Thursday, April 2, 2009

Slow Times

So it's been a while since I've posted. This is due to the weather not cooperating.

My latest project is building slip-on exhaust cans for under $150.00 (sure beats $1,800.00 for the Termi system). Once I have all the pieces assembled I'll go into full detail. It's a cool little budget exhaust project that a few folks have good success with.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Lesson Learned

I'm a relatively new rider. Sure I had a couple bikes way back when but because I was self taught I never considered myself an experienced rider. This time around I took the Team Oregon course (which I highly recommend to everyone). It's a great course and my instructors were excellent.

One of the things they drilled into us was when coming to a stop making sure you downshifted into 1st gear. There are a few reasons why you want to do this and yesterday I got a first hand lesson on one of them.

At around 8:30 am I called a good friend of mine, Steve Ciccotelli, to see what he was up to. He told me to come over to his place. I got my gear on and warmed up El Duce. It was a bit nippy out but not too bad. Once warmed up I headed out to his place. Coming off a side street onto a thorough fare I had to stop then turn right. Well...I stopped and waited for an opening in traffic. I rolled on the throttle and let out the gas...

Next thing I know my bike is off-balance and headed for the ground. It was past the point of no return so I did my best to soften the blow. It fell on it's right side. I cursed, pulled off my gloves, helmet then huffed it back upright. I was able to plant the kickstand. There was no damage thankfully.

In short what had happened is that I had failed to drop it into 1st gear. As I attempted to take off the bike stalled. Because my front tire was pointed right and I was on the side of the road that was cambered right the bike was unbalanced. With no forward movement or gyroscopic action from the tires it laid right down.

This was my fault completely. My head wasn't fully engaged in the ride. This time the price I paid was only a bruised ego. The lesson is you have to constantly work on your basics and remain vigilant at all times while riding. The littlest mistakes have the potential to cost you.

Friday, February 6, 2009

Ergonomics: Dietrich's Gauge Lowering Brackets

Last week I ordered a set of black lowering brackets for my gauge cluster. I had read about them on the forum. Folks that have installed them state that they made the gauges much easier to read.

They are pretty simple, basically just two angled pieces of aluminum that lower the gauges and tucks them back a bit. Very simple and effective. The brackets are made by fellow Ducati-head Dietrich Pfeifer. He works out of Phoenix Arizona running Gerhardt Design Studio. He also makes a better free flowing air filter cover designed to replace the stock piece.

I ordered a set in black and they arrived in less than a week. They were well packed and came with easy to follow pictorial instructions.

Installation is easy and take about 5 minutes. It took me longer because I discovered that I did not have any metric allen keys. After running up to the local hardware store and buying a set I was able to install them in no time. Once everything was tightened down I sat on the bike to check out if they were all that people said they are. They are.

By lowering the angle of the gauge face you acquire the needed data much quicker than the original placement. The ergonomics are superior. While riding you can clearly see the gauges from a variety of riding positions.

Dietrich's lowering brackets are a simple $40 upgrade that are well worth the few minutes they take to install.

Saturday, January 31, 2009


Today I ran a bunch of errands on El Duce. Stopped by Sears to buy a pair of jeans at Lloyd Center Mall. As a rule I hate mall parking lots as they tend to be a giant cluster fuck. It's even worse on a bike. The half wits in cars pay absolutely no attention to you. Twice a couple morons almost ran right into me. Seriously people, please pay attention to what you are doing and stop dreaming of the Orange Julius you are going to get after buying your novelty penis trucker hat at Spencer's Gifts.

I also went to REI in search of some thermal pants. Sorry but I'm not paying $60 for a pair of thermals. Kiss my hairy ass REI. My last stop was MotoCorsa to get another tank protector. Don't ask.

MotoCorsa was out of the tank protector I was looking for. While I was there I asked Brad how long it took to put on a 14 tooth sprocket. It ended up they weren't too busy and could put one on while I waited. Brad also suggested I replace the stock grips (which I've wanted to do for a while now) with a set of $15 Super Bike grips. The sprocket was about $45. Cheap.

I hung out, had coffee and shot the shit with the crew. All and all it took about 30 minutes. Let me just say that those two simple and cheap upgrades has completely changed the nature of the bike. It is much quicker and more civilized. The 14 tooth sprocket keeps the engine where it is supposed to be. It gives it a lighter more nimble feel. The new grips provide more comfort and better feedback.

If you have a Sport Classic and have not yet changed to a 14 tooth sprocket do it now. It's the best bang for buck on a performance upgrade on these bikes. 6th gear will actually become usable. Before the swap 6th gear was pretty much unusable even on the freeway. There is now less of a brute force thing going on. It is much more free revving, which I expect from an Italian engine. Everything now comes together in an nice, elegant Italian package. It's right in the pocket w/ the 14 tooth.

Can't wait to ride tomorrow.

Friday, January 30, 2009

New Winter Gear

The problem with a motorcycle, especially El Duce, is that you want to ride it all the time. This is fine if you live in Florida or California. I happen to live in the Pacific Northwest. Portland, Oregon to be exact. It rains and can get bitter cold during the winter, as it is now.

I have a parking spot that I pay a little bit of cash for every month for parking El Duce. I bought it with the intent of riding El Duce to work every day. August through late October I did this. As winter progressed it just got too damned miserable to ride. I did not have the right cold weather gear to pull it off without numbing half my body. The gear I did have is very nice, Dianese leather jacket and gloves, but not made for the winter chill.

You might be saying to yourself, "Well, go out and buy some gear." I would say to you that just because I bought a Ducati does not mean I am a rich man. I busted my ass to be able to buy it. Also, we all know that bike gear tends to be very pricey. I like to slowly piece together gear to make it affordable.

I was able to cobble together some winter riding gear. It consisted of some cheap Olympia motorcycle glove liners, a windbreaker that my friend left in the back of our car for a year, a wool jacket I bought from The Gap way back when and a $5 rain suit from WalMart. All and all it did what it was supposed to. You will note one huge glaring issue though, no armor. I feel naked without knuckle, back, shoulder and elbow protection. It just wasn't safe. In the words of my friend and mentor Jesse Crotty, it was "no bueno".

Today I decided to stop by our local Cycle Gear to poke around. The first thing I saw was a pair of very nice Frank Thomas winter gloves w/ knuckle protection. On sale for $40. Leather and nylon outer shell with retro-reflective piping, inner lining of membrone (sic) with an outer lining of poly. They have a nice large gauntlet and are very comfy.

The next item I found was critical. A Frank Thomas armored 3 in 1 winter jacket. It was a medium and fit perfectly. It too was on sale for what I thought was $149.00. It is waterproof, made of tough ballistic nylon and has a removable inner windproof fleece liner. I decided I could afford the $149.00; generally you cant touch a good jacket like this for under $300. I'm pretty sure it was last years model, hence the super low price.

To round out my winter gear I grabbed a pair of cheapo MotoBoss waterproof overpants for $14.00. I will get a pair of decent riding pants with armor at a later date.

These items will make all the difference in the world. I took them to the counter and guy rung them up. When he got to the jacket he asked me how much I thought it was. I told him $149.00. He looked at me and told me "Nope, $70.00". I was shocked and pleased.

So for around $130 I got a nice set of winter gear. I love MotoCorsa as much as the next guy, but I would have been lucky to be able to buy one windbreaker/thermal undershirt there for that price. Although Erica, who works in the apparel area at MotoCorsa had me try on the aforementioned undergarment and it was the best feeling piece of clothing I had ever put next to my skin. Damn you MotoCorsa and your evil sales ninjas! She had me and I was going to buy it but I reigned in my desire to compulsively spend. I still do want the leggings though.

After riding today with the new stuff on I have to say I'm impressed with the quality and pricing of the Frank Thomas gear. I was completely warm in the jacket and gloves (it was around 40 degrees +/- this afternoon). The gear seems decently made, comfortable and is affordable. I feel like I'm shilling for them or something but screw it, it's decent gear for the price. I feel like if it falls apart in a year I will have gotten my money out of it.

What was the point of all of this? Now I can ride my bike to work even in really crappy weather and use that parking spot I'm paying for.

El Duce is made for riding, and that's what I'm going to do.