For the uninitiated, the original Yellow Bike was a Ducati 750F1 racer that Gary Palmer raced to seven CCS Lightweight Superbike championships and over a ten year period, developed into the most potent F1 racer in North America (if not on the planet). 93hp on tap, radically altered fame geometry and engine/rider placement, light weight and very yellow, the machine was too good to pass up when he offered it for sale 3 years ago. I bought it without even knowing what the price was. I set out on a six month project to civilize it, give it a cosmetic makeover and for my old 851 F1. Gary was so inspired by the new Yellow Bike I that he began building Yellow Bike II before the paint was even dry on my project.
I let Bar Hodgson ride it the first time out (at Mosport) and he had to have it. I got to run it the rest of that season and the machine blew me (and everyone else) away when I took it out to Grattan Raceway and Barber in its new 840cc configuration. Big power, tons of torque and brilliant handling in a 309lb package..
Yellow Bike III was supposed to be my bike. A replacement for the one that went to Bar. I had the original frame from my first F1, a seat and tank from Gary Palmer’s original spares collection (authentically yellow) and a few other bits stashed away waiting for the right time. The frame had already been modified by Palmer and I figured when I was done with the TT1 and DB1 projects, I’d start accumulating all the bits required to complete the project and pick away at it for a few years.
Then Basil called.
He saw a couple of bikes I had for sale on vintagemotorcyclesforsale.ca and talk somehow evolved to TTs and F1s. A couple of calls and emails later, I agreed to build Yellow Bike III for him using the bits I’d already stashed away.
And 10 months later (just last week), the completed bike went into a box and off to Australia.
Palmer and I met at Grattan Raceway back in August to give the bike a good thrashing prior to shipment (it’s going to lead that kind of life anyway) and came away from the day delighted with the bike’s performance. Not that the day wasn’t filled with drama.. Sketchy weather meant that Palmer didn’t really get down until late morning and as soon as he started pushing the bike, wheel-spin out of the slower corners became an issue. The bike still finished the corners beautifully, but he just couldn’t get the power down. So it became a mad thrash of suspension and ride height adjustments as we gradually ran out of time. Nothing we tried worked – but that didn’t stop him from turning some very fast times and making things more than just a bit embarrassing for some fast guys on modern bikes. With 103rwhp and 67ftlbs of torque in a 300lb package that would go anywhere it was pointed, the bike set a new Yellow Bike standard.
Back in the shop, it was my friend Carlo in Italy who looked at the pics of the bike and the tire wear and pointed out that the chain was too tight; making the suspension bounce off the chain at full squat. The ultimate forehead slapper..
I had some work to do with front brake pad drag, an oil leak, the addition of a steering damper and a serious cleaning – and with everything else going on during September, I didn’t get the bike out for a photo shoot until the end of last month. Happy to be done, sad to see it go.
Chassis: 1987 Ducati 750F1 frame; reduced steering head angle, removed rear and lower sub-frames, additional bracing
- Composite Ducati 851/900SS swing arm
- Stadium rear shock
- Honda CBR600 F4 forks
- Gary Paton upper triple clamp, Alazurra lower triple
- Bored Tomaselli adjustable clip-ons
- Curtis rear sets
- Ducati 996 brake & clutch pumps with Brembo P3034 calipers and floating 320mm rotors
- Spiegler hydraulic lines
- Rizoma reservoirs
- Palmer fiberglass fuel tank and seat with carbon fiber seat base
- Airtech fairing and hugger
- Hot Bodies front fender
- Custom battery/electrics box and breather box/seat support
- Marvic Steamline wheels
- Earls fittings and 10 row oil cooler with Starlite hoses
- Over $900 worth of titanium and aluminum fasteners & hardware
- J Precision modified Cagiva Alazurra heads with ST2 cams
- Palmer dry clutch conversion and Yoyodyne slipper
- Ducati 750F1 gearbox
- Lightened and balanced crank
- Carillo rods
- Meyers Performance 92mm pistons
- Mikuni Pro-series 41mm carbs
- Mikuni vacuum fuel pump
- ORS cam end covers for oil feed to top end
- Yoyodne lightweight flywheel
- Kokusan ignition
- Dyna mini coils
- loudbike stainless open exhaust
Link to the dyno day post on loudbike
Link to the dyno run on YouTube
Link to a hi-rez photoset on Flickr
The motor build thread on the Ducati TT&F1 Forum
Basil’s going to enjoy ripping around Phillip Island on it while I start (once again) pulling all the bits together to build my own (again)..
And would you believe it? In the panic trying to sort out the wheel-spin issue at Grattan, I never got to ride the damned thing..