Farewell to my Ducati Monster 620 Engine

It’s almost fitting that the last hour or so of my Ducati’s life as a 620 were spent helping teach my brother how to ride. I couldn’t ask for more of a full circle if I tried. It’s how we started together and it’s how we finished.
Saturday I dropped her off at my mechanic and in a few weeks I’ll get her back but with a different heart. The engine made it nearly 75,000 miles. Not too bad… not bad at all.

Here she is just a few days ago. At the very least the new one will be cleaner.

Here she is just a few days ago. At the very least the new one will be cleaner.

She's beginning to show her age. 75k is a pretty good life for a bike though.

She’s beginning to show her age. 75k is a pretty good life for a bike though.


But sometimes the view just knocked you out and you had to stop.

But sometimes the view just knocked you out and you had to stop.

I'd hate me too if I knew this  was how I rode home.

I’d hate me too if I knew this was how I rode home.

What is wrong with my baby?

What is wrong with my baby?

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Monster Update: I am no good at hot wiring…

The Monster really doesn’t want to make it easy on me. It crapped out right after a great practice session with my brother on Sunday. I thought that maybe the switch for my kickstand was broken. I spoke to my mechanic and concurred, (and some advice from you good folks here) I tried to fix it with the wiring. No luck. My bike is still sitting on the street a few blocks from my home (on a very steep hill so there it will stay) until I finally get around to getting it in a trailer and to my mechanics.

Wish me luck.

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Running Red Lights, I know you’ve done it.

If you ride a motorcycle long enough it will happen to you. You’ll be sitting waiting at a light all by yourself and it will never turn green. If you’re really unlucky you’ll watch an entire cycle of lights or more while you wait. Waiting for the sensor to detect you, waiting for a car to come an trigger the green, or waiting for you to just forget it and take one last look for any officers of the law and go anyway.

Lately a few states have passed laws allowing motorists to run the red light if a full cycle has passed or 5 minutes, as long as it is safe to do so.

Sadly it’s still illegal in California. I guess if I had to choose I’ll keep lane sharing over this law, but would be too much to have both?

Red Light 280




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Mixed Signals: Touring on a Electric Motorcycle?

Motorcycles are awesome. I’m not quite on the electric bike bandwagon, but I love them and think they have some great potential. However, I was a bit confused when I saw this bike.

Just not sure I get it. Looks ready to tackle a long ride. Too bad 150 miles is the max range.

Just not sure I get it. Looks ready to tackle a long ride. Too bad 60 miles is the max highway range.

My first reaction when I saw this motorcycle was, awesome that guy is ready to do some big miles on the bike. Then I realized that there was no possible way to do any long trips on an electric bike. As far as I can tell the owner of this motorcycle simply hates windblast and has a lot of stuff that he needs to take to work.

Every Touring Bike needs one of these.

Every Touring Bike needs one of these.

Then I saw this on the bike, and I realized that he just has a sense of humor. He’s set up his bike for the perfect camping trip, as long as it’s only 30 miles from his home.


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So this sucks

Yesterday things were going pretty good. I took my brother to practice again on my bike and he was doing really well. Well enough that soon, we’re going to have to brave the streets so he get’s real experience.


He’s getting the hang of the stopping and starting. Everything else he’s great at.

However, on the way back home things went… wrong. I’m riding up the hill and my bike’s engine just dies. I was worried at first that I had somehow run it out of gas, since the light came on as my brother was practicing. I coasted to the side of the road and tried to start it and it started right away. I thought to myself “huh, weird, seems OK now…” so I put it in first and it dies again. Repeat this a couple of times. I’m guessing the sensor that knows when my kickstand is up is dead. Since it runs fine in neutral, and dies immediately when I put it in any gear. I tried to wiggle the right things and get it going again, but no luck. I can’t exactly see what might be the switch or whatever lets the bike know the stand is up, it is a mess down there, been since never when it was last cleaned.

With nothing else to do I rolled it down the hill and parked it. Today I’ll figure out towing the bike to my mechanic and since it will be there I’ll have them put the 695 engine in.

Edit: After talking to my Dad I’m going to see if I can unplug the sensor and get it to start so I can just ride it to the shop. I’ll post up later this week with an update.

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MotoCynic on: Garage Queens – I don’t think I’ll ever make enough money to not ride a bike I own

When walking back to my office after lunch the other day I came across this gem. I immediately took some pictures.

It's a very pretty motorcycle.

It’s a very pretty motorcycle.

It’s a nice looking bike and a classic Ducati, the supersports had a long and glorious history with Ducati and made most famous (in my opinion) by Hunter S. Thomsons “Song of the Sausage Creature“.

I spend several minutes admiring the bike, but then I saw something that that I think you should never see on a bike made most likely over 15 years ago. An odometer with less than 9000 miles on it.

I’m going to come clean here, initially I was going to write a post and disparage the owner for having so few miles on a motorcycle that was so old. I’m a big believer that motorcycles are made to be ridden. So when I took a picture of his dash, it was because I wanted to show how few miles he had on the bike.

You can see the number on the headstock giving the edition number

You can see the number on the headstock giving the edition number

However, when I sat down to write this I decided that I should try and figure out what year the bike was made. Mainly because I did not want to tease the owner about putting so few miles on a bike over 15-20 years and be wrong about how old it was.

I sat down and looked at the photo of the bike, then read the wikipedia article on Supersports. When I read about the limited edition Superlights and looked at the picture again I realized that this bike was more than just a Supersport. I then looked again at my picture of the dash, and there it was the edition number on the headstock.

This bike parked in the alley near my office was #923 of the 953 Superlights that Ducati made from 1992-93. According to the internet only about 200 were brought to the United States. Given this, I’m giving this guy a bit more of a pass on having so few miles on the bike. Clearly it’s a “Garage Queen” primarily there to look good and take out for the occasional lunch on sunny summer days. I’m not sure if I’ll ever have the money or the space to have something that I would ride so infrequently. In general I think it is a waste of a vehicle, but to each is own. Someday maybe I’ll have my equivalent in the garage, I will still put more miles on it than 500 or so a year.


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Camping at Fox Hill: How I do it

This past weekend I went to Laguna Seca Raceway to watch the World Superbike races. I’ve now been to the track over a half dozen times and camped there most of them. I remember the first year we went in 2007 and desperately trying to find any information on camping at Fox Hill. There was very little out there and I remember being quite nervous about being able to find a spot to camp. It ended up working out fine but I thought I would write something up about how my friends and I do it so there was more information on the internet for others who might want to know about it before they go.

Track Map of Laguna Seca

Track Map of Laguna Seca

Fox Hill is exactly that, a hill in the middle of the track. Roughly between corners 4,5 and 6. You get to it through a parking lot and then on to a dirt road which was very intimidating when I rode it the first time. There are no marked campsites on this hill, it’s just first come first served, just try and find a flat spot for your tent.

Which there are generally enough, it’s much easier to find a good campsite during a WSBK weekend than a MotoGP weekend, just less people to compete with.  We try and arrive early but, nearly always camp in the same spot.  Which is just down the hill a bit, over looking the parking lot and toward the other big hill that the corkscrew is on.

Our "campsite" this year.

Our “campsite” this year.

Normally there is a large water truck up there for your water needs, this year however there was not so I’m not sure what we would have done if we decided to cook. However, since we’ve never cooked there it was not a big deal. Half the fun of going to Laguna Seca is going to Monterey Saturday night and trying to find somewhere to eat that isn’t an hour or more wait. (We’ve had good luck just going to nearby Pacific Grove.) The only bathrooms on Fox Hill are portable toilets, which thankfully don’t get that bad since they’re out of the way for everyone but Fox Hill Campers. Showers however are really far away, and honestly I just wait till I get home on Sunday. Part of camping is being dirty…

My favorite thing to do though is to sit on the hill Saturday night, drink a bottle of wine and watch the fog roll in over the hills from the pacific ocean. Then it’s off to bed with anticipation of the races on Sunday. Be prepared to be woken early by the roar of motorcycles or by the announcers on the loud speakers.

Over all I enjoy camping on Fox Hill, it’s very basic, but that has never bugged me. If I wanted luxury I would just stay in a hotel.



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