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My Duc

This is my 1999 900ss Ducati. I just HAD to give it a page; it took me 12 yrs to finally buy a Ducati, and I'm thrilled with it!

I will say I still pretty much prefer the older "pit bull" styling, but I bought this bike because it was a steal, and because of the performance and maintenance considerations. The looks are starting to grow on me. In fact, I love looking at it in person (much more than in pictures), and riding it even more than that!

As you might be able to tell from the rest of my site, I'm a do-it-yourselfer. I'm also a tinkerer. I can't leave anything alone and so I've made several modifications to the bike since I bought it. In the above picture you can see the "flush mount" turn signals in front(MIT, sin#1) and the Sargent seat skin.

The seat skin is really a pain to get right, and you pretty much need an industrial duty stapler to do it well. I struggled thru w/ the heavy duty stapler I have. I'm not sure I'd recommend it unless you know what you're getting into. I got it straight and tight, but there's a slight bubble on both sides where the piping meets the fairings, the cover didn't quite fit my seat right. (and yes, I used heat and stretched etc etc...) For the headaches and time it took, if you like your seat but want the custom look, send it to them and have them do the work....BTW, the "Carbon FX" material on the main seat is a definite and huge improvement over stock.

I made this set of billet 6061 clipon bars to replace the stock ones. The bars weigh more than stock and help eliminate vibration quite well. The beveled holes are there to help seperate the main mass of the bars from the clamps attaching them to the bike. This is something I learned in guitar making, it hinders direct vibration transfer. The dampening hole also (hopefully) will allow them to collapse at that point before causing extensive damage in the case of a fall(hopefully it works that way, and hopefully I'll never find out). The bars are tapped on the ends to accept a 6mm screw for my bar end mirrors. They are also 1/2" longer than stock for a little additional leverage. If you look closely at the top bar you can see the notch required to allow the pinch bolt to pass by.

One of the things I hated about the new style bodywork is the extended "ram air inlets". They don't really do much of anything and they look stupid; so I took a coping saw to them. Now they only protrude about 1/4" and follow the contours of the main panels. Much better IMO.

I made a "fender eliminator" from plate aluminum. The eliminator keeps the stock turn signals and license plate light and mounts with the original fender bolts. The turn signals are about a total of 6 inches narower than stock.

Pro Grip gell grips and Zefal "Dooback" bar end mirrors. Took a little getting used to looking at my hands in order to see behind me, but now I much prefer it to stock mirrors, I can see what's behind me and not my elbows.

A couple different bi-metal holesaws and a drill press vented the clutch cover. I vented the stock sprocket cover as well...

It now has a clutch cover with the "Flying D" cut out of it...Cool!

Ever thought about those K&N case breather filters instead of all the pipes and boxes on the bike stock? Well, I found this breather filter at AutoZone for about $8.00, 1/3 the cost of the others and it's red, but not ducati red.(other colors/chrome availiable as well, MIC, sin#2, oh well) The tubing it came with is 3/4" od and about 1/4" id. This would be restrictive so I drilled out the ID of the filter's tubing to 1/2" and use a piece of 1/2"copper plumbing pipeto reinforce it (remove the tubing before drilling so as not to contaminate the filter). This gave it basicly the same id as the breather valve nipple, it also made the fit of the filter to it's tubing more solid because the copper tubing forced the od larger.. This way there is no restriction and it provides for more solid clamping. I've heard some say a breather filter is more restrictive than the long plumbing affair, but aerodynamic theory says it isn't...I can't test it to say for certain.

The bike came to me with the Ducati Performance carbon fiber exhaust and performance chip. Only other mods not detailed in the pics are reverse "race" shifting, I lowered the front trippleclamps 10mm on the forks to speed up steering , NGK Iridium IX spark plugs(MIJ sin#3?) and a "Throttle Rocker". The last two I'm still deciding if I like them or if they are worthwhile; so far I'm liking the throttle rocker. To get the race pattern shiting, I just flipped the arm at the gear box so it was above the shaft instead of below (the pictures are pre-mod) . Ok NGK Irridium plugs: no point to them for this bike' and the Trottle rocker stays under the seat for the very rare long "cruise ride". After the other mods done since, the throttle rocker is an unplanned wheelie just waiting to happen! (I managed to surprise myself with it a few times)

Here I modified a stock hugger into a "shorty". Originally I went without a fender (because thats how I got the bike) but I didn't like the road debree pelting the rear shock. It was only a matter of time before a seal failed or something. I simply sketched out the outline I wanted with nice flowing curves and left enough "meat" in the mounting extensions so it wouldn't be flimsy. I cut it out with a jigsaw (hand type) and cleaned it up with a coping saw, rasps and sandpaper. I also cut off the chain guard and mount for it...

(some bad color/contrast editing to get the hugger to show up in this pic....)

The bike does have a couple of the common Duc afflictions, a leaky clutch slave (rebuilt with a new "quad ring", works VERY well)), a little oil at the base of the rear cylinder from either the case breather or a weeping base gasket (It went away with the new case breather, I also get less "milky oil" in wet weather now. whoda thought?). And it's a cranky, cold hearted beast. ...No matter, it's a DUCATI! and it's unlike any other bike I've ever owned. I bought it because I wanted a bike that spoke to me and that I'd want to keep forever, certainly not because it's "the latest greatest". I've owned RD 350's (club racing), a ZX750E(factory turbocharged 750 "ninja") FZR600, FJ 1200 and even a couple Shadows over the years. I got sick of the japanese inline fours (not that there's anything wrong with them by any means), yeah they're more reliable but they just don't stir the soul...I wanted something with personality, and this bike simply ROARS personality.

Update Feb 2003

Recent performance modifications include a lightweight flywheel (not the super light Nichols unit, but a 3lb lighter FBF unit) and a 14 tooth front sprocket. I also added a billet fuel cap because I hate having to use the key to refuel; my helmet and gloves are usually burying it making it a pain. Besides, the cap looks COOL....

Oh yeah, I also stripped off all of the CA spec emissions plumbing.

I recently did the valve adjustments on my bike. Unfortunately I have the valves with the groove which the closer shims get hung up on. After sanding/filing one I decided to make a puller for the closer shims. It works very well. It's all stainless steel with a machined stainless steel thumbscrew which can also be turned with a 5/8" wrench. When the shim is loose, it is trapped inside the puller for easy removal....

Tip: when pulling parts which have many different sized screws that must be replaced in the proper location, get some cardboard and punch undersized holes in it in the basic bolt pattern. Then just insert the bolts in the holes as they are removed. Label the "top" of the pattern and set it aside...

I used"zip ties" to keep the valves in place with all the shims removed. Worked like a charm, but getting them cut loose was a bit touchy. (I used electronics flush cutting side nippers)

FWIW, a valve adjust on this Desmo was MUCH EASIER than the adjustment on the 750turbo (shim under bucket, had to pull the cams to change a shim, reassemble and recheck. repeat as necessary). It's not hard to do, certainly harder than some bikes, but it's not nearly what I was expecting after all of the "vodoo" type things I'd heard...

Update March 2003

Here's a picture of the bike in it's current configuration.

The exhaust was changed to high pipes and I just recently finished making the solo seat. It's my first time making anything from fiberglass. It uses a stock seat pan with the rear center section cut out (now I have a TRUNK!) and 3/8" neoprene for the seat.

Here's a closer look at it (also shows the cool gas cap)

BTW, I LOVE THIS SEAT!! It lowered the seat height by maybe 3 inches, I'm "set in" better with less weight on my hands and my legs tucked a bit more. I can really "lay on the tank" if I want. My nuts aren't slamming into the tank on every bump and expansion joint. And surprisingly, that 3/8" thick foam pad seems more comfortable than the stock seat (probably because of the altered seating more than the actual cushioning)

I also aquired a set of levers cheap so I could make "three finger" levers. I just cut off the ends at the break away groove, hammered a bit more curve into them, sanded the ends on the belt sander, drilled and beveled some holes, and then finished them off with a wire wheel on the bench grinder...

Not as cool as a set of CRG or other $180.00 plus levers, but at $25.00 for the "crash damaged" levers it's a good option. It works very well for me as I always like to have a couple fingers guarding the levers when I ride, and I always keep one or 2 fingers on the gripswhen using the levers. Now my "grip fingers" aren't getting smashed when I pull the levers.

Update April 2003

I recently wanted to get new tires put on and work on the rear suspension. Since I had the new rubber already I just wanted to take them and the wheels to get the rubber swapped but I needed a way to support the bike on stands. I had automotive jack stands and I've used them before (sliding 1/2" rod thru the swingarm pivot) and I had a rear stand, but no fork stand. Here's what I came up with...I drilled holes thru the swingarm stands pads. I then removed one of the front axle pinch bolts and bolted the stand to the forks. Works like a charm. And for a quick lift when using with the wheel and axle in place I can just use a bolt and nut thru the hole and up into the fork tube the same as most fork stands work.

Update May 2003

I came across a set of Dyna coils real cheap so I decided to get them not even knowing if I could use them (I knew someone else could if I couldn't). The coils on the later model Ducs are the same as the earlier ones and the bike benefits from having them replaced with higher performance coils (as per Chris Kelley at CA Cycleworks).

The mod was pretty simple. I fabricated two brackets to mount in the stock locations from 1/8" plate aluminum. The plates offset the coils about 1/8" off center. (front coil offset forwards, rear coil offset rearwards)

Here are the plates with the coils installed. Coils are mounted to the plates with 6x25mm allen bolts and nylock locknuts(temporary screws are shown in the picture). The front plate could benefit from having the coil offset maybe 3/16-1/4 of an inch instead of just 1/8".

At 1/8" offset the coil "just" hits the ducting. I trimmed it back although the fairing "fit" without the trimming, just not as easily as I wanted. The front coil fits in the opening, and the aft coil sits behind the ducting without interference. A side benefit of this mounting location is that the coils will get plenty of cooling air (Dyna recomends 5ohm coils if heat is going to be an issue, 3 ohm for better performance, these are 3ohm)


Only other thing to do is cut off the existing coil plugs for the pos and neg wires (black/white is negative on both coils, the colored wires go to the pos coil terminals) Solder the eyelets to the wires and insulate the connection with shrink tubing. I just finished the install, so I don't have much to say about performance, but it does seem like the bike starts easier and idles smoother quicker than before.

Update July 2003

The $5 filter ring.

I wanted to try an open airbox, but didn't wan't to spend about $70 on a filter ring not knowing if I'd like it, so I made one


I bought an 8' lenght of aluminum trim for 1/4" plywood from the local super hardware for about $5.00. Outside dimensions are aproximately 5/16"x 1/2"

I cut nothches in it to make the bends

Then I riveted the ends together with a spacer

I used a dremel to grind retaining grooves for the stock clips, it's important to keep the grooves aproximately 1/8" from outside edge so that the clips function correctly. My first grooves were in the middle and the clips didn't "snap over" securely. Here's the ring off the bike and you can see the two sets of grooves (not very pretty ones either...)


Update April 2004

The latest mods not mentioned before are 14t front sprocket and Rearsets with race shift. With these rearsets the shift lever mounts directly to the shaft without intermediate linkages. I also went with an aftermarket clutch slave, just to try it out. It really doesn't seem to lighten the pull much.

Currently(winter '06)

The bike's hanging from the ceiling in the garage, well the frame is anyways. The motor is out and I'm dropping in a set of High Compression Pistons and a Power Commander. Also a general cleaning/ upkeep (replacing rusted hardware etc...)

Quad ring for the ducati clutch slave cylinder. EPDM rubber of much heavier construction, seals much better and rectifies the leakage/early failure problem.. same part you may have heard of and can get from a european dealer for 12.00 delivered(the only other source I know of). $2.00 ea (only one needed per slave)