Tag Archives: ducati

Harbor Freight Lift – Ducati Issue

11 Jul

Wheel vice hits brake rotor

I finally got a motorcycle lift. After much research I settled on the Harbor Freight lift for the same reason it’s become the favorite lift – value. It’s exactly the same as the Black Widow available from Discountramps.com, but for the price. And it’s less than half the price of anything else. If I had a shop and I was putting bikes up every day I would spring for one of the “shop” versions as they are more stable and have better lift mechanisms, but I really don’t need that.

The Harbor Freight can be got for $400 with a coupon, and the coupons are everywhere. If you search a little harder you’ll find a better coupon so you can get it for $300, which is what I did. The Black Widow costs $480, plus you’ll probably need to have it shipped. Harbor Freight stores are nearly everywhere. (I should add that the Black Widow has a different vice/chock, but I can’t tell from the photos if it solves the problem with the Harbor Freight clearance for the brake rotors.)

Anyhow, watch the video and you’ll see the problem in more detail. My 330mm rotors are big enough that they get in the way of the vice if I push the bike all the way up to the stop plate. If I don’t push it all the way up so the vice only holds some of the front of the wheel, it is unstable.

So, I’m going to remove the vice and use my Baxley wheel chock. It holds the front end better, is more stable, and it doesn’t damage my rotors – an expensive repair!

 

Restarting Baja

24 Dec

It’s time. It’s been five years since my first surfmoto trip to Baja, and it’s been five years since my last surfmoto trip to Baja.

Everyone wonders where the time went, but for me, it’s no mystery. Starting and running a new business took up much of the time. Spare time went to 5-day rides to and from LA and Monterey, CA, for the races at Laguna Seca, Ducati events like the 20th Ducati Monster Anniversary ride, and the Quail Motorcycle Gathering. My two- to three-week trips were to Nicaragua, where I have a home at the beach in front of great surf breaks, Colorados and Panga Drops. (And of course, I have a motorcycle there, a Yamaha XT125, and a garage.) And lastly, getting a new house and building out the garage for my growing stable of motorcycles was a big time-suck as well.

Since that first trip, when I tell friends about that ride they always say they want to do it, too. “When are you going again?!?” “Let’s do it!” But in the end, they really don’t want to do it, at least they don’t want to do it enough, so nothing happens. I’m used to that. It’s why I did the first surfmoto trip alone; I couldn’t find any takers. So when folks talked about wanting to go, I’d say, “Sure, let’s do it.” And I would wait for their follow-up. It never came.

Until last week. My riding buddy, business partner, and fellow Ducatista, Steve (we both have Monsters – he an S4r1000 and me, an S2r1000 – and 1198’s – his the Corse1098 and mine the 1198sp) texted a link to an organized Baja ride. One where you buy one of their 250s and the ride is free except you to need to pay for your personal expenses – hotel, meals, gas, insurance, etc. In other words, there’s no tour or organizer fee.

I generally don’t like organized tours or group rides. The Ducati Monster ride mentioned above is the only one where I ever enjoyed myself. (The worst was a bike magazine sponsored ride at Quail.) And that was because we broke into three groups, from fast to slow, as soon as we got into the twisties. But I am not interested in joining a group ride through Baja with a bunch of folks I don’t know, especially on a bike I don’t want to buy. Besides, I know Baja pretty well. I traveled it enough to write a surf travel guide for Baja awhile back, and of course, I did the surfmoto thing, too. So why would I want to get shackled by a group tour?

So, I talked Steve out of that and into us planning our own trip. We’ll invite some friends, like our other business partner and riding buddy, David, fellow Ducatisti like Arrick, aka DIYMotoGuy, and designer/builder Alex of Earle Motors, and whichever competent rider-friends we can trick into a “fun” Baja ride.

I started working on itineraries. Will update from here. Baja here we come!

Every Bike Tells a Story

19 Jun

Yesterday I stopped by Whole Foods to get groceries and ended up spending half my time in the parking lot looking at motorcycles. Yes, at Whole Foods.

First, I found a great parking spot that was already occupied by a Suzuki DRZ400SM – that’s the super moto version of the DRZ400, the baby brother to my DR650es which I was riding. Of course I checked it over, starting with tire wear (check the chicken strips to determine rider skill, daring or both), then moving on to accessories, maintenance (dirty chain? worn sprockets? rust?) and damage. This was a nice, clean bike with about 3/4″ chicken strips. The only accessory was the exhaust – Yoshimura. It was nearly new, so it was no surprise that the bike was in nice shape. And the relatively small chicken strips told me that the owner was an experienced motorcyclist, which also makes sense because few noobs would understand what a super moto bike was.

As I was looking over the DRZ a bit of red caught my eye. About five parking spaces away was a white truck with a red Ducati in the back, circa 2007-2013, pre-Panigale. From that distance I already knew it was either a just-purchased bike, a repair, or heading to or from a track. Grocery shopping would have to wait.

As I walked over I could see it was a 1098, so that meant it was the early model. Everything was stock, including the exhaust, and the entire right fairing was scraped substantially – it had been down. The brake pedal, bar ends, clutch cover and other parts were unmarked, so they had all been replaced. It had no sliders. So it was a stock 1098 with severe road rash from a long slide. It wasn’t a tip-over, a high side or anything causing the bike to tumble. Fast enough to slide some distance, but not so fast as to completely destroy the fairings or cause the bike to flip.

But was it in the truck for repairs, and recent purchase, or a track day? The brand new Pirelli tires answered that question: track day. On his way to (not from) a fun day at the track. And was this an experienced rider or a noob? Young or old? Hard to tell. Perhaps and experienced rider picking up a salvage repair bike to ride at the track? An experienced or inexperienced rider picking up his repaired bike that just happened to need tires, too? (Wrecking the track-day scenario.) Difficult to tell without actually seeing the rider or peering into the truck’s cab to see what sort of equipment was there. Did he have his leathers, helmet, boots and other gear? Nothing else was in the back of the truck, not even a toolbox. The track-day scenario was looking less likely.

When I decided it was time to do my shopping I noticed the DRZ owner gearing up, so I went over to say hello and compliment him on his choice of bikes. Youngish guy, probably about 28. Knew his bikes. We talked wheel size and geometries. Always good talking bikes with bikers. Better when they know their stuff.

I did my shopping, returned to the parking lot, and the 1098 was still there. Where is that guy? Probably eating. Well, now I’ll never know for sure, unless I see the guy at the Rock Store, the dealer or at a gas station. I decided to stick with the track-day story as I liked that one best.

And maybe that’s the point. Every time we see a motorcycle sans motorcyclist we imagine the story of both. Examining the bike is the best part as that tells most of the story. The rider can tell the rest, but he can’t get around the chicken strips. Why we write those stories in our heads cannot be explained, but it’s part of the experience.

Clean Frame = Jail Time

12 Jun
Stripped naked for DMV inspection.

Stripped naked for DMV inspection. Notice the beautiful sans-stickers frame.

Don’t clean up your bike’s frame unless you’re ok with 90 days in LA county jail.

I recently bought a beautiful 1198sp. (Ducatisti know.) Hardly ridden. Kept in a garage that’s cleaner than my house. No mods. I’m in CA. The seller in Indiana. “Beautiful” included having the unsightly silver/grey stickers removed from its iconic red trellis frame.

Screen Shot 2015-06-12 at 3.08.41 PM

1198sp with stickers. (And clothes.) Not mine, but nice…except for the stickers. It wasn’t easy finding a photo of one that still had the stickers.

Buying an out-of-state bike is an ordeal, and getting it registered and licensed in one’s home state adds to the journey. But a bike with a cleaned up frame is a whole other thing. And from what I’ve just learned, just owning a bike with sticker-free,  cleaned-up frame is a jail-time offense in California.

“No person shall knowingly buy, sell, offer for sale, receive, or have in his or her possession, any vehicle, or component part thereof, from which any serial or identification number…affixed by the manufacturer…in whatever manner…has been removed…punishable by imprisonment…not less than 90 days…and a fine not less than ($250).”

After two trips to the DMV, being sent to the CHP for a secondary VIN inspection (3-week wait) then back to the DMV (waited over 2 hours; leaving now) I’m close to getting my baby properly registered and plated. And I’m lucky! Because the guy I bought it from managed to remove all of the stickers (without shredding them, as they are designed to break up when attempting removal) and save them with the rest of the paperwork, intact.

Now I need to carry the stickers on the bike with the registration or risk jail.

But you know what? It’s worth it.

New Ducati Scrambler? Maybe a new SurfMoto machine?

9 Jun
Ducati Scrambler 2015

A secret shot of the secret new Ducati Scrambler.

Very much looking forward to checking out this new Ducati Scrambler. It seems like they’re going back to what the Monster started out as – the simplest interpretation of a motorcycle, Ducati style. I’m hoping this will be a good one to modify into a proper surfmoto machine. But even if it’s not, it looks to be a whole lotta fun!