Ducati’s Scrambler has been around for a while now and there have been a fair few custom builders who’ve had a go at showing us what Bologna’s designers could have penned. Holographic Hammer’s carbon wheeled, quad front disc café racer proved that they’re just as good at building bikes as they are at colouring-in. Marcus Walz created a similarly track focussed café with added race.
Meanwhile Deus plumped for wowing through colour and Vibration Art & Design shaped some old oil drums into a striking silhouette. Fred Kruger though seemed to share our opinion that the stock swingarm is aesthetically challenged and knocked-up something more in keeping with the trellis frame. After all, one of Ducati’s lorded and defining features is that fabulous structure suggesting a raw and handmade interface between rider and machine. The stock seat and subframe also leave a little to be desired in factory trim. Obviously there’s a whole bunch of stuff under there including a hefty lead acid battery, ECU and an ABS pump which don’t exactly disappear without a fight so we appreciate builds that say bollox to the easy option and hide more of the guff showing off more of the sexy mechanicals.
In a bid to extract greater creativity from the world’s elite builders Ducati came up with the Custom Rumble dealer build-off competition. Untitled Motorcycles’ co-founder and owner of their San Francisco branch Hugo Eccles is one of the entrants. Hugo isn’t some new guy to the scene with a fresh set of spanners in his pocket, he’s an accomplished Industrial Designer running UMC-SF, with Adam Kay on this side of the pond building bikes for the U.K. and European market.
Hugo is also a founding member of the Bike Shed Motorcycle Club so he’s seen his fair share of customs and has experienced first hand the scene’s popularity explosion. When discussing the donor for this project Hugo exercised diplomacy saying “The new Ducati Scrambler is a great platform and does an admirable job of capturing the essence of the original Scrambler but with certain inevitable cost and production compromises”. So when the opportunity arose to roll up his sleeves and work on the bike of the moment he grabbed it with both hands. Jim MacLaughlin of Marin Speed Shop suggested they partner to build a bike and here’s the result, Untitled’s 38th build UMC-038 ‘Marin’.
Being a proper Ducatista Hugo also thought the stock swingarm needed repurposing, perhaps on a future project, “I’d originally intended to use a Sport Classic Mono swing arm but it was impossible to source in time so we went with one from an S2R”. Local fabrication specialists Turk’s Shop were tasked with producing a subframe and seatbase that echoed the existing trellis structure and new single-sided swingarm. The vertical shock is Öhlins but de-blinged to blend in with vapour blasted engine and raw metallic finish of the other components.
The slim, tapered design suggests a pared-down flattrack and supermoto inspired style which Eccles felt was “compatible with the Scrambler’s DNA”. To achieve this narrow waistline Hugo sacked-off the apparent rule that a plumb horizontal boneline is key to a handsome build and formed a steel tank to follow the flow of the trellis frame. A modicum of practicality has been maintained with a 115 mile fuel range, pretty damn good for a custom as extreme as this. The tank has been nickel plated and lightly brushed prior to paint giving a raw aluminium look, very considered.
From that point onwards, the build was geared towards stripping and removing all extraneous details and components, including numerous plastic panels; “we ended up with two large tubs of just plastic parts” says Eccles. The result is a bike that weighs around 147kgs, some forty lighter than standard. That’s less than a 125cc Vespa so performance should be enthusiastic to say the very least.
The engine isn’t stock either. Oxygen sensors have been removed from the QD headers and the emissions friendly air injectors sent the same way. A foam UNI Filter from a snowmobile takes the places of the original airbox and a reprogrammed ECU juggles the readouts to release a few more cavalli from the 803cc L-twin.
Noise regs and intervention from the efficiency police has meant the trademark dry-clutch clatter is being phased out of most new Ducatis but that doesn’t mean the wet one should be hidden. Hugo had the friction plates lightly machined for visual cleanliness and a Ducabike clear polycarbonate cover allows all to see the mechanical wonder inside. To keep the weight, both visual and physical, to a minimum and low down QD fabricated an underslung silencer box which supplies a proper soundtrack to make up for the quiet drivetrain.
The front wheel is an 17 incher, down an inch from stock, courtesy of a Monster 796 and the rear is the same diameter but from a Monster 1100, both running Continental Race Attack tyres. Forks are Showa big piston upsidedowners from a GSXR, stripped and anodised to match the frame. Seeing as the front tyre will rarely have the chance to touch Tarmac the flat seat is covered with high grip fabric as used on modern motocrossers. Hopefully Hugo is lightning fast with the rear brake pedal.
The rest of the controls are super-trick too. Levers are by HugeMoto and cunningly incorporate indicators, or turn signals as they’re called stateside (probably a better name for them to be fair), all plumbed in with clear braided lines and pumped by Brembo master cylinders. The cable operated clutch has been upgraded to hydraulic actuation.
An aluminium billet was machined to house the ultra-bright LED headlight whilst rearward Custom Dynamics LED strips deal with stopping and turning lights, completing the futuristically functional and minimal look.
Phew, nearly there. Well, not quite, there’s a whole load of other work that’s gone into this build highlighting why Hugo has been so busy for the last few months. No, I haven’t forgotten to mention the paint. Not exactly subtle is it? When Rossi joined Ducati MotoGP the team needed to make the GP11 ‘really pop’ and seeing as TV cameras ruin the vibrancy of colours in a bid to bring consistency to viewers the paint department mixed-up for a more fluro version of Rosso Corsa which looked the business against Vale’s neon yellow trademark colour scheme. The factory carried this hue over to the 1199 Superleggera ‘road’ bike and what better colour to choose for a build sharing a similar ethos.
Eccles is the first to admit that this build is somewhat out of character for Untitled Motorcycles. “It’s a competition build so we set out to do something intentionally provocative. Although this bike is road legal, the next road-going versions will be designed and detailed differently”. Watch this space…
Obviously we’re biased, not just because Hugo and Adam are mates but because we love proper engineering, and Ducatis.
You can vote for your favourite Custom Rumble build here and see more from Untitled Motorcycles below.
Photos by RC Rivera