MOTORBIKES: A PASSION FOR DUCATI (GT1000)

The Italian Motorcycle manufacturer Ducati, much like their four wheeled brothers, always seem to invoke a sense of passion in a way very few brands are able to. Maybe because they share a famous red livery, or both make an almost unique engine sound, then again it's most likely just due to their beautiful Italian styling. Of course, considering what you pay for this style, the one thing everyone knows about those gorgeous machines is that you never, ever, modify them. Then again, why follow everyone else?

 This is how it once looked, a brand new 2010 Ducati GT1000 and one of the last available in the US

This is how it once looked, a brand new 2010 Ducati GT1000 and one of the last available in the US

In late 2010 I became enamored with the Ducati Sport Classic, a bike that had a retro look but the reliability and safety of today; little did I know, Ducati were just about to stop production on the Sport Classic and GT1000, the touring version of the same bike. Dropping by to see the guys at Beverly Hills Ducati in January 2011, I found the above-pictured bike, a brand new red GT1000, just perfect. Almost.

 Custom ordered Ohlins front suspension and adjustable rear suspension were soon fitted.

Custom ordered Ohlins front suspension and adjustable rear suspension were soon fitted.

The original project was just to change the suspension, brakes and tank, in changing the tank though it exposed brackets on the frame that had to be removed, which meant re-painting the frame. That was the beginng of the end.

I had read the bike had poor suspension, lousy brakes, a polyurethane tank that expanded due to U.S. fuel (it contains higher quantaties of ethanol), poor electrics and the bike was overall too heavy. No wonder with such rave reviews they were going to stop production! Besides, I didn’t much like the red colour.

With zero miles on the clock, the brand new bike was slowly, bit by bit, starting to come together again; albeit in a different form.

Modified ceramic-coated black Terminogi exhaust, aluminium wheels, hand made aluminum tank by famed artisan Evan Wilcox, hand-painted frame, 4 piston brakes front and rear, custom Ohlins suspension, modified guards, slipper clutch, lightweight flywheel, oversized NCR oil cooler, custom seat, the list of parts changed goes on and on. While all this work was being carried out by Beverly Hills Ducati I lived and worked in New York, making decisions via images provided and doing my own research, ahhh, the endless research. In mid 2011, the bike still not complete, I was relocated to Hong Kong, an amazing country that has few importation regulations, except one very strict one. You are not permitted to import modified motorbikes.

Almost there. Trying to guess the outlook of the bike from the other side of the world via emailed images of parts is harder than you imagine. The most difficult part though was coming up with a colour theme, once that was settled (satin aluminum, grey) it started falling into place.

I confess most people would question changing a bike from a perfectly good, standard, as it turns out rare and (previously) valuable collectors item, into a unique, personalized, very expensive but lightweight version seems crazy. But sometimes where passion is involved, crazy is right there with it.

With vastly improved suspension and braking combined with reduced weight, the bike now handles more like a Superbike and sounds fantastic. Despite all the time, money and effort; to own and ride such a unique piece of machinery never fails to bring a smile to my face.

This is the second Ducati I have had stripped apart and rebuilt, would I do it again? Time will tell.....

Before

After

For the Beverly Hills Ducati website and other bikes they have modified, click on the link below.

To anyone else considering modifying their motorbike, be warned, it is a costly and addictive exercise. If you must though, the best forum for information is www.ducati.ms