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post #1 of 25 (permalink) Old Dec 22nd, 2016, 7:16 pm Thread Starter
Join Date: Jul 2008
Location: Chicagoland, IL, USA
Posts: 63
'96 M944 race bike build/CCW track tank review

Hey all. fairly longtime member with only a handful of posts here. Been busy.. Settle in, though, this is gonna be a long post. Gotta make up for all those years here with no contributions. Skip down to pic 5 if you wanna get right to the actual build, otherwise, I hope you enjoy my ramblings. You're warned regardless.

I've owed this thread to Chris over at California Cycle Works for a while now as he was kind enough to sponsor me. I'm very happy with his track day Monster tank, more on that in due time.

I've had a lot of Ducs since my first 900 CR back in '95, mostly 2 valves, with a couple of 4 valves sprinkled in. Again, though, mostly the air cooled bikes; I currently have 4 of them, all race bikes, although one is going back on the street at some point. I also just tonight bought a frame and motor to build a supersport legal race bike, but that one will merit it's own thread. I will say it's a Monster 600. Go figure.

Anyway, here's the subject of this thread, my '96 Monster 900.

This is the first bike I ever rode on the racetrack, initially at track days, for 3 years. I've also tracked a 996, a Daytona 675, and an S2R1000, among others, but this was my first and always favorite bike. I race CCS Lightweight in the midwest region, and this bike is the reason I chose those classes.

At this point, in this pic, the bike still had the stock front end(resprung with cartridge emulators), an Ohlins shock (came on the bike), a DP 944 big bore kit, 39mm racked Kiehins with the stock manifolds and a K&N filter, a lightweight flywheel and clutch basket/plates, a 2 into 1 Sil Moto exhaust, Marchesini mag 3 spokes, Motowheels rear sets, Woodcraft clip ons, and Braketech cast iron rotors with 996 master cylinders. It still had the stock wiring harness and a lead acid battery, and probably weighed around 365 or so here. I have no idea what kind of power it had; my shop never had a dyno, only a lot of set up experience, but it worked, and allowed me to progress from beginner to advanced in both STT and NESBA bitd. It was a good bike, and gave a lot of guys on bigger and more powerful bikes fits. As a wise person once told me, "It's not the bike that bends, it's the rider. There is no spoon." Always liked that one, still use it often in the proper context. Still need a good bike with proper geo and suspension, though, and these old M's, based on the 851's, have good bones.

I also want to mention that this bike had 7000 miles on it when I bought it, and I've still never been into the bottom end, even though this motor has been to Daytona twice, Road America countless times, and I don't know how many other tracks in between, for literally thousands of track miles, for not only track days but sprint and endurance races (with numerous podiums and wins) as well, with not one issue. If it ain't broke, don't fix it. The key is frequent oil changes (every weekend) and not overreving. This motor doesn't make power above 8k, so there's no point to doing it anyway. Use the torque. I'm currently putting this motor back into the aforementioned bike that's going back on the street, still with the stock bottom end. Enough said, 2v bikes are extremely durable when cared for properly.

As I said, I did track days with this bike, and some of the others, for 3 years. A lot of people told me I should try racing, but I resisted for some time as I knew how competitive I am and didn't want to take that step. I went to the CCS Midwest last race event at Blackhawk Farms in '07, though, and watched a guy I ran circles around at track days wrap up 4 amateur championships, and the hook was finally set.

The 3 spoke rear pictured above had developed a crack at some point that year, so I bought a set of Marchesini forged mag 10 spokes, fitted 996 adjustable Showa forks with the Cyclecat top triple piece, and had 4&6 Racing set the bike up even better in preparation for racing. At this point, the bike likely weighed around 360 without gas, I only weighed it once when it had some gas in it. At my first event in '08, down at Heartland Park Topeka, I podiumed several races throughout the weekend, including a few 2nds, right up until I crashed out of the first race on Sunday as I had lain awake in bed from 4am trying to figure out how I was going to beat the guy who'd won every race the prior two days. That's how racing is. Even if everything is going well (and I screwed the pooch, to be sure), you're going fast, and then, you aren't. So, I came back from my first ever race event with a bunch of wood (good) and a broken hand, torn up shoulder, and severely sprained ankle (not so good.) Steep learning curve indeed, way more to racing than just going fast. I ended up getting back on the track that summer, though, and soon won my first ever race at Black Hawk Farms. Sorry, I know this is a long thread in need of more pictures..

619 is still one of my best friends, and I kinda feel bad for beating him as this was one of my biggest rushes and fondest memories ever. Kinda. I beat him a lot more after this. Sorry, Hernan.

'09 was my year, at least as an amateur. Never finished off the podium, won all my classes in my region, and won 5 national championships, 1 at Mid Ohio, 4 at Daytona. Please don't take that as bragging, rather, I put that out there for anyone here who's ever asked if these Monsters make good race bikes. Well, actually, let me clarify. Between seasons, I bought an '08 S2R brand new and built it into a race bike as well. Racing can be done cheaply if you want, but I'm a Duc guy, so there's that, but if you're chasing championships, 2 bikes are a huge advantage if you can swing it. Crash a bike, experience a failure, whatever, hop on your B bike. Always nice to have a bike sitting with rain tires if the weather looks bad, too.

But here's the S2R, in it's final trim. This was 2014, long after I was expert. I have a pic somewhere of when the 2 bikes were both matching yellow like the first pic, but I always liked this look the best.

Anyway, the clarification is this. The old M, based as it is on the 851/888 is a very good bike, with a good chassis and weight distribution. The S2R, which is based on the next-gen Monster and ST-series frames, is not so good, with an even more distinct than usual rearward weight bias and a tendency to flex the swing arm when you go fast enough. Bike was heavy, too, somewhere around 385-390. That DS motor, though. This bike's motor was lightly built, with, again, the stock bottom end, light flywheel and clutch, Pistal 11.25:1 pistons, Hypermotard racing cams and 2 mm over intakes, and an Arrow full exhaust, and made 95 RWHP and 67 ft/lbs on the Safety First dyno with the stock ECU and a Power Commander, all on 93 octane pump gas, with ethanol, even. Not too shabby. It was fast, but it wasn't the best handling thing. No matter, though, I didn't know any better, and it was my A bike that year. I managed the 1 win at Mid Ohio, but that track in particular really gave the bike fits; I was happy to back off after that first race, thrilled to manage podiums in the rest, and ecstatic not to land on my head. This was also the bike I won on at Daytona (Naked even!) I did, however, ride the old M exclusively in the beginning of the season (didn't get the S2R fully finished until the 3rd event or so) and often throughout the regular season.

So, that was '09. I only raced once in '10, now as an expert, up at RA, on the S2R. I was both broke and burned out after the prior year; 5 classes at 9 events, some of which were twin sprint weekends (9 races total), with all the practice days, bookended with 2 trips to Daytona. I figure that adds up to at least 80 or so individual races, probably more. Man, I see guys competing in twice that many classes year in and out. I don't know how they do it, but I sure as hell respect them. I respect almost every racer I meet, guys and girls from all walks of life, even though we're all a bunch of idiots going in circles for countless miles but never actually getting anywhere..

I was ready to get back on track in '11, though, and had a plan, which was to ride the old M exclusively as it was the better chassis and I wanted to further improve my skills as a rider. As such, I figured it was time to freshen up the top end, and sourced some Pistals for the bike. At some point, too, we had installed MBP valve collets; I mention this because this is an important mod if you're going to track any Ducati, it'll save you a lot of maintenance and headaches. All my bikes get them from the get-go now. As for the Pistals, though? The bike didn't need them. The pistons we took out, the DP ones that had been in there for 6 years, were barely worn - further testament to frequent oil changes (Spectro full syn 15w50, expensive, yes, but worth it) and keeping the revs below 8k. We had the Pistals, though, so we put 'em in anyway as they also bumped compression from 10.5 to 11.25.
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post #2 of 25 (permalink) Old Dec 22nd, 2016, 7:21 pm Thread Starter
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Location: Chicagoland, IL, USA
Posts: 63
Right when the shop was finishing the motor, one of the owners asked me if I wanted to buy his old race bike, this bad boy, "Frankenduc":

I told him I'd think about it, went to bed that night, and woke up in the morning knowing I had to have it. This bike is special. The shop built it in the early 90's and raced it extensively and successfully in various pro and club events. It was the 2nd place finisher 2 years in a row in the old BEARS series (the shop's 900ss won first both years) and placed well at many AMA endurance and Pro Thunder events. The frame and most of the rest of the chassis are 851 Corsa pieces, the motor is an air cooled 900 with a 94mm bore and a 2mm over stroked crank displacing 999cc's (hence the Frankenduc moniker) and has the full race treatment. At various points, this bike was a 1080 making over 70 ft/lbs of torque, but I'm told it was virtually unrideable in that tune. Currently weighing 322# without gas (everything is either carbon, ti, or mag) and with a true Corsa close ratio trans, it's still a handful. Body position is key; too far forward and it spins the rear, too far back and it'll wheelie out from under you. Much better riders than me have raced this bike, but I still managed to win my first (and only, so far) expert championship on it, and it's awesome fun, too.

As it's a true Corsa frame, with no vin, mated to an engine that wasn't original to the frame anyway, it's only GP legal under CCS rules, and therefore only legal in 2 points classes, GP and GTL. (It's also legal in Supertwins and F40, but those are non-points "support" classes, and besides, 2 classes is fine by me.) As I said above, I won GP, and would have won GTL too if the bike had a starter. (Oh yeah, it has no starter. there's a whole 'nother story there, but this is already a damn novelette, and I'm nowhere near finished. I will tell this story though.) I lowsided the bike nice and easy in wet grass after saving a near high side while running in second behind Ed Key, who had missed a prior event, and who wouldn't likely have a shot at winning the championship unless I couldn't finish a race for some reason... LOL. The bike was still running when I got up, with no damage except a broken clutch lever (I now also run nice, expensive, ASV levers on all my bikes) but, with no starter, I had no way to pick the bike up and keep the motor running - and with 12:1 compression and being so light, bump starting is not an option. If it had a starter, I could've at least got the bike going and into 4th or 5th gear, finished the race, and earned some points. The second best part is that I lost GTL by 1 point, that's all I'd have needed, and I'd have gotten at least that if I'd finished. It gets better, though, the best part is that the very night before, whilst drinking beers with my buds, I was going on and on about how expensive levers were poser gear and how I swore by cheap eBay replacement spares... Kismet, I'm the poster boy. Still, though, a class championship, a class 2nd, and the #10 midwest plate to boot, running only 2 classes at that? I'm so thankful for all of it, and I have this awesome bike as a cherry on top. Sorry, digression over.

The poor old Monster, though. The very first weekend of '11, I loaned it to another racer. The first race of that weekend, he got out ahead of me on the start, but I wasn't worried. Like Ed, Kevin is a much better rider than me, but I knew he couldn't beat me on the M when I was on this bike. I was so right about this that he crashed my M right in front of me going into the bus stop at BHF on the 2nd lap. I distinctly remember my thought process throughout: he tucked the front at the entrance, and I thought "Aw crap, my bike!" As I was at the apex, he was sliding off the track: "Aw man, I hope he's ok", and, as I exited, "Well, at least I don't have to worry about him beating me." Next lap, I saw he was up and ok, so that was good. The M wasn't so bad, either, although I still had the S2R, which became my B bike, and which I never turned a wheel on all year, riding Frank to the above results, so the M went into my garage for the rest of the season.

So, '11 was a good year. I continued to train in the off season (another key component to racing) and looked forward to more improvement and learning, but life has a way of interfering with the best plans. A herniated disk that had given me on again/off again problems since 2000 now had progressed to the point where I needed cervical fusion surgery, so 2012 was a bust. Then, both of my wife's parents became progressively ill and passed away in the following year, after which, we had to resolve their estate, which was exacerbated by the fact that they lived 1200 miles away, but besides that, there was no way I was going to further complicate things during the whole process by getting hurt racing - it happens. Thus, the old M sat in the garage until 2014, when I started in on this build. (I'm sorry if you're irritated that it took me this long to get to this point. The words just come out when I get going.)

I decided I was ready to get back on the horse in '14. I'd still been going to nearly every race event in all that time I'd been off, pitting and cooking for guys, partying, and learning as much as I could from the side of the track. My new plan was to build the M into a proper race bike, in the mold of Frankenduc, but simply and inexpensively, without all the exotic and irreplaceable parts that bike has. I feel a sense of stewardship for Frank; I want to ride it, and I do, which is good and proper, but I don't want to crash it and destroy it, which is also a valid position. My ego doesn't require me to have something exotic or exclusive; I just wanna ride.

I'm in my late 40's now, and don't plan on running a lot more championships, but I do plan on racing for fun for years and would also like to try for some expert national championships, so the concept that made the most sense was putting the DS motor from the S2R into the '96 chassis. The DS motor still has a lot of untapped performance potential, and bolted right up simply by machining inserts for the mounting lugs, which are 12mm, so that the 10mm bolts from the M would work. Here's what that netted me. Here too, you can see the 10 spoke Marchesinis, they're one of the few exotic bits on this bike.

Easy. Now I knew the motor fit, but now I also had to figure out what I was going to do for an exhaust and wiring harness. Originally, I'd planned on reworking the stock wiring harness to be able to place the various components where I wanted them, although I wasn't thrilled about having to keep the stock dash and key setup. I figured, though, that I'd get the bike built and running and upgrade to a race harness and ECU down the road, along with the eventual motor upgrades, but this all turned out to be moot anyway as I wasn't familiar with the joys of CanBus wiring harnesses. I was stymied as soon as I peeled the first bit of insulation back. I made some inquiries, and was told by some that it was nearly impossible to build a new harness and by others that it was possible if you used high grade wires and connectors, but I didn't really feel up to trying. I'm an analog type of guy with little interest in newer technologies, but there were also a few other factors steering me away from the DS motor at this point anyway.

First, the motor itself was 15# heavier than the carbed unit. Beyond that, I figured the harness and all the attendant components would add at least another 10#, and I had a target weight of 330, maybe lighter - again, the yellow bike was my benchmark. Using the DS motor alone would guarantee a weight of at least 360#. Beyond that again, though, a pro built race harness and ecu would be something like 3K, and I wanted to keep this cheap and accessible. Then too, I had no idea what to do for an exhaust. The 2 into 1 I had wouldn't work (and I'm sure the DS would be hobbled by it), and the only off the shelf item that would work would be a system that was made for an '03 Monster 1000s, the only bike that used the DS 1000 motor in a chassis similar to what I had, and which was only made that year, so an exhaust would be as rare as the proverbial hen's teeth. An SS1000 system would work with mods, but those are nearly as hard to find as the M system would be. So, any which way, it looked like an exhaust would be at least another 2k, or more. So, the fact that the carbed motor was lighter, and simpler, the harness would be more of the same, I had a workable exhaust, and this would save me at least 5 grand, was, as they say, a no brainer.
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post #3 of 25 (permalink) Old Dec 22nd, 2016, 7:24 pm Thread Starter
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Location: Chicagoland, IL, USA
Posts: 63
All right. Now, I was back to my same basic bike I started with, but there was a lot of room for improvement. The list was as such.

-Strip the frame of all unnecessary lugs. (LOL. This saved maybe 1 lb, if that. But hey, nothing is lighter on a race bike than air, and it was free except for the labor.) Remove the air box, stock wring harness, etc.

-Weld in bracing and mounts for bodywork, coils, and ignitor boxes. (The bracing might have been unnecessary, never had a prob with the frame, but I figured what the hey. For fairings, I had at least one complete set of 888 race bodywork along with additional spares, too, plus I wanted the bike to match Frank.)

-Source a lightweight tank. ( Thank you Chris at California Cycle Works!)

-Source a Corsa 888-style carbon y inlet/fairing stay for the front of the bike (there's a guy in the Czech Republic who makes these, I think it was 320.00 shipped at the exchange rates when I bought this.)

- Motor mods: Remove the generator, and source Malossi short manifolds and 41mm Keihins. I'd originally planned on using the 39s, but decided to go ahead and get the 41's as they're a notable improvement. Surprisingly, I went right on Malossi's website, ordered the manifolds, and they were at my door in like 3 weeks. For 150 bucks. Go figure, I figured they'd be virtually impossible to get. Funny thing is, I still have them, unused, but more on THAT in a bit...

-Get a new can and have a new connector made for the exhaust, which had sustained damage in the last crash. I wanted the new connector to ease the bends in the original system, plus that design had always been too close to the right rear set, interfering with foot position on that rear set. Also, I wanted to relocate the can as well to work with the 888 tailpiece.

- Fab an oil catch can. Frankenduc has an unobtanium cf MS Productions/Corsa 888 piece - told you that bike is so trick - but I was going to have to figure something out. These bikes run open velocity stacks with no air box to speak of (although they do have rudimentary cold air boxes to fair in the sides of the frame and reduce turbulence in the air flow somewhat, pics to follow) so you have to catch the oil from the PCV - big twins, big power pulses, lotta oil coming out of there.

-Make a wiring harness.

- Put it all together and paint it.


Here's a pic of the bike mocked up with the CCW tank and some old bodywork I had. I looked at this many times for inspiration over the year and a half it took me to finish this.

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Last edited by farmboy69; Dec 22nd, 2016 at 8:04 pm.
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post #4 of 25 (permalink) Old Dec 22nd, 2016, 7:31 pm Thread Starter
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Posts: 63
Now I had chassis, a motor and a tank. Although, this pic was after the frame was modified and painted. No matter, you get the idea.

Here's a shot of the lugs I welded on the head to carry the subframe for the front fairing. Full disclosure, I had access to a lathe, a mill, a tig welder, etc, and while I took metals all through high school and was pretty good at all of it, it's been 30 years (!) So, I gotta confess that, up close, some of these mods are not the prettiest. I ended up filing a lot of my welds back, and machined pieces to a rough spec, and so on. And, I fabbed a lot of the brackets with either a band saw or jigsaw and finished them up with a file and sandpaper. I wasn't looking for a showpiece or perfection, I wanted a usable, functional race bike, and race bikes are usually built to a 20/100 spec, that is, 20 feet/100 mph. I'd say this one is actually good to a 5/5 spec, which is plenty good for me. I didn't have time to perfect all my metal skills again; this project took me long enough. You'll get the idea with all the following pics.

Anyway, the lugs.

This is the carbon y inlet on Frankenduc, an actual Corsa piece. You can also see where the coils and ignitors are mounted on the edge of the frame, away from the engine and ostensibly in cooler air. On Frank, there are mounting lugs and separate brackets, but on the M, I just welded tabs to carry these components directly. Simpler, lighter. I assume it'll work in the long run, so far so good. This pic also shows a lot of the goodies on Frank, such as the mag triples, ti hardware, etc. The shop had the forks ti nitrided back in the day - this was before such features were production items. Frank also has numerous custom machined ti components such as the front axle, which is a copy of the corsa one (which I also have, along with the correct tool), cylinder studs (before production ti ones were available), and so on. They really went full-out when they built this bike, and yet, you can also see where the damper mount was welded to the frame and is still just bare metal. This is a real race bike. A lot of people think this bike needs a "restoration", but I prefer it with the real patina. Note too, regular 996 master cylinders with the ASV levers. No need for expensive exotic radial masters, these work fine on a 320# bike. Master cylinders tend to get destroyed in crashes, and I need to save money for tires and beer. I love race bikes, simple, elemental, beauty from purpose.

Here's the repro piece from the Czech Republic. comparable in cost to an alloy unit, but lighter with the added benefit of directing a more focused airflow back to the intake area.

And mounted. Again, I made all these brackets by hand. Not the trickest, but all it took was some time and good beer. I made the tach bracket back when I first built the M, and it's survived several crashes. Good 'nuff.

Pay no mind to my garage, it's a shed, really, but it works. The principles I live by are pretty evident, after all, I'm just a farmboy.

Here's the "airbox" and braces. There was a rear brace already, but take note, the stock one has to move an inch or so to accommodate the short Malossi manifold/41 FCR setup. We added the front brace as well; on Frank's frame these braces also have additional pieces forming something of an "x" at right angles to the horizontal pieces, but I really don't think it's necessary for the output from the air cooled motor. As I said, I've never had an issue with this chassis. The airbox, such as it is, is just fiberglass I laid up over a box and is really just designed to cut down on turbulence. The shop learned a long time ago through trial and error that this was the biggest return for effort expended. Might the bike make a bit more power with a true sealed air box? Probably, but not much, and it'd be a lot more complication, more weight, and a lot of work. These bikes are more about torque, anyway, and I doubt there'd be much by way of appreciable gains in that area. This pic clearly shows the coils and ignitors, too.

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post #5 of 25 (permalink) Old Dec 22nd, 2016, 7:37 pm Thread Starter
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I mentioned the Malossi manifolds I sourced and didn't use earlier. The reason I never used them was that I ended up buying a whole 'nother race bike the shop built back in the day for it's motor. It's an SS, and belonged to a friend who built it from new, and who I had always told I'd buy it from should he decide to sell it. Lo and behold, he decided to do just that last spring. Around the same time, I'd decided to sell my beloved '98 SS FE. I'd had it since 2000, when I purchased it with 5k, stock. I did all the standard period bolt-on mods, had all the stock parts, and maintained it meticulously. However, when I started racing in '08, I never rode the bike again, and I was finally ready to let it go. I barely ride on the street these days, these have come up in value, and I wouldn't have been able to bear it if something had happened to it at this point. I went through it from stem to stern last March, listed it for sale, and sold it, here, in fact, in 3 days. The fellow who bought it was looking for an FE for 2 years.

I thought I'd keep the FE forever, but this bike eased my pain somewhat. Pay no mind to the SuperMono style bodywork. This is a '95 SS with just about every period mod available back then, wheels, spaghetti Termi, carbon tank, etc, etc, etc.. This is the bike I plan on putting back on the street with the original M motor. I'll end up putting aftermarket bodywork on it, and while it won't be a "correct" bike, all the bits will still make it very special. This bike weighs a tad over 300#, these are lighter than M's, mostly due to the simpler rear suspension. This thing'll be a hoot, even with the "mild" motor.

Out with the old, in with the new.

So, that's why I didn't end up using those manifolds, as this bike already had them, along with the carbs, and a full race-built, low hour 944 motor. About that motor, though, well, that didn't quite work out perfectly, but more on that toward the end...

On to the rear of the bike.

I mentioned the carbon MS Productions oil catch can on Frank, but I can't find a pic right now. I also mentioned ego. If I was a millionaire, I'd build 5 of these bikes, and they'd be beautiful, but I wouldn't use original production parts, at least on bikes that were actually going to be raced. Any time you take a bike on the track, there's always a chance it'll get damaged or destroyed, and I'm not about destroying currently rare parts that they made very few of in the first place. Yes, they were made for a purpose, but I can make something perfectly functional, at a fraction of the cost, with few compromises, for the same purpose, and if it gets trashed, not shed a tear. Thus, here's the oil catch can I fabbed up in my basement, again, with time, about 15$ worth of material, and maybe 10$ worth of beer.

It's made of 6061 sheet (very tough to bend), a few fittings I made on the lathe, and 1 3/4 street ell copper fitting (it works and cost a buck, well worth the time saved). I drew it out by hand, cut the pieces with my jigsaw, and bent it up using some angle iron and clamps as a makeshift break. It only leaked from one rivet when I filled it with water, and that was before I dabbed RTV on the outside of the rivets. It weighs less than a pound. I could take the time to learn how to make molds and lay up carbon fiber, sure, but again, this took me a fraction of the time and effort, with very little penalty. I'll take the compromise. I made a battery box the same way, it'll be in some later pics. Here's a pic of the catch can mounted, along with my simple solution for how to mount the tail/seat.

A close up of the seat base.

Once again, trick? Not at all. I could've sourced a proper 888 subframe for 400.00 and modded the frame to accept it, but given that those usually get trashed every time they're crashed and that mod would've taken me countless times longer, I like this solution. It's very solid, and it was cheap. I used the stock tabs that used to hold the stock catch can to mount the rear and the frame bracket for the tank to mount the front, and this works fine, it's already race tested. I expect this would survive a moderate crash, too, the kind of crash that you just might be able to pick the bike up from and finish the race, if you were lucky. To finish first, first you must finish. Anyway, more farm technology, and now I had a full chassis. If this ever gets trashed irreparably and I win the lotto, maybe I'll make the mods for a prettier subframe.

One more thing on that catch can, I added that additional space at the rear to accept a second battery, thinking that if I might need one if we do an extended endurance race - no charging system anymore, remember. It wouldn't be ideal to have one way back there, but I doubt a lithium battery would be much noticed, especially in an endurance race.
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post #6 of 25 (permalink) Old Dec 22nd, 2016, 7:43 pm Thread Starter
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This was way back in '04, when I first built the M. I had purchased the very same 944 SS the shop built and won the BEARS series with on Ebay, and which I mentioned earlier. I bought it from a guy in Minnesota, and had some doubts when I picked it up, but I knew that the parts were worth at least what I was paying for the whole bike. Sure enough, when I got it home, the motor needed a complete rebuild. Another of my favorite sayings is Track rhymes with Crack. Being that I hadn't taken my first hit yet, I wasn't ready to commit to that bike and sold most of it, although I kept the wheels, trick rare brake setup, and Ohlins shock (the same shock that's on the FE.) I still know the guy who bought that bike, and he still has it; maybe I'll get it back some day. Because I need another bike. Pfft. Anyway, the day I sold him the SS, I bought the M in street form and immediately started stripping it, selling the street parts, and building it into this.

Check out that rear brake, more Corsa exotica from back in the day. I still have the carbon rod, it's on the bike to this day, although I sold the actual caliper, rotor, and mounting bracket after that wheel cracked. 3 spoke mag wheels usually all crack given enough time.

I posted this pic mostly to show the exhaust, though. Typical M bend, probably compromising power at least somewhat, and like I said, it splayed out the right foot and melted a lot of boot heels, well, to boot. The original carbon can blew up too, at which point I replaced it with an M4 carbon can (SV 650 exhaust part, same inlet dimensions, works well, durable, inexpensive, and rebuildable) which promptly blew up on the very first lap of it's first practice session down at Daytona. Turns out the carbon cans can't handle the big twin power pulses on a 2 into 1, but ti cans work just fine.

Here's the bike after I had the connector made, mocked up with a used tail and the blowed-up carbon can. Real bastard of a system. I love it. Light as can be.

And here it is after I rebuilt the ti can the dude I loaned the bike to trashed when he crashed it back in '11. Yeah, I know the Termi sticker is heresy, sue me. Call it an homage, the ti replacement sleeve is round and tough as nails to fit to the oval end caps, plus it doesn't come pre-drilled. It was a bitch, it took me hours, I earned it. There's the homemade battery box, too.

The wiring harness was simple. Starter button/kill switch, electronic tach, wires for the starter and ignition circuit, took me an afternoon. Way better than a friggin CanBus system, I'll still be riding this long after the ECUs on all the Panigales are fried to a crisp.

All I need. KISS principles apply.

Time to mount the body work. Finally. At this point, I'd been working on the bike on and off for about 15 months, but this was earlier this summer, and I was hoping to finish the bike in time for the AHRMA RA round.

I toyed with the notion of using the SuperMono style bodywork off the SS as I had it and it was painted.

Um, yeah, er, no. I just couldn't do it. I may use that front fairing on the 600M I'm gonna build though, maybe in a half faired configuration. We'll see.
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post #7 of 25 (permalink) Old Dec 22nd, 2016, 7:50 pm Thread Starter
Join Date: Jul 2008
Location: Chicagoland, IL, USA
Posts: 63
But anyway. The same guy I got the SS from gave me this 888 stuff years ago.

The pan is an old fiberglass 916 piece I repaired and modded to fit. Did the same thing to Frank. I'd like carbon pans, I'll get some if I ever trash these, but I had these in my grubby cheap little mitts.

I love this. Easy access, trickness from function. Like it was designed that way or something.

This pic makes me tingly. This is my bike, I built it, there are no others like it.

I paint all my bikes myself. Here's a couple others I've done. Less talk, more eye candy.

My 996. Cheetah bodywork with a lot of prep. Eventually amassed all kinds of cool stuff, mag swing arm, carbon tank, full Sebimoto bodywork, lightweight engine parts, big tube exhaust, etc, parted it all out to build the S2R. Oh well, didn't wanna race a 996.

Daytona. First one the shop ever sold, before a lot of race parts were even available. Trackskinz.

This is one of my buddys' old 750 sport, he's had it since new. I sprayed the tail with some paint I had left over from other bikes. Close enough match, ya get what ya pay for. This is a cool cool bike, he says I can race it, maybe next year at AHRMA.

Those bikes were all automotive base/clear, but I've done others with a base rattle to save some bucks. The original yellow on the M was rattle can. I always do automotive clear, though, you can't have paint coming off when you spill gas on it. Another one of my race tenets is that one of the most important things is looking good. Seriously, though, sponsors take notice of a well finished bike, that's where their stickers go. Here's a rattle base Ninja 250 I finally got around to finishing and racing in a couple of races in '15. It didn't really take, I'm a Duc guy, it's why I'm building the 600M. Still a cool looking little bike, I did an homage to a Superleggera. I was gonna have stickers made saying either StuporLeggera or PsuedoLeggera, but I sold it.

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post #8 of 25 (permalink) Old Dec 22nd, 2016, 7:54 pm Thread Starter
Join Date: Jul 2008
Location: Chicagoland, IL, USA
Posts: 63
I had originally thought about doing a rattle base for this bike too, in keeping with the shed-built theme, and also because I didn't think I'd be able to get a good match on the CCW color molded tank. red base is among the most expensive colors, and I didn't wanna waste the money if it wasn't even close. However, I'm glad I put the time and money into it. It is soooo close in person.

Isn't that 3/4 rear view angle always the best on any bike?

Pre stix.

Mid stix.

I know it looks pinkish in these, but it's a bluish tint that comes from the clear coat. Funny thing is, the tank is almost exactly the same. No worries though, it's red in the sun. Here's Jr. with poppa.

And all stickered up at RA, waiting to get raced already. Chris, if you read this, I still need more of your stix. Oh, and another tank for the 600M project. I'll def be in touch.

I used paint code #9075, GM Torch Red base - a 1990 to 2016 Corvette color, haha- and Nason Select Clear 496-00 if anyone wants to match a red tank sometime. I'm not sure who manufactured the base, exactly, the can says "No Mix, low voc" and I don't have the receipt handy. I can find out, though, if anyone ever wants to know. It's about as close as you could get for a match.

Race report, full tank review, and further developments later tonight. Gotta make some dinner, in case you didn't figure it out I have a very cool and patient wife, keeping her happy is job one.
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post #9 of 25 (permalink) Old Dec 22nd, 2016, 11:46 pm
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Location: Madison, WI, USA
Posts: 160
Very nice build! I look forward to seeing what you do with the 620.

I am guessing you will be running that in the 500 classes. I race a R3 in MW CCS (I am in Cambridge, WI) currently and might see you out on track. I'm pissed at CCS for not putting the R3 in the 300 class though and might boycott this year.
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post #10 of 25 (permalink) Old Dec 23rd, 2016, 12:53 am Thread Starter
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Location: Chicagoland, IL, USA
Posts: 63
Ah, so, the California Cycle Works M track tank. This thing rocks.

I did a weight comparison between a steel tank off an old M, a plastic tank off an S2R, and the MTT. Surprisingly to me, at least, the steel tank was the heaviest, at right around 15 lbs, while the plastic tank looked to be around 14 (I just used an analog scale to get a fair idea). I'd always just assumed the plastic tanks were heavier than the steel ones, they're just so bulky. The MTT came in at 10 lbs, which is a pretty good weight reduction considering the price - I've always thought $100/lb in weight reduction (in terms of lightweight accessories, i.e., replacing steel subframes with alloy ones, etc. Of course, if the bike came with them, well..) was a pretty good ratio up to the first 20-25 lbs; it starts getting exponentially more expensive beyond that. So, four to five pounds for $500 is a pretty good deal. and obviously, if you have a good, undented steel tank, this tank is a no-brainer if you're even thinking of going near a track.

Of course, a carbon tank weighs even less, at around 5#, but Fuel Cells are around $1300 and up, and DP ones are at least that much if you can find them. On the flip side, though, carbon tanks hold up even worse to ethanol fuels than the plastic ones, and, even with non-ethanol fuels, are going to degrade eventually - ask me how I know. Regardless, I was thrilled to lose 5 pounds for that kind of money.

Even better than the weight reduction, though, IMO, are the improved ergonomics. I'm a pretty small guy, and always fit the M well, but I always felt that the bulbous tank splayed my arms out too much, limiting my ability to really get off the bike and achieve a full counter steer quickly. I guess that I always got the bike turned, but I noticed the tank, a lot. From the very first lap I turned with the MTT, it felt perfect. I was thinking that maybe I had the race tail a little higher than the stock seat I always ran, but if it is, it's not by much. It's wider, and firmer, which would effectively increase the distance from seat to the ground, but I still have roughly the same reach, so I don't think it has much to do with the seat. CCW states that the MTT has the same ultimate height as the stock tank, which bears out to the naked eye. I'd say the real benefit comes from the upper indentations in the tank, allowing more arm clearance when leaning off the bike. This obviously seems like a no-brainer, just wanted to corroborate it with my thought process.

But there's more. The leg indentations, too, are deeper than the stock tank and really help. I've never liked Stomp Grip pads, they feel weird to me, maybe because I really move around a lot and like to get off the bike (with tire grip nowadays, the general orthodoxy is to only have about half the butt off the seat at any time). Usually, because I'm a pretty short inseam (28"), I tend to end up hooking my leg over the seat rather than bracing it against the tank. The deep cut-outs on the MTT really allowed me to use the tank itself for leverage, which is not usually the case for me on most bikes. I think the more pronounced lip at the upper part of the indentation really helps provide a better leverage point, too. This might not be as big of a benefit for taller riders, but it makes a big difference for me. Put it this way, I'd be inclined to purchase this tank just for the ergonomics, the weight savings is really icing on the cake. Chris hit it out of the park, I'd say.

Beyond that, I like the finish. Yes, it's soft, but it shines up nicely with the silicone spray polish that comes with it (gotta get more of that.) I thought the plate adaptor for carbed bikes was awesome; when I first got the tank, I was still thinking I'd run my injected motor at some point, and the flexibility is a real plus. My only sticking point on this tank, and it's a very limited window where this would be an issue, is the fact that the bottom of the tank is so close to the top at the filler hole that you cannot see into the tank whatsoever. For me, without any sort of fuel level sensor or light, this is a small issue as I can't even use the stick method to see how much gas I have. Like I said, though, this is a small issue. Most people could or would still use the stock sensor; I just slosh the tank around and estimate how much is in there. And then, I add a little more - I've run out of gas in races, and it just plain sucks. LOL.

So, obviously, I love this tank. I think it looks pretty cool with the 888 bodywork, like an endurance tank, and even more so from some angles. I think it looks good on more stockish M's, too. Again, though, the ergonomics alone are worth it. I'll finish up by saying that I am absolutely getting another one for the M600 I just started on, whether Chris sponsors me or not. Although, I hope he sees this and does. And I still need more stix. I'm tempted to get the white one so I can see the fuel level, but I'll likely go red again. I missed having red Ducks as I hadn't had one for years other than the S2R, briefly, and I've still gotta lot of that Torch Red left...

The racing went pretty well. Since 2011, I was out for exactly one shop track day in 2014, 2 practice sessions/races on the Ninja 250 in 2015, a couple of practice days and 1 race at BHF earlier in the summer, and a couple of practice days up at the AHRMA RA round, both of the latter on the yellow bike as this bike wasn't finished in time (are they ever??) At BHF, I got down to within 1.5 seconds of my best time ever in the GTL race, finishing 7th, which was mid pack. I was happy with that result after not riding a big bike there for 4 years (that Ninjette just doesn't count.)

In practice up at RA for AHRMA, OHMIGOD that yellow bike was stonkin' fast. I'd never had it up there; RA wasn't on our schedule in 11. However, I knew it'd be fast, because it was built for tracks like that, and boy howdy, it was. As in, I was gaining on Daytona 675s on the front straight. On the other hand, though, the Corsa close ratio trans was a problem, mostly because I didn't have tall enough gearing, and I had 15/30(!) final gearing on the bike (tallest I had, and it's just crazy. The rear sprocket is so small there aren't any holes drilled in it, and the chain just looks ridiculously close to the swing arm). So, on the front straight, with a headwind even, I would reach 8k rpm soon after the start/finish and just hold it for a while until I'd get to turn 1. Also, I hadn't been to RA for 5 years, so I wasn't getting as good of a drive off 14 (it matters, even there) as I did before, or would as I got more time. Regarding the headwind, too, it was a tailwind on the race days, so that would have been a problem, too. But wait, I'm not quite done yet. The other effect of the close ratio trans at those speeds was that it was SO close, as in, it effectively gave the bike a 500 rpm rev range, from 7500 to 8K, and it'd rev through that immediately up to fifth gear, and only slightly slower than that in sixth. Crazy. The shift points were all wrong for 2 corners, too, and less than ideal for a couple more - I was either too high or too low.

I always thought the trans in that bike was kind of a PITA at shorter tracks- I had a few guys tell me I wasn't riding the torque curve right until I explained what I had going on (the bike has Gia Ca Moto cams too!), but i had no idea what it'd be like on a really fast track. I'd have still tried to adapt and race it, though, if not for the fact that it was effectively circulating the track at or near redline as soon as I accelerated out of the pits. The motor has some old JE pistons (which were never very good even when new) in there, and I didn't want to risk blowing it up. I'll get into that motor as soon as I'm done with my others, and also, I'm pretty sure the bike still has 2:1 primaries, so I'll be changing those, too. I can't wait to get back up there on it, and down to Daytona, and whatever other tracks I can get it on.

So, AHRMA was a bust, but no worries, I had plenty of beer and grub, and that's an awesome event to spectate - Rockerbox out of Milwaukee puts on quite a production there that weekend. I was shocked the first time I went up there, I'd say the crowds are bigger than the AMA events nowadays. I could be wrong about that, but that's what it seems like. Cool any which way.

Lucky for me, CCS was back up at RA a couple of weeks later, and this bike was ready. My wife and I headed up there on Wednesday, nice and relaxed and well prepared, and settled in for a long weekend of fun.

I custom ordered my trailer with a few options, one of them was a walk on roof. How's this for a view?

It's pretty good for watching races, too.
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