the sender. I had an empty 20 litre can which was just big enough. The tank was emptied, removed from the bike and placed upside down on a blanket to get access to the inside. Three nuts were removed which allowed the fuel pump assembly to come out of the bottom, and then the sender was pulled out. It is only fitted in with rubber cups top and bottom (shown in green in the picture below) . When out the sender (shown in red in the picture below) could be tilted up and down and a float of some sort could be heard going from one end to the other.

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It looks like it should not be dismantled and there is no obvious way into the sender so I left it as it was. I decided to adjust the position of the sender just in case it was working again, so that the light would come on with less than 9 litres left.

Both the rubber cups (green) are the same and they both have step inside them to stop the sender sliding up and down when in position. I cut the step and the bottom of of one of the cups and fitted that cup to the bottom of the sender so that it sits about 15 to 20 mm lower in the tank. The sender was refitted in the new position and the fuel pump and tank were all fitted back to the bike.

The tank is now full, as the pictures show, and everything seems to be indicating as it should. Perhaps something was sticking and has been freed up by my playing, but we shall see. I will run the bike till the low fuel light comes on and report back on the new position of the sender unit.

GPR exhausts – 2

Now that I have had time to ride around and play with the exhausts I have found just one flaw with the design. As most ST owners know, the swinging arm is wider on the left side of the bike than it is on the right side, this is to accommodate the chain and sprocket.

GPR have done a fantastic job on the fabrication and welding of the parts, but do not seem to have realised that the two link pipes need to be different profiles. The right side is fine, but the left needs to be put under stress to get it to fit and still clear the swinging arm. The measurements that I have made were done without the pannier racks fitted and they would make the situation worse as they lower the end cans and will cause the cans to foul the swinging arm.

first

 

Here is the link pipe fitted to the bike and attached with the spring to the bikes headers, as can be seen, there is only 1 cm clearance without the end can fitted.

secondThis shows the view from the back. The end can will reduce this clearance to nothing!

thirdAs can be seen in this picture.

The solution is to have a different link pipe on the left hand side to the one on the right. Rather than trying to make complex bends in that pipe, the solution is to add 25 mm of length to the link where it attached to the header. That would bring the whole assembly outwards by 25mm as shown in the next picture.

fourth GPR are made in Italy and I thought that I should bring this problem to their attention, but they do not publish an email address so I will have to use their contact form on their website and give them a link (pun) to this post. In the mean time I will attempt to get a 25 mm piece of stainless steel and make an extension myself, I might be able to get a local welder to attach it but I am not sure yet.

I will keep the blog posted on any response from GPR, but at this time I would not recommend a GPR system for a Ducati ST.

Update on some things

Having ridden the bike for a few more miles now, I am even more pleased with the new exhausts. They look great, a nice shiny stainless steel instead of dull grey alloy. The sound is a smooth low pitched grumble that is not too intrusive for the rider and compliments the quiet Schubert C3 Pro helmet that I bought for my Christmas present a short while ago. I can also say that the bike seems to have a bit more grunt at lower speeds, it will now rumble along at around 3000 rpm when it needed another 500 rpm before the exhausts were fitted.

I filled up with fuel today and can report a fuel consumption of 46 miles per imperial gallon, (6.1 litres per 100kms) and that has involved loads of messing around like a lunatic. I was a bit disappointed to find that the fuel gauge is showing 2 bars and the light comes on with about 8 litres left in the tank, that is over a third of the 21 litre tank. I will have to see if I can find a way to adjust that so that the light comes on with around 3 to 4 litres left.

I was following an active discussion on lighting on the Ducati ST2 Facebook page over the last few days. The subject was headlights with one member trying to tell people that you could just fit an LED bulb to an existing headlight and have a good beam, I don’t believe it. The standard ST headlight has a projector unit inside it for the dip beam, this comes with a 55 watt halogen bulb fitted. Watts are a measure of power consumption and not light output. You can fit a HID xenon unit inside a projector, but should not use one in a normal reflector headlight due to the increased light output being harder to control and causing dazzle for oncoming drivers. HID xenon units consume 35 watts but give over twice the light output. The next generation of lighting is LED lighting, and you can buy LED bulbs to replace the halogens, but they will not give enough light to ride at night with. LEDs at the moment cannot be easily of cheaply retrofitted to existing bikes and need a reflector especially designed for the LED.  I have found that Hella make a 90mm LED unit in the style of a projector that is a dedicated LED unit. And this is it: https://www.rexbo.eu/hella/headlight-1al010820021?c=700243. You will see that with a price tag of €600 it is not simply a case of fitting any old LED bulb to any old headlight.

I am an aviator as well as a motorcyclist and so am very interested when I see people talking about reducing the weight of their bikes, but it is very easy, and expensive, to go too far. Saving weight will do nothing for the top speed but could improve acceleration, having said that I have never felt the need to accelerate as fast as the ST2 is capable of. The standard ST weighs in at around 215kgs. Compared to my BMW K100RS that is very light. I have a quantity of aircraft grade titanium bolts in my toolboxes that weigh about a third of what a steel bolt weighs and are super strong. If I were to change a whole handful on the bike I might be able to reduce the weight of the bike by half a kilo. If I then spend a sum of money that would be equal or more than the bikes value, I could make myself some nice carbon fibre fairing panels and save another kilo or so. In total I would have saved two kilos. That is 1% of the weight of the bike, or about 2 and a half litres of fuel, or the weight of the tolls that are under my seat, and would I feel the difference in the ride? Not a chance. If I rode with the tank nearly empty and without the tools under the seat I could save about 15 kilos, and if I ride naked 18 kilos, but I doubt if I would feel the difference then apart from freezing my nuts off! So the moral to this story is that if you thing the ST is too heavy and want a lighter bike then sell it and buy something else, you know it makes sense.

New Exhausts – GPR

Nothing wrong with the standard ST2 exhausts apart from the weight and the lack of noise. One thing that is unique with any Ducati is the sound of the engine, so it is time to change the exhausts. My wife’s BMW F800ST has a carbon can on it that sounds good with the parallel twin but is much louder than the Ducati.

I searched ebay and found THIS. The same exhaust system from the UK GPR importer (on ebay.co.uk) is about 30% more expensive so I ordered from the French dealer, it took 3 days to get from Milan, Italy to my doorstep. After opening the box I was quite impressed with the quality of the welding and the bits and pieces that came with the kit, apart from the mounting strap (more later). There was also a European Certificate of conformity to prove that the exhaust was legal. We do not have any technical inspections on bikes in France so I could have got away without this.

cofcThe first thing to do was to assemble the exhausts and see how good they look!

Old1Here is the old standard exhaust ready to be removed. There is only one bolt and a spring to remove to get these off, and it took me 5 minutes.

newboxThe new exhausts needed attaching to the link pipes and the two holding springs fitting. There were also two bags of bits for fitting them to the bike.

newnold1Here is the left new one fitted. Note the stainless steel finish compared to the aluminium finish of the old one. The new are also about 4 cms shorter. What you cannot see is the weight difference, the old one is about twice the weight.

rearviewThey look much nicer from the back too. There is still some final adjustment to be done so that they are both fitted exactly the same, but this was fine for a test ride.

dbkillUnderneath each tail pipe is a screw which removes the DB killer should you want more noise, I left them in for the test ride as the new system sounded great on tick over as it is.

The sound is deeper than the standard and the bike seems to be a little smoother, but that may be just a placebo effect. I do not expect to have any more power with the new system – I changed it for the noise. The weight saving may be a few kilos, but I challenge anyone to feel that out on the road, and if 5 kilos were to make a difference to the performance then I would just put less fuel in the bike when I fill it up.

All good so far, but there has to be a downside, and there is. The mounting for these silencers is cheap and nasty. I don’t have the pannier racks fitted at the moment and I am not sure how to would go with them, but without they look crap!

mount1As can be seen from this picture, the only way to fit is with very long screws and alloy spacers that were supplied with the system. The cheap straps around the silencers had holes in the end that needed opening for the huge bolt to fit through. It would have been easy for the manufacturers to shape that cheap strap so that the tag ends were inboard of the silencer and there would be no need to fit the spacer. The left side link pipe was also shaped slightly wrongly and with that fitted it needed bending outward about 2 cms. Had I not done this then the swinging arm could have touched the silencer on compression.

oldmountThese are the alloy mounts that are fitted to the old standard silencers and my next project will be to remove these and either fit them to the new system or use them as a pattern to make some new mounts.

For the price this system is very good value for money, but I would have been happy to pay 10% more and had some decent mounts. Having said that I would buy them again as the competition is much more expensive.