Being fully aware that we haven’t shown you a Ducati custom build for hours, even days… I felt it was time to fulfil the need for your Italian exotica fix; ok so Ducati’s might not be your vice, but they’re certainly a major addiction for several BSMC crew, myself included. One of the great things about a modern Ducati is that they go like stink, sound like thunder, turn on a rail and stop on a dime, all that and they have one of the most charismatic frames of the motorcycle world, this all adds up to the perfect ingredients for a modern day Café Racer.
This build comes from a team of new builders in Paris and they go by the name of Modification Motorcycles, we very much hope to see them at our first international event in April at Le Carreau du Temple. Modification Motorcycles consists of 3 main guys, Raphael, aka Raph, Alex and Florian, yet like any seasoned builder, they know how important good suppliers and specialists are, such as their regular saddler, Raph’s friend Raphael who built the exhaust and then their 2 painters, one for the ceramic coating of the tank, and another one for the multiple layers of painting to obtain this « titanium » taint.
So onto the donor, a 2006 749s, personally owned by Raph since 2010 and used on the road back then before spending the last 3 years as his track bike, it was a solid companion and being owned outright; a perfect donor for a flagship custom to help build company awareness and showcase what they can do. Raph had an idea of how he wanted to build his modern Ducati Café Racer; but after looking on the net for additional inspiration; he found that bike builders South Garage had already shared his thoughts and even built it; so a new concept was needed, but sometimes new isn’t always the best way to go, in fact we quite like old… at least old school, so the iconic Ducati Café Racer from the early 900ss was to be the main inspiration, the fairing and seat unit were ordered and upon arrival the rear frame was modified to accommodate the lithium battery within that iconic seat unit, exhaust mounts were removed and the whole frame was lowered to give a parallel line to the ground, something most trellis frames require.
The front fairing has been mounted on the bikes race fairing mount, reshaped, adapted and strengthened where required to sustain rigidity no matter what speed the bike reaches. Thanks to using the 749’s race fairing mount, it meant that the guys could easily mount the original gauges and keep the bikes genuine mileage, the OEM gauge might not be the most elegant out there, but it has everything the rider needs to know in a well laid out way. The original bike was slatted when released as Ducati moved away from the 916 and 996 iconic front view to an above and below lamp, it was a bit Marmite… actually, more people hated it than Marmite, but in a nod to that design element of the original 749, Raph and the boys chose to replicate the up and under lamps, but externally and using industrial lamps, one for dipped beam whilst the other is main beam.
To finish off the fairing, CBR600F4 mirrors were mounted, Raph didn’t want bar end mirrors that are seen on 90% of custom builds and he wanted to have a clear view behind him, a clean and sporty look and the benefit of retracting them in, not everyone likes them, but Raph often rides in Paris, having mirrors that work is vital.
The frame tells everyone it’s a Ducati, and there’s no colour more Ducati than red, the rest of the bike is made up of various silvery tones, the steel tank was buffed to a perfect shine ahead of being ceramic coated, this way it’ll keep its sheen without the fear of rust messing up the aesthetics, titanium paint covers the plastics including the front mudguard fins, which appear more as fork guards or aerodynamic spoilers than an actual splash guard.
The exhaust is a piece of art, as mentioned earlier this was built by Raphs friend Raphael, it has been made from Stainless Steel and buffed to a high finish, the system is located low and close to the swingarm, and a single Spark Chrome megaphone gives a great modern classic look, I bet she’s loud, yet tremendously enjoyable, after all; Ducati L twins seldom sound crap once they’re released from their standard silencers!
When it comes to riding her, Raph says that she’s full of punch, very loud and very aggressive in high revs. All of the original bikes character has just been enhanced to produce a meaner and bolder version, now known as the 749M. She’s fast and not that easy to ride, she needs a lot of guts to get into turns, but once committed she remains stable at whatever speed, any firm hand when using 1st or 2nd will have the front end pointing to the sky, which is great for longevity of a front tyre!
Huge thanks to Raph and the team over at Modification Motorcycles for sharing their build, next up for them is an old timer BMW flat twin, we are certainly looking forward to seeing their unique touch on an old Bavarian.
Photographs by Charles SEGUY