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Autumn Light

7:30 on a Sunday? Sorry, does not compute. But my phone is binging cheerfully at me, the little sod, a cat is asleep on my head, beloved is a whiffling heap under the duvet and I’m struggling with the concept of needing to be vaguely functional in the next twenty minutes and on the bike in a hour. The intervening time is spent knocking up bacon butties and coffee for self and Fiona, the proprietor of the famed Green Welly Stop, as she drops in en route to Tulliallan for today’s Scottish IAM Motorcycle Forum meeting. I’m worried though: TGW does totally excellent coffee and I need to ensure I’m on decent form to repay the hospitality.
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Gentleman Hooligans

This is my belated ‘quick look’ comparison between Ducati’s 2015 Multistrada 1200S DVT and its predecessor, the – and, specifically, ‘my’ – 2010 Multistrada 1200S. This was courtesy of Ducati Glasgow, who turned their pristine demonstrator over to me whilst my bike was in for replacement of a blown fork seal (that being a pretty standard issue with Öhlins forks).

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Thirteen years ago, egad, I wrote this about one of the IAM’s track-based skills day. I’ve just been to another one and had once again, a rather mixed experience. At least this time, there weren’t any actual accidents, damage or injuries, which has to be a major step forwards. But there were a few ‘issues’, he says, through clenched teeth.

A little personal context here: I don’t do commercial track days any more: I’m just fed up with the testosterone-soaked antics of too many people who don’t have the gumption or skill to go racing but who seem to think that a track day is a competitive environment and an excuse for poor and deeply inconsiderate behaviour to others – it only takes a few to screw it up for everyone.

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Age of Indecision

Five years now of Multistradom. And all is not entirely well in the state of Ducati Ecosse. Frankly, I’m a little hacked off.

After years of evangelising the whole Ducati Thing and telling all and sundry that their reputation for expiring gracelessly in embarrassing places was a perceptual hangover from a dim and distant past, the Multistrada 1200 has stopped me in my tracks – in short, this has been the worst finished and least reliable motorcycle I have owned from the modern era. In fact, the only one of my machines that provided any real competition in the “What is going to fail next?” department was my 1957 Royal Enfield. Continue reading

Öhlins SCU: Converting Manual Damping Settings

In fitting, setting up and using the Öhlins Mechatronic SCU, I’ve discovered a few things about it that might just be of some use to anyone else going through the same process. As far as I can tell from the documentation, the Öhlins SCU:

  • Doesn’t access or use the four riding Modes from the Ducati ECU (Sport, Touring, Enduro, Urban). I’m guessing that this is held locally to the Ducati ECU and not broadcast over the CANBus.
  • Only adjusts according to which of the three engine maps is selected. For example, with the Ducati map defaults, Urban and Enduro (100bhp map) modes will have identical damping behaviour when controlled by the Öhlins SCU.
  • What you of course can still vary individually for each of the four riding modes is the level of DTC intervention and the rear preload (referring to the 2010 Multistrada)
  • As with the OEM SCU, the Öhlins unit has a 32-step range of damping adjustments. However, the Öhlins unit maps the 1..32 Ducati settings onto its range 1..17, with the Öhlins 18..32 being new, softer, settings. So the Öhlins settings are coarser but give a wider range of adjustment at the ‘soft’ end of the scale.

The last of these matters not when you’re letting the Öhlins SCU control the damping. When however you want to carry over manual damping settings from the OEM SCU to the Öhlins unit, you need to convert between the two. The Öhlins manual includes a conversion table for some of the settings, but not for all.

I’ve therefore created the table below to give a full mapping. I’ve derived this from the data points given in the manual, which I suspect are simply rounded figures, so the mapping between the two isn’t quite linear. A purely linear fit is thus perhaps a little less accurate than the second-order fit calculated in the last column: the difference however is moot given the likely approximate nature of Öhlins’ figures. You may however find it a useful ready reckoner for converting manual damping settings.

Conversion Table: DES to Öhlins SCU Damping Settings

Conversion Table: DES to Öhlins SCU Damping Settings

Please note that I’m providing this figures for information only – Although I’ve taken reasonable care and thought in producing this, it is, as ever, your responsibility to ensure that you’ve taken all appropriate professional and technical advice before modifying your motorcycle.

Little Red Ducette

I’m a great fan of the smaller capacity Ducati sports bikes. I hold to the principle that a sports bike, like a sports car, is one with which you have to fully engage and whose performance should be exploitable – albeit with concentrated practice – on the roads or tracks on which you or I use it. That immediately disqualifies most modern litre-class sports bikes and and high-end sports cars – the combination of huge horsepower and software intervention that makes them ridiculously capable in the hands of riding and driving gods on the Nurburgring simply frustrates us mere mortals who are (usually vainly) trying to get them to a place where they can be bothered to wake up and take an interest.My first bike on my return to motorcycling was a Ducati 748 and, despite having since ridden examples of all full-fat Ducati sports bikes made since then, I’m still enamoured of the balance of power, handling and usability of this machine and its ilk. OK, so the current ‘small’ Ducati sports bike – the 899 Panigale – puts out 150bhp – more power than ANY road-going Ducati built prior to 2007 but, relative to the axe-murderer 1199 Panigale, the principle still applies. Continue reading

Heading the Wrong Way

Welcome back, again. It’s been a while. Again. I started this blog in late 1998, to share thoughts and experiences as a  motorcyclist returning to the fold after a long lay-off, as many of us then were. Things have been a little quiet though these last few years, mainly due to the exigencies of restoring a 200-year-old Highland farmhouse and the consequential distinct lack of riding time. A deal of spectacularly bike-unfriendly weather hasn’t helped either, but here I am again, blog moved from my old faithful co-located server of the last nine years to a nice new cloud thingy, whence I can continue pontificating on the life, the universe, riding and driving. Of course stuff gets lost along the way: for the moment most of my posts still need to be updated with their photo galleries for the new system. Which will take a while, especially as I’m doing the same for a bunch of other blogs. I hope it’s easier in another decade.

So please bear with me on missing content and broken links. For the moment at least. Normal sarcasm will be resumed shortly.

Multistrada 1200S: Four-up

Four years? I can’t quite believe it. Where’d they go? Although, looking back suggests that starting and building a couple of companies alongside the renovation of our old Highland farmhouse is going to swallow up a chunk of years with but a passing whoosh. Which is my excuse for what’s sitting in front of me – an exactly four-year-old Multistrada 1200S which shows a pathetically low total of 8,000 miles. Actually, it displays a mileage of 700, because the clocks have been replaced under warranty. Of which more anon. But those are many fewer miles than I used to do in a year – my 46,000 mile ST4s sits smugly alongside in the stable, on its charger, currently awaiting a light restoration and rodent extraction before being put back into circulation. As mine was one of the first of this new generation of Ducatis off the production line, it’s probably now worth taking a critical look at what’s not worked as well as I might have hoped as well as summarising my thoughts about the bike now and whether my initial opinions have changed.

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Riding the Tiger: Panigale 1199S

Kneel on a rug with your hands on the ground in front of your shoulders. Now imagine the rug to be a low-flying magic carpet, responding to your demands at the speed of thought, where faster and slower are products of instantaneous desire and turning is as simple as looking to your goal. Hold that vision. Now go ride a Ducati Panigale. See? And that of course is what I’ve just been doing — courtesy of the ever-helpful Blair at Ducati Glasgow, I’ve been having a play on their Panigale S demonstrator. Continue reading

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