...neat article from BCM. You might find interesting...I was drooling...
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If They Read This They Will Want One...
Well, I would like to start this off with a disclaimer stating that I'm not in anyway affiliated with BCM Ducati. But I won't. We have an affiliation. I give them money and boxes of "stuff" and they give me back way cool [censored]! Can't think of a better affiliation to have.
To start at the end of the story...I got this email from Bruce Meyers at BCM on Friday, 10/19:
Hi, Bob. We just read your R ride report on the "list". Nice job! But wait til you ride The Beast. I got 132 rwhp. Made almost 80 ft lbs of torque at 6500K. The torque hits hard and it pulls all the way to the rev limiter. I almost went over backwards in third gear. Normal SPS with pipe and chip gets 120 rwhp on my dyno so you can get an idea of the numbers. Most 996 with slipons get around 110 on mine. FYI, I tried a set of 54 mm throttle bodies but there was no power gain and it took away the really nice midrange torque hit. So that mod wasn't part of the end package. See you Sunday! Bruce
If you recall correctly, I was supposed to post a few pictures of the various bits on the 996R this weekend...obviously you can see now that I was a bit distracted to say the least. If you also recall correctly, when I gave the ride report on the R, I said we really needn't get into the details of a comparison between an SPS and an S, as there was none. Well...Susie took a bit of exception to that as they were leaving me on Sunday...hence this little story.
To rewind a little, The Beast, as Bruce has named it, is 1999 996S #003 that I bought new in April of 1999. I of course dug right into stage 1: 54mm Forza full exhaust; FbF Stage 3 chip; 520 Chain Conversion; Renthal quick change carrier w/ 40T rear; Adjustable rear sets; Technosel Seat; And a few other carbon odds and ends
Oh yeah, and a really rich running condition complete with horrendous sputter & backfire at 5000 or so on the tach. No big deal really, it needed to be tuned a little, I was having fun with it...and I decided to tear into it over the winter. That would be the winter of 1999. You see, being a bed bug for just about ANYTHING mechanical...I was just going to rebuild it. No big deal
Well...of course there's only one way to build anything. The RIGHT way. Bullet proof. And, for the most part, that means Corse. How hard could it be? Hell - I even went & got a vanity plate - 2EEKT. I was all set. I had a thousand bookmarks of parts suppliers and trick bits...this should be a piece of cake.
Skip ahead to Spring. That would be Spring of 2001. Yep. 2 years. March rolls around & I meet Bruce & Susie & greet them with:
A box of parts - both old and new.
A rolling frame consisting of a lump of a motor, fitted with a Corse air box & Corse intakes. A 748R breather box fit nicely under the 1.6m CPU. A nice Corse Fuelcel tank. And basically that's about it.
After 2 years, 3000 miles, and quite a few thousand dollars, that's as far as I got. Oh, I tried most of those "trick" parts, and yeah, the trick is getting any of them to fit or work. Hell...that's how I got the SPS and the R! I needed SOMETHING to ride! Time just becomes more & more fleeting as we get older!
Now, a good mechanic can tell alot about a person by viewing their handiwork. How they think, how they ride. Alot of stuff. Luckily, Bruce was one of those people. (quote of the project "well...we took your motor apart...you're really not afraid of the throttle, are you?) He was able to see, by the fossils he was given, what the skeleton was supposed to be. As he & I got more comfortable with the relationship, it was just easier to give him carte blanche on making things happen! And, as we all know...there's a lot of unobtanium involved in carte blanche. I gave him a little help along the way with stuff that I had found...but for the most part he was left alone.
Well...Sunday Bruce & Susie show up with - The Beast. My first reaction was...I can't believe its back in one piece. My second reaction - why does it look so "normal?" Oh yeah...I wanted it to look that way...I forgot. A "Sleeper." (Hey, 3 years is a long time.) So, we get it down out of the truck and begin to go over it. To be perfectly honest...the fun is already started. It's hard to bet on who's the bigger kid here...me or Bruce. Even Susie has that beaming with pride parental glow about her
We start dissecting the little critter, actually, it's just a matter of absorbing the whole thing in...roaming from one little bit to the next. We went over torque curves, weight, ride height, suspension settings, all the while just giddy like kids in a candy store. Or the Corse race trailer, depending on how old the kids are. We traded stories of how I managed to wrangle the exhaust system and how he managed to procure certain unobtanium from assorted venders and race teams.
As you zoom in from the big picture...you begin to see the parts that make up the whole...
Ohlins Forks; Magnesium Corse Triple Trees with increased offset; Brembo Goldline Monoblocks & rotors (the brakes on the 996R); Magnesium Marchesini wheels (3.5 x 5.75); Pilot Sports; c/f body with belly pan; c/f mirrors with directionals in them; c/f headlight bucket; Fuelcel carbon Kevlar Corse tank; 748R c/f breather box with Corse breather system; Corse Air box; Magnesium extended Corse swing arm w/ Ohlins shock & Corse linkage.
The motor has been warmed up a lil' too:
Single injector 50mm fuel system; Increased fuel pressure; BCM Hi-comp pistons; Carillo Rods; Heads ported polished and BCM Valves installed; SPS cams; Hard weld rockers; Termignoni 54mm Corse tapered full system, thin wall stainless w/ c/f end cans; Balance & Blueprint
Doesn't really seem to do the experience justice, ya know...to boil it down to a list of this and that...because, like I said...the sum of the parts is SO much greater then the whole. (and believe me, that's no small task considering the parts list!) It's awesome dealing with someone that can take an idea and run with it...but also has the experience to apply to it. Case in point...radial master cylinders. Hey...I went this far...I planned on installing them...but, in conjunction with the R brakes, you lose feel. They weren't mean to work together. So, they were removed. That's awesome...that's what I mean. Form follows FUNCTION...and its all too easy to lose function & get lost in the name game and the poser stuff. (Hey...we all indulge in poser stuff...that's cool, as long as it doesn't DETRACT from performance!) I remained true to the things that I wanted, things that I felt needed to be authentic, & that I knew worked, and Bruce filled in a bunch of blanks that I didn't know worked.
The result? A bike that he felt was balanced for exactly what I wanted it for...hard street riding and unfortunately my way too few track days!
So, of course, after the obligatory drooling and beaming and chatting and everything...I was "reprimanded" (thanks Sus) for not already having my gear out and on, it was time for my first test ride...Yeah...this is the test ride that they watched
We'll go over that in part II...
PART II: IT IS POSSIBLE TO BUILD A BETTER 996S
Anyway, where I left off last time was taking off on a test ride with Bruce & Suzie standing there watching. Of course, the probability of doing something stupid increases proportionately with the number of people watching, so I was trying to be extra careful
That of course didn't stop me from stalling the bike 3 times getting out of the parking lot and onto the street! Seems the new motor is pretty cold blooded and likes to be run warm. This is, BTW, a single injector conversion over the regular dual injectors on the 996's due to the fueling problems encountered there. Making a left onto 17M, there's a L O N G downhill clear straight in front of me...so off I go.
First thing...bike wheelies easy. Real easy. Through the first 4 gears with the throttle. The gearing is too short now...40T rear has to go and a 38 is going to replace it. Throttle response is instantaneous, no sputters or coughs. Just a REAL strong tug for acceleration. Until you hit 6000 on the tach. Then it's like getting hit in the face with a shovel. The bike just absolutely takes off. The noise through the intakes and air box is deafening, as well are the Corse Termi's. I have to say, this exhaust system is it...thin wall 54mm stainless with tapered core c/f cans. Makes an absolute growl on the pipe.
Next noticeable thing...the bike's WAY lighter then it was. (Good thing too cause 2 dirt bike accidents the beginning of the year left me heaver then I was.) It feels a little heavier in the front...more weight there now the way it's set up, and straight line stability is OK...I would say a little less stable then it was, but nothing extreme, if anything I expected it to be a little worse than it was. But once you are on the power, how light the front is becomes readily apparent.
Suspension is a little on the stiff side for the street. To be fair, Bruce set up the bike using the info I gave him and with his own expertise, and I'm trying to ride it this way for the moment before I start trying to dial it in, I have no experience with these suspension changes. It's dialed in for ludicrous speed at the moment...VERY taught feel. You can feel EVERYTHING through the grips and your butt. More then before though, setup is definitely something that needs to be confined to the track with the Beast.
At the end of this mile & a half straight is an on ramp for route 17 with its own speedup lane. Next noticeable thing...the bike turns in fast. REAL fast, but, it holds a line PERFECTLY. I mean ROCK solid. Not the SLIGHTEST bit of wallowing or vagueness. Confidence inspiring to say the least. Except that you feel like a dope for even thinking of slowing down for the turn. Normally on this ramp I can get a real good squirm going through the rear at the speed I was going, this thing didn't even blink. Part of the problem I have with the Superbikes (either due to riding style, or my own amateurish attempts at setup, or a combination of both) is that I have a hard time getting a solid feel from the rear of the bike. I can have it squirm and dance on the back tire, front planted solid as can be. It's something that I struggle with, but haven't been able to completely eliminate. Well...it seems to be gone now.
So, I scream down one exit to a 25mph off ramp. And proceed to slow down WAY too much, again. Brembo Goldline Monoblocks up front, identical to the 996R. 'nough said. The ramp is taken at about 62-65, about normal for me, tires really aren't heated up yet...but the entire turn is a on-event. The mag triples and the extended swing arm do weird things to the bike if you've never ridden on them. The first thing is the forks are pushed out more on the top...27mm more offset, and the swing arm is extended. I would have assumed I was trading off turning in for better corner speed, such is not the case though. The bike turns in hard and fast, and corner speeds just FEEL slower. There is just no sense of urgency whatsoever. It's not even like the bike is laughing at you. It's just BORED.
I wasn't though...cause after I went around the 270 degree ramp, there was a Sheriff sitting at the light across from me. My light was green, but, I slowed WAY down expecting him to wave me over & have a chat. He looked at me, and just waved me on by.
With his approval now, I just started pushing a little harder on the next turns some, but to be really honest...not even close to any kind of pace. After a large U turn...I wheelied down the straight back to the store and met up with Bruce and Susie again. (That was for you Wegs) After going over some things on the bike, we chatted and they departed for home and off to DRA.
Susie's departing words to me were that she would really like to see me put it head to head with the R and tell you guys about it...of course, not wanting to be rude...that's part 3...
PART 3: THE BEAST VS. THE R
OK...so some of that parting stuff that Bruce & Susie and I went over before they left was really sort of a disclaimer...
"You should keep this chain lubed..."
"You have to run a little more slack in it with this extended swing arm..."
"Get those tires warm before you get into the throttle.."
"If you don't shift at 10K your spinning your wheels, there's 500 rpms overrun until the rev limiter..."
and, my PERSONAL FAVORITE...
"The motor could really use a few hundred miles under 8 grand..."
Ummm. Chains slack & lubed. Check. Tires warm. Warm enough...check. 8 grand huh? On the Tach? The big green numbers? This a warranty issue? Well...there's lots of things with big green numbers on them I could use too...sorry.
So, as soon as they left I was back out on the road. To be fair...I did a couple of hundred miles not wringing TOO much out of the motor...but it saw the rev limiter a couple of times. 500 rpms of overrun comes pretty damn quickly on this bike. Another thing comes quickly too. Empty. Yeah, at about 80% intensity it sees 80 miles between fill ups. Oh well...that new rear sprocket is on order. Spinning up the motor is an absolute BLAST. When those butterflies are opened anywhere above 6000 the bike just sucks in air and spits out that sweet song effortlessly. But...the power is so controllable that you can just lean the bike over and lighten the front end as much as you dare in the turn. Of course, The Beast is more daring than I am...but she's training me quite well. It should be even better once that rear cog is changed.
The weather here got pretty crappy after 2 rides of getting to know her...but, Saturday came around here in NY and it was absolutely perfect riding weather, and I had to bring the R down to my office for her winter storage spot...so I got to pit The Beast and the R against each other...
Originally this was supposed to be a head to head test. There really aren't too many people I would let loose on the R, (OK, there's really only 2, one was out of town, and Bruce was in Vegas.) Oddly enough, there weren't too many people I thought of that I would let loose on The Beast either, but try as I may I couldn't find a taker to ride her. Funny how when you try to do something like this the only people that actually volunteer are people you wouldn't let ride your recliner. You guys believe this? So, I did the next best thing...took each bike...same roads, same loop, and rode them the same way...just to do a little comparison. OK. That's a lie. I attempted to ride them the same way, but you really can't...so, here's my objective opinion on 2 very different motorcycles...
It's all about urgency, and something I like to call "The Squirrel Zone."
The testastretta motor is outstanding, no doubt. But, it's obvious here that the motor likes to be ridden harder than the rest of the bike. True, I need to firm up the suspension on it a little more, BUT, when you push her really hard we find the squirrel zone. The Squirrel Zone is that area of speed where you find yourself really starting to work hard for the successful completion of a given section of road. Usually, we get club hands & feet and tense up and the bike starts doing the Squirrel dance underneath us. This is great on the street, it keeps your speeds down to something more in the area of just going to jail forever as opposed to being shot. On the track, you are in the squirrel zone most of the time, it's the area that we strive to improve in, as all of our flaws become magnified so much. Yes, 996's have awesome performance, and the Squirrel Zone comes on at relatively high performance levels, and many of us never really play there...but when you do it can be quite daunting. I flirt with the edge of it on the street sometimes, but really only truly play there on track days. So, compared to a stock 996, yeah, the R pushes the Squirrel Zone higher up there for speeds. The motor pulls hard, though you need to pay a bit more attention with the throttle due to the power delivery, especially up in the Squirrel Zone, and you have to keep the motor spun up more. It breaks harder, turns in quicker and accelerated out of corners remarkably well. Most important thing to remember is off the brakes LATER then you are used to and on the throttle to get the power to the ground quicker...turn in and roll on the throttle, I've been carrying about 5500rpms into the corners, roll on and as you start to stand the bike up nail the throttle, that give you a little time to get vertical before the heavy dose of power. But, there comes that point in time where I can feel her dancing underneath me...(OK, to be fair she's probably WRITHING IN PAIN) and I've noticed that the speeds at which this occur are higher then they are for my other bikes...with the exception of...The Beast.
I believe that no squirrels live in the woods of Laconia and the surrounding area. If you remember from part 1 Bruce stuck the moniker Beast on the bike. This was something I don't know if he does regularly or not...but if it is, yeah, then I'm pretty sure there are no Squirrels up in Laconia. The Beast feeds on them apparently. I rode the R, pushed it pretty hard on the road, I mean right up into squirrel zone (which for me oddly enough always seems to start at the back of the bike.) until I had the rear squirming pretty good. Then, I took The Beast on the same route. It's a series of pretty open clear roads, great pavement, 45mph speed limit type of B roads. First pass...same speed as the R...exact same speeds. No squirrels. So, I took a second pass and bumped up the speeds some. No squirrels. So, I set out to find a squirrel...guess what...there are none that I could find. None. I mean really ludicrous cornering speeds here. (ludicrous for me anyway.) Down a straight, on the brakes, no rush to get off the brakes until I'm in deeper then I'm used to, start to turn the bike in and off the brakes back on the throttle, transition is much smoother as the cornering loads keep the forks compressed coming off the brakes, turn in and on the gas. Anywhere from 6000 and up the bike just pulls hard. The feel from the front end is absolutely incredible, as is the traction in the rear. I started to push the thing pretty hard and abruptly trying to get it out of shape some, but it just doesn't go there. Now, I have a sneaking suspicion that when you do get into the squirrel zone its going to be a fairly brief and abrupt event, but to be honest with you, I haven't been there yet.
The R (or I should say more it's improvements over an S or SPS) will most definitely make you feel like a star...no doubt there. But The Beast? Well...I have never gone around corners so quickly, so effortlessly and SO PATHETICALLY UNDER THE ABILITY OF THE BIKE. The personality of the bike is just so serious, there's little to no humor in it. It wants to go fast, and it wants to go fast NOW, and it most definitely knows that in order for me to go faster I need certain things from her, and she gives them to me. All she asks for in return are a little faith, really big cajones, and a complete & total disregard for your drivers license.
Well...that's about the long & the longer of it! So...where to from here? Well that's easy...the R is due for her first service, so it's off to BCM sometime soon...along with one simple extra line on the service order:
Customer States: Build me an even better Beast.