A Quick Trip to Cape Meares on the Ducati and VFR

I had tried earlier this year to sell my Ducati 750SS, but admittedly it’s a slow market and I was asking a premium. Fast-forward to June and the weather has finally turned to summer. Time to take the bike off the market and ride! Paul suggested the following route for this Sunday:


View Larger Map

As you can tell, it’s a good day trip. But especially long if it’s your second ride of the year! My body is tired after this trip, but so worth it. Here are the pics (click for hi-res):

Cape Meares Oregon Coast Motorcycle Trip
Yep, this is what the Oregon Coast looks like when it's 70 degrees and sunny outside!
Cape Meares Oregon Coast Motorcycle Trip
The beautiful Oregon coast
Cape Meares Lighthouse
Cape Meares Lighthouse
Cape Meares Ducati 750 and VFR 750
Cape Meares Ducati 750 and VFR 750
Cape Meares Ducati 750 and VFR 750
Cape Meares Ducati 750 and VFR 750

Thanks for the great ride Paul!

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The VFR750 and 750SS Attack the Willamette Valley Again!

The VFR750 and 750SS attack the Willamette Valley again, but this time the VFR is being piloted by Blake in a very generous loaner agreement with Paul. What can I say, the man is the shit for extending such an offer!

We took the back roads on Thursday for a killer ride up to Portland to visit with our SEO and PPC Vendor, Anvil Media Inc., on official OSU business. The weather on the way up was spectacular and we were treated to the best the valley has to offer while passing up all the various crops Oregon is known for: grass seed, wheat, filberts, strawberries, hops, grapes, green beans, corn, and many other types of organic produce. A ride like this reminds me why we live where we do!

Here are a couple pics from the Wheatland Ferry where we crossed the Willamette, and the current Anvil Media headquarters:

Ducati-750SS-and-Honda-VFR750-on-Wheatland-FerryBlake-and-Dan-at-Wheatland-FerryBlake-and-Dan-at-Anvil-Media-in-Portland

Here is the Google Map of our route up and pictures from the trip:

google_map

To follow up our trip, we assaulted Mary’s Peak on Saturday morning via back roads again of course! Highway 20 leading to the peak has recently been repaved at the base of the mountain and the road to the summit is still one of the best hillclimbs out there in terms of corners per mile and scenic views. Here are the pics from the Peak:

Blake-and-Dan-at-Marys-PeakBlake-and-Dan-at-Marys-Peak_2Blake-and-Dan-at-Marys-Peak_3

Many thanks to Paul for loaning out the bike to Blake, the best in SEO and Social Media for hosting us: Anvil Media, and rural Oregon for best and most scenic roads anywhere!

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Ducati Demo Day: A Kid in a Kick Ass Candy Store

Ducati Demo Ride May 2008 007

Paul and I did the Ducati Demo Day at MotoCorsa in Portland this past Saturday. It was completely awesome! Their facility is a very cool place to hang out anyway, but getting to sample their brand new bikes was really amazing. It’s a guided group ride with a dozen or so brand new bikes that riders can preview at no cost. Sharp marketing too because if I had a spare $12-15k for a new bike, I would’ve signed immediately upon our return. Later that night, Paul and I were still trying to convince ourselves it might be doable!

Before heading up, I checked the Ducati website for the current offerings and to make my pick. I wanted to try something vaguely similar to my 750SS, but in a brand new flavor. And the Sport Classic was my pick. I was very excited to find out they had not one, but two openings for Sport Classics for Paul and I to sample at 2 o’clock. His was the up rated S model with Ohlin’s forks, full fairing, and full Termignoni pipes. Mine had the stock pipes, which were way too quiet. When Paul cracked the throttle on his, everyone noticed immediately and sounded much more the business. They really should come this way stock.

Ducati Demo Ride May 2008 012

Ducati Demo Ride May 2008 013

While we waited for our turn, the reality started setting in. If I scratched this thing, I would own a second Ducati, costing 4x as much as mine and with a big scratch to fix LOL! That’d be fun explaining to Mrs. Rubley! The butterflies started to swim around in my stomach… I was briefly comforted watching the earlier group leave with a couple of noticeably novice riders who came back unscathed.

Once underway it was a total breeze. There were many similarities to my own bike, and I was at home right away. Riders were guided at a very smart pace and given a great 20 mile tour of the Portland hills. Tour guides front and back made sure we stayed together and stopped traffic at intersections to keep us together. Fantastic route and great planning. By the time we got back, I was grinning ear to ear like it was Christmas morning. I won’t miss it again!

My 20 minute review of the Ducati Sport 1000:

Ducati Demo Ride May 2008 005

Pro’s – Classic minimalist styling with a comfortable seat, spoked rims, cafe racer clip on’s, and retro decals. Nice modern amenities like fuel injection, 6 speed gearbox, and the refinements that are now found in modern Ducati’s.

Con’s – Not so great on/off throttle response, a gas tank that’s a tad uncomfortable to sit against, and those stock pipes are obviously engineered to be lame so you can upgrade to the Termi’s. But other than that, she was a wonderful ride with very approachable power and controls.

A huge thank you to Ducati MotoCorsa for hosting and Ducati NA for generously loaning me a beautiful new bike that absolutely made my day!

Ducati Demo Day at MotoCorsa 2008 Gallery

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Updates and Ducati Wallpaper!

After a recent visit to the Portland Ducati dealership, Motocorsa, I was cautioned not to even start the Ducati until I had replaced the belts. This is because they are rated at only 2 years, 12k miles, and I had no evidence that the belts were within those parameters. If the belts were to break, the cost of the head rebuilds would easily exceed the value of the bike. After some quick math, I took their advice and waited to tickle the 750 until today, when Paul replaced the belts. And we’ve had some damn nice weather here in Western Oregon that has been making me absolutely stir crazy for a ride on the bike!!!

Luckily I was able to satisfy my fix in a couple of ways. 1st was to turn my garage into a ghetto studio by gathering what I had in the house to make a backdrop and some strong overhead lighting to take some dramatic photographs. I ended up with this:

Ducati 750 SuperSport Wallpaper

(Click above image for link to full size wallpaper!)

This was the result of a relative photography amateur taking about 4 hours of trial and error shots, and some moderate Photoshop work. For a first effort, I’m thrilled. Here’s the original. If you’re a Photoshop wizard, or just want to take a crack, give the original the business and post a link of your interpretation. Or email me.

Update 3.12.08 – Here’s our first submission from Eric:

Blue Ducati SuperSport Wallpaper

A few weeks after that photo was taken, Paul and his wife met at our house for an evening of dinner and drinks, arriving separately. When they left the next morning, they took their car home and Paul left his bike in the garage. For nearly 2 weeks 😀 Naturally I made the most of it. Nearly every sunny late afternoon was spent on the VFR. (Paul, you are the man. Thank you so much!) While it sucked to leave the Duc in the garage on such perfect days, the VFR was a total blast! I mean:

  • It has a choke and starts on the first try.
  • It has fantastic creature comforts and modern conveniences like a full fairing, high mounted rear-view mirrors, comfortable seat, and even heated grips (!)
  • A clock and temperature gauge. And even a fuel gauge! You mean you can ride between tanks knowing how much fuel you have? Stupore!
  • It’s Red. bello!
  • It has a motor that is a relative of the RC45, and sounds totally fantastic with the Two Brothers carbon fiber exhaust.
  • And it was in my garage with a ‘ride anytime’ ticket provided by Paul.

Hell Ya, I rode her as much as I could! Here’s a short clip of my blipping the throttle before a ride:

Now I know what you’re thinking, “I hate YouTube bike exhaust clips that don’t rev the bike up that much!” To that I say: This bike is on loan from a close friend. A friend I respect. Naturally I waited to rev the piss out of her until the camera was off 😉 And she’s a screamer for sure. Once the needle swings past 8k RPM, hold on! She’ll walk the 750SS like it’s only running on one cylinder! Thanks for holding the needle for me when I needed my fix Paul!

Which brings us to today, when Paul came over to put the new belts on. I set him up with a Pepsi and a chocolate donut, and he dove right in. I had the nearly useless Ducati Factory manual open, and also the procedure on DucatiSuite for changing Ducati Timing Belts. He ended up referencing the latter more often than the manual, and had the whole job done in less than hour. With hours of sunlight left, we had to go for a quick ride of course to make sure the job was successful. And it was. I had a serious perma-grin on my first Ducati ride of 2008. We took a nice scenic tour of the Willamette Valley by taking highway 99N to Airlie Road, to Kings Valley, and back to Corvallis. You can check out the pics here, and here’s a wallpaper sized image that I photoshopped (too much):

Ducati-Wallpaper

Many, MANY thanks to Paul for getting the Ducati safe enough to start AND ride for ’08!

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Some Fall Riding Pictures

Paul was out with the Eugene VW Scene guys when they snapped this great rolling shot of him on the VFR:

1997 VFR750

And I snuck out of work yesterday for a quick jaunt North of Corvallis and snapped this one on the way home:

1993 Ducati 750 Fall Oregon

Wallpapers of the above image:
Fall Ducati 750 Wallpaper 1680
Fall Ducati 750 Wallpaper 1280
Fall Ducati 750 Wallpaper 1024

Not my best work, but at least I have a desktop that will keep me thinking of riding all winter!

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2007 Sunriver, Oregon Exotic Car Show

Yeah I’m a week overdue. But with the start of a new school year, several new consulting clients, and little time left, I’m behind on my blogging. Seems like a trend!

I’ll start with some updates on the Ducati. Paul spent some serious quality time with the machine and rebuilt the carbs. While the leaky carb problem was fixed, and the low rpm drivability of the bike has been improved, it still runs very rich. Seems the bike is jetted very aggressively. I’ll be working to get this fixed soon. Many thanks to Paul at the Sports Car Shop for the work on the Ducati!

While the bike was in Paul’s care, he discovered an issue with the steering that was causing the total steering radius to be greatly diminished. Yep, that little mishap I had was due to mechanical issue. The steering is now so… useable!!

Now that I had a machine that was maneuvering more like it should, it was time for a real ride. We planned a great ride from Eugene to Sunriver to catch the annual Sunriver Exotic Car show. A late season ride, but incredible weather. Mid 70’s the entire day!

Here are some highlights from the show:

Getting the bikes ready for the journey
Ducati and Honda

Stopped for a break to get some coffee and gas
Ducati 750

Sunriver Exotic Car Show 2007 Pictures

A killer Porsche 356 Speedster Outlaw
 Porsche 356 Speedster Outlaw

A Porsche Carrera GT, natch
Porsche Carrera GT

A very low mileage and well maintained e30 M3 that I was drooling on
e30 M3

The cleanest BMW 2002tii I think I’ve ever seen
BMW 2002tii

A beautiful Mercedes SL
Mercedes SL

When we arrived in Sunriver, Steph called and invited us over for the Beaver game against Cincinatti at their place in Albany. How could we refuse?! After all, it led us straight through the Santiam Pass and some fantastic corners for 30 or more miles on Highway 20. While I was remembering how to negotiate medium speed corners and how the Ducati likes to be handled, Freddie Spencer (aka Paul) was setting the world on fire with his cornering prowess on the VFR. He made 10 minutes on me in 10 miles. So much time in fact, he had time to pull over and set up for pictures:

Picture 046

Picture 049

And yes, that’s the historical marker for the first Transcontinental Automobile Race in 1909. How ironic that Paul had so much time on me that he could take a break at this marker for me to catch up lol!

Here’s some of the late afternoon shots from Paul’s bike. Not bad for one-handed-while-riding(!):

VFR750

Ducati Rolling Shot

As you can tell, a fantastic day covering 300 miles. Picture credits go to Paul with his handy P&S HP camera.

The entire 2007 Sunriver Exotic Car Show pics on my Flickr.

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Introducing the 1993 Ducati 750 SuperSport

I’ve already got a post started about this new aquisition, one I had started to write before I had even purchased the new bike. The title: 1993 Ducati 750 SuperSport: Diagnosis Priapism. A bold title, but I was already in love and I knew the title would be befitting the new steed once in my possession.

And then it happened of course. I sprained my knee within minutes of ownership and I would have to just soak in the lines and construction of the new bike in the confines of the garage as my knee healed. So much anticipation built up, just to have a mishap sideline me into a sentance that would nearly drive me mad!

But I’m getting ahead of myself. [click here to skip my boring trip down memory lane and shopping list, and get on to the long story short]

When Paul’s birthday arrived this past June, his wife decided to surprise him with a motorcycle. Paul and I rode together for about 4 years in college and we both covered nearly every scenic road in Oregon in that time. Fond memories for sure. Here’s a pic of us getting ready for a ride many years ago, Paul’s Katana 750 on the left, my FZR600 on the right [update: As I showed this picture to Shana again, she remarked that she had seen it many times before and that I look upon it more fondly than our wedding pictures. Ouch!]:

fzr-and-katana

After only a few weeks of looking with fresh birthday motorcycle money in hand, Paul decided on a 1997 Honda VFR750. The bike is in fantastic condition and is well spec’d: classic Honda V-4 engine configuration, single sided swingarm, a Two Brothers Racing carbon fiber exhaust, etc… Here’s a pic:

VFR 750

Naturally it was only a few days before I was invited down to take a look up close and try out his new bike. It has been probably 6 years or more since I rode regularly, so I was a bit anxious about dropping his new bike. But sure enough it comes back just like riding a bicycle. And I loved every minute of it. Before I knew it, my 15 minutes was already up. I suspected a bike was back in my future when Paul started shopping, and this just accelerated the search.

As the previous owner of a Yamaha FZR600, I knew I wanted another supersport machine. I started by looking at the latest evolution of the FZR600, the Yahama YZF600-R6 and the Honda CBR600F4i. Both bikes are technologically more advanced than my old machine with features like fuel injection, all aluminum frames, and 16k+ RPM redlines. I made a budget of $7k for the bike and all new gear. This would put me in the market for a 2000-2003 model with about $1k left over for gear.

One of the things to be mindful of when buying a supersport motorcycle is that it’s pretty likely the machine hasn’t seen easy miles. Not to say that every example has been abused, but they are often owned by younger riders who don’t have either the appreciation or means to keep them nice. Luckily they’re also easy to spot. Numerous cosmetic tack-on’s, aftermarket performance parts for a rider with only a few years under his belt, and hardly ever as clean as they should be. So I made my decision early on to look for an older adult owner and as little modifications as possible.

My first encoutner was with a 2005 F4i, 2 years newer than I thought I’d be able to afford. At $5700, all stock, and very low miles, it looked like a sure thing. I went down to check it out with Paul and my first impression was that of the owner who arrived to meet us in shorts, t-shirt and helmet. Not a good start. The bike itself was in fact low miles, but had seen very little maintenance and looked generally unloved with a dry chain and dirt/dust in every crevace. The bike did ride very well but had a disturbing vibration between 4-6k rpm. After walking away that afternoon and doing some internet research, I made this post about the cam chain tensioner that plagues many of these F4i’s. Even as the owner said he would drop the price to $5400, I knew this wasn’t ‘the one’ I was looking for.

Then work got busier and some travel came up, and bike shopping was on hold. But in the meantime, Shana secured financing and accepted that a new bike was really in my future one way or another as it was pretty much the only thing I would talk about for the next few weeks. Shana has long been of theory that my nearly accident free 4 years on a bike in college had spent all of my good fortune and a return to riding would result in a crash. But I’m older now, and things really will be different this time around. Having spent time on a racetrack and witnessed many friends accidents in cars and bikes, I have a greater appriciation for what could happen. And I’m determined to do my best to be a safe and responsible rider.

Having come around on the impending purchase, we were hanging out on one of those Friday nights, unwinding with a few cocktails. Shana remarked that while she thought the Japanese supersports were good choices, wouldn’t I rather have something a bit more special? Something like a Ducati. I had convinced myself that they were too finickey and the nearest dealership was in Salem. But the timing was uncanny as the next morning, I decided to cruise Craigslist for Ducati’s. Sure enough, there was a beauty for sale, right in my own backyard in Corvallis. Here are the pics that were with the ad:

1993 Ducati 750Ducati Desmo

When I met the owner on that Saturday, the bike was exactly what I was looking for: Adult owned, well looked after, low miles, and needed nothing with an ad that stated new tires, battery, and recent maintenance. Furthermore, it had some choice upgrade components: K&N air filter, Staintuned 2-1 header exhaust combo, and the holy grail of racing carbs, Keihin flat slide carbs. BUT, and there had to be a BUT of course, the oil cooler line decided to spring a leak and needed to be replaced. This would also prevent me from getting in a test ride or even hearing the motor run for more than 1 second. But I was already sure, this was the one and it would be worth the wait.

I came back out a few days later and while the new oil cooler line was now in, the ‘new’ battery from last year had never been used or charged and wasn’t holding a charge. So now a new, new battery was in order. But that would need to charge overnight. AGHHH! It was driving me crazy, but I was really getting my first taste of the well documented Italian tempremental nature of Ducati’s.

But then Friday arrived. It was dusk on a beautifully sunny day and when I arrived, the bike was running with no issue. I took my test ride and all was right in the world after a week of incredible anticipation. I handed over the check shook hands and headed to the gas station to fill up the tank and put air in the tires before heading out into the countryside to see the sunset on my new bike.

Long Story Short

Beaming with joy, I hammed it up with the gas station attendant and gloated over my new purchase. After filling up with super, the air pump was behind me, so I’d need to turn around between the pump islands. And this is where my early Christmas day ended terribly early. I had been warned about the steering, but naturally was too caught up in the moment to really hear the words as strongly as I needed to. There is no steering on this bike really and all the turning is done with leaning. So I slipped out the clutch made a little lean to initiate the turn and then turned the bars into my turn. All pretty textbook. EXCEPT, I hit the limit of the steering with nearly no speed accumulated and the bike stopped moving. When the bike isn’t moving, you can’t be leaned over. The bike will fall over and there it goes. I put my right foot out and caught the bike but it was too far over to catch completely. I was able to gently set her down, but then had to jump off and pick the bike back up.

Words cannot describe how embarrassed I was. My pride was reduced to nil in a matter of seconds. After I got the bike upright, I felt an ever so slight pain in my knee and since the carbs were now flooded, I needed to take a timeout anyway. As I waited, the pain in my knee grew. I tried to ignore it, but thought the better of it, and after I filled the tires, I went straight home — where my wife was waiting. Of all things after my first ride, back on a bike after at least 7 years, reporting that I had already tipped it over wasn’t high on my list. So I briefly thought of not mentioning it, but as soon as I pulled in and got off the bike, I couldn’t put my weight on my knee. Nope, no hiding this. DAMN IT ALL!

The good news is that the bike is undamaged. The bad news is that it’s not damaged because my knee took that weight, and is a bit damaged. After two weeks I’m nearly healed. But really, it was my ego that took the biggest beating. And even that is coming around lol.

Here’s the pic that was taken in the garage instead of on top of a mountain peak after a blissful ride:

Sunday-Day-Ducati-750SS-Pic

I have since taken the bike out twice on 25 miles rides and it’s a wonderful. It does need the carbs synced, so riding through town is an exercise in bucking and sputtering (although it does shoot a foot long flame out the back between shifts Paul tells me). But once on an open road with proper revs, it pulls great and only requires the mere thought of turning to initiate the turn. No wonder Ducatisti’s are such passionate people concerning their rides.

I’m planning on getting the carbs rebuilt and sync’d, as well as taking the well reviewed Team Oregon motorcycle training in September to help me get up to speed after being away from the sport for so long.

So things didn’t go exactly as planned, but it’s all going to work out in the end. Paul and I are already planning a long ride to California 🙂 Ed, are you sure there’s no bike in your future this year?!

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