You may have noticed that we’re big fans of Ducati cafe racers, so when we came across this 900ss from our friends, Redmax Speedshop down in the South of England, we had to get her up on the bike shed asap for your viewing pleasure.
This donor bike is late 80s Ducati, which is perhaps not the Bologna factory’s finest era in many respects, as they were churning out parts-bin specials, but the 900ss has turned out to be a great donor for some of the nicest customs around. Not only do they look great, but they also handle, are very light, and with a few simple tweaks they are reliable and fast.
Paul rode the bike in standard trim for a summer before realising it was destined for better things. He’d seen a couple of cafe’d 900ss customs on the net, which both had different elements he liked, so he knew what he wanted. All he needed to do was find the person to interpret his wishes and he was fortunate to come across Steve Hillary at Redmax Speedshop. Knowing the whole build was going be to managed via correspondence Paul was initially worried whether the guys would be able to understand what he wanted, but his trust in Steve and his crew clearly paid off.
His brief was to “cafe the 900SS, with 2 into 1 under seat exhaust, sort of rat looking, with less polishing more riding, bikini fairing and old school”, and as the build progressed it quickly exceeded his expectations.
“Photo mockups were produced with me giving Steve the shits with literally hundreds of emails “umming and ahhing” trying to decide the exact route to go, looking at the tank, fairing and seat options available and that big decision, what colour and which graphics…”
“First off was a fairing. Steve had the plan to use a Norton fairing with a removable headlight cover to maintain the racer look, but the fairing was massive and I was dubious. Steve took my comments onboard and it was shaved down to within an inch of its function and the tight look I wanted was there. Different seat options were looked at that would work with my under seat exhaust along with various upgrades proposed, my confidence in Steve’s work grew to the point I just replied to his further suggestions with “sure, do it”!”
“The tank was an issue and I really had my heart set on an aftermarket 70’s SS style tank, but that wasn’t going to happen unless I pulled the expense pin on something completely customised. So the next best plan was to cut the side scallops out of the original tank and make her look right. I think this part of the bike is what I really like the most, it changed that bulbous original into a sleek one off custom that’s a credit to Steve and his team…”
“I made a decision to not worry about doing any major mechanical upgrades apart from the 41mm FCR’s, as the bike is plenty fast enough for what I need. I almost lost the original Verlicchi aluminium swing arm due to a sprocket bolt coming loose, but Steve saved it. Rebuilt the Marzocchi’s on the front, tidied up the brake lines with some Goodrich braided hoses, beautiful new Hagon rear shock that proved a troublesome fit, 916 fluid pots and levers, custom mounted old school looking headlight, a beautiful pair of rear sets to match the cut and coated hangers, coated everything else, and throughout Steve utilised all the existing parts he could and fabricating where he couldn’t…..”
“In the beginning I really thought I knew exactly what colours to paint the frame, tank, seat, stripes, decals, the whole enchilada. This proved to be the most difficult part of the bike for me… When you rely on photo’s of a build to help you make decisions you are pretty much shooting blind when it comes to dimensions and profiles, as we all know bikes can take on so many different looks from all the different angles and perspectives, so that’s when I really had to put my trust in Steve, fuck me, what a killer creation he ended up making.”
The bike has now been safely delivered to it’s new owner in Germany. So, is Paul happy with the end result? “Hell yeah!” was the reply, so, top work as usual by Steve Hillary and the Redmax Speedshop crew. You can see more of Red Max Speed Shop’s work on their website and Flickr pages, or here on The Bike Shed.