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.

Ignition key

The standard ignition key for a 1967 Ducati 250 single is so basic that any bent nail would work to switch the ignition on. If someone wants to steal a bike then they will probably lift the bike into a van, but I am not going to make life easy for them. As I never had the key for Dinky, I used a fuse holder inside the headlight and just inserted a 10 amp fuse to switch the ignition on.

I bought an ignition switch from ebay for the grand sum of £3.50 but at least it has a double sides key and can’t be switched on with a bent nail. The only thing was fitting it. I do not want the do anything to Dinky that is not reversible, that means that she can be returned to a standard bike without any effort in the future. For that reason I cannot just remove the old ignition switch from the headlight shell, enlarge the hole and fit the new switch, as that would damage the shell. The end result was to make an aluminium bracket that fits to the top of one of the front forks. The new switch, with key, is indicated in green in the following photos , the red arrow is the old switch.

ign2 ignsw

The result looks quite neat.

The next job was to fit the headlight for the first time. An LED bulb was fitted into the sidelight position to be sympathetic to the puny charging system on this old bike and will be used as a running light. If I switch the 45 watt headlight on instead of the LED then it will use just about all of the electrical power used by the little bikes generator.  I was surprised to find that the headlight lens is plastic and was just thinking how advanced Ducati were in 1967 to fit plastic lenses, my guru Craig, shattered that illusion and told me that it should be glass.


It does look rather cute now though.

As most of the major stuff is done for now on Dinky the Ducati, I shall move back to some work on Ronnie the BMW RS with his cafe racer conversion.

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.

Rear indicators and brake lights

The Ducati SBK from about 2007 to 2012 all have an LED rear light fitted as standard. The lights are always on on European models. When the front or rear brake is applied the LEDs become brighter.

Last summer we had a number of bike visitors and one, Dave on his BMW R1200GS, commented that the brake light on the Ducati was not very obvious. It may be because with LEDs there does not seem to be too much difference between dim and bright. Time to do something about that!

I bought a set of four LED rear indicators, with additional brake lights built in, from ebay for the huge sum of £6 sterling. It turns out that the red additional brake lights can also be wired in with the rear light and come on brighter for a brake light. I did not want the rear light function so I cut the blue wire off.


This shows the new units compared to one of the old units above it. The style suits the shape of the rear of the 848. The orange LEDs are the indicators and the ones marked red are the rear/brake light, but I will only be using the brake part. The wires on these lights are: Black – earth, yellow – indicator positive, red – brake positive and blue unused rear light.

The pictures following are the best that I can do with a digital camera taking pictures of LEDs! I am sure that there will be a Gopro video coming along sometime soon that will show the lights as seen from my wife’s bike.


This is just the rear light of the bike with no brakes applied. It does look bright, but that was because the camera was looking directly at the LEDs. Worth noting is the bright white numberplate illumination LED.


Same as last picture but catching the flash of the indicator in the picture.


Notice how the background shows as almost black due to the intensity of the brake lights. The bikes rear light is brighter and the two brake lights in the indicators have come on. I consider it to be much safer to have additional brake lights rather than just the one.

The whole job took about 2 hours to complete and that included the strip down and the soldering of the connectors on the new units, and the rebuild. I could have used scotch lock connectors and saved time, but I prefer to do things so that they last.

Exhaust valve 2

As promised, this post will complete the exhaust valve elimination mod.

In the last post I had left the bike with a temporary bodge (aircraft term), a metal profile to make the ECU think that there were still cables fitted operating an exhaust flapper valve. I have covered a few kilometres with it like that and was happy with the way the engine feels, but unhappy with the bodge, see the next picture:

oldmotorThe Bodge is the scabby bit of metal on the motor, it may look bad but it fulfilled its function. Much nicer things to see in this picture are the two nice titanium bolts that hold the small motor to the bike. The motor was removed and turns out to be quite a heavy lump. Here it is looking lost on the garage floor:

motorThe replacement for the motor was bought from ebay in the US as item number 280869731831. It was made by a company called Vizi Tec and sold buy a seller called Blautee. Total cost including postage to France was around £40. Delivery was very quick, but I was surprised when this is what I received in the post:

DSCN0170sA personal note from the seller wishing me a happy birthday! I cannot quite read his name, and have no idea how he knows my name or that it was my birthday, but thank you for that little bit of paper, it made my day.

DSCN0171sThis shows the size of the box compared to the great lump of a motor. Before anyone notices, it is only the ruler that was made in England and as soon as my wife reads this and realises that I have stolen a ruler from her desk I shall be in trouble! The website of the manufacturer can clearly be seen in the picture, I assume that it is made in the US but can be bought all over the world easily from ebay.

new boxNow compare this picture with the picture of the motor fitted above and you will immediately see that bulk and weight has been saved by doing this mod. You will note that there are two tie-wraps fitted to mine, but the kit comes with just one, the reason is that I have a tub full of them and you never know – one might break.

With the motor and the cables removed from my bike it is probably nearly a kilo lighter. That should be great for performance, but there again if I carried less change in my pocket I could also save that much weight and still would not notice it when I ride!

Windscreen – Pare brise

I was browsing ebay a couple of weeks ago and put Ducati ST into the search bar to see what was around. I came up with a black tinted windscreen, now I do not need a windscreen as mine is fine, but at €16 (£11,60) I just had to order one. It comes from Hong Kong and the ebay item number is 201257447952. Click on the number for the link. I was not expecting anything fantastic for that money, but thought that I would have a look at it.

Today this turned up in the post:


Like a kid with a new toy I set to opening the parcel, it was very well packaged and so survived the journey from Hong Kong intact. Here is the packaging:


I was downstairs in the garage like a racing snake to see how it fits. The fit is very good and did not need any adjustment at all. The thickness of the plastic is about the same as the original Ducati screen on the bike and I was impressed by the overall quality of the screen for the price that I paid for it. The only thing that I don’t know at the moment is how scratch resistant it will be. When I have cleaned the first few batches of dead flies off the screen I will report back, but if it does scratch easily then I will just fit the old screen back on. At the price that I paid I could afford to buy a new one every year!

Here it is fitted:

fittedfLooks great!