Friday, August 31, 2012

Motocicletta Part II - Three Steves beats a full house

Over the course of a few weeks I caught up with Stephen Littlehales & Steve Marino leading up to a weekend at Winton, watching the Motocicletta Ducati in action to get a bit of an insight into the boys, the bike and the business. After we established the fact that remembering each others names would be a cinch I fired a few questions off.

Firstly how & when did your riding journeys begin, what was your first bike and what do you currently own?

Steve Marino
First bike was a 1978 RM125 when I was fourteen years old. I was keen on motocross and still ride dirt today. My current dirt bike is a Husaberg 390 enduro. My sports bike fall into three categories. The vintage bikes are a 1973 Ducati 750 Sport, a 1981 Ducati 900ss, and a 1984 Ducati MHR 900. My road bike is an extensively modified Ducati Sport (biposto), that I can throw the missus on or go to the shops with. Track bikes are a modified Ducati Paul Smart 1000LE and a Ducati 1098R. Race bikes are the Sport 1000s that David Simpson is riding the wheels off, a Sport 1000 monoposto that I am currently putting together for myself to race.

Stephen Littlehales

I started riding AG bikes on farms and such from a very early age, The first bike I ever had was a DT175 and the first road bike was a RGV250. The first "big" bike I owned was a VFR750, currently I own a pretty sorted 2008 Ducati 1098S track bike.
(At this point I pick my chair up and sit down again)
Can you list the spec sheet of whats been done to the SC?
  • OZ Forged Aluminum Racing Wheels, shod in Pirelli Slicks
  • Ducati 748R disk rotors
  • Brembo Monobloc calipers with custom lines
  • Demontech rear underslung Brembo 2 piston caliper
  • Ducati 1098s Ohlins front forks, with DVS cartridge kits
  • Tracksliders crash protection to front and rear axles, and engine mount.
  • NCR triple clamps
  • NCR titanium clip ons
  • Ducati 1098 Radail Master Cylinders, with Smart folding levers
  • Accossato Quick Throttle
  • Ohlins steering damper
  • NCR quick release fuel cap
  • NCR cam shafts
  • NCR cam covers
  • NCR carbon fibre valve covers
  • Custom MWR filters on duc shop hyper stacks
  • GB Racing casing protection
  • NCR/EVR dry slipper clutch. Converted from wet clutch by Motologic.
  • NCR titanium clutch cover
  • NCR clutch slave cylinder
  • NCR titanium racing exhaust. Custom heel guards by Tracksliders.
  • HM Quickshifter
  • NCR rear sets with custom non folding pegs and custom offset plate by Tracksliders.
  • NCR Ohlins rear shock absorbers, Re-valved by Motologic
  • NCR rear pick ups
  • Talon and Driven rear sprockets
  • Ultrabatt Lithium battery in custom aluminum battery holder by Tracksliders
  • DP Body Kit
  • Ducati 1098 seat
  • Rapid Bike Programmable Power Module
  • RaceChrono GPS lap Timer Pro System
[frame src="http://www.ducatiblog.com.au/wp-content/uploads/2012/08/IMG_0547.jpg" width="400" height="400" linkstyle="normal"] [frame src="http://www.ducatiblog.com.au/wp-content/uploads/2012/08/IMG_0739.jpg" width="400" height="400" linkstyle="normal"] [frame src="http://www.ducatiblog.com.au/wp-content/uploads/2012/08/IMG_0691.jpg" width="400" height="400" linkstyle="normal"] [frame src="http://www.ducatiblog.com.au/wp-content/uploads/2012/08/IMG_0776.jpg" width="400" height="400" linkstyle="normal"] [frame src="http://www.ducatiblog.com.au/wp-content/uploads/2012/08/59462bf2.jpg" width="400" height="400" linkstyle="normal"] [frame src="http://www.ducatiblog.com.au/wp-content/uploads/2012/08/IMG_1269.jpg" width="400" height="400" linkstyle="normal"]

How did you two meet and how was it that ‘Motocicletta’ come to being?

We met when Stephen was Managing Ducati City. Motocicletta came into being because we both agreed that on-line retail needed to be improved in Australia with regard to better service levels, and competitive pricing. Our direct to market approach (with no middleman) ensures that we can deliver prices that are comparable to overseas online retailers. [frame src="http://www.ducatiblog.com.au/wp-content/uploads/2012/08/IMG_1290.jpg" width="400" height="400" linkstyle="normal"]

To the build of the sport 1000s. I know you (Steve M.) have a mildly (and I use the word mildly to play it down because it’s actually off its head) Paul Smart track bike, did that factor into your reason for choosing this particular make/model?

It did indeed. The sport classic range is my favourite of all Ducatis. They are beautifully simple, elegant, and with a bit of work, quite capable. I don't believe horsepower is as crucial to going fast as as most will have you believe. It is quite satisfying to see our little race bike beating water cooled in-line fours with more than twice the horsepower. [frame src="http://www.ducatiblog.com.au/wp-content/uploads/2012/08/62847695.jpg" width="400" height="400" linkstyle="normal"]

Let’s get the worst part out of the way…….April 14th Broadford Race 2. Did you watch as it happened or hear about it after the fact & what was the first thing that went through your mind?

I only saw it as it was sliding through the dirt. Apparently, there was a spectacular shower of blue sparks coming from the NCR titanium exhaust. I got over the shock quite quickly as it was all hands on deck to repair the bike for the next race. In a way, it was a turning point.  It went from a beautiful creation that I had been admiring and embellishing, to a race bike.  A necessary step.

Though obviously not ideal, its par for the course when you’re racing bikes that these things happen. You had mentioned to me that a lot went on in the pits with efforts from many an unlikely source (Marshals looking for foot pegs from memory?) to get the bike back out for race 3. Tell us about what was required to get things mobile again?

We needed to bend the exhaust mounts back into shape (we now have spares) We lost a foot peg, but the marshall fortunately picked it out of the dirt (somewhat shorter! ) The clip on was bent back into shape. A handlebar end was borrowed from a kind fellow in the pits. Front brake lever was replaced. Dirt was removed from the throttle. The calipers were disassembled and the pistons cleaned of grit. New brake fluid and bleed. That evening I raided one one my other bikes for a throttle, some new grips, and bar ends. As a result of all of this, the spares kit grew considerably before the next race. [frame src="http://www.ducatiblog.com.au/wp-content/uploads/2012/08/Image1-2.jpg" width="400" height="400" linkstyle="normal"]

The triples on the Sport1000 and Paul Smart are by your own design, can you elaborate, and are there any other “Designed by Steve” bits available or in the pipeline?

The lower triple was Motocicletta's first product. After having added various performance bits to the bikes, I couldn't take my eyes off the mediocre, parts bin, leftover triple. It's the same one they have been using on Monsters since for ever. It's made in Australia and is quite beautiful in the flesh. We decided early on that we would focus on retail rather than manufacture. We also have an exceptional Melbourne based manufacturer in our product line up now. Any future products will be from our friends at Tracksliders. [frame src="http://www.ducatiblog.com.au/wp-content/uploads/2012/08/PRRS_Sat_3_12-0210.jpg" width="400" height="400" linkstyle="normal"]

What is your favorite part or aspect of the bike and most enjoyable part of the build?

I would have to say that bolting on that NCR exhaust was a happy day. On a more technical level however, the dry clutch conversion was satisfying.

The bike truly is a rolling showroom that happens to clock laps at impressive times putting more than a few bigger more powerful engined bikes to shame. Despite this are there plans to develop the engine any further?

Currently, the bike is being fitted with NCR cams and a Rapid Bike power module. The gains should be quite significant and give Simmo a boost on the more open sections of tracks. I would say that in the future, we may go to different pistons and a couple of other tricks.

Were there any compromises you feel you had to make on the build?

Not really. If I was feeling particularly silly, I'd cut all the unnecessary tabs of the frame and make a custom race loom.

Back to the business side of things was it always your intention to start with distributing high end parts online then progress to a race team & finally a fully-fledged workshop?

Absolutely, we intend to cover all aspects of motorcycling. We are in the fortunate position of now having a business partnership with Motologic in Campbellfield. Our workshop is in full operation as I write this. It's quite a comprehensive set up which provides a whole range of services. To keep it brief, we are an authorised Ducati and Honda Service Centre, we service all the major marques, have a dyno, an engine and suspension building facility, and a paint / smash repair shop.

Can we expect to see the race team grow to perhaps fielding more than one bike or perhaps different models (I’ve seen a Stat Write Off Hyper EVO SP hint hint)?

I'm currently building a sportclassic naked monoposto in the hope of joining Simmo. I will be contesting the F4 class in OZ bears, while Simmo will be in F3 [frame src="http://www.ducatiblog.com.au/wp-content/uploads/2012/08/IMG_2210.jpg" width="400" height="400" linkstyle="normal"] Full Spec Sheet - TBC There you have it folks a quick Q&A with the crew from Motocicletta. Check out their site, buy something & make sure you're at Broadford on the 13/14 of October. Steve
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