Ducati F1-R "Cafe Racer" Build

Posted by Scot Wilson on

I have been told that at my core that I have a "Cafe Racer" mindset when it comes to motorcycle builds. If the philosophy of the Cafe Racer is to lighten the bike as much as possible from stock and to put the most current technology available to improve performance and safety, then, yes, I think that I have that Cafe Racer mindset. It appears that I cannot leave anything alone other than when working on a full factory RS Superbikes as they are already the epitome of the highest levels of research and development.


However, before the factory came out with the Monster with the 996 Superbike engines, I had built a number of Ducati 851/888's with a 996 engines as I preferred the 130 bhp power delivery of the "long-stroke" Superbike engines. A Corse rear shock linkage with Eccentric allowed the bike to fit together with the proper suspension geometry. Later I would use S4R engines. 


In this "Cafe Racer" vein, I had discovered the Ducati F1-R  project and I had a great deal of fun with the build. I met Roy Thersby on one of my trips to the UK to see my mother. What intrigued me was the ability to use modern belt drive engines in a F1 or TT2 Trellis Frame configuration and with modern components such as suspension, brakes and wheels. I purchased the frame from Roy and paid the airline a little extra to bring it home with me. An original F1 fuel tank that I had acquired earlier fit perfectly. 

I purchased a "donor bike" from Tom Hull of Tom's Italian Tune & Service in Mesa, Arizona who used to race in the AMA and specifically in the Pro-Thunder class. When Pro-Thunder was originally created, Ducati 900 ss & 750 ss were used until the AMA allowed the Desmoquattro 748. One of Tom's teammates had a very "hot" 750 ss with dual-plug heads and with some other trick race bits. Now I had the perfect engine and donor bike for this project. Then engine was putting out so much horsepower that we kept the wet clutch configuration. 

The other "trick" race bits were the re-valved forks, upgraded brakes and wheels. Everything mounted together just as Roy had said that it would and like the F1 and TT racers of the past, this engine used carbs as well. Race Keihan flat-slides came on the bike but worked best when wide open. This did not work for what I wanted which was a powerful street/track bike. Added 40 mm DelOrto's off of my bevel racer and the engine became so easy to tune and the engine provided very useable power. 

Picked up the bodywork and now this bike was beginning to come together. Fortunately in Arizona, we do not have to mount turn signals which is not appropriate for a Cafe Racer or Race Replica. As this bike was to be built for street or track, we used dual Hella headlamp system by building our own bracket and extending the wiring off of the original wiring loom/harness with quick disconnect items. Ducati 851 swingarm fitted perfectly. 

However, the bodywork brings the bike to "life" when it begins to take shape and fill my vision for this project. The bodywork from Jim Bromley in the UK was good quality but it take a bit of trimming to get all of the clearances to work on this very lean profile. Airtech provided their F1 rear seat while modern 3 spoke Brembo wheels mounted straight up. 

Here is a photo of Bill at our west shop connecting all components of the electrical system. He is an extremely gifted restorer in his own right and also made all of the brackets for the bodywork and the front headlamp support for the Hella lamps. 

Tom at Tom's Italian Tune & Service welded the custom exhaust to mate a Kawasaki muffler to the opened race header system. Cycle Cat billet, adjustable rear-sets mounted right up to give that functional and classy look. Even Penske made their contribution. Bought the rear shock on Ebay to discover that it was leaking badly. Sent in to Penske and they rebuilt it with a new shock body for free! Talk about standing behind their products! Also, Carbon Fiber Rear Hugger completes the look. 

In my opinion, my painter did a first class job with fixing the fuel tank and then creating a faithful copy of the Yellow/Red color scheme of the TT2 racers. The cockpit of this TT2 replica was really to begin to look the part. There always seems to be some "bug" that needs to be fixed. First there were clearance problems with the adjustable clip-ons which we fixed by inverting them for a perfect clearance of the tight bodywork. 

Also had to replace the old master cylinders with adjustable billet items for significantly better brake and clutch action. Shown above we are re-routing the throttle cables after mounting the 40 mm DelOrto carbs. With a package this tight, keeping all of the wiring and cables neatly tucked away was always a bit of an effort until completed. However, once completed, we had a very successful Cafe Racer. 

With the dual-plug heads, this bike was able to easily stay with the modern bikes on Ducati club rides. Very flickable, fast turning and light, this bike was the complete package on the twisties on our mountain roads!! Never took her to the track, as a friend, saw this bike and had to have her. Now she is in the capable hands of a Ducati aficionado in Boston who not only appreciates race bikes but takes them to the track. 

A "sea of red" on the way to the top of Mt. Lemmon on a Ducati Southwest Club ride. As in evidence by my Miguel Duhamel Red&Yellow Shoei helmet on the wall, this color scheme was meant to be!! Time to build another TT2 Cafe Racer for the street/track!!

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