Hi I want to tell you about my new bike, “The DesmOhio/Cycle Cat 900ss”.
More pictures at the bottom
I was presented with it this past weekend out of the blue at Northern Ohio Ducati in Akron, Ohio. There is a great story to go with this bike. It’s a long one but I promise it is a good one.
My family and I had been struggling for the last couple of years with this economy. About 3 years ago I had lost my job of 11 years because of downsizing. My wife also lost her job in October of 2009 due to the company she worked for closing its doors. We lost the apartment we lived in because we couldn’t afford it, but luckily my parents opened their doors to myself, my wife and her two kids. We stayed with them for about 8 months until we could get back on our feet. For the next 2 years I bounced from contract job to contract job, I work in Software Quality Assurance. I finally found a permanent full time position with a company and things were looking up. We moved into a rental house and things where starting to get back to normal when we found out that my wonderful wife was pregnant with my first child, 4 months after our marriage. I now have two wonderful step kids that I love and treat as my own. Things were better but we were still struggling so I had decided to sell off my car to find something that would be less expensive per month. After all of the reductions in spending I still had to make the really hard decision. I needed to sell my 2007 Ducati Monster 695 Dark to pay for bills and get things caught up.
This was a really hard thing for me to do but my family needed the money more than I needed a bike. I had been searching and searching for someone to buy it so I called up my great friend, Chris Calovini. He is the president and founder of our Ducati club, Desmohio, as well as the president of Cycle Cat (yes those parts we all lust after). He told me he would see what he could do and that he would get back to me. In the mean-time I called up Carl Peshoff at Northern Ohio Ducati to see if they would buy my Monster and we reached an agreement. It was great feeling of relief having the money from the sale of the Monster however it was bitter sweet. I was no longer a Ducati owner and furthermore I was bike less at the beginning of the season. As I am experiencing the worst case of sellers remorse, I get a call from Chris. He tells me there is a guy in DesmOhio who will sell him his wrecked 2002 Ducati 900ss and he would be willing to give me a great deal on it. Nine hundred bucks is a great deal for a 2002 SS with an Ohlins shock and a DS swingarm with no more than cosmetic damage and a deal no one should pass up. The bike had been for sale for a long time because he did not want to see the bike parted out. Chris told me he would go take a look at it and let me know.
WOW! Things are looking up. That is they were until after I got off the phone with Chris. My boss called me into her office and told me that they were going to have to let me go. I was totally blind sided. All of that excitement and happiness was instantly turned upside down. All I could think about was my wife and family and what we were going to do about our unborn daughter.
I was in a dark place at this point and I didn’t know what to do other than breakdown and cry. Chris called me a couple of hours later to tell me that he had picked up the bike and was bringing it back to the club house. I told him about my new situation of being out of work. He was speechless to say the least. He told me that he would talk to Justin who was selling the bike. Chris called me back and said not to worry about it. Justin and Chris had cut a deal so that I could get the money to him whenever, no rush. Justin’s wife had bought him a new Ducati for their anniversary and he really needed the garage space. I thankfully agreed and promised that I would get some money together as soon as possible.
The bike before:
I then focused all of my time and energy to finding another job. This is where the story goes in a different direction. While I was trying to find a job and worrying about my family, Chris and the DesmOhio members sprung into action without saying a word to me. The account of the following story is what I now know happened. This was all kept from me for the next four months.
While watching a bike race and drinking beer Chris and the DesmOhio members decided that they would all throw some money on the bar at the Clubhouse and fix the SS to the point that I would have a safe Ducati to ride and one that I would not be ashamed to have in public. Basically it would be my wrecked SS repaired with replacement bodywork and painted flat black. The project then left the bar at the clubhouse and a thread was created on DesmOhio Home Page
stating that I, Ducmon695, needed their help. I was personally blocked from seeing this thread but any other DesmOhio member could see it. A Pay Pal account was created and the awesome members of DesmOhio were on a mission.
The following week at the DesmOhio clubhouse Chris and the members reassessed the project. Robert Williams had accused Chris of not being capable of building what we had discussed. Chris tends to go a little overboard when he builds a bike. If you have ever seen his 996, MV or any of the Cycle Cat display bikes you know Robert was right. He suggested a Café Racer and after a quick web search they found pictures of a bike built by Union Motorcycle Classics, a pre 1999 900ss café racer. Chris and the gang looked at the bike agreed that this would be the basis of the build and the key to building this bike would be the correct tank. After a quick call to Vicky Smith and Rich Lambrechts it was concluded that they needed to find a pretty rare tank. This would be a tall order. Very few of the bikes with this tank were ever brought to the States. Vicky and Rick had no idea where to source one. Chris actually told Robert that they would never find one in time. To prove it to Robert he logged on to eBay and five minutes later, after eating his words, Chris had purchased the tank with the money the members had donated.
The tank was supposed to be the hard part. Vintage race fiberglass can be had from a few different sources and the front is a common fiberglass part for an old “70s SS. After hitting the Glass From The Past website, Glass From The Past is Part of Union, Chris made a call to Brett who owns GFTP. Brett informed him that the tail on the Union 900ss was a proprietary item owned by Union and not for sale to the public but that he did build it. This tail is very sought after. There are more than a few threads on different forums where people are discussing it and Union not selling it to anyone. After checking all the race glass manufacturers and deciding that the bike would not be right with any other tail Chris was ready to just fab a copy of the Union tail. He was heading out to get some foam to carve the tail when he decided to call Union and tell them the story and make a plea for the tail. The guy he spoke with at Union Motor Cycle Classics told Chris to shoot Mike from Union an email explaining the project which he did and he also included pics of the bikes he has built in the past. After reading the email and seeing Chris’ other bike builds Mike agreed to make the tail available. Mike later told Chris that he did this for three reasons. Chris had the correct tank for the build and the Spaggiari bike Chris had built in the past has impressed him. The third reason was that this was a group of riders building a bike for another rider who was down on his luck. Not only would Union let them have the tail, Union would sanction the use of their 900ss as the basis for the design and share some secrets. Mike made a call to Brett from Glass From the Past and DesmOhio bought the bodywork.
The process of tearing down the bike and modding the frame had already been started with a lot of help from Tony Barbuto (the DesmOhio 900ss expert), Dave Michalik and Chris. Chris decided to go a step further on the motor paint and add the red accents with a nod towards Guy Martin from Martin Brickwood Performance. This got everyone excited and more donations came rolling in.
The bike itself was sound and they had all the body work however, none of it would even come close to fitting the stock frame and fairing stay. Union told Chris that the bottom of both tanks would have to be cut out and the bottom of the 2002 tank would have to welded in to the tank that they would be using for the Café. The frame would have to be heavily modified even more so than the Union 900ss because my bike is a 2002 and the two Unions that were made were built on the old 900ss platform. Big difference!
Robert Williams had already said that they could get Keith Doughty from Doughty Enterprises to do the welding but no one had really discussed it with him. Keith makes 5 second drag race frames by hand for some serious drag racers! Chris and Robert were already friends with Keith and when they presented the project to him, Keith said that not only would he help but that if they were willing to go to the trouble for a guy in the club that he would too. Keith donated his time only asking that DesmOhio cover the materials he would have to purchase.
The project had its challenges and Keith accepted them and kicked their asses. Keith wanted to keep the rubber strap that locks down the tank from the original 2002 bike and Chris had suggested just welding on a stud and reusing the original aluminum bung that the strap slips on to. This was not good enough for Keith. He actually cut a 2 inch hole in the front of the tank, made an insert with a bottom tapped center, welded it in the hole and machined a new custom strap bung. Actually he made three bungs because Chris kept changing the way the tank sat until it was perfect. I am told that there are 12 hours in this alone.
Keith is the man! The frame of the Terblanch Supersport has a double top frame rail under the seat that would just not look right at all. The frame was cut and welded in more than a few places. The seat mount bracket had to be cut out, re-engineered and relocated. A bracing tube had to be mounted just behind the seat and seat mounting points had to be added. The tail itself had to be narrowed to fit the 2002 frame as did the under tail. The whole triangular geometry of the trellis frame aft for the rearsets had to be re-engineered and welded. Chromoly tubes had to be bent and so on and so forth. It all came together as you can see. Keith even went so far as to create billet aluminum end caps to dress where the frame tubes had been cut from the rear of the frame.
The one big issue that no one had a good solution for was the exhaust. Everything you can imagine had been discussed. High pipes, low pipes, MV pipes, reverse megaphones, stock open header, you name it, they discussed it or held it up to the bike. Keith also makes custom exhausts and he said that he would just build whatever we wanted. Chris said that when Keith asked what he wanted on the bike, the only thing he told Keith was that he didn’t want symmetrical cans but would prefer an equal length system with a GP look and that the end product was up to Keith. As luck would have it, the Aluminum flanges that you see on the bike are ones that Keith made for the drag bikes, no modification necessary. Everything you see in this exhaust system from the gaskets back was hand fabricated by Keith Doughty with the exception of the springs and the cores of the cans. It was decided that the cores would be made from one of the damaged cans from Bill Culp’s bike. Bill was a DesmOhio member who was killed on his 748 a few years ago and who the DesmOhio Outstanding Member of the Year Trophy is named for. Check out the bronze trophy that Chris Calovini sculpted. Keith also did the welding on this. As you can see he created one of the most beautiful exhausts I have ever seen. These things are, matching length, tuned and made from stainless steel and aluminum. The welds on these pipes are amazing!! They sound awesome and angry. Keith put around 200+ hours into the welding of the bike, also making a custom bracket for the headlight which is actually adjustable. The fairing stay had to be reworked a bunch too. Absolutely beautiful work, this man is an artist!
Keith and Chris built the seat pan. The custom seat upholstery was to be done by Bikes 2 NV who do great work on all kinds of motorcycle seats however their seat builder was injured in an animal attack before she could start the process so it fell on Chris to work the materials that Bikes 2 NV donated into a viable seat. Believe it or not, it is not that uncomfortable.
Paul from 614 paintworks had volunteered to do the paint but he also was injured racing dirtbikes so he donated the supplies and Chris designed the paint scheme and decal placement and painted the bike.
Cycle Cat donated the upper triple clamp, a custom set of bars specifically for this bike, rearsets, gp shift lever, custom sprocket cover, pressure plate and clutch cover and rear brake master cylinder mount. If you are interested in any of the Cycle Cat products or the exhaust system contact Chris at Cycle Cat.
Northern Ohio Ducati Triumph was quick to get in on the shenanigans. Carl and Kevin jumped in as soon as they found out what the guys from DesmOhio were up too. Probably because they saw how pathetic I looked when I sold them my Monster. Carl offered to do a complete service and suspension setup which also turned into a 3 hour custom map to deal with the exhaust and pod filters which were donated by Mike from MJ USA. Thanks Mike and Thank you Northern Ohio Ducati Triumph and all of your staff.
There were a lot of long nights, blood sweat and tears and empty beers put into this bike. Everyone in the club had a hand in the building of this bike…even my wife, my mother, my father, and many other members of my family.