Peter Korens fantastic Ducati Flat track XR900, we love it Peter.
So what do you do if you buy someone's non runner abandoned project bitsa twin-spark 900GTS for spares and then find that it runs? I always liked the Harley XR750......Those who must have their Bevels original had better not look. http://www.flickr.com/photos/bevelduc/2767172387/
Five years ago I bought an abandoned project based I think on a 900GTS. The seller intended to make a Hailwood Replica but gave up. It was a non runner due to rusty tank and no battery, engine covered with white "fur" and I bought it for spares for my 750GT and 900SS.
However, on closer inspection it was better than I thought and after fitting a battery and tank from the GT plus a gear lever it fired up second kick and after a short road test I knew all gears worked as well as the brakes.
What to do?
Too far gone to consider restoration so I thought maybe I'd build a squarecase Z-Stripe sport using my old steel SS tank and a Sport seat I had. Tank was too narrow, as was the seat, and I already have a single seat clip-on SS. It stayed in the garage for a couple of years while I mulled over the idea of a Flat-tracker. The main elements that distinguish the Harley XR750 are the tank and seat, the curvy high-level exhaust and the clean front end with spool hub. I had no intention of running without brakes but by reversing the fork legs
and having the callipers behind I improved the look enormously. One weekend while my father was staying I made a mock-up XR750 tank and seat out of Cellotex, a polyurethane insulation foam that is really fast to work. Dad sat in the sun drawing the tank graphics and my son helped paint. I liked the result and decided to proceed with certain parameters: I would try to build it as if it came out of the Ducati factory which would determine many of the details and the budget was set at £500 plus tyres and chain. The budget was low because it would always be a bitsa and also because of fear of failure. I wasn't sure it was going to work and I've seen plenty of modified bevels
that make me shudder. It was quickly obvious that a Harley tank would not fit the Ducati frame but I bought a replica seat base and handlebars from USA and made a wooden buck for the tank. I had a sheet of aluminium, made a sand bag and cut down one of the kids
croquet mallets and started bashing. Then I had to learn how to gas weld aluminium, which was tricky, and weld up the bits. The XR750 has no side panels, the left side is mostly covered by the exhaust and the right is covered by a large racing number plate. The way the frame
tubes go on the Ducati, the sides looked a mess so I decided to make the side panels using shapes from the seat unit as a guide as well as shapes on SS and GT panels. First I had to straighten the kink in the frame tubes that go up from the rear engine mounts because I wanted a slim wasted look and the standard frame would push the exhaust too far out. Something still didn't look right and it took me some time to identify that it was the steering head angle. That was steepened by 5 deg. Footrests are GTS butchered and welded, gearchange fabricated in GT style. I abandoned the brake cross over shaft because it interfered with the new position of the left footrest and made a new brake lever and cable that crosses over under the seat. I really enjoyed making the exhaust. I had loads of old headers to cut up but found I needed a tighter bend under the front cylinder and eventually found a grab handle as used in toilets for the disabled. For the record, I did not steal one! The silencers have cut-outs for the rear shock like the Imola high level
pipes so they sit nice and close to the frame. Heat shields were first bent around an old silencer and then drilled. Tail light is a Cateye bicycle lens on a home made alloy housing. The project was looking good and close to being painted when someone pulled
out of a side road in front of me and I smashed up my SS and broke my right hand which put a stop on everything. My original intention was to run the bike with a daytime only MOT with no lights and a bicycle speedo for the racing XR750 look. (For those outside
the UK, the MOT is an annual official certificate of compliance and they have daytime only option for off road bikes.) The accident changed my mind so I fitted a light and made speedo and tacho housings in the style of the Scrambler "Beer cans". This also meant I had to compromise on the handlebars and fit switches which spoils the clean look somewhat although I ran the wiring through the bars.
I gave the seat pan to Earl who did a lovely job cutting the foam and covering it. Got the tank decals cut and printed on vinyl and sprayed the lot with Harley Racing Orange basecoat and 2K clear lacquer. (My God, do I hate painting!) I didn't like the original plastic ignition housing and with my newfound skills made one from aluminium. Last Thursday I wheeled it out of the garage, put in some fuel, kicked it over a few times with ignition off to get fuel in the cylinders and it started fist kick. Brilliant reward after three years, and the cheap far-eastern silencers sound amazing with a really deep thump.