Other than those small things I still love the car. The styling really appeals to me and the colour still gets lots of compliments from random passersby. Maybe a tune is in the future - I like the idea of ~350hp and a sharpened DSG experience for about a grand. We'll see.
Sunday, October 31, 2021
Thursday, October 28, 2021
Saturday, July 24, 2021
Starting up the 900SS/SP has always been a bit of a "will it or won't it" proposition. The starter churns the big pistons over soooo slooooowly and it's a toss-up whether the thing will fire before the battery runs out of juice. This is not to mention the frequent occurrence of a literally smoking-hot positive battery cable (!).
About ten days later the Motolectric kit arrived from California. It is comprehensive, containing beefy cables to replace the stock ones that run from the negative battery post to ground, from the positive battery post to the starter relay, and from the starter relay to the starter. The kit also includes rubber terminal boots, a pair of latex gloves, a microfibre towel, some cleaning supplies, and many zipties to ease installation. There are no instructions included, but general instructions are posted on the Motolectric website. These were frankly insufficient for the 900SS/SP installation but proprietor Michael Heth was very generous with his time in responding quickly and clearly to my emailed questions.
Here's some of the wisdom he imparted as well as my own experience in installing the kit, assisted in no small part by my good friend Andy.
NEGATIVE (GROUND) BATTERY CABLE: the new cable is NOT installed directly in place of the old cable, which runs from the left-hand (negative) terminal of the battery to a grounding stud on the upper left side of the frame. Instead, it runs across the centre of the bike to the right side, and behind the cam belt cover through a gap between the cover and the vertical cylinder, and down to ground directly on the engine near the breather. You can tell where the ground is because another grounding wire comes out of the frame and is secured to the ground. It was a bit of a faff to get the thick cable through the gap behind the cam cover, but I did it using a ziptie to "extend" the cable give something to grab onto to get it through the tight spot. Use the supplied bolt in replacement for the stock grounding bolt, and be sure to place the new cable end lowermost (next to the engine casing) when retightening.
|Ground bolt on engine case (centre left)|
|New ground wire connected|
POSITIVE BATTERY CABLE TO STARTER RELAY: Contrary to what it says on the website, this one does require cutting of the stock wiring. The Motolectric cable contains a pigtail with a yellow screw-type wire connector. The stock wiring consists of a cable connected to the positive terminal of the battery that itself connects to a box mounted on a flat metal piece. The box unites two smaller boxes: one containing the wire that runs to the starter relay and the other with two red wires that go elsewhere. Take the box apart by pressing the plastic connector levers, and cut the two red wires, stripping the insulation down about half an inch from the ends. Put the ends into the detachable half of the yellow screw-type wire connector in the new cable pigtail, and screw the connector together, sealing the connector with the supplied heat-shrink wrap.
STARTER RELAY: This was the trickiest part of the install as it involved some delicate work around a VERY hot engine. First, get in there and disconnect the white plug from the relay and then dismount the relay from its metal mounting. Just work the rubber sleeve off the mounting and then take it off the relay. Once this is done the relay has a lot of room to move and is much easier to access. Remove the boot from the positive input side, remove the bolt and the old cable, and attach the positive battery cable there. Do the same with the other side - attach the new cable that goes to the starter. We had to cut the "lips" off the new boots to allow the white plug to reseat properly. Then put the relay back in the rubber sleeve and reinstall on the metal mount.
STARTER RELAY TO STARTER: be mindful of where the stock cable runs and cut the zipties securing it to the frame. Run the new cable along the same path. You may have difficulties unscrewing the nut from the threaded post on the starter where you attach the cable coming from the relay. It is down below the engine and directly in the path of road muck. The one on my bike was so crusty it was nearly unrecognizable. Still, once some penetrant was applied the super hot engine helped it work. It's a 9mm nut but was starting to round, so we pounded on an 11/32" socket and hey presto, it came off. I was warned to be careful to secure the post with a thin wrench lest it rotate and twist up the wires inside the starter, but this turned out not to be an issue. Attach the terminal of the cable to the post and use a new 9mm nut to fasten it up, then ziptie the loose cables back into their positions. Sorted!
The theory behind the upgrade kit is that the stock wiring and ground routing don't enable efficient current flow, and this limits the cranking power that can get from the battery to the starter. Less cranking power means the starter has to crank longer and the battery has to work harder, wearing both components (especially the battery) prematurely. Beefing up the size and quality of the cables means current flows better, the starter cranks harder and the bike starts better. I'm optimistic that the cable upgrade will help my bike to start better, but it's hard to quantify the effect at this point as the battery is brand new and started the bike instantly anyway. Hopefully the cable upgrades will help preserve that battery capacity for seasons to come. As for the Motolectric kit, I recommend it - the cables look impressive (there is an explanation of the technology behind them on the Motolectric website) and the kit is comprehensive. As noted, the installation instructions on the website are generic and some of them were inapplicable to my bike, but Motolectric was very helpful in sorting it out. Installation took a couple hours altogether.
Cost: ~$200CAD including shipping
Wednesday, July 7, 2021
After a test ride around our bumpy local streets I can say that I'm pleased. The mirrors give a pretty steady wide view and haven't shown any proclivity to move out of position. I'll provide a further update after a ride around my 100mph test loop :-D
PRO: low-cost (US$98/pair), look good
CON: kludgy mounting holes
Friday, June 25, 2021
|Parts after refinishing|
- 320 grit sandpaper: $7
- 400 grit sandpaper: $7
- Rattlecan of clearcoat: $9.50
Sunday, June 20, 2021
The bike is beautiful, obviously. The 848 and its big-brother 1098 looked like a more modern interpretation of the classic Tamburini 916 and were a revelation after the oddly styled 999.
Riding, of course, was only moderate torture in the city and on straight roads outside town. I have a high tolerance for race-replica riding positions, being a fairly... "compact" person and not very heavy, but it wasn't the riding position that was the worst thing about this bike.
The worst part was definitely the underseat exhaust, or "nut roaster" as I call it. On any day warmer than about 20C/70F your bottom is in for a full heat soak treatment. Leather riding pants are a must but that gets a bit much when you just want to ride a bit around town.
However on the open road and in sweeping curves the bike was awesome. Handling was telepathic, the engine powerful, and the sound from the Termignoni cans... amazing.
Here's the text of the ad I put on kijiji:
"2008 Ducati 848 in pearl white. This was the first year of production of the 848, and the bike was originally purchased at Wildwood Sports here in Winnipeg – I understand it was the first 848 in the city.
"There are a few mods installed – Ducati Performance/Termignoni slip-on exhaust and ECU, carbon fibre front fender, one-tooth-smaller front sprocket, and Ducati mirror extensions. The stock exhaust, ECU, fender, and sprocket are included, as well as a rear paddock stand, “Ducati Superbike” cover, extra tinted windscreen, scratched stock windscreen, and owners manual. The bike does not include the red key. A new AGM battery was installed last year.
"I purchased the bike locally in January 2016 with 9071 miles and have only added 618 miles during my ownership (current odo reading is 9689). Tires are excellent, the bike was safetied when I bought it in 2016 so should not need anything to pass.
"The bike is beautiful and the single-sided swingarm harkens back to the 916-era of Ducati Superbikes. Its 849cc Testastretta L-twin engine is rated at 134hp and retains the flexibility for which these large twin-cylinder engines are known. Handling is first-rate and the bike is very light, scaling in at a claimed 370lbs dry. This example is lovely and well-kept, and represents a great opportunity to acquire a like-new Ducati Superbike at a reasonable price. I love the bike but am selling it because I have too many motorcycles and not enough time to ride them! No test rides of course but you are welcome to come hear it run.
"**This is not a suitable motorcycle for a novice or beginner motorcyclist**"
I added the last sentence to try and ward off the many beginners who seemed to flock to this bike like moths to a flame. One guy even sat on it and as it rolled forward slightly, pulled in the clutch lever. "Brakes not working?" he asked when the bike didn't stop. "That's the clutch lever" his friend said, shaking his head. The dude had never ridden a motorcycle before and figured a 134hp 400lb superbike would be a reasonable first bike. Believe it or not I had more than one person like that look at the bike. The attitude seems to be "I don't want to buy something I'm going to grow out of" and I get that... but when you unpack the concept, it makes no sense. Everybody who rides remembers low-speed tipovers happening when they first learned to ride (I know it happened to me) - so why would you have as your first bike a machine that would cost you thousands to fix when that happens? The seat is high ("can it be lowered?" I was asked) and steering lock is hand-pinchingly limited, another recipe for tipovers. Never mind that, there's a larger safety issue of learning to control a very powerful, very light machine when you've had no experience of riding on two wheels before. The 848 has the power of a small car at an eighth of the weight. Its performance is explosive, and meant for experienced riders. If you're a beginner, buy a small Honda or Kawasaki (or even a KTM 390!) for a couple grand, learn to ride it well, sell it for a couple grand, and buy something nicer. This is like buying a Ferrari as a first car!
In any event, a reasonable young fellow who works selling luxury cars at a local dealership came to see it, fell in love, and handed me over a stack of cash for the bike and associated bits (stock fender, cans, ECU, front sprocket; paddock stand, two windscreens, cover, and manuals). I got out of the bike exactly what I'd paid for it, so ownership didn't cost me much, and I've had the experience of owning (and going very fast on) a Ducati Superbike.
Why did I sell it? Well, I hardly rode it, and couldn't see that changing really. I wouldn't tour on it (far too uncomfortable and no room for luggage anyway) and if I have to take a bike somewhere in town, I'd be far more likely to take the R1, GSX-R1100 or even 900SS/SP. If I'm going to show something off at a cruise night or show, likewise. The 848 has no space to carry anything and the tank is plastic, so my magnetic tank bag is useless, and it's uncomfortable around town anyway. No, its sole purpose would be the run down south of the city, and I don't get to do that often enough to make sense having this bike. So I let it go. That's good for now, and in theory it frees up a spot in the garage for something different.
Wednesday, December 16, 2020
very similar to that for the Mk5's. Pre-owned compact sedan or hatchback with remaining factory warranty, four doors, AWD, ~300hp. I had dropped "manual transmission" from the spec as there are so few late model cars that offer one.