Saturday, February 16, 2008

a 1978 Ducati 900SS

And now for something completely different.

Two years ago, we rebuilt a 1978 Ducati 900SS belonging to a friend of mine. He bought it from the first owner in 1982 and has had it ever since. But after 25 years, it was in need of serious work.

We decided to rebuild the cylinder heads, making the necessary modifications for lead-free gasoline. The valve seats of the vertical cylinder were shot anyway. When we dismantled the engine, the valve seat rings could be turned easily with a Seegerring pliers. No wonder that cylinder had no compression.
New seat rings were made from scratch of sinter material. New valve guides were also made of sinter bronze and of course new valves were fitted. The seats for the seat rings had to be milled square and clean to accept the new rings.
The carbs were cleaned and all seals and the accelerator pump membranes renewed. Otherwise, the engine was in good condition.

I decided that it would be a good idea to make a new wiring harness since the owner had more than once been stranded with an empty battery for no apperent reason. Italian electrics are questionable at best. Using the Silenthektik automatic fuse box and SilentHektik controller, I made a new harness. Only the ignition remained original. Although there is no starter, I chose to fit a Hawker SBS8 battery. It is almost indestructable, needs no care at all and fits the bracket perfectly.
The owner had fit an aluminum tank from Sauer shortly after he bought it, one of the first Sauer made.

The original owner had already done away with the original cockpit, fitting a DIY stainless steel item, clumsy and not nice. The original item was fiberglass and cannot be had new for whatever price. Only poorly made copies are to be had now. I milled a new one following the original form out of aluminum which was then anodized black. The owner had replaced the original Smiths instruments with Veglia, utilizing an original and coveted "Competizione" tach like those found on all 50ies and 60ies Italian racing motorcycles. Of course these were kept. The owner does preserve the original Smiths clocks as well.
This 1978 900SS is something of an oddity; it is one of the first original left side gear changes but it has original Borrani wire wheels. Officially, the left changers were not delivered with wire wheels and those few made prior to 78 for the US market with a left side change were right side shifters with a clumsy linkage from the left to the right through the swingarm axle.
Also this one appears to have always been red but there never was officially a red Ducati at this time. It is very probable that this one was specially built to order by the German importer.
All mechanical details were seen to, the shift and brake linkages repaired and bushed.
To complete things off, we mounted a new chainset, new Bridgestone BT45 tires and new Ikon struts. these are the successors of the world famous Koni struts.

The best part is saved for the end: the owner wishes to sell the bike unto responsible hands.
Any serious inquiries whould be directed directly to me be email:

The bike is stored in my shop, is licensed and can be, weather permitting, test ridden any time.

Monday, February 11, 2008


not much to update. The bike has still not been to inspection and so I haven't been able to register it yet.
But the weather is greatly improved and so I rolled it out into the sun last Saturday to take a photo or two:

It is running and appears to be ready for the inspection, so I need to borrow a trailer (I no longer have the van) and tow it over to Karlsruhe to Heinz Weber for that.

I am still not satified with the carburator settings, but my experience tells me not to expect too much with the quiet can installed. After getting the stamp, the can will be replaced with the other Remus which, while much louder also has much less backpressure and is easier to jet.

I also recently fitted a pair of PVM 3-spoke aluminum wheels to a Skorpion Tour for a friend.
Both brake calipers as well as the front pump were changed to Brembo units. The front rotor is a Spiegler with cast iron ring.
Besides fitting the much better wheels, I also installed a lightened flywheel/freewheel assembly.

all for now.