The Hot-blooded Mexican set a 4 bike limit some time ago and that's just fine with me. I mean, how many bikes can I guy keep in top fettle anyway? And when a Bimota DB1 SR came into my in late October, I was just up to my limit; Shannon's old F1 (the donor for the Yellow Bike III), the Gran Canyon, the R1100s, the TT1 (yeah, projects count..) but it seemed to me that I needed to take stock of what I had and where I was going. Looking back at last season, I realized that I had hardly done any street time; generally choosing the bicycle over a street ride 9.5 times out of 10.
And I was getting closer to my dream collection; a DB1, a TT1, and F1 and a Mille racer, so street riding simply went off the menu. With all of the mods I'd done to the Gran Canyon, I knew that a straight sale wasn't going to get me the return I wanted to see, so I threw myself into disassembling the machine and the parts went back into the GC community faster than you can say 'come and get it!'. The R1100S ended up going to a new owner in Whitby, Ontario.
So, here I am at the close of an excellent season with three projects; two of which will be completed by the spring - and a surprising return back to the land of small-block 750s. Had anyone suggested that I'd find myself in this position this time last year, I'd have looked at 'em like they were from another planet. But so it goes with me and my bikes.. Nothing seems to stand still for very long - little goes according to plan 'cause let's face it; I don't think there is much of a plan.
But Lou Saif persisted and eventually put one of Jimmy Adamo's big-tube DM frames and some bodywork in my hands and then Palmer sold me a bunch of his F1 stuff, and then I found a nice cache of TT1 stuff in our inventory. Instant TT1!
Well, sort of...
I never really wanted to build a TT 'cause I like to step outside the box my machines and create something that's unique - mine. And the TT1 is such a well designed and densely packaged unit that it's very difficult to deviate from what the factory did and actually come out ahead of the game. But I got a taste of working inside a set of constraints when I redid Palmer's old Yellow Bike last year and it was more challenging (and less painful) than I thought it would be. So, with only a few deviations from what the NCR guys did back in the day - I'm off on the path towards a reasonably faithful replica of the real thing. Which means a 750 based on the F1 motor, some NCR7 cams, hi-comp pistons, big Mikuni flat slides and a lot of headwork.
And no buffing of aluminum bits.
The motor's based on Lon Allen's old racer and the heads will as closely as possible mimic the ones Fran used to run on his TT1 back when we was Fab. Should weigh a sneeze and sound like a small-block Chevy when it's done - and hopefully handle as well as Fran's did.
And then there's the matter of the DB1 SR.
When Scot Wilson told me that he was selling his fairly molested SR, I jumped on it. No pressure to restore this one back to original - that would be a losing battle. It's been crashed, repainted, probably crashed again and repainted one more time, but complete and sound enough to make a great track machine. The original Montjuich motor is in great shape and all the important bits are seriously road-rashed, but structurally OK. I've always loved the DB1 racers (my God, they're tiny!), but have no idea how well they handle. Having stripped it down and looked at the package; probably really well once I'm done with it. And as Palmer is known to say, 'anything can be made to handle'.
But the bodywork is a royal pain in the ass. I mean, you can't adjust the steering damper, tickle the carbs - or do anything important without pulling the whole mess off the machine.
How utterly Italian! Want to adjust the steering damper? Remove all the bodywork. Need to mess with your forks? Well, before you can get at the springs or fluids, you’re going to have to find a way to remove the reservoirs that double as fork caps without spilling brake fluid everywhere. Need to tighten the chain? Don’t forget to readjust the ride height.
I almost threw in the towel and set it up with F1 bodywork, but then it wouldn't be a DB1 would it? So, when I get the race bodywork back, I'll drill a couple of well-placed access ports and hope it doesn't look completely WRONG. It’ll be a flashy little package with the polished PM spun aluminum wheels. Rather than replace the well-ground foot pegs and bars, they'll get a mild polish as well - as will all the aluminum (just to make up for the lack of polished bits on the TT1). Bodywork aside, the only real snag I hit was the loss of the stock rear carb manifold somewhere in the bike's past. The packaging on this little gem is so tight that there's only a very limited amount of space for the big Dellorto and although we have a remarkably diverse selection of Malossi manifolds in stock, nothing put the carb in the right position to clear the rear shock. I was thinking 'cut & weld' when new DB1 buddy Werner from suggested I look at an adjustable intake manifold made by Joko in Germany. I just got the two I ordered in last week and they have to be the coolest parts I've bought in the last decade. Beautifully made and highly functional, they did the trick.
When you consider the date of manufacture, the thing is pretty trick. While the billet reservoir / fork caps are a bit over the top, my eyes bugged out when I realized that they ran fluid galleys through the lower triples just so they could eliminate a splitter manifold the mount the brake light switch.
It only took a minute to realize that a big-block motor could be dropped into the chassis, and although I won't do so this year - the creative wheels are turning...
This is why we have such brutal winters up here in The Great White North. Nothing else to do but crank up the music, turn up the heat and build a couple of funky Italian motorcycles.