Although its been renamed Canadian Tire Motorsports Park, we'll always know it as Mosport. The 2nd fastest race track in the world.
Ten turns, dramatic elevation changes (166’ over the 2.459 mile circuit), and a wide-open noise policy. I love it, but after crashing in turn 8 and braking my back and elbow four years ago, I’ve been riding the track in a state of fear.
2013 promised a new experience for us with extensive mods to the track surface and facilities – most importantly; a resurfacing of the concrete patches that line the inside of most corners. The Ducati Owners Club of Canada event would be the first outing on the Bimota DB1 racer and my second time on the track with the Ducat 750 TT1; both bikes set up with loudbike stainless open NCR replica exhaust systems.
And yeah; I packed in the rain.
The rain continued off and on through the entire four days. Sometimes a light drizzle that was just enough to wet the track surface and other times the heavens would open up and we’d see a deluge that would last for 30 minutes or more. But a strong breeze and warm temps gave us enough dry track to make the whole exercise worthwhile.
One of the two bikes was going to be offered up for sale to make room for a recent acquisition and the plan was to use the event to make the decision as which of the machines would stay on as my main ride. Honestly, I thought it would be an easy choice – but as I drove home Monday evening, I simply couldn’t pick a clear winner. The TT1 is about as good a ride as a TT1 can be; faultless handling, great motor and good ergonomics meant that until Monday it was the machine that returned the fastest times around the circuit. And I love it. It’s a really well-sorted, old-school TT1 with an esthetic that works for me and there just aren’t that many out there that can be hustled around a race track as effectively as this one.
I expected the DB1 to be a bit of an animal.. 93HP, peaky Monjuich cams and a short wheelbase had me thinking that it would be exhilarating, but the less rider-friendly of the two. But that wasn’t the case. The extra displacement (790cc) gave the bike plenty of useable torque and the ergos were better suited to my ageing and somewhat battered body. The short wheelbase and big horsepower kept the front end dancing all the way up Mosport’s long, uphill back straight, but the bike remained composed and completely neutral. And the sound..
The DB1 came to me in December 2011 as a rather sketchy ex-track bike that had been set-up for street duty. The bike was well beyond economical restoration - which suited me just fine. Essentially, the machine was stripped to the frame and the bodywork sent off to AirTech so they could make a mold. I got the first pull off the mold and I requested a very thin lay-up (except for the structural area between the four mounting points) with a blanked-off tail and nose. The original bodywork made its way over to Mark Savory at Moto Creations so he could whip-up a carbon version.
I loved the 70's hot-rod look of the PM spun aluminum wheels and scored a set along with a few motors and parts for my TT1 project. The rear wheel came with the brake rotor you see on the bike - drilled with gusto (without a pattern) by the previous owner. It made me laugh, so it stayed on the wheel. I fabricated a new hanger for the tiny Brembo rear caliper, ditched the huge battery box and related all the electronics out of the airflow through the bodywork. The foot peg hangers were milled out, mounts carved out to relocate the oil cooler and a carbon fiber plate used in lieu of the old dash. Robbie Nigl of PeachPit did an excellent job of interpreting my Photoshop work and applying a unique and striking paint job.
Fitting a replacement shock for the DB1s is a challenge and I had a custom unit worked up by Stadium out of Quebec, Canada. Carbs were a challenge as well - the bike came to me with 36mm Dellortos, so the original rear manifold (especially made for the 41mm Malossis) was long gone. While I found a solution with the elegant adjustable manifolds made by Jako in Germany, I wasn't able to fit Mikuni TM Pro-Series 41s, so I got my hands on a later (80's) set of Malossi 41s.
The motor got a complete refresh, lightened basket, primaries and flywheel and a Meyers Performance 790cc kit. J Precision ran the same CNC program used on our converted Alazurra heads and a Montjuich cam was used (call me crazy). I topped it off with loudbike stainless NCR TT1 and 85DB competition exhaust systems; repackaged for the DB1.
While it took me longer to really get up to speed on the thing, the bottom line is that I likely cut my fastest times on the Bimota. Save the road tests from back in the day, there’s not a lot that can be read about what these bikes are really like when pushed hard; certainly nothing out there with modern slicks on 17” wheels. The later version Marzocchi M1Rs worked amazingly well and the custom-built Stadium shock worked brilliantly. The bike is extremely agile while remaining surprisingly composed. It’s no surprise that the DB1Rs did so well during the brief period that they were raced, but with a high purchase price, limited production and the hassle of removing the bodywork to do even the most basic adjustment – it’s also no surprise that there were few being campaigned.
I think it took me longer to really push it hard ‘cause I kept expecting it to spit me off, but on Monday, I had my knee on the ground in every corner and each consecutive lap brought the revelation that there was way more potential in the package than I was using. And the 790 kit is a winner – 93hp is a lot for a light little machine like the DB1 and although you’ve got to be just north of 6,000RPM to get at it, 63ftlbs of torque makes the bike leap out of corners. If the DB1 is the bike I keep, then an access port for the front barb tickler is a must – as is a pig tail for a fast battery charge (I keep leaving the damned ignition on). So, it’s a tough decision – one that will have to wait until the DOCC Calabogie event on August 5th and 6th.
…Nice to have a choice though..
Hi-rez pics on my Flickr page