Patrick Chartrand actually wanted to buy the original loudbike back when it was up for sale many years ago, but Gareth Wilson beat him to the punch. However, this week, Patrick took delivery of a shiny new quasi-replica of the bevel that started it all – and in some bizarre karmic twist, this machine would be the last of the “commercial” loudbikes.
About this time last year, I had to call Patrick to tell him that it was likely that the Mosport crash would seriously delay the completion of his project and that in fact, it was likely that I’d be shutting down the shop and returning to the software game. I offered him a couple of good options in terms of players that could complete the bike - which at that moment lay in pieces that represented about a 50% completion state. Pat maintained that he really wanted me to finish the bike and that it took another year to do it in my spare time, then so be it…
So, I picked away at the project as time allowed, but in January, I got serious and began going in to the shop at 5AM most weekdays and putting in at least 8 hours into the process every weekend. Like most ground-up, seriously custom projects, things got uglier when the 75% mark was hit and the snags encountered became the stuff of legend. The frame was a one-off chromoly Sport replica built at least 10 years ago by Montreal –based fabricator Cody, and while a beautiful piece, the use of thinner-walled larger diameter tubing drove me nuts. The net effect was that little of what had to be attached to the frame and swing arm was going to fit and things like axle blocks, adjusters, axles, spacers, etc had to be machined for a new radius or remade completely. The rear sub-frame was moved forward 2.5” (the 3” treatment on the OLB wasn’t possible do to tube size), the battery box removed, coil and tank mounts fabricated and tabs attached for all the peripherals.
In a seniors’ moment, I didn’t notice that the loop that locates the center stand was missing until I bolted the stand onto the powder coated frame. In a period that started with morose reflection upon my more frequently addled state of mind, I realized that the same ’90 750 Sport side stand design that saved my bacon when I broke the case boss on the Cadillac might make an excellent solution for a bevel. The Sport side stand is welded to a small piece of tubing that in turn is welded to a plate, and this meant that it might be possible to whip up a different plate, ditch the connecting tubing and have a side stand that bolted-up in a reasonable spot rather that the ridiculous location that was used for the NOS units. I happened to have one kicking around, so out came the hacksaw and angle-grinder. The result looks stock and works brilliantly.
But it wasn’t until I took it out to Shawville so Gerry McDermott (who had done the cam timing and Dyna ignition) and saw it with a bit of distance that I noticed that something in the rear of the bike wasn’t right. Well, honestly, I had noticed it before, but with all the set-backs of the prior two months, I decided to ignore it until I was sure the motor (more on that later) would actually run. The rear wheel looked horribly offset and between the McDermotts and I, we tabled an impressive number of possible scenarios. None of the usual visual cues were working ‘cause Cody’s swing arm bent at different places and the license plate mount wasn’t entirely centered. The seat was off a funky mold and wasn’t entirely symmetrical either so we decided that the whole matter was best left to skilled professionals (not that we knew of any, but it got us off the hook so we could focus on start-up…).
Which sucked. The engine was built by Keith Harte back in the day (whenever that was) and then sat for a very long time in God knows what kind of environments untouched until Gerry did the cam and ignition timing. It was a curious combination – with hi-comp Sport pistons, a desmo conversion, but stock porting. I figure it would piss oil, and it didn’t let me down. Out come the engine and in went new rear cylinder o-rings (why is it ALWAYS the rear?) and a few other seals and gaskets. We fired it again and it ran like crap – feeling for all the world like it had some serious air leaks. I doubted this as everything on the intake side was new and after all it was I who had done the assembly (right). Turned out that after later that month firing it with Rob’s cast-off 32MM units, the culprit was the EPA idle screws installed by Miller (why do I even bother) Specialties in the rebuilt 36’s. Further running uncovered a leak in the base gasket that was running oil through the front motor mount tunnel.
But, I digress. In order to figure out what was going on in the back end of the bike, I set up Adam’s wheel alignment jig and found to my amazement that both the chain and wheels were (with minor fiddling) in perfect alignment. This had me seriously perplexed and in order to get some sense of reference for center, I established some solid visual points and snapped a bunch of shots with the Olympus. Back at home. I laid up the best image in Photoshop and laid in a horizontal line to align the photo and then some verticals off the inner shock mounts. The result was a left shock tilted in 8mm off center and a right unit also in, but only about 5mm. So the culprit was a sub-frame that was just basically out of whack. The swing arm was true, but had bends in unusual places.. So, a couple of Delran spacers, license plate and seat relocation had the package visually correct and structurally true. …And that was the easy stuff.
When I attempted start-up again with Rob’s 32’s in place, the bike ran brilliantly and I set out for my first run around the block – only to find that the bike would jump out of a first gear that was as hard to locate as a Canadian Federal Public Servant at 3:31PM on a weekday. Back to Rob’s Sport for his selector box and the next run around the neighborhood put a grin on my face for hours. Doug Cook put the hi-pipe system together and it sounds like no bevel I’ve ever heard. The motor is punchy and smooth as well as mechanically quiet. I love it. Pat’s box was just plain worn out and beyond adjustment.
I delivered the bike to Pat at Calabogie Motorsports Park and arrived at the facility around noon. I found Pat’s pit without any problem, and given that he was nowhere to be found, I figured I’d unload the bike and set it up by his trailer. Then I got bored and with a gathering crowd of onlookers I fired it up and began the process of warming it up with some easy and gorgeous sounding revving – which pulled Patrick out of his cat nap inside the trailer and out of the door with a shit-eating grin.
We spent the next couple of hours riding up CMP’s private road (almost a track in itself) and going over the fine points of bevel break-in, care and feeding and it was a treat to hear Pat running up the road on the machine. Eventually, I had to unbolt Rob’s selector box (we’ve found a good replacement) and make my exit. He’ll be having the bodywork painted in the old-school, large metal-flake silver with a pin-up on the top of the tank and that suits me just fine.
Many thanks to Doug Cook, Adam Bennett, Gerry McDermott, Ron Marshall and Pat (for being such a treat to work with).
Finally – one step closer to getting my life back…
Content: 1987 Ducati 750 F1, 2005 Ducati Multistrada MTS1000S, 1974 Ducati 750 Sport Bevel Twin Custom Hot Rod, loudbike, Steve Munro