The Worst Ducati in Dallas


New Member
I'm the proud owner of the worst Ducati in Dallas. Despite many signs that I should have passed on the deal my excitement for what the bike could be got the better of me. I should have bailed when the seller mentioned an out of state title. We'll see how that works out in the long run. I should have bailed when he told me it didn't have a plate. I should have bailed when the seat wouldn't stay on.
However, my excitement for this new project and a need to get home found some cash changing hands and me riding away on a 1997 Ducati 748 Superbike. The worst Ducati in Dallas. I made it about half way home before the rear wheel locked up and me and the bike slid down the ramp on to the highway. Fast forward about two hours and I had a the cheapest Ducati in Dallas in my garage, a chunk of cash back in my pocket and a little road rash to show for it. I was wearing gear and it saved me a trip to the hospital. I ruined a carbon helmet, a jacket and a pair of gloves. And to tell the truth, I was happy to do so.

Things could have been a LOT worse. The seller was a fairly stand-up guy, I was not injured, the bike is easily repairable and I learned a valuable lesson the hard way. When you brain says "walk away" or more importantly, "don't ride that piece if shit home" it's time to listen up. I've got tens on tens of thousands of miles on motorcycles. This was not down to in experience. It was down to rider error. The error I made before I even turned the key.

The end result is that I have what appears to be a solid chassis and motor. Which is really all I needed in the first place. the body work went out to the curb this morning. My plan is to build a heavily cafe-inspired custom.

Picture below is from the CL ad. I don't have any post-crash pictures as I went straight to work the next day tearing it down for the build. Tons of updates to come.



God help the child who grows out of everything
Too bad about your crash. Glad to hear you're alright!
Nice looking bike and good on the seller for looking out for your misfortune with his f-ed up machine.


Active Member
Sweet, I would love a 748 to do a custom build on! I hope you got the deal of a life time on it?
What are your plans for it? Hopefully you will get a 5 spoke front wheel to tie in with the rear. If it was mine I wouldn't be considering "cafe racer" style though. Look forward to following your build :)


New Member
I'm glad there is some interest. This build is going to be fairly high-end. My goal is for some coverage or perhaps the opportunity to show at the handbuilt show in Austin. I've got a long update for you fellas.

When I started to tear into the bike I discovered that the previous owner's ratchet only seemed to torn bolts counter-clockwise. Nothing on the body was remotely tight. The result is that the gas tank came off in the crash. I would think that bolting down a steel tank full of combustible liquid that sits directly in front of your nuts would be a priority. However, the PO didn't feel the same way.
The is in fairly rough shape. But that's not really a concern as it is going to be replaced by a carbon unit that is being built right now. The big problem is that Ducati fits plastic quick releases in the fuel lines. Which broke off. And not just in a way that could be easily removed. Thy sheared flush with the fuel pump housing. The result was that I had to remove the fuel pump to extract the remaining plastic. I ordered a salvage fuel pump just in case I damaged the threads on the housing.

I ordered some really nice metal fittings to replace the plastic ones. Replacement OEM plastic fittings were going to be almost as expensive.

With new fittings installed it was time to shove the fuel pump back in and start up the bike. I discovered that I had damaged the fuel pump seal when gas started to pour onto the garage floor as quickly as I was pouring it into the tank. Crap. Aside from the headache of not having another seal on hand. I had to then deal with a gallon and a half of fuel still pouring from the tank and what seemed like 5 gallons of gas on the garage floor slowly creeping towards the fridge and more importantly, the other bikes.

After an hour or so of cleaning up the spill I decided to see if I could find a replacement seal locally. It turns out that a local shop across town had one. So, off I went.
Now, I'm not cheap by any stretch. And it IS a Ducati. So, I expect to pay a premium for parts. But I was a bit surprised to see a $15 price tag for this:

With no other option, internet prices were $20 plus shipping, I paid the lady and moved on. After all, its not what it is but what it does that is important. I suppose that $15 to not burn down your motorcycle and the surrounding property is a sound investment.
Little did I know at the time I would have the pleasure of making that same purchase two more times as I promptly destroyed the first replacement seal on arrival home. The saving grace is that with the shop no closed for two days I was able to consult both the work shop manual and youtube for tips on proper installation. Turns out it's a whole thing where you have to create your own press using long bolts, some nuts and washers to press the thing in perfectly, and I mean perfectly, square. This new found knowledge helped me to get the pump gasoline-tight again.

The first thing any member of the Ducatista does with a bike equipped with a dry clutch is ditch the clutch cover. The PO was no exception. This resulted in the clutch being torn from the bike in the crash. I had snagged the spring retainer from the side of the road. And while researching fuel pump installation over a beer, I decided to use it to decorate one of my tap handles.

Having to replace the clutch proved to be nothing more than inconvenient as Ducati spec'd the same clutch on a number of models for a long time. Also, because this is a trade mark feature of the brand, there are tons of parts available. I ordered up this little guy and a VERY minimal clutch cover. C'mon, I can go against the Ducatista.

Apart from having to run out to find a torque wrench to tighten the springs to the proper torque, the clutch instal was very easy and straight-forward.

With the tank holding gas and the clutch installed I was ready to fire it up for the first time since the crash. I wanted to asses the motor before I got too far into the build. The seller told me that it had been bored out to 850cc. With the host of aftermarket parts the bike had, I was inclined to believe him. This marking on the cam cover lends credibility to this claim.

With most of the plastics headed to the Lewisville dump, I didn't really have a good place to put the battery that normally lives just behind the radiator on the right side. So I rolled out my handy shop stool to lend a hand. Battery reconnected, clutch installed, gas in the tank it was time to fire it up. In slo-mo you can see exactly where in the rotation the power stroke is. Pretty neat.

<iframe src="" width="640" height="640" frameborder="0" webkitallowfullscreen mozallowfullscreen allowfullscreen></iframe>
<p><a href="">IMG_4765</a> from <a href="">matt mueller</a> on <a href="">Vimeo</a>.</p>

After running it for a minute or two, I began to notice a little bit of smoke radiating off the bike. Not surprising. I'm sure it was residue from the engine degreasing I had given it. Then I panicked. There was a trickle of gas creating a small pool under the bike. Perfect. I had visions of this bike burning down in my driveway. The bike was shut off and tank removed with a serious quickness. After a few minutes the bike had cooled and enough of the gas had evaporated for a quick inspection. Turns out the fuel lines between the throttle bodies were not only cracked but labeled "not for fuel injection". Now, I'm not a motorcycle scientist or anything but something tells me it is time to replace ALL the fuel lines with fuel injection approved lines. So, I'mm off to get some fuel lines. More to come soon!


New Member
johnu said:
Sweet, I would love a 748 to do a custom build on! I hope you got the deal of a life time on it?
What are your plans for it? Hopefully you will get a 5 spoke front wheel to tie in with the rear. If it was mine I wouldn't be considering "cafe racer" style though. Look forward to following your build :)
Johnu, thanks for your interest. You've got a keen eye to catch the mismatched wheels. They are not staying. I'll probably sell them at some point to further recoup some cash. I've got my eye on a set of Marchesini's.

I'm doing this one cafe style because I love the minimalist, engine focused look. Ducati's are essentially a bunch of stuff bolted to an engine. I plan to for the engine to be the focal point and all the rest as functional accents. The details will be revealed as they come to fruition. No sense laying out an entire build only for some body to "borrow" all your ideas before you get a chance to execute them. Also, these projects tend to evolve as they go. Who knows, maybe I'll get some knobbies and riser bars and make it a tracker like my last Ducati ;)

Below is a picture from the initial tear down. You can start to see the lines. Admittedly, it looks like a street-fighter in this picture. The reality is that street-fighters began as sport bikes that had been crashed and body work removed.

More to come soon. I got a box from UPS yesterday afternoon that I haven't opened up yet. I hope you fellas like carbon.


New Member
Might be the worst Ducati in Dallas but that's easily the best tap handle I've seen in all of DFW! I'm in it to win it, love a good Duc project


Active Member
Biggest hurdle I see is that you are starting off with one of the all time best looking motorcycles ever designed :) If you build something that is worthy of that handbuilt show you mentioned (I looked it up) though we are in for a treat 8)


New Member
So, don't get in the habit of three significant updates a day but I got another one for you fellas.

@Johnu the goal here is ridiculous, badass perfection. Which leads me to my next update.

Remember that box I mentioned?

Well that presents a bit of a tale. You see, Ducati, in pursuit of a quickly removable gas tank made the air box part of the gas tank mount. Which is plastic. It's the rubber grommet just behind the ignition barrel.

Note the little wiener that goes into the hole. It's a cute lil nubbin. ;)

Now, there are tons of options for neat looking filters and intake trumpets but why bother if they are hidden within the airbox? If you ask the Ducatista, the motor runs much better with the air box in tact. There's some ram air bullshit that on the factory bike came in under the headlights. As I'm ditching the ram air setup, because it looks dumb without the factory body work, I began to question the need for the air box. I could easily fab a tubular steel gas tank mount behind the head-tube. I agree that this would be really clean and reasonably trick. Especially if I ditch the ignition barrel that lives just behind the head-tube. However, I can't get past the thought that a couple of pieces of steel is the "cheap way out". I'm not made of money and I certainly don't want to waste it. So the air box stays in some form.

Well, David Mills, it ain't Gweneth Paltrow's severed head.

That, my friends, is a genuine, bonafied carbonfiber air box. Somewhere, David Mills is relieved.

Mounting hardware hasn't arrived yet. Yes, that was missing when I bought the bike. Oh yea, I replaced the fuel lines this evening. Look at that little guy poking out.

And with the intake trumpets. I can't help but think that there is some work to be done with the airbox. I decided to test with the factory airbox first.


Yes, some other things have been moved around between the pictures. Turns out the headlight assembly is crucial to the bike running. So it will stay until I can remove the key pieces. Right now, I need to keep the bike functional before I really go bananas. Also, you can now see the line on which the seat/tail-section will be created.
Also, there is a visual lightening that happens when you can see through the airbox.

Does that serve the same function as the original airbox? Probably not. But it is an opportunity to create some detail. Perhaps some mesh over the ram air ports. Perhaps not. We'll just have to watch this ugly duc become a swan.


New Member
While I’m waiting on parts I’ve been plotting how exactly to handle the seat and requisite frame/subframe mods. As Ducati intended only for it’s horrible “monoposto” rear section fitting anything else is going to take some effort.

Below is the inspiration for my project. Yes, it’s two generations newer but with the older bike I escape all the clunky electronics and wonky anti-theft features. The bummer with this bike is that I feel that they missed the lines of the saddle. The green paint on the seat pan is below the green line on the tank. Also, much of the trellis frame is obscured by stuff.

Now, I will say that I hope my bike turns out as nice as this one. It truly is beautiful. However, as with anybody else’s project there are things I would have done differently.

The red lines are the trellis main frame. The yellow is the subframe that they fabricated for the café tail. The blue line is the line from the bottom of the tank that transitions to the top of the seat. The issue is that none of these different color lines are parallel or perpendicular. This makes my OCD crazy. I’m sure there are reasons this bike was constructed this way but I really want to avoid these design compromises on my build.

Below is one way of creating a new subframe for the bike that will accommodate a café-inspired tail section. This does involve adding a new tube under the gas tank and running it straight back to the end of the bike. Also, the lower subframe brace would then be parallel to one of the other frame braces.

The upside is that this creates beautiful lines and is a bit of a nod to a featherbed frame. The downside is that this requires two fairly large and complicated tubes to be fabricated and added to the frame. And while this may add a negligible amount to rigidity to the frame, it does have the potential to add some weight.

A similar effect can be achieved in what may be a more simple solution.

By just adding a subframe to the back of the existing mainframe, you are able to forgo fabricating a fairly complicated piece of steel. You are able to achieve lines that will match those that already exist. Also, you leave more of the engine in view. And since having the engine as the centerpiece of the project is the goal, this may be the way to fly. A cool side effect is that the body is able to levitate above the frame. A lot of BMW customs use this effect and it lightens the bike visually.

Option three would be to do something like this 748 by Radical Ducati.

They did basically the same thing I am proposing but perhaps done a little better. As they did not use a stock-shaped tank, they lost that long straight line it generates. They opted to use the line from the frame brace that angles up as it goes back. This brings the tail up in a more modern fashion. This is a slippery slope because there are some bikes out there that this generates a “V” at the tank/seat junction and can take a laborious project and make it look half-assed. Also, the angle can be too severe and stick the back end waaaay up in the air.

And finally, perhaps the best way to fly is to utilize both the lines of the tank and frame. After all, many people believe that the 996/748 was the most beautiful Ducati ever made. I disagree; I think the 1098 is the best. Which leads me here.\

Using the factory lines for the body creates lines that are consistent. Using the existing lines of the frame to create a new subframe keeps things simple and avoids adding any new angles into the mix.

I’d love to hear some opinions on which way to go, as I am clearly uncertain.

Popeye SXM

Also used for MX
I lov'in your project. I don't like the Radical duc, I prefer your tank especially if you want a "cafe racer". I would go for option number 2, (as drawn over your bike). I like the green bike (not the color) I agree they didn't get the seat/ tank right


Active Member
Personally I think the radical Ducatis are the best custom Ducs I've seen! Imho I would not be trying to create that typical cafe straight line seat/tank alignment that you seem to be looking for. I am interested to see which way you go. All I would say is don't choose one option over the other because it is easier to accomplish :)


johnu said:
Personally I think the radical Ducatis are the best custom Ducs I've seen! Imho I would not be trying to create that typical cafe straight line seat/tank alignment that you seem to be looking for. I am interested to see which way you go.
Agreed. Pepo's Duc's are beautiful. The Straight lines tank-to-seat one frequently sees, to my eye, seem more a limitation of fabrication skills than optimum aesthetics. In any event, watching with interest.


Active Member
Alex jb said:
Great to see consideration going on not just hack and hope :)

Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
Probably not too many people just hacking Ducatis ;D


Active Member
Not to hijack you thread or anything but this is my fav radical Duc aside from the 3 spoke wheels of course :D You are very lucky to be building a custom Duc and I look forward to more updates on the build whichever direction you go with it :)



Well-Known Member
I am a big fan of carbon fiber, but not a fan of tiny headlamp shell bubble butt seats. To me, they look out of proportion and don't match the frame style or the tank.

Style is a personal thing and what looks right to one of us may look like crap to someone else, so these are just my thoughts.

The frame is OK as is and it may even be possible to keep the subframe if you kept the underseat pipes, but with a different shaped seat hump. If you go with low pipes, the back end of the subframe might be hanging out there behind thr seat hump. The subframe has a nice curve which could be incorporated into the seat shape or hidden if you go with a more vertical seat back.

With a bread box tank the seat probably needs to have some "squareness" to it so I'm thinking an updated version of the old 750SS Imola seat - restyled to work better with the tank. Or perhaps an MHR (original) inspired seat shape. The tank sets the tone for the overall shape/style and the rest has to work with it. Square or round, long or short, fairing or not, low pipes or underseat or high level

That's a thought. High level pipes like an SS - something like this one in principle.

With the frame, I would not alter the main frame. And the subframe doesn't have to have the table top/Featherbed look in steel. It can be implied by matching the seat and tank lines without cutting metal. I'd probably change the frame color to black with any color bodywork or red with silver just because it reminds me of the best looking Norton 650Ss cafe racer I remember from the sixties.

DTT Bike Of The Month Gallery

DTT Light or Dark
Top Bottom