After a few quiet weeks, where most of my spare time has been spent setting up the Bike Shed, it was time to return my attention to the little Duc and her needs. The trouble with starting with a bike that's quite cool from stock, is that you do a ton of work on it, and to the untrained eye it still looks like a factory bike. In fact, if this was someones else's bike, I'm not sure I'd be all that excited about it - not as long as it appears to be just another Sport Classic with a few tweaks and aftermarket bolt-ons - or at least that's how it looked to me until I started to get a little more serious. Adding the Imola seat provided more of a proper structural change, and when you add that to the other multiple mods the bike is finally starting to look a little more bespoke, but the big stuff for me on a true cafe racer custom is what you take away... I love that cafe racer mantra - "adding lightness". It says it all: Take off what doesn't need to be there, ...and hide anything ugly.

Bare behind - and battery box gone...

First on my new - and growing - list is to lose the ugly battery from between the rear subframe supports between the shocks. Ducati have done a pretty good job of tucking it away in a discrete black box, but all the cafe customs I lust after have clear space under the seat, and I wanted that lightweight look. The guys at Spirit recommended Racing Batteries, so I called them up, and 24 hours later I had two tiny Lithium batteries that needed to be wired in parallel, to provide about 30% more cold cranking power than my OEM battery. Amp hours are less, but I'm not running an alarm or leaving the bike standing for weeks on end. The weight difference is also astounding. These two batteries combined weigh less than a third of my clunky huge OEM unit - and now that I've relocated my Reg/Rectifier under the undertray there is plenty of room for them to sit under the seat.

A bicycle made for two... Batteries, that is.

Also on my list was to sort out the rear light and plate assembly. It all looks "ok" but it's based on a stock aftermarket item from RG Racing, albeit it chopped and painted, but the clear LED oval rear light just looks too modern for my changing tastes. I'm not after rure retro but I am going for for a timeless look - so I'm really drawn to more simple shapes, ovals, circles, smooth lines... I'm also not a fan of indicators - although they are kinda useful for doing right turns on bust road on a dark night, - so I was really pleased to find a pair of round-lensed, bullet-shaped integrated tail/brake/indies from Shin-Yo in Germany. I wanted to mount them up and under the rear of the subframe, with as little bracketry and fuss as possible, but they were going to occupy the space where the numberplate bracket would normally be, so I need something custom...

Bug-eyed monster, or retro-cool?

...cue a day with Rex and Victory Motorcycles in Camden - the home of Untitled Motorcycles. It's amazing what he has just lying around there. Not to mention the gear in the shop upstairs.

Yes, that IS a Mike Hailwood Rep. "The Tank is elsewhere being Caswelled"

An ancient MotoGuzzi. Just hanging out at Victory MC

Rex very kindly agreed to let me come over for the best part of a day, and do as much of the donkey work as possible myself, stripping off the old battery, tail unit, removing the alarm, and designing a template for the number plate bracket. The icing on the cake was that Adam from UMC was also there building a new Untitled BMW for a customer and bike photographer Damian McFadden was there, building his own bike from the ground up, having just got the frame back from the powerdercoaters. Damian is clearly insane. He has only recently discovered his passion for bikes and the streetbike/cafe racer scene, so instead of just taking his test and buying a bike to get started, he bought an engine... ...and then started building a bike from the ground up. Brilliant. And bonkers. The three of us shared bench-space with Rex and Anita, probably getting in the way and making a mess (sorry Rex) but it was good male-boding stuff as we helped each other out with positioning, cutting, bits of old metal, locating tools and generally being proper blokes, down in the Shed.

Velocette something or other... An old Police bike, apparently.

At the end of the day my donkey work was finished, so Rex welded the bracket's mounting points on for me so I could fix up as many parts as possible, leaving him to finish the wiring. The electrics are something I could have done myself, as wiring-in lights and indies is something I do at least three times a year on various bikes, but it's reassuring to have a Pro sort out your basic power/battery stuff, as I don't want to blow up my ECU or melt anything important.

Not the most complex design... but sturdy and minimal.

All in all it was a great day of proper man-work, getting immoveable dirt under my fingernails, hanging out with my mates, and doing something that pushes more satisfaction buttons than most other things I can think of.
I'll post up proper pics soon. Not everyone likes the way it's turning out at the rear, but I hope it'll have more admirers when the plate bracket is painted black and the bodywork is back together, then all can wonder at the simplicity of having lights, brakes and indies all in one. Next up, I have to sort out those black triangles that hold the front and rear footrests, and the exhaust too. What were Ducati thinking when they drew that lot up? ---STOP PRESS UPDATE--- (Sat 19th) Well, the bad news is that the new Racing Batteries won't start the bike, (we think the ECU needs ore amps) so my post title was just a wee bit optimistic. Talking to Tim from Spirit at Rollerburn on Saturday made me realise that when it comes to proper custom work there is a lot of trial and error and you often need a few goes at getting a big fix to work... Ah well, time for me to discover a virtue I've never really had... Patience. ---UPDATED UPDATE--- (Mon 21st) Racing Batteries are sending me a third battery unit free of charge, which everyone on the Ducati forums seems to think will solve the amp requirements of the stock ECU. It'll arrive on Thursday and all be done by Friday for I'll be able to post pictures of the finished mods by the weekend.