A small experiment

I say experiment because I have known of these items for years and at last decided to try them. They are Grip Puppies. These things fit over the standard grips in a bike and do a number of things, they make the grips thicker and more comfortable and they add padding so that vibrations are damped when wearing thin summer gloves.

I bought them from ebay LINK, and they were here within a few days. They take 10 minutes to fit over the existing grips with a little soap and water and then are left to dry.

I went out for a ride with them fitted and was instantly impressed with the feel of them.

My wife likes them too so another set will be ordered for her ST2.

Day 8 with the Supersport

Today is the 8th day of ownership. As the first few days were so wet that they could be described as tropical, it has taken me till today to clock the magic 1000kms. I had to go out for a quick 70km thrash this morning to get there so that I could do the first oil change. The dealer would normally do this, but as he is a 280 km round trip away, and I prefer to do things myself rather than let some apprentice mess with my bike. I had bought the necessary Hiflo HF163 filter and the 10w50 synthetic oil last week.

This shows the mileage at 1022 kms with the service indicator on. The right window is showing the average fuel consumption over the last 130kms or so, in litres per 100kms, this has improved over the 3 or 4 tanks of fuel as the engine gets looser.

Because the oil filter and the drain plugs are very accessible there is no need to take any of the fairings off to do the oil change, having the bike on a hydraulic life makes it even easier.

I did take the fairing off though, just to check everything underneath them. I also needed to take a power lead from the battery to feed a relay for the new horn that will be the subject of a future post. While I was on the right side I also retrieved the flying lead that Ducati fitted to power a GPS. It was tucked under the frame just to the rear of the steering head.

I also took the time to fit some red reflective rim tape to the wheels while the bike was on the lift. I am not a fan of black wheels on a bike, and since the 848 had rim tape fitted which made it look better, I splashed out 99 pence on an ebay kit.

The rim tape just adds something to those very black wheels.

According to Ducati I can now take the engine to 6000 rpm,  bt the bike has so much torque from low revs that I will not be in a rush to get there. The handbook tell me that I should use less than 5,500 rpm for the first 1000kms, but I did the same as I have with every other new bike and car that I have owned, I started low and built the revs up over the miles. It has only been the last 100kms that It has got anywhere near 5000 rpm. I was lambasted by a couple of ‘know it alls’ on the 939 forum, but it seems that I have the last laugh as my mirrors don’t vibrate like others seem to.

I have bought many new bikes in my time, some sporty ones but mostly big tourers, I can easily say that this bike is the nicest all round “Sports Tourer” that I have ever ridden.

The first pictures.

Today is Sunday. I collected the bike on Thursday in the rain and it has rained since apart from a brief spell yesterday afternoon. My wife and I pulled the Supersport out of the garage to clean it and take some pictures. While it has been in the garage I have spent some time going through the various settings and modes on the bikes electronics and display, and have removed the rear footrests as they will only be needed when a certain person visits from the UK. I have also cut down the large rear number plate hanger that is too big for our French number plates.

Here are the pictures:

The front of the bike looks quite pretty while at rest, I thought that the 848 was a piece of art, but this one is too.Then when the ignition is turned on the daytime running light illuminates. It is an array of LEDs and makes the bike look more aggressive.

These two side views show the lines of the bike, note that without the black rear footrests and their hangers above the exhausts, the lines are a bit cleaner.

It looks like it should be quite an aggressive (uncomfortable) riding position from this angle, but that is not the case, it is very comfortable. The long part that holds the rear number plate will be changed for a shorted on in due course.

The business end. This instrument has a wealth of information. The two boxes on the bottom left and right can be scrolled though to show average speeds, fuel consumption, distance left on fuel in the tank and much much more.

The selectable riding modes, “Sport”, “Touring” and “Urban” are also selectable and programmable to give various throttle responses, engine power settings, traction control and ABS settings. If it sounds complicated then it is not too bad once you have read the huge instruction manual.

More to come.

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!

Ducati 250 single ignition

I have read that the 250 and 350 Ducati singles are very fussy about ignition timing. They need to have about 36 degrees of advance when running at higher engine revs, but about 5 degrees static. The reason that the spark fires so far ahead of TDC is so that the fuel mixture has time to expand at the correct point in the engine, where the maximum pressure from the explosion will do the most work. At low speed it needs to be nearer TDC to allow the engine to be kick started.

The system is an old fashioned points and condenser with a centrifugal advance mechanism that should give about 31 degrees of range. There are no timing marks on these engines so a bit of work is involved in setting the timing with the engine static. There are some good explanations of how to do this on the net, notably this one http://www.liebold.com/timing/timing.htm and I thank the author for sharing it.

I found that after setting the timing correctly, the bike would start but the performance was dreadful, as if the timing was wrong, so I adjusted it by ear and got it running better. It still was not correct. The little bike could only achieve 95 kmh (55 mph). Further investigation was needed.

I took the two bolts out of the points cover and examined the parts behind with a bright light and noticed that the wire on the condenser was attached with a single strand. I removed the points plate to resolder the wire.

The picture above shows the points and advance mechanism housing with everything removed.

And this picture shows the wire that should be attached to the condenser.

Now I have been soldering all of my life, off and on, and it is not difficult to do, but this job was a failure. There was no way that I could get solder to stick to the stub on the end of the condenser, so a new condenser with wire was required.

Behind the points plate is the advance mechanism, it is removed by taking out the small bolt in the middle of the cam. So out it came. I noticed immediately that something was not right with it. There was too much play in the thing. The springs are not stretched but are loose. This means that in the static position it could be either 5 degrees or about 12 to 15 degrees of advance without the engine even running. This could mean that the bike only had a total advance range of about 20 degrees.

The bottom picture shows how there should be no gap (red arrow) but the spring appears loose (blue arrow). This is the position that you would time it static.

The upper picture shows that the gap in the weights (red arrow) would be about 7 or 8 degrees different still with the engine static. The springs (blue arrow) are now touching the post but have no tension on them.

The best solution to this mess is, in my opinion, a nice electronic ignition system that does away with points and condenser, and replaces the advance mechanism with an electronic version. That system has been ordered and will be the subject of the next blog post.