Here is my Ducati 900ss Modern Café Racer, she was a lightly modified café before I got her, then the ignition caused a problem, so I spoke to my good friend Simon about getting the ignition sorted and giving her a service and doing the belts etc… 2 cups of tea, a packet of biscuits and 3 hours later I had commissioned another build. Simon is an ex-BSB mechanic and a Ducati certified technician and all round motorcycle guru, plus he built an extreme café 900ss before; which I adored and he regrets ever selling, so the deal was struck, I’d supply the bike, parts, assistance where needed and he’d work his magic, he’s a quirky little chap, so wanted to have a few surprises for me, so parts of the build were kept hidden, such as the paint job.
Isn’t photoshop great… it looks like I’ve got 2 of them! But no, this is definitely a one off. These head and arse pics really show off how skinny she is, and she’s light too, the original fairings, exhausts, lights, instruments and airbox really do add up to a considerable weight, so losing them and giving the engine a refresh of fluids, belts and breathers really has made her a potent beast.
As mentioned earlier, Simon had control of the paint scheme, he had his painter Dexter work his magic without me knowing. Now originally we were going to Nickel plate the frame, but it turned out to be way too much work as all the factory welds would need to be braised and then we needed to find somewhere willing to do it. So the bling of Nickel was off the list; at this stage of the build I said ‘we can add an element of bling in the paint if we aren’t doing it with the frame’ Simon heard: ‘Go mental with the paint scheme… I dare you’… Well, when I first saw it I was taken back, I didn’t hate it (thankfully) but I was unsure; I had expected a classic paint scheme and with perhaps a little metal flake within a stripe, what I got was a deep black with heavy gold metal flake on the tank, mudguard and seat unit and a solid white stripe with black stars; which of course also had the metal flake in… plus the wheels were painted white with the centres done in the black and metal flake. It was something that needed to grow on me, and it has, I actually love it now, it gets so much attention and people that know nothing about motorcycles can even tell that she really is one of a kind.
Anodised standard rear sets with after market fixed pegs give me an affordable and handsome place for my feet and the filled in swing arm gives us a modern look, this is something Simon had done to one of his old track bikes and it looked so trick I just had to have it done. We considered a single megaphone silencer; to be hung to the left and we still might give that a go, but Simon had cut down his original silencers on his last 900ss build and fancied replicating it here, they look great especially with the white wrap on the system and no one realises they’re the standard cans cut down; they are actually baffled, but they’re still bloody loud, which is great before 10pm, but a little embarrassing when riding out of London at 1am setting off car alarms!
Bates style LED headlight on bespoke bracket, all painted white to match the frame, casings and wheels. Micro LED indicators and Adelin master cylinders with white grips all help to complete the retro modern look. Brass mini mirror looks awesome and allows a great view of my shoulder… it needs a longer stem which is top of the to-do list! The top yoke has been gently shaved out to allow the speedo to nestle neatly in, it’s the only instrument on the yokes, there are no idiot lights, if there’s a flashing glow out front, my indicators are on, if the road is brighter than normal and the moon is up; my high beam is probably on!
The plated swing arm holds the top of the rear shock; yes I said top, the rear shock is actually inverted, there’s no benefit from it and we had to modify the frame to make it fit, but it’s trick, and that’s what we were going for. The standard clutch cover had its centre cut out, then a flat sheet was CNC’d with the BSMC logo before being welded into place; painted black, then brushed back on the face to leave the internal edges black, sat against the white casing it really draws the eye in. 900ss swing arms don’t have eyelets for paddock stand bobbins, so they were added to assist with servicing, chain adjustment/lubrication and making the bike that little bit cooler.
The seat unit is a replica TZ250 unit made from steel, so it’s strong and we could weld to it, this made it much more versatile than a fibreglass unit, although it did need a little more attention in the finishing at the paint shop. The seat pad has been made from leather and diamond stitched, it’s slim enough to get the profile I wanted, yet thick enough to have an element of comfort, obviously we aren’t talking arm chair comfort, but for a custom Café Racer, it really isn’t too bad for about 75 miles.
Exposed belts, dam they look great… I know they’re vulnerable like this and there are plenty of what ifs, but I love motorcycles and their workings, so when you can show them off a little, I think you should. The standard bike had a mass of plastic for an air box tucked under the tank and blocking the view through the trellis frame, so we ditched that, modified a few bits so what needed to stay still could; then we fitted pod filters and tidied up everything that’s now on display.
Monroe’s deadline was the BSMC Event III at Tobacco Dock in May, 2 days before the show she was ready, I was so excited to show her off to everyone and teased a few of the BSMC crew with details, but kept most of them quiet; especially the clutch cover, when it turned up on the setup day I called Dutch over, his face said it all; he wasn’t expecting that paint scheme either, but he too loved it and as he walked around his eye drew straight to the clutch cover, I honestly haven’t seen him smile like that before and all he said was ‘Duuuude‘, nothing else was needed. She went down really well at the show and certainly stood out from the more classicly painted machines and she also created a stir when on display recently in Bike Stop; so much so that she may be finding a new owner soon; then Simon and I can build another… but different!
Thanks obviously goes to the genius Mr Simon Parry for his craftsmanship, paint was by Dexter and upholstery by Pound in Baldock.
Photography is courtesy of Paul Clayden Photography
I have a few more bikes that are awaiting their turn, so hopefully there will be another Ali and Simon project coming your way soon. Stay up to date by following Mint Custom Motorcycles on Facebook