Motorcycles are one of the few machines left where an owner can see the moving parts actually connect and move. When I purchased my Ducati Monster 696 in 2008 I did not know what to expect in terms of maintenance and whether riding would be right for me. I knew that I loved the idea of the motorcycle, but I was not sure about much else. Five years later and almost 15,000km on the speedometer, and I feel pretty good about my choice. I could have purchased a Harley Davidson, and I might have been just as content, but perhaps the Monster has made me a better rider. I am certainly more aware of what makes a good motorcycle great: quality service and upgradability.
For Harley owners the upgrade material of choice is chromed metal; Ducati owners buy carbon fibre or billet aluminum. The Monster, especially, seems to have been designed for upgrade, as the plastic components simply wear out over time and the screws need to be replaced with stainless steel. For my ride, I have made it a basic yearly expense to replace the plastic with better pieces of carbon fibre from the German maker, CarbonWorld.de. The carbon is lighter, more durable and makes me feel like Batman would choose this material for…well, everything. Sadly, it is also expensive.
For tonight’s mods, I chose to replace the red “bikini” fairing that was included with 696+ models with a carbon cover that would remove the fairing and simply cover the speedo. First, one simply takes out the two screws that hold the fairing in place. Second, you will need to remove the four bolts that connect the fairing to the speedo because on non+ models this bracket is not present. While I am not counting metal calories on the Monster, I will admit that losing the heavy bracket and bolts did shave weight. Third, you need to find screws to bolt the fairing onto the speedo, as the 696+ models do not have these included in the mounts. Fortunately, I have a tonne of screws from my other mods, so it was quite simple to find two black bolts to fasten the cover on.
The final result is nimble and understated, which is what a naked bike is supposed to exemplify. What I like most about the addition is that I can actually see both the speedo and the road much better than with the fairing. Plus, the fairing’s plastic view screen had blurred over time to just not look very appealing. For my second mod, I decided to go with a carbon seat cowl. While it is a little odd not to see the red tail, I do think that the actual product is far superior to the red plastic, especially after the wear and tear of five years. I ended up also needing to change the thumbscrews that attach the cowl to stainless bolts, as I lost one inside the swing arm about 6 months ago. A little harder to remove, but that might save the piece from being ripped off the bike, too.
My day was mostly focused on new work that I have been doing for Graeme Cameron at Base Camp X. Having six axes in my bedroom to ensure that they were not scuffed up along the way was a little stressful, but that is what happens when entrusted with art pieces. Below are featured three of the axes, and I have to admit that it was no easy task climbing to the top of a 6ft ladder and shooting these with a Hasselblad camera and a CFV 16 digital back. The acrobatics were necessary to ensure accurate representations of blade to handle ratios. White backgrounds with reflective, translucent finishes are never easy, but adding the ladder makes having a super assistant critical. Never underestimate the value of a person who understands what you need and who can provide it with the littlest of effort. There was an extremely cool package that BCX put together for a certain film director’s wedding today, but that will have to wait for a later blog entry to ensure secrecy.