While some people may be shell-shocked at the prospect of taking a standard 1995 Ducati 900SS and turning into something like the legendary Ducati Supermono racer, Sam Combs, an architect from Anchorage, Alaska saw it as a great challenge.
The Ducati Supermono was designed by Pierre Terblanche, Claudio Domenicali, and Massimo Bordi for the then-popular single-cylinder series in Europe in the early 1990s, as well as the Isle of Man.
The Supermono was made in relatively large quantities (about 20 or so per year) for only three years – 1993 to 1995. Ducati insisted that a street version of the ultra light-weight (267 pounds, claimed dry) 549cc bike would be made available, but that never happened. That has opened the door for private owners to try to replicate the Supermono.
Sam Combs says: "Since I always wanted this bike I decided to create my own version. I first saw the bike in motorcycle magazines in 1993 and then saw an actual bike at the Ducati Factory in Bologna, Italy in June of 2001. Starting with a 1995 Ducati 900SS CR purchased in December, I began the conversion to the Supermono in January of this year and completed it in early April, 2010-if one can say a bike project is ever complete."
The road to any project bike is typically a long one.
Sam Combs says: "Being an Architect, I’ve always liked the exposed structure of motorcycles. When I was a kid, I used to be one of those that used clothes pins and plastic playing cards to get that motorcycle sound on my bicycle. When I turned 14 we were living in Florence, Italy where I purchased my first motorcycle–a 1966 Moto Guzzi Dingo Cross 50cc that I terrorized the citizens and rode the hills around Florence. I brought it back to Alaska and had it for three years until I determined it was too difficult to date in the climate of Alaska. Twelve years later, after going motorcycle less for all that time, I purchased a new 1982 Honda XL250R."
From there, Combs went through a number of bikes, as widely varied as a Kawasaki Ninja 600 and a Honda NX250. Race bikes snuck into his life, including a Yamaha RZ350 and FZR400, the later of which he still races.
Building his Supermono project bike had a variety of specific challenges, as Combs reveals in great detail:
Sam Combs says: "One challenge was matching the Supermono steering stabilizer and a Ducati Performance stabilizer matched the original, but it required the forks to be raised above the triple clamp to get the clearance from the forks, fairing and frame."
"Another challenge was finding something to hold the rear brake line to the brake caliper. The solution was found at Home Depot in the form of bendable electric wire stainless steel and rubber covered holders that matched the look of the exhaust pipe straps to continue that design theme."
"It was a challenge to find dual port exhausts and through lots of web research I found the Blueflames in England, and they were on sale! Termignoni did the original pipes, but they no longer make them. After solving that challenge, the next was to bend the existing pipes, fabricate extensions and exhaust hangers that would raise the pipes to a high mount location similar to the Supermono."
"Not being a fan of the sound of dry clutches, I found the stainless steel, Plexiglas-windowed clutch cover that would allow the viewing of the dry clutch, but would mute the sound."
"The bike rides and handles great. It is pretty light with the use of carbon fiber front fender and rear hugger and light materials used all around on a bike that is pretty light in stock form."
"One item that I had Airtech modify was the hole in the upper fairing that let the existing light shine through. Because I wanted to replicate the original Supermono, I had Airtech fill in that light opening. The lighting then evolved with the two LED strips at the upper fairing and one each at the slots on the lower fairing to provide side lighting. The main lights are the fog lights mounted to the frame under the upper fairing. The LED turn signal/mirror combination as well as the rear LED license plate mounted turn signals provides a consistency of a LED lighting theme."
"A challenge was getting the LED turn signals to blink and blink correctly. After trying several solutions provided from Ducati forums, what actually worked was placing short stalk turn signals connected to the rear LEDs inside the seat faring and allowing them to blink and help regulate the LEDs–a unique solution that works. Others have used this methodology as well. I really wanted to keep the tail clean without having turn signals sticking out on stalks and the license plate LED turn signals provided that clean look."
"The SpeedyMoto sliders protect the pipes and seat cowling. The low sliders protect the pipes and lower fairing along with the underbody SpeedyMoto that can be seen through the last of the three slots on the lower fairing behind the side LEDs. The RhinoMoto through axle sliders protect the rear aluminum swingarm. The aluminum swingarm was painted a bight blue which I stripped and then polished."
"The color gold was a theme that I carried through from the clip-ons, to the Rizoma grips and bar end sliders, the CRG levers, the Slingshot brake and clutch reservoir caps, the Slingshot frame plugs (also used in the lower sliders), the STM swingarm caps, the sprocket cover, the alternator crankcase cover, the gold tire accents, the gold chain, the gold LP bolts, and stock round fairing plugs."
"Tapeworks did an excellent job on the Supermono Desmoquattro and Agip decals–note that the Agips have the dragon reversed on each side to let the flame flow towards the back of the bike which is different from the original decals, but have a better flow to the bike lines. The paint and decals was roughed out prior to painting with paper templates and the fairing was delivered to the painter with those in place. The object was to match the original bike as closely as possible in paint and decal location."
"The ProTek rearsets provide a stylish, light and comfortable solution to the heavy stock footpegs and brackets. A pressure brake signal plunger from ProTek provides a rear brake light for street use."
Of course, as with any project, Combs still has plans:
Sam Combs says: "Future improvements include a stainless steel or gold colored oil cooler guard, Rizoma stainless steel windowed belt covers, front axle sliders, adjustable front forks, engine mods including re-jetting and whatever else lends to the bike evolution-they are never really completed-what would be the fun of that!"
Here’s a list of the modifications that Combs made to his 1995 Ducati 900SS CR:
- Exhaust… Blueflame EVO Oval Stainless Steel Dual Port slip-ons from England
- Exhaust Mods… Meineke Chrome extensions and header modification; exhaust hangers and pipe bending by Tim McKittrick, Wasilla, Alaska
- Alternator crankcase cover…Slingshot Racing gold billet aluminum
- Oil Filler Cap…Pro-Bolt
- Clutch Cover…MPL-Tuningparts Window Type I aluminum billet w/ Plexiglas window from Germany
- Fairing…Airtech Supermono Conversion Kit
- Windscreen…Zero Gravity
- Front fender and hugger… Sebimoto Carbon Fiber
- Steering Damper…Ducati Performance
- Carbon fiber triple clamp and instrument panel cover…SKUR custom
- Rear brake…1997 Ducati Supersport
- Cables…Galfer steel-braided brake and clutch lines.
- Clip Ons… PSR 50mm Gold
- Front suspension: Stock.
- Rear Suspension: 1997 Ducati Supersport
- Swingarm…1997 Ducati Supersport, polished aluminum
- Swingarm Spools: Pro-Bolt billet aluminum.
- Front tire… Pirelli Diablo Rosso
- Rear tire…Pirelli Diablo Corsa III
- Front wheel…Stock.
- Rear Wheel…1997 Ducati Supersport 6" Wheel finished by Anchorage Custom Powder Coating.
- Seat…Airtech Superlight seat and seat bumper
- Sprocket Cover…Slingshot Racing gold billet aluminum
- Grips…Rizoma Sportline Gold Billet Grips & Billet Gold Barend caps and sliders
- Levers…CRG Gold adjustable clutch and brake levers
- Lighting… Optronics LED Burners at upper fairing, side fairing, and fog lights under upper fairing.
- Mirrors…BikeMaster Candy Drop sport bike mirrors with LED Turn Signals
- Turn signals…Lockhart Phillips clear LED on license plate.
- Hardware…Lockhart Philips Gold Bolts and True Value Chrome
- Sliders… SpeedyMoto Underbody; SpeedyMoto Standard at exhausts; KR Tuned Kawasaki No-Cut Frame Sliders at existing center stand location protecting lower bodywork, swingarm and exhausts; RhinoMoto through axle.
- Decals…Tapeworks Graphics "Supermono/Desmoquattro" and "Agip", Pro Italia "Ducati" raised silver at upper fairing.
- Electrical Switches…Lighted toggle switches from O’Reilly Auto Parts for lighting.
- Frame Plugs: Slingshot Racing & STM from Italy
- Horn… Trombe Stobel
- Paint…Dave Kusmiter, Anchorage, Alaska
- Reservoir covers…Slingshot Racing Gold Billet Aluminum
- Tank Bra…Lockhart Phillips 1/2 Tank Top.
- Tire Accent Paint…Lockhart Phillips