Road Racing Series - Part 12

The sum of all parts

As promised in the “final” article of our road racing series, we’d thrown a few more bits on our Ducati workhorse since we ran our first CCS amateur race. This fall we got the 748 back out to the track to evaluate these new parts, hitting up West Virginia’s Summit Point raceway on the last track day Motorcycle Xcitement was holding this year.

The quick summary: new motorcycle. The components that missed our first race were crucial to the overall qualities of the supersport racer we built (to see more information on these components and their installation, see Parts 6 and 7 of the Road Racing Series).

Brembo HP Brake Components

“You really like your brakes don’t you,” said the Motorcycle Xcitement instructor Ed Rodriguez who had been trailing me through Summit’s corners, noticing how as the pads set in on the new rotors, I was braking later, deeper and harder to the point that he could see the rear of my motorcycle getting light as I entered the turns.

Yes I do.

It's "plug and play" with Brembo's HP braking components, like these rotors, the parts quickly bolting on to stock mounts.

The Ducati’s stock Brembo brake system is no slouch, so even unmodified I was used to excellent brakes. But an upgrade with Brembo’s HP (“high performance”) 320mm full floating rotors and their 19 RCS forged radial master cylinder took the bike’s stopping power to a whole new level.

Not only was stopping power amazing (I never worked up the courage to use the brakes to their fullest extent on the cold 50 degree October day), but most importantly they were predictable. As I learned the track and my pace got faster, the brakes preformed with dead-on consistency. No drama. No surprises. Confidence inspiring for a beginning racer learning a new track, who sometimes gets into the corners a little too hot. The Brembo's "Ratio Click System” can adjust the distance from the lever pivot to the plunger from 18mm to 20mm. I left it set at 20mm and despite the immediate “anchor dropping” action of the lever, there was still enough feel for use on the cold track.

The 19RCS master cylinder put the lever nearly parallel with the clip-ons and within an easy reach of all the fingers. This is one-finger braking, but you pick the finger, anywhere from the index to the pinky. Lever action was smooth and predictable. Overall the upgrade was a great step up not only in performance, but in ergonomics, adjustability and usability.

The Brembo HP rotors and radial master cylinders are supersport legal in most racing organizations and are an easy-bolt on modification that will bring big performance gains. For a supersport racer, this is one area where you can bolt on MotoGP technology and reap the benefits in performance.

The sum of the new parts: New Motorcycle. Our additions transformed the chassis and braking capabilities of our motorcycle.

STM Evoluzione Slipper Clutch

We replaced the stock non-slip OEM Ducati clutch unit with STM's Evoluzione slipper clutch (right).

High-revving V-Twins, like the Ducati’s 748cc mill, make for big engine braking. As you try to keep the engine in its powerband, you’re entering corners with the engine revving into what is the stratosphere for a Twin (10,000 to 12,000 rpm) Dumping the clutch after a shift will get you chassis unsettling rear-wheel hop just as you’re trying hard to set up your corner.

The STM slipper clutch is the cure for this problem. Its installation on our project Ducati transformed the way the bike downshifted. No need to enter the corner in a higher gear and then count on the V-Twin torque to lug you out on the exit. No need concentrate on feathering the clutch until engine and rear wheel speed matched, a tough task indeed when your newbie racer brain is already overloaded with the complexities of cornering. Just downshift, release the clutch and let the STM do the work. Downshifts are smooth. Engine braking is greatly reduced. And you feel stronger on the corner exits because you’re keeping the engine revved higher. 

I practiced a race start during the Motorcycle Xcitement track school’s mock race. Dry clutches are notorious for their grabby engagement, especially from a stand still, but the STM’s “Progressive Engagement Plate” makes for smooth releases from a dead stop.

The finished STM clutch installation, before the clutch cover is installed. Its form is only exceeded by its function.

In an earlier article when we recommended the best bike for a beginning racer, we mentioned several Twins, like the air-cooled Ducatis and Suzuki’s bombproof SV series. An aftermarket slipper clutch, like the STM unit, is a wise investment for the beginning racer on these machines. You get all the benefits that a V-Twin machine offers and the STM slipper clutch takes away a major negative.

The new Brembos allowed for later and harder braking. The STM slipper clutch let the bike enter the turn in a lower gear and have more power on the exit.

Scotts Performance Rotary Steering Damper

The Scotts Performance triple clamp and rotary damper (left) compared with the OEM non-adjustable Ducati parts (right).

There are certain components that you add to a race bike that want to make their presence known. If you install an expensive set of cams in your engine’s heads, you want to feel the pay-off in the seat of your pants when you accelerate down the straight. Other components show their value when you forget they are there. This is the case with the Scotts Performance rotary steering damper.

It would be easy to forget this component if it wasn’t so beautiful and in your face, mounted on Scotts billet triple clamp. But on the track, the Scotts damper is the equivalent of a metal band’s roadie. When it’s doing its job, everything is working smoothly and you’ll never even know it’s there.

Summit Point’s main circuit is notorious for its car-roughened asphalt in the corners. If you get off line (and at your first time on the track you’ll get off the racing line) it can get a little bumpy. The Scotts damper combined with the Ducati’s superb chassis to make our race bike feel solid, planted and controllable, even when the going got rough.

The unit’s industry unique independent high and low-speed valving circuits mean that from low-speed maneuvering from the paddock to the track, to high-speed bumps on the front straight, there is a consistent feel in the chassis unlike any other damper unit you will ever use with no need to keep fiddling back and forth with your adjustments.

The Scotts Performance rotary steering damper with its industry exclusive independent high speed damping circuit works so well that you'd forget it was there if it wasn't so beautiful.

Not that making adjustments is a hard thing to do. The Scotts damper has a range of adjustability and ease of use that beats everything in the industry. Confidence is a common theme in the parts we’ve been reviewing with this article. A new racer’s brain is already overloaded. One less thing to think or worry about helps the newbie concentrate on what’s important. And this is where the Scotts rotary damper is good. So good, you might forget it’s there.

Factory Pro Shift Kit

The Factory Pro Shift Kit (right) with its roller-bearing shift arm and stronger spring, compared to the OEM parts (left).

Catching a false neutral on a racebike can be more than annoying. It can be dangerous when you’ve banged a shift and tossed your bike into a corner, only to find that you’re stuck between gears when you roll on the throttle to balance your chassis.

Enter Factory Pro. The company’s shift kit makes for positive shifting and worked perfectly in combination with the Ducati’s Power Commander Quick Shifter unit for upshifts and the STM Evoluzione slipper clutch for going down. The kits are affordable and an easy installation.  Like the Scotts damper they work so well you’ll need to put the Factory Pro sticker on your fairing to remember it’s there.

Shift pedal action is positive. You can feel the transmission click into gear. The only thing left to blame poor shifting on is the rider.

And so concludes the icing on the cake of our Supersport racer build. With the above mentioned parts we not only radically improved the handling characteristics of the motorcycle, we also transformed its stopping capabilities.

We have our supersport racer up to speed. Next project: get its rider up to speed.

The result? Although we started out with a “vintage” superbike, we built a machine that would be highly capable for the casual track rider or beginning supersport racer. Now we’re moving on to getting the Ducati’s pilot up to speed. Thanks for coming along for the ride and we hope some of you have joined us. See you at the track.

Web Links
STM slipper Clutches
Brembo Brakes
Scotts Performance steering damper
Factory Pro shift kits

Related Reading
Road Racing Series - Part 1
Road Racing Series - Part 2
Road Racing Series - Part 3
Road Racing Series - Part 4
Road Racing Series - Part 5
Road Racing Series - Part 6
Road Racing Series - Part 7
Road Racing Series - Part 8
Road Racing Series - Part 9
Road Racing Series - Part 10
Road Racing Series - Part 11

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