For Sale – 900cc Ducati chopper
Ducati 900 Monster motor, twin Harley carbs
Custom hardtail frame
16″ mag rear, 21″ spoked front wheels
Contact – firstname.lastname@example.org
The Ducati chop will be there. Which is just freakin’ awesome when I think about it.
I know this is going to be big….. If the Cheltenham show was anything to go by this is going to be epic. A broad spread of types and styles, all of the highest standard.
As well as going to the show I’m going to see my old friend Jodie, the person who is pretty much solely responsible for my obsession with choppers. The first motorbike I rode was his, and his Kawasaki GT550 chop just seemed like the coolest thing I had ever seen. I went to my first rally on the back of that bike. Good times.
So if you’re going to the Kickback show look out for a red Ducati chopper – it’s mine!
My favourite bike of the last few years is Hide Motorcycle’s ‘Narrow Strike Eagle’. There’s something about the bike, it’s stance, that makes it look like it’ll be a lot of fun to ride. Maybe it’s the short forks and wheel base, that make it look like it’ll go around corners and generally be a nimble ride. Check out this video of the bike being ridden by it’s owner, he rides it hard, and obviously loves his bike – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_nLmgn-JBv8
The Japanese chopper scene is really inspirational to me. I have to thank Chop Cult’s contributors to the ‘Japan Scene’ thread for showing me what’s going on over there. While the vintage chopper scene in the UK and The States seems to be contest to see who can build the most ‘authentic’ 60’s and early 70’s style bike the Japanese are developing new styles of vintage style custom bike at an alarming speed – Zero style, Brat style, they do a whole thing with swing-arm Harley FXRs that’s all their own. But more than their wicked style, what comes across is how much they LOVE their bikes, and how much fun they have. It’s big smiles everywhere for these guys. You get non of the bullshit hard biker attitude that seems to come with a motorbike over here.
Anyway, the reason for this post is this – Hidemo are doing it again. I saw this on their blog – http://www.hidemo.net/category/blog/ I can’t wait to see it when it’s finished, it already looks like it’s going to be super chuck about-able and great fun to tear around on.
I’ve been looking for a Ducati motor for the next build. I was going to go for another 900, but they just never seemed to come up, or are crazy money. There are always ST2 944 motors on ebay, four in fact, around the £450 mark. Which is a lot less than you’re going to get a 900 for. Which was no use to me, as I don’t want a liquid cooled engine, until I saw a reference to ST2 barrels and pistons being used on air cooled 900 monsters and SSs. It turns out that the barrels on the old liquid cooled 900 Pasos are basically the same the barrels on the air cooled 900s, bar a couple of drillings and plugs. The Paso ran water through the barrels, the later air cooled (which would be an odd statement in itself for anyone but Ducati) motors just run oil through instead. I fucking love Ducati, the mad bastards. The ST2 engine is basically a big bore Paso motor, the extra capacity of the barrels/pistons when mated up to smaller 900 heads give a boost to compression.
So, with some air cooled 900 (big valve) heads, I could turn an ST2 motor into a big bore, high comp air cooled engine. Sounds good. Some bare big valve heads came up, so I snapped them up – I could just transfer over the valves, cams etc from the ST2 heads. Then I started to think about what else might I need to do, and it all went slightly wrong. Because the ’97 and ’98 ST2s had a unique charging system non of the generators and generator covers from the air cooled engines will fit. Later ones would be fine, but all of the ST2 motors I’d seen for at a decent price were from ’97 or ’98, no later motors to be seen at any price. Back to looking at over-priced old 900s.
Then I saw this DS1000 motor. I’d not considered the later DS motors, thinking they’d be too expensive, and maybe too different. But – visually, bar the heads, and the shape of the fins on the barrels, they’re practically identical. And they’re newer, so less tired, and they’re not only bigger, the design is better so they make way more power than the extra capacity alone would make. And this was less than I’ve seen a 900 motor for a long time. I don’t like the look of the heads and barrels so much, but for the project I have in mind, they’re actually better, as it’s going to be a more modern 80’s-ish styled bike. And… a set of piston rings for a 900 (or 944) motor from Ducati (no alternative suppliers) are £100 or more. That’s per piston. So that rope-y (20 year) old 900 motor, that some dude wants £750 for, with (it says) 40,000+ miles on it, could set you back a grand easily if it’s had a hard life and needs a serious spruce up. So I bought the DS.
This motor’s going to be a beast, even after I’ve ruined it by using original Mikuni carbs on long carb inlets. If I can hold onto, or even, hope beyond hope, improve on the low and mid range torque, at the inevitable loss of the top end, it’ll be a fucking sweet motor for a chopper. It would obviously be way better with a set of Keihin FCR 41s on there, but I’m way way too tight for that shit.
Phew. My bike passed the MSVA test.
I was a bit worried about the front brake on the ride over to the test station. I was trying to bed it in, and it just didn’t seem that good, but I didn’t want to over-do the bedding in process in case I overheated it and glazed the pads. Then I noticed it was pissing petrol from the overflow of the horizontal cylinder’s carb, like a lot. I wasn’t sure I was even going to make it to the test centre without running out, and I hadn’t left much time to do any work on the bike before the test at 9. I noticed that the petrol stopped overflowing the very second I turned off the fuel tap, so I figured I’d ride with the tap off, and just switch it on every so often to replenish the carbs. This seemed to work quite well and I was considering doing that through the test when I realised it had just sorted itself out and wasn’t overflowing any more. I kept the fuel tap off for most of the test, but actually on the ride home after it was fine. Weird. The brake test was fine, so no worries there, hopefully it’ll just improve as I ride the bike and it beds in more. There were a few things that the tester had minor issues with but I managed to adjust things to his satisfaction – indicator and reflector positioning, some cable routing/securing. I’ve got to say I love the system that the DVSA (VOSA) use. It’s a wee bit of work, but look at a lot of other countrys, like Germany, where you can’t even modify an existing bike, only fit pre-approved ‘custom’ parts, let alone build a ground-up custom framed chopper.
Insurance on the other hand, is a freakin nightmare. Only a handful of companies will insure on the VIN number and when the bike isn’t something already on their database they’re totally thrown, even though they advertise as specialising in custom bikes. It seemed that none of the people I spoke to had dealt with this type of thing before, had heard of an MSVA, or even new that a bike could be insured on the VIN number (must in fact, to be registered), even though it’s something their company apparently specialises in.
Anyway, it’s done now. I’ve got all the paperwork done to apply for the reg number. I’m going to take the baffles out, and once I get the registration number take it to be dyno’d to see if the fueling is right, then ride the shit out of it. Here’s the proud man and his soon to be all legal and road registered Ducati chopper –
My Ducati Chopper’s MSVA test is booked for 9AM tomorrow. If you’re not familiar with registering a home built motorbike, or you’re reading this from another country, the MSVA (Motorcycle Single Vehicle Approval) test is an inspection carried out in the UK on unregistered vehicles that don’t have ‘type approval’ – the pre-accepted approval that mass produced vehicles get. On passing the test you are allowed to apply for a registration number. In the UK if your vehicle is almost entirely built of parts from a particular year you will be issued with a registration number related to that year, either current, if the parts are new, or historic, if the parts are from an earlier year. If your bike is built from a mixture of parts of different ages it will be issued with a ‘Q’ plate, that doesn’t relate to any particular year. We’re going for a Q-plate here.
INTERESTING MSVA FACT: If you get an age related (anything other than ‘Q’ prefix) you don’t have to get an MOT for three years, just like any newly registered vehicle, which saves you almost exactly the cost of MSVA test (about £80). If your bike (or car I guess too) is given a Q-plate you have to get an MOT the first year after being registered.
There’s been a lot of rumour and miss-information about what is involved with taking a custom built bike through the MSVA test – probably because not many have actually done it. Maybe because they were put off by the rumours, and went down the ‘cut the steering neck off a registered bike or just use the VIN number on a new frame’ method. It’s not as bad as biker folk-law will tell you. The test isn’t particularly in depth, it’s really just a more stringent version of the MOT test the bike is going to have to pass every year after it’s registered. This will be the second bike I’ve put through the test, the first one sailed through. Everything covered in the test is in the MSVA test manual, available as a free download here: https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/366046/msva-manual.pdf The manual looks pretty big at first glance, but it covers several different categories of vehicle, from mopeds to car trikes, so the only a small amount will be applicable to you and yours. And if there’s anything you’re not sure about you can just email DVSA (last year they were called VOSA, I wonder how much that change cost?) and they will clarify it for you.
If you want to build something ‘radical’ and ‘extreme’ you’re going to have a hard time getting your bike with two foot spikes on the front through the test, but if you’ve built something which looks and works like a motorbike it shouldn’t be to much effort to pass the test. Likewise if you’re happy with your headlight consisting of a single 10 watt bulb you’re going to have to fit another one for the test. If you’ve read the manual and know what is expected from the beginning you’re in a better position to get your bike through the test without having to change too much (I’m assuming you don’t like regulation size indicators, very quiet exhausts etc)
UPDATE!: So it turns out I was wrong about indicator lens size – there is no minimum size, so there was no need to change the indicators for the test. Just goes to show – Know the manual!
Here’s what I’ve done as test prep:
So we’ve got bare wiring covered, ‘Immobilisation device’ (D-lock) fitted, dorky standard size indicators fitted, and TWO (count them) mirrors. Check.
I thought the tester might have a problem with the open cam belts, in case a child gets their fingers involved in the pulleys or something, so I knocked up a belt guard to cover the idler pulleys. Safe Bruv! The exhausts have restrictors in them and everything works. Good to go.