Home of the Ducati club of Tucson and Southern Arizona


DesmoSouthwest tech: Engine warm up 0

Posted on October 03, 2013 by acruhl

overheated_engine_piston_skirt_damageAfter reading about this subject on the internet, I can’t believe how contentious this issue is. I don’t understand why anyone would be against engine warmup?

I think part of the reason is because engine warm up is not a very well defined thing.

Disclaimer: I’m not a scientist, and I haven’t done scientific experiments to quantify what I’m writing here. Everything I’m writing about comes from experience with building engines.

Let me make it easy to start off with though…

Is engine warm up important?

Yes it is.


For the longevity of your engine.

Now it’s time to define what engine warm up actually is. I haven’t read a very good definition, I think it’s best to start out with what it is not:

o Starting the engine and immediately driving away
o Holding the engine at high rpm with the throttle just after startup (high RPM to me means anything over about 2000 RPM).
o Wildly revving the engine up and down just after start up.

Since I didn’t really find a good definition of what engine warmup is, I’m going to go out on a limb and make my own definition (relevant to the bikes at we ride):

When the engine is cold (after sitting for more than an hour or so), it’s 30 to 60 seconds of idling after you hit the start button, without touching the throttle unless it’s necessary to keep the engine running. Then drive gently for another 30 to 60 seconds or so. And it’s a good idea to not accelerate too quickly in the first few minutes after a cold start.

That’s not so hard, is it?

(This won’t be a perfect strategy for every engine, and I don’t claim that this amount of time is enough to get all engines to operating temperature. But it should be enough to get some level of heat into critical parts so that they are not operating cold.)

We’re motorcyclists, so this should be exceedingly easy to follow. Hit the start button, put on your jacket, helmet, and gloves, and you’re past the first step.

I’ve found 3 common reasons why some people think engine warmup isn’t necessary, none are very good:

1. Impatience
2. It wastes fuel
3. It’s bad for the environment.

#1 can’t be fixed. Impatience is unfortunate.

#2 is nonsense because very little fuel is used during startup. A minor amount of aggressive driving would use more fuel than a few minutes of warmup.

#3 is especially insidious though. In this era of “green is good”, sometimes the truth takes a backseat. I’d argue that having to put your car/bike into the shitheap years early because you didn’t take proper care of your engine is much harder on the environment than a few extra seconds of the engine running. If people are that concerned about the environment, they should stop driving!

So what is the technical reason for warming up your engine?

Your engine is made of metal(s), and metal expands as it heats up. It was designed to run properly when hot.

Anyone who has ridden a two stroke motorcycle and had the engine seize has experienced this first hand! The aluminum pistons got hot quicker than the cylinder bore and grew larger than the bore. The bore was too cool, and the pistons got themselves stuck.

Another reason why warm up is good is that it gives the engine a chance to distribute oil before any significant load is applied. This is a good thing.

I’ve heard from knowledgeable people that engine warmup isn’t as important anymore with modern engines. I tend to agree to some extent, but motorcycle engines are different (because they put out so much power for their size). I believe that there is some short period of time when the engine is started cold that a large load should not be put on it. I think in general this is true of any engine.

I would love to get feedback from anyone who can tell me why engine warmup isn’t important!

Sept 2013 club meeting is at McGraw’s Cantina 0

Posted on September 16, 2013 by acruhl

mc1We’ll be meeting Wednesday September 18th at 6:30PM at McGraw’s Cantina. Sorry about the week delay (we normally meet on the second Wednesday).

McGraw’s is a Tucson institution. If you haven’t been there, you should go just to say you’ve been there!

It’s under new ownership, and the owner happens to be someone who rides with us once in a while.

We’ll be sitting on the patio if the weather cooperates. The view is great, you get to see the stables below, and the Santa Rita mountains in the background.

[UPDATED]Panigale replacement for the 848? 0

Posted on August 21, 2013 by acruhl

899_crop_500Image shamefully lifted from www.motorcyclenews.com
The UK’s Motorcycle News has a short article about the new Ducati “899” here:
They are calling it the 899, and I haven’t seen any confirmation that this is actually what it would be called. I’d be much happier with something like 990 or so :).

So what can we see in these pictures that is different than the 1199? Quite a bit, actually.

The most obvious thing is the conventional swingarm. I have no problem with conventional swingarms. They obviously work very well on many bikes, including the 999. It should be possible for this one to be both lighter and stronger than the one on the 1199, but you probably won’t hear anything about that if it’s true.

Other not so obvious things are the smaller diameter forks without any fancy coating (maybe the same ones as the 848), possibly cast and not forged front brake calipers, smaller front brake discs, narrower rear wheel with a similar design as the current base 1199, smaller rear tire, possibly different cylinder heads (that’s a stretch), and probably a smaller diameter exhaust. I don’t see magnesium engine covers, this would be an obvious way to save money. I don’t see any ABS gear. And that’s all I can see from this photo.

The rear tire looks pinched a little bit, and that wouldn’t be possible with today’s tire sizes on a 6″ wheel. So it’s probably 5.5″ like the current 848. That might be a 190/55 tire, which isn’t an ideal fit on a 5.5″ wheel. Maybe it will use the 180/60 from the 848 Streetfighter?

The forks look very similar to the current 848, which isn’t a bad thing. Based on the flat caps, they might be Marzocchi or possibly “Big Piston” Showa.

Smaller front brake discs and cast calipers are not a problem either. Smaller discs could mean quicker steering, and cast calipers are fine for all but the fastest riders. The cast calipers on my 998 work just fine, and that bike is definitely heavier than this one.

The current 1199 motor has a shorter stroke than the 848, so they could retain the same crank as the 1199 and still maintain a pretty oversquare design. This would save some money, and possibly make for a flatter power curve than the 1199. It doesn’t make much sense to build another radically oversquare engine for this class of bike, it wouldn’t really need it. This bike doesn’t fit into any current racing classes at the world championship level like the 848.

It likely wouldn’t save much money by not including electronics such as traction control, engine braking control, and stuff like that. Hopefully the quickshifter is included. Electronics are sort of expected on sportbikes these days.

There isn’t much evidence that this bike would be lighter than the 1199, but it’s possible. That’s another thing that probably wouldn’t get much publicity, at least not in the context of the 1199.

I make it no secret that I’m a big fan of these “in between” sportbikes. 600s are too manic, and the 1000cc fours are pretty nutty. My 1199 is great, but it’s scary fast and a bit hard to deal with if you’re not careful. By contrast, my 998 is much easier to deal with and still feels pretty fast, even if it is lagging behind newer bikes. Same goes for my MV F4S 750. I’ve raced many GSX-R750s, and I’ve never ridden one I didn’t like. I’m also a big fan of the current 848 and past 999. MV is now back in this “in between” range with the F3 800. I’d be really surprised if this new Panigale isn’t as good or better than any of these on the track.


So this bike was introduced a few days ago. One of our members sent a mail to the Google group email list, and I replied with this:

Wow. Some of my speculations were correct:

Cast calipers
Showa BPF forks
180/60 rear tire
Non magnesium engine covers
Less oversquare engine (but still a pretty short stroke)

But I got a few wrong too, such as no ABS. This one comes with ABS, no option to remove it.

Some surprising stuff:

Steel gas tank. You have to go back a ways to find one on a Ducati. My good tank bag would work again though. No more plastic tank fiascos I guess.

Steel tubular subframe. The one on the 1199 looks both cheap and correct for the job to me, I’m surprised that they would change it. Steel is still cheaper than vacuum formed Aluminum I guess.

Black and white LCD instead of color display. Probably done for money reasons, but it would be interesting to see if it’s an improvement. Probably isn’t based on what I see.

So in the end:

ABS + steel tank + steel subframe + no magnesium engine covers = 12 pounds heavier than my standard 1199.

Still pretty light though, all things considered. It’s lighter than most 600s I think.

Also funny that they call it a “Supermid”. I had said that I’m a fan of “in between” sportbikes. Ducati has seen fit to invent a new word for them.

August 2013 club meeting – Wednesday the 14th at 6:30PM – O’Malley’s on Fourth 0

Posted on August 13, 2013 by acruhl

O'Malley'sThe August 2013 DesmoSouthwest club meeting will be this Wednesday August 14th at 6:30PM. We’ll be meeting at O’Malley’s on fourth because this week happens to be the same week that the TVMR (Tucson Vintage Motorcycle Riders) will be there. I like vintage bikes and I know a few others do too so this works out.

O’Malley’s has a nice menu and of course, many different drinks. It’s a good time, and worth checking out if you haven’t been there.

There is a map to O’Malley’s on the Club Activites page.

See you Wednesday at 6:30PM!

Club meeting – June 12th at 6:30PM – Frankie’s South Philly 0

Posted on June 10, 2013 by acruhl

frankiesWe’re back to one of my favorite places to eat in town, Frankie’s South Philly Cheesteaks!

They are located on Campbell a few blocks north of Grant at 2574 N. Campbell. The meeting time will be at 6:30PM as usual.

If you haven’t been to Frankie’s yet, it’s worth the trip. They have great Cheesesteaks, as well as sandwiches among other things.

This would be a good time to discuss our overnight trip planned for the weekend before the 4th of July as well.

There is a map to Frankie’s on our Club Activities page.

See you Wednesday night!

1199 trackday – followup 0

Posted on May 14, 2013 by acruhl

It seems my concerns about the hole in the powerband between about 5000 and 7500 RPM have been addressed by the Zard exhaust system company.

I’m not so concerned about the look, price, transformed tail section, and all that other stuff that comes with this exhaust that Zard have come up with. My concern is that they claim to have found 23 HP in the middle of the RPM range. This type of performance increase from an exhaust system is almost unheard of in modern motorcycles.

While I was in the UK and talking to the Moto Rapido team about their 1199 Panigale Superbike, one of the guys on the team said that Ducati is still experimenting with exhaust systems for the 1199 for race bikes. (Note: seems like they should be doing the same for those of us who don’t race as well judging by the dyno curve above…)

You can see that the exhaust on Carlos Checa’s 1199 is very different even than the Termignoni full system you can buy from Ducati:


A visible difference is that the rear cylinder’s exhaust is now coming straight down behind the footpeg. What you can’t see is there is a rather radical S bend in the horizontal cylinder’s exhaust right after the cylinder head before it exits on the side. A big U turn is probably a better way to describe it. I wish I took a picture of the Moto Rapido bike…

In both cases (Zard and Termignoni), extra length is being added to the exhausts. Short exhausts are great for top end power, but not much else. If you can add length to the exhaust without affecting top end power or other stuff (weight distribution in motorcycles has become a big deal), it can have big benefits as the dyno chart shows above.

The Zard system, including the modified tail section, cost about 3400 Euros. I think I’ll pass. But if I was racing the 1199 I’d have no choice!

999R, 1098R, and 1199 all in the same day! 0

Posted on May 06, 2013 by acruhl

I was lucky enough to ride a 999R, 1098R and my 1199 all on the same day recently. I didn’t spend a whole lot of time on the 999R and 1098R, but I have ridden a few 999Rs on the track, and I even raced one once. The 1098R is something I would like to spend a lot more time with, if only it were possible…

Quick notes:

999R: The best steering Ducati superbike ever? The 749R might be the same or even a bit better. It’s gotta be in the running for best steering sportbike ever.

1098R: What a package! Only half a step behind the 999R as far as steering, but the engine and chassis are matched so perfectly. There’s nothing wrong. A dream motorcycle. I’m guessing the 1198S and SP are really close.

1199: The fastest, without question. You can’t argue with physics, technology, and progress. The most pleasing to ride on the street? Far from it. The above 2 make better street bikes, mostly because of the better fuel injection mapping and comfort.

To illustrate progress, here’s an interesting set of data:

999R: 399 pounds dry
1098R: 364 pounds dry
1199: 361 pounds dry

Note that the 1199 has no carbon fiber, and it has cast aluminum wheels where the other 2 have forged aluminum and lots of carbon fiber. That’s serious progress, folks.

The 2006 999S did the fastest lap of the Roadracing World 1000cc sportbike shootout at Spring Mountain (I think that’s where it was). That was against the GSX-R, ZX-10R, R1, etc. The 999R still holds the lap record at one of the fastest tracks motorcycles race on, Thruxton. These are seriously good motorcycles. Also notable is the dash is the most readable of the 3. It has a big analog tach right in the middle, and all of the other information you generally don’t need to know on a moment’s notice is clustered on the LCD panel, or in a few warning lights. I thought the 999R was the most comfortable as well.

The 1098R might be the fastest superbike ever get for corner exits. In World and Italian 1000cc Superstock last year, you could see the 1098R riders pull a huge gap on all other bikes, including the supposedly all conquering BMW S1000RR and even the 1199. The other bikes eventually caught up after a few hundred feet or so. This indicates not only a strong engine, but good mechanical grip as well. The steering, engine and suspension make such a good package. Possibly the best superbike for the street and track ever made. Unfortunately, it has the worst dash of the 3. LCD dashes just aren’t good for finding information quickly. But they are light and cheap… It’s not quite as comfortable as the 999R, but not far off.

The 1199 is such a hot and cold bike for me. It’s the fastest on the track of the 3 without question, although the 1098R would be close. It would take a few laps to go faster than the other 2, you have to build up trust a lot more since it doesn’t have that immediately perfect front end feel of the others. Corner entry takes a bit more faith. At full lean while feeding in throttle, it’s about the best feeling bike I’ve ever ridden though, and that’s where it counts. The brakes are better, but it’s not quite as stable as the other 2 on the brakes. The suspension isn’t as sophisticated, or the rear shock isn’t at least. You can feel this during corner entry all the way to full lean, but magically at full lean it becomes really good again. And then there’s the engine. Other than a hole in power between about 5 and 8k RPM, this must be the best engine ever put into a motorcycle. You get the really nice feel of a twin, but the manic top end of a 4 cylinder all in the same engine. The 1098/1198 can actually feel a bit too powerful in the lower RPM and it takes some concentration to keep it from getting away from you. The slightly softer power at lower RPM on the 1199 is actually a good thing for rideability, if only the FI map was better… The dash is just OK. It’s kind of cool to look at something that looks like an iPod on the dash, but ultimately a big analog tach is much easier to process. Hunting for information on a flat panel while riding quickly can be difficult, no matter how good that panel is. This is also the least comfortable Ducati superbike for me. The higher and closer handlebars don’t help much because there’s no gas tank to lean on. The heel plates push your heels outward just a bit and this feels awkward. The fuel injection mapping doesn’t work very well until you are going quickly, either. On the street it surges and pops a lot, and it takes a very light touch on the throttle to ride smoothly. The other 2 don’t have this problem, you aren’t even thinking about throttle control on those because they are so good.

So to sum it up:

The 999R and 1098R are better street bikes. But they have been thoroughly surpassed by the 1199 for racing. Which one should you have? Ideally, all of them. For me, I’m quite lucky to have both the 1199 and 998! If I didn’t have any of these, I’d go for the 1098R if I could afford it!

2013 DesmoSouthwest/Renaissance Motorcycles Concorso, thanks! 0

Posted on April 09, 2013 by acruhl

2013_concorso_az-johnny-1_500 (Image courtesy Az-Johnny)
Image notes: Theresby Ducati replica by www.italianiron.com.

Thanks to everyone who came out to the 2013 DesmoSouthwest/Renaissance Motorcycles Concorso! We had a lot of great bikes, and a lot of great conversation as well.

We didn’t do a “people’s choice” award this time, we just didn’t have the preparation to do it properly. The good news is that the big TVMR (Tucson Vintage Motorcycle Riders) show is on April 21st, and they do a great job of handing out awards!

I’m hoping to get a few more photos up at some point soon.

Thanks again, it was a great event!

1199 trackday 2

Posted on March 29, 2013 by acruhl

This probably shold be my 9th post in the “My new 1199 Panigale” series, but I’m making a separate post specifically to report on my track day.

The short version for the impatient:

This has got to be one of the most capable track bikes ever. It’s going to take some suspension setup (stiffer springs) for me to really ride to my potential, plus tires and a few other minor things, but other than that it doesn’t get much better than this. The engine is super-duper fast, it feels like the best engine in a bike ever. I was passing 1000cc 4 cylinder bikes without too much trouble, given that they weren’t on race tires AND ridden by fast riders. There was a minor engine mapping problem I had to deal with, but this probably will eventually get fixed.

Now on to the (really) long version:

Lesson re-learned: Suspension setup is really important if you want to go fast(er)!

With about 2800 miles on the bike, on stock street tires, I decided to do a trackday at Inde Motorsports Ranch on March 23rd. I still have done no modifications to the bike other than adding a battery tender cable! I guess I bought a “comfort” seat, but I didn’t use it at the track so it kind of doesn’t count.

My first session out had me thinking that there was too many things wrong for me to fix in order to have a good time. The 1199 felt like an under sprung and under damped dirt bike or something. It was really bouncing around a lot. This is from a setup which I consider too harsh on the street! It didn’t help that Inde feels a lot bumpier than the last time I rode here just under a year ago… Also, this is a really fast motorcycle to be riding on the stock tires, so I didn’t have a lot of confidence in them. This part turned out to be mostly unfounded.

I reduced tire pressure to 31. I normally wouldn’t change tire pressure on street tires, but this is the racetrack and I know they are going to heat up. My theory is that the hot track temperature should end up being the manufacturer’s recommended cold pressure. It kind of makes sense, you don’t put much heat in the tires on the street, so the cold pressure is about the operating pressure they are going for.

Anyway, I started tweaking on the clickers to add more damping to try to get the bouncing under conrtol. The goal was to make both ends of the bike deflect and return at about the same rates when I bounce on it in the pit.

A few clicks in the harder (slower) direction really started to help things. I noticed that I wasn’t thinking about how much it was bouncing around which allowed me to concentrate better on my lines and throttle control. If you don’t notice something after a change that you noticed before and didn’t like, this is progress. But it still wasn’t perfect.

My next problem was that the traction control light was on any time I was on the throttle in a corner! I was in Race mode which has traction control set to 2. On the street, it’s really hard for me to get it to turn on when set to 3, and I’m trying really hard to do it! I wasn’t even trying that hard yet, but the traction control was very noticeably kicking in. It was most noticeable between turns 7 and 8 where I could get a lot better drive on the 998! I opened the throttle even further but I got nothing for it. The owner’s manual for the 1199 explains that DTC (Ducati Traction Control) setting 2 is default for race mode, and is for “very” expert riders and allows sideways sliding. Hmm, I must be a friggin professional then (which I know isn’t true) because #2 isn’t letting me go very fast. I don’t feel any sliding, but I’m on street tires and maybe I’m not feeling it as much as race tires…

I decided to take a PSI out of the rear tire to put a bit more tire on the road, and this did help things. But not enough, so I changed the DTC to #1. This is for “Pirelli tires with SC2 compound” which is their DOT race tire, not a street tire. This improved things quite a bit. The traction control light was still on at the same places, but it was allowing me to drive a lot harder off of corners on the side of the tire. I didn’t have the guts to set it to 0! This is one of the fastest motorcycles I’ve ever ridden after all…

As I was going faster, I noticed a few more problems: I was running into the limiter in 2nd gear just after the apex at 13, which is much bumpier than it used to be. I was also hitting the limiter going up the hill at the start/finish line. This is really unfortunate, because in both places there is hardly time to shift before I’d have to downshift again back into 2nd. But I’m riding a big twin, why not just short shift it into 3rd?

Because of yet another problem I didn’t foresee: A huge hole in the powerband! Somewhere around 5.5k RPM until about 7 or 7.5k RPM is a big hole. Trying to short shift means you’re either in that zone, or you’re under it which means you need to rev through it. It feels like I’m riding a 600 in that zone. I don’t know what’s causing it. Anyway, you can’t get much acceleration through there, so if you short shift and end up in that zone, you aren’t going quickly.

This was a big problem exiting turn 2 onto the straight. I lost a lot of time here. Exiting in 2nd on the side of the tire, the traction control is on and you’re feeding in throttle. As the bike straightens up, the traction control stops intervening and the bike starts going forward in a big hurry. It’s trying to wheelie from power and the leverage of pulling the bike up onto the larger circumference of the center of the tire. Under ideal conditions, I would just short shift to keep the wheelie down, but I ran into this hole in the powerband again and I was going nowhere. My only option was to stay in 2nd gear and deal with the wheelie. Again, under ideal conditions I could start standing on the pegs and moving my (considerbale) weight forward, but I didn’t trust my boots sticking to the stock footpegs. I’ve had my foot come off too many times with stock pegs, and it isn’t pleasant at all. Especially with a concrete retaining wall on the outside of the corner! My only option was to exercise throttle control and wait to shift to 3rd once I got to about 9.5 or 10k RPM which put me back to about 8k RPM (this is all guessing), but well above the hole in the powerband. From there it’s full throttle, pinned to the stop, and grabbing gears up to 5th and about 145 to 147 MPH into a headwind. I could have braked later and got a few more MPH, but it’s only a trackday… If I didn’t have to deal with the wheelie problem I’m sure I would have seen well over 150 MPH.


It’s time to talk about Power (with a capital P) a bit now. The 1199 is really fast. I noticed that I’m not able to keep up with the 1098 and 1198’s midrange power right at the point that you’re really rolling the throttle on exiting a corner (for maybe the first 20 or 30 feet of acceleration), but those guys are toast once the RPM is up and the throttle is wide open! I was passing GSX-R1000s and R1s down the straightaway without any problem. This is a huge change from the 998 where I had to work really hard to keep 600s behind me on the straight, and 1000s passed me like I was standing still. This might be the best engine ever. I just wish they had the mapping figured out better…

Unfortunately this wasn’t the end of my problems. I noticed that the bike was still moving around a little bit, so I went up a click on all dampers (front and rear) to see what happened…

I should say that by the afternoon I was pushing really hard, as hard as I thought I could on street tires, and the only people passing me were racers and fast guys on race tires. Race tires are a big improvement over street tires, so I was feeling really good about myself at this point. I was getting more lean angle, the suspension was working a lot better, everything was going pretty good. A guy who was flying on a 1098S with Michelin race slicks was not getting away from me anymore, and I even managed to catch and pass him, then keep him behind me. Admittedly, while I was catching him he ran into the dirt and probably slowed down a notch, but I was definitely catching him before that! This felt really, really good after the feelings I had in the morning.

So anyway, I tried to keep the bouncing under control by increasing damping yet again. This is a total band-aid fix when your springs are not correct, and in my case they are too soft. I’m guessing that the forks need maybe half a KG up, and the shock needs 2 steps up or so. The result was I could push even harder, but 3 laps into the session the rear tire just gave up. It wouldn’t stick anymore on the left side, and it gave me a warning or two on the right as well. I backed off the pace thinking that maybe I made a suspension change that wasn’t sustainable, but the tire still wouldn’t stick. I think either I faded the rear shock (because it started pumping a lot more after a few laps) and that cooked the tire, or the tire was just finished anyway. I also had a big front end slide in a place where I think some fluid didn’t get cleaned up. It was close to the end of the day at this point which is a good time to count your blessings and go home in one piece.

The brakes were excellent. They might have faded just a little bit toward the end of the day, but it was subtle. They only needed one finger the entire day. Inde doesn’t have really hard braking areas though.

I went from having very little confidence in the 1199 in the morning, then made some adjustments (tire pressure, damping clickers, traction control), and it made all the difference in the world. It’s not perfect, but it’s a motorcycle I have much more confidence in and I can push it pretty hard.

Before I use race tires, I need to get correct springs. I think race tires would load the stock suspension far too much, especially at a bumpy track like Inde. But I had a pretty good time on the stock tires, so I’ll be buying another set of those.

This is a fantastic motorcycle. Once I get the correct springs, I think I will be faster on it than anything else I’ve ever ridden. It steers as good as anything I’ve ridden for sure, and I made no changes to the geometry! The engine has no equal as far as I can tell. It’s fast and confidence inspiring, the perfect combination.

I sure wish it made a better street bike…

DesmoSouthwest Concorso 2013 – April 7th 0

Posted on March 25, 2013 by acruhl

The DesmoSouthwest Concorso for 2013 will be Sunday April 7th at Brandi Fenton Memorial park, Ramada A. The event will go from 10AM to 2PM.

More info on our Calendar here:

DesmoSouthwest 2013 Concorso

The photos above are a few of the many that showed up at our last Concorso event. The top one is a favorite of mine, an ex British Superbike 996 ridden by Sean Emmett. The next one is a custom Monster 750 painted like a late 70’s 900 Supersport. The last one is a vintage project built around a bevel drive single.

The featured brand will be Ducati, but the event is for all Italian brands. If you don’t have an Italian bike, ride whatever you have! Bring an Italian car if you have one of those!

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