Foundry MC Il Castrolo
By Gareth Roberts - 31 Dec 14
Envy is bad. It eats at you, sours you, curdles your soul. I've admired every one of The Foundry's builds, and lusted over one or two of them. But this is something else. ‘Il Castrolo’ is an object of sublime beauty and focused engineering that can be ridden every day, ridden hard and without mercy, and one that will render you wobbly at the knees every time you give it as much as a sideways glance. I am riddled with envy. It turns out that the story of the object of my (and I’m sure many other mortals) envy, is a long one. It predates Foundry and began five years ago in Simon’s design studio in London, when he decided his old ‘99 Ducati 750 monster would be the donor of his first custom project. Off came the seat, with Simon hoping to re-model the back end with a new seat unit and call it a ‘flat tracker’. After a few sketches, some Photoshop sessions and innumerable mock ups he realized it was a bit trickier than he’d assumed. Then there was the fear factor. As a product designer, the concept of chopping up a perfectly good looking well maintained piece of Italian automotion was outright lunacy. The pause button was pressed. Fast forward a year and, having moved from London to Sussex and transported the paused project to a tiny, freezing lock up, the itch needed scratching again. Simon bought a welding set (and could gas weld passably), but to weld, one needs to cut. Not owning a grinder, the trusty hacksaw came into play and the once good Monster was relieved of 12 inches of frame. Simon realised the stock monster has so much character in the tank and frame; it’s hard to give it a new look without getting heavy handed. Any idea of ‘returning to original’ was abandoned and the tank discarded. Getting that sleek horizontal line along the bottom of the tank and seat was going to be a challenge with the sloping frame, but out came the filler and sanding blocks and the new panels took shape. Simon wanted to keep the overall look ‘light and minimal’ to get the balance right and to sit with the general flat track image of a separate tank and seat. Along came Foundry and Simon and Tom decided to pitch in and start building bikes full time. First setting up the workshop and then subsequent influx of commissioned builds pushed the Duke further under the bench. After finishing The Pipeline, their stunning ‘stainless’ Moto Guzzi, they were expecting a couple of big projects that didn’t materialize, so it was Monster time again. They hand cut all the sections of the two-into-one exhaust, Tom stitched it all together and they turned up our own end can. They hand cut the footrest hangers (no CNC this time!) to take Tarrozzi controls in standard Ducati positions. The frame was de-lugged and all the fixings for the seat sub frame welded in place. They added a couple of rows of internal loops for the wiring harness to loose the dozens of zip ties that Ducati adore! The Ducati headlamp and dials were replaced with a 4 inch Simpson Detour light, set into the rolled ally number board and a Koso digital ‘clock’ which has speedo, revs, and all the warning lights in one unit. It was going to be old school analogue, but the Koso is a really tidy unit and gives the bike a modern twist. To give the bike full ‘roadability’, it’s wearing some neat little Daytona D-Light LED indicators. The wider and taller Renthal bars demanded new Hel brake lines in a tasty red. With all the structural work done, the bike was stripped, blasted and powder coated. All the frame bearings have been worked and Tom completely stripped and re-built the top end of the engine. One of the most striking features of the build is the paint. The ‘Iodine’ metallic grey worked so well on the Pipeline, it was the choice for the frame parts and wheels. A chance glimpse of Mike Hailwood’s 1978 TT wining bike inspired the design for the body work, and was expertly implemented by Stuart at Jago Design. It shouts ‘Il Tricolore’ the Italian flag, but was originally cribbed from a Castrol oil can! To give it a ‘bling race bike’ look, The Trimming Centre did a great job on the red, green and cream seat. The engine was stripped externally and painted silver to give an old school ‘all alloy’ look and simplify the shape of the motor. Under the tank, a pair of K&N’s replaced the massive air box, feeding the overhauled carbs. An ally tray now carries all the electrical hardware which has been re-wired into stock hand controls. A lightweight Shorai battery now sits forward of the engine within the frame. Simon and Tom needed to move the oil cooler as it’s so imposing on the 750 Monster with the long braided hoses and ‘carb de-icing’ pipes complicating matters. They blanked off the redundant de-icing gear, built a new oil cooler and slung it low under the engine with the shortest of pipe-work, giving it more of an air cooled look. Tyres were something of a challenge. The ideal Maxis with the classic flat track pattern aren’t available with a 17 inch front and a lot of the other small chunky treads don’t come in a 160 for the rear. Avon Distanzia’s were in the correct sizes but a bit chunky, so the choice became Pirelli Scorpion MT60 Corsas. The slightly taller 70 section front gives a bit more bulk to the front end and sit’s the bike up a little, which helps the stance. It’s a track biased sticky compound with lots of grooves, so gives a pretty grippy ride. The last fabrication was the front mudguard frame, to give a snug fit over the tyre with the shortened fender. Custom Dukes aren’t easy to work with. As Simon states: “They’ve got so much character in the frame, it’s hard to stamp you own look on the bike. And, with everything inside the trellis, it’s a like working with all the parts of the bike in a cage. The exhaust is a real challenge! One of the key ingredients to the look of the bike is the short section of tube at the back of the tank, which is actually part of the seat sub-frame. It makes the new components look like they are all integrated with the frame and in retrospect, we’d have welded this directly to the frame.” ‘Il Castrolo’ is stunning. Simon and Tom have taken Ducati's work horse and turned it into what the Hypermotard should have been, a streetwise dirt bike with devastating good looks, and where there’s envy there’s temptation…. “We’ve got the moulds for the tank and seat, so we just need your old Monster to crack on with the next one.” If you like the sound of that get in touch with Simon & Tom or keep up to date via Facebook.