Toronto vintage racer Paul Robbins needed a new racer – and it had to be a Ducati.
CCS Series racer Gary Palmer was hanging it up and put his highly developed F1 up for sale..
And I was in the middle; wondering what to do next.
So I sold my F1 to Paul and I bought Gary’s bike. Which for everyone concerned, was - and is the happiest of all possible endings. You know; the kind of very personal transactions where everyone comes away from the deal with a nice, warm, fuzzy feeling and the opportunity to open a new chapter in their motorcycle lives.
Gary’s going to turn his other F1 into a serious track day machine that could be ridden on the street (when the mood stikes), Paul gets a fully developed and prepared VRRA Period 4 F2 racer that he can win with, and I get to spend the winter civilizing what has to be the most potent and highly-developed F1 in North America. As a bonus, I get to play with Paul (we’re both at about the same level) at the Mosport and Calabogie events next year.
Last week, I set off for Port Perry, Ontario en route to Bellville, Michigan and delivered the now VRRA Eligible 853 to Paul after spending about 12 hours fixing all the niggly (but non-essential little issues that had accumulated over the years.. Things I could live with, but had planned to address at some point – and a couple of issues required to make the machine fully VRRA legal. Gary was kind enough to make the 5-hour drive from the Chicago area to a suburb just west of Detroit and we spent a couple of pleasant hours in a parking lot catching up and going over his (now my) bike. Then back to Ottawa..
My new F1 is very, very cool. When I lay identical shots of my old 853 and the new 800 on top of each other in Photoshop, the work that Gary did on the chassis really becomes apparent. Gary had tucked the steering head in and converted to a rising rate rear with the longer 851 swing arm and although the wheelbase of both bikes is the same, the center of the motor and rider has been moved forward almost 3”. Our seat and top triple clamp heights were near identical – which surprised me.. The machine is Spartan, light, and wonderfully scarred from 10 years of hard (and very successful) racing. I took the opportunity to weigh my old bike just before it went out the door and was delighted to see that the new one is 26 pounds lighter.
The motor’s a different approach to the big-block 853 I was running, but makes about 5 more horsepower – although at the expense of 5 less ft lbs of torque. All the good stuff happens 800RPM higher than I’m used to, so it’s gonna be a different riding experience.
You can see from the pic that Gary abbreviated the bodywork quite a bit and when I asked why, he told me that his knee was getting trapped between the fairing and the pavement. Under no circumstances to I ever plan to replicate that condition, so the full faring upper’s going back on. The seat was trimmed ‘cause he needed somewhere to tuck his foot out of the way (by now you get the picture…), and although this is another condition I plan to avoid, I like the way it opens the bike up, so it stays. I have to make some changes on the controls to suit my somewhat crippled body and I’m going to do a whack of the usual cosmetic stuff and hook up a charging system.
I rode this bike in an earlier iteration at Grattan years ago and came away impressed with the handling and steering precision. Since then, the machine’s been through a few motors, a change in swing arm and a couple more weight loss programs. As far as Gary was concerned, it was at the end of its development cycle – which is about how I felt about mine. It’s funny how the two bikes are heading into different directions with their new owners.. My old one’s going back into the heat of competition and the new one’s getting toned-down for track day service.
But they’ll be on the track together a lot next year. Paul’s going to run most of the track days I attend and we seem to be lapping at about the same pace.
So, what was the first thing I did when I got the new loudbike up on the lift? Remove the silencer Gary had to run and fire it up.
The Yellow Bike is based on a 1988 Ducati 750 F1 and the 853 on a 1987 Ducati 750 F1. loudbike is a state of mind, a weblog about fast, loud Italian motorcycles and an internet store offering more vintage Ducati parts than you can shake a stick at.