Tag Archives: Ducati Monster

2.7 New Clutch

My Ducati Monster, until very recently, had the stock clutch:original steel basket, steel plates. With 30,000 miles on the original unit, I was impressed at its durability: it never slipped at all. But the steel plates rusted when it rained and stuck until the bike got hot and they worked themselves loose. Which is a pain on a cold-blooded bike with no choke…

And worse, while the clutch gripped very well, the fingers on the steel plates were badly worn, looking more like an I-beam in cross-section than a nice healthy rectangle.

Clutch Worn Plates

The extra play this caused led to a hammers-of-hell sound at idle that had more than a few bystanders trying to tell me that my bike was “broken”. Which was both true and not true, depending on how you feel about a worn clutch that still grips.

I finally decided to order a new clutch from MotoWheels, a nice EVR unit that had more teeth than the stock unit, and was much lighter, to boot. Unfortunately, MotoWheels didn’t warn me that it was out of stock when I ordered it, and didn’t mention the backorder situation until the second or third phone call…

Three months later, it arrived. Hey, I’d already waited this long…

Clutch Old Steel Basket

I’d read through my Haynes Manual to make sure I knew what I was doing and booked some time with my friend Greg, who has much more skill than I do, figuring he’d come in handy when I tried to pull apart a 19-year-old dry clutch without factory tools.

Also, he has a nice torque wrench.

"Now, me and the Mad Scientist got to rip apart the block... and replace the piston rings you fried..."
“Now, me and the Mad Scientist got to rip apart the block… and replace the piston rings you fried…”

In lieu of the clutch-holding tool, Greg ingeniously fabbed up a tool to lock the clutch and engine by welding a steel and a friction plate together. Which worked great, except we kept turning the engine over… I definitely need those high-compression pistons! Eventually, we got it apart, and then back together using a bit of angle-iron cut to the right length and some elbow grease.

Clutch New Basket

The bike is much, much quieter, shifts better and revs a bit smoother: a definite improvement! Now I just need to sort out the suspension…

Rizoma pressure-plate back in place!
Rizoma pressure-plate and spring-caps back in place! Note cool oil filler-cap temp gauge.

1.11 Suspended Animation

Snow doesn’t really stick much here in Jersey: it turns spattered black within 24 hours, churned up by cars and trucks and plows spraying whatever salt-analogue/deicer they use these days, melting and refreezing to trap debris like grim, urban amber.  A million years from now, “Homo Sapien Park” will depict evolved reptiles trying to recreate us from DNA lifted from cigarette butts found deep in the re-frozen arctic ice…  But, instead of running amok, our naked descendants will scamper off into the shadows and begin breeding our scaly rediscoverers to death

So I hang here, suspended in a layer of ice, diverting myself with cold-weather hobbies.  One of which is, of course, scheming my summertime hobbies.  My budget for these things took a hit when I transitioned out of sales, although prospects for the long-term improved.  So my ongoing Ducati Monster ride-and-build has been scaled back.  My dreams of a seriously upgraded clutch full of lightweight aluminum has been reduced to a simple clutch and plate swap: it’s making a ton of clanking noise because of wear to the tabs, but it’s not actually slipping yet and that money can be better spent on other things.

I did purchase a new tank on eBay that supposedly has been repaired and is “ready for paint”, but it’s sitting at my parents place, waiting for me to come and inspect it.  My current tank is shiny, but has matching dings on both sides.  I’ll be using Ducati’s 1970’s logo, set in either the original red paint or a simulated brushed-aluminum look.  But that will have to wait.  If I can find the money to do the timing belts, fit a new chain, paint the top triple-clamp black, and maybe paint the wheels black this summer, I’ll be ecstatic.

Plans for the Daytona?  Don’t crash it at the track, replace tires and change oil as needed. I bought it with almost all the bits and bobs you might want, excepting carbon, which I don’t really care about for this one.  It’s there to be thrashed on the track and look cool if I’m riding it on the street, and it’s pretty much perfect right now.

The truck needs to get sold asap to fund repairs to my Volvo.

So I’ll sit around, daydreaming about weird, fun cars I could buy and take on ill-advised road trips to places that would most definitely not have spare parts for a 1980 Renault-Alpine A310.

Buried deep into the winter months, I’m asking myself for the 128,432nd time since moving back to the East Coast, what I’m doing here.

Look, I’ll be honest. I know exactly why I moved back here.

I needed a break from LA’s endless desert.  And it is a desert there, really.  People don’t seem to know that: if you turned off the taps, the whole city would dry up and just blow away like a cloud of ash.  And I wanted to reconnect with my family.  It hasn’t even been very cold, past couple of years.  And the change of seasons was refreshing at first.  But now it’s December, and I’m already champing at the bit, growling in the dim mornings, ready for Spring.


1.09 Fashionably Armored

Look, I get it: you want to look cool and, let’s face it: bikes are pretty dangerous by nature, what with everybody on cellphones, texting away and the lack of crumple zones and all… And the argument about economy pretty much goes out the window the first time you loose a month in the hospital and wipe out your savings…

If your goal is to look cool and you’re actually pulling it off, that’s okay too, see: Brooklyn hipsters sporting skinny jeans and a sparkly half-helmet to show off a stubbly jawline.  Even the guy I saw years ago on a 900 Monster with high-pipes, sporting a “for novelty use only” puddin-bowl helmet and yellow-tinted sunglasses [Hello Bono!] somehow looked weirdly badass.

But if your idea of “stylish” is a pair of stonewashed jeans and some New Balance sneakers, why the hell NOT wear some actual protective gear?  You look like a goon out there anyway.

I’m sorry, Rich Urban Bikers, but that OC Chopper look is SO over.  If your bike is cool and it’s whole purpose of the purchase was just to look cool, classic, epic, that’s great.  But what are those bikes for, since they’re no longer in fashion?  They’re not cool, not comfortable, don’t handle… aren’t really fast.  And don’t go on and on about your 2000cc S&S built motor that makes a 180 hp and 180 ft/lbs of torque.  It’s motivating 800lbs of iron, so your average GSX-R1000 will eat it alive in any measurable performance measure, except maybe a 20mph, sixth gear roll-on…

Or maybe cougar-hunting.

1.4 Run What You Brung

I have an acquaintance who’s all about MOAR POWAH and thinks anything with less grunt than a Z06 Vette is a “girl’s car.”  Yeah, maybe.  Maybe an awesome girl.

I’d drive a Fiat 850 Spider and not feel like my dick was any smaller because of it.

Who’s manlier anyway?  The guy driving the modern car with 400hp but also AWD, ABS, TCS, Stability Control, Launch Control , Tire Pressure Warning systems, and a host of other ass-saving acronyms?  Or the guy ripping around in a 70hp 1960’s sports car with a rear engine and a swingarm rear suspension not designed by Porsche, bad brakes, possibly rusted-out suspension mounting points, and skinny little 13” tires?

On a side note: why is it Japanese manufacturers are so obsessed with acronyms, and Americans are so obsessed with juvenile, powerful-sounding names like “Vortec”, “Blue Flame”, “Power Glide”, “DuraMax”, “Iron Duke”, and “MegaShift”.  I made that last one up, so stop Googling it.

And I’ve never really understood the sort of brand loyalty you see, at least in terms of it being a case where your preference gets confused with actual quality: I loved my Alfas and I love my Ducati, and they definitely have superlative qualities.  But they ain’t “the best” anything.

My Triumph is a way better motorcycle in just about every regard, but I like the Monster better.  In fact, I seem to like it more, the less practical it becomes.

Driveway Monster

“Man, those below the triple clamp clip-on bars look boss.  Not very comfortable though, and now my tank bag smooshes into my chest…”

“Oh, those new Keihin carbs are cool as hell, and the thing really screams.  Hm, they don’t have a choke, though, and that quarter-turn throttle is stiff as fuck…”

“These bar-end mirrors look really slick.  Too bad I can’t really see much out of them…”

Anyway, that’s really my point: “better” is completely subjective.  And here’s the thing: cool Fords are cool.  Cool Chevys are cool.  Cool imports are cool.  Cool old cars are cool.  Cool new cars are cool.

Buy what you like.


Harley Trike Crop