Photos By Brian Budes

OCTOBER 2009/39

Marvic Wheel Single SideBmw Bobber Golden Oldie

"Golden Oldie" and bears an ironic resemblance to BMW's techno-bobbcr Concept unveiled at last year's Milan Show. Fuel is carried in a stretched ST gas tank that rests on the frame's repositioned backbone, allowing it to be mounted lower, closing the gap to the motor. Welding done, the frame was treated to a semi-gloss black from Aguiar's plasti-painter of choice, OC Powdcrcoating.

Shortened stock fork tubes, cosmetically altered triple-clamps and an '87 Moto Guzzi SP1000 headlight form the front end. Out back? Well, not much of anything. Er, fenders? Hey, it (almost) never rains in Southern California.

After Aguiar rebuilt the engine, its cases were covered in black heat-resistant wrinkle powdercoat. The tranny received the same cost-effective treatment;

valve covers were done in gloss black. Two old DG Honda CR500 canisters muffle the exhaust note. Come time for final paintwork, the Dana Point duo of Mike Maldonado and Jimmy C sprayed and striped Golden Oldie, while the custom seat pan was covered in leather by Bitchen Rich.

Same crew was on hand to help turn the sorry-look-ing parts bike into "Envy," a more modern take on the Beemer Bobber theme.

Aguiar re-did the frame with steel tube, then handmade the futuristic sheet-metal fuel tank. A 2005 Suzuki GSX-R750 gave its fork, front wheel and brakes to the project. A Gixxcr 1000 shock supports a later-generation BMW R1100 Paralever single-sided swingarm grafted on by way of custom mounts and a driveshaft adaptor. The bike was completely rewired, from its Headwinds headlight back to the funky Ford taillight. Motocross mufflers again, this time two Suzuki RM250 cans from FMF.

After completion, Aguiar rode both bikes around for a few months before deciding he had to sell one. Golden Oldie was put on eBay, bids reaching S12,000 with five days left to the close of the auction. Nicc guy Rodney decided to change fluids for the potential new owner, but when he turned from the bike to get his tools, the Beemer took a dive off the workstand. Somehow, hitting the ground put nothing more then a small chip in the gas tank, but Aguiar had to stop the auction and get the tank repainted.

He took the near-disaster as a sign. "That bike didn't want to leave, so it took a sacrificial plunge to ensure I wouldn't sell it," he says. "I figure if the bike is that dedicated to me, I really ought to keep it."

-Mark Cernicky


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Len Lochmiller Custom


Art and engineering in a fast and beautiful Ducati

INGENUITY AND CREATIV-ity in custom motorcycle building are not hard commodities to find. But there is nothing else in the world like this one-off bevel-drive Ducati.

For a gearhead, especially a bevel gearhead, the beauty of this motorcycle starts at the tri-colore paint job and extends to a near-molecular level. "Customizing" is one thing. Insanely detailed reen-gineering and performance development over several decades quite another...

Owner/builder/designer Kevin Bracken is a 61-year-old chemical engineer working in biotech who has a serious Ducati affliction. It's a disorder dating from the racing and writing heyday of Cycle magazine's Phil Schilling and Cook Neilson, lovers of Bologna's best and builders of "Old Blue," the Daytona-winning magazine project bike of the 1970s.

"If it weren't for what they did and the things they wrote, I wouldn't have gone racing, and I never would have bought a Ducati," says Bracken.

Yep, he and a whole lot of other people!

After years of riding a '74 750 GT (that he bought new) on the famed Angeles Crest Highway north of Los Angeles, Bracken decided to go racing. Riding pal Jim Woods, meanwhile, had opened a performance shop circa 1977 and offered to build him bikes. "I was really lucky when I started racing for Jim because he was using C.R. Axtell and partner Mike Libby to do the really serious headwork, and they were just a few blocks away from Jim's shop. Ax and I hit it off well."

Over the years, Bracken and Axtell had Cosworth and JE make pistons. They modified every conceivable part of the oiling system. They converted the roller-bearing crank to plain bearings using leftover Carillo rods from Axtell's Yamaha-sponsored Virago dirt-tracker cxpcricncc and a Bracken-designed pin. And they ported heads! Many miles of welding rod were expended on the bevel heads to fill in ports, which were then ground into new shapes. But it was clear that these antiquated 1970s pieces were the limiting factor in power production.

Which is why the next of work-and most emblematic for the respect he has for Axtcll-was this one about hand-modifying a set of those fancy and expensive Cosworth pistons. When Axtell instructed Bracken to file the domes to alleviate pinging, "I carefully took about 1/64 of an inch off," he remembers. "Ax said, No, he would show me. He then took a huge aluminum file and quickly filed away about 1/8 to 1/4 of an inch from the sparkplug side of the dome! My Cosworths! I remember almost having a heart attack. But it worked. The detona-

cscalation was with updated 1984-era Pantah belt-drive units. Bracken managed to acquire blueprints and two sets of bare heads from the factory (with the help of famed Ducati tuner Dale Newton) to help them modify these better-flowing pieces to fit. He then converted them to bevel drive! That section of the project is an engineering paper in itself, but the bottom line is, after more serious engineering, they got exceptional results.

"We were able to get the flow on a test head to almost what a Harlcy XR-750 can do, which is about the best-flowing two-valve head that Ax has ever tested," Bracken says.

One of the best stories from Bracken's many years tion we'd had trouble with was gone forever.

"You know, I have been fortunate enough to be around good, and even great, scientific people for most of my career. Ax would put most of them to shame."

The 905cc engine now produces on the order of 93-100 horsepower. Not a bad jump from the nearly stock 59.6 hp!

The engine was retired from racing and formed the basis for a stock-frame streetbike in the late 1990s, and finally was repurposed for the incredible bike you see here because of.. .a free frame.

"It was a C&J kit that a fellow named Mark Henry worked on," says Bracken. "A friend got it from C&J

Kosman Bike Frames

because they just wanted it out of the way; he gave it to me in 2002.

"I was really lucky to manage to track down Henry," adds Bracken, regarding the Ducati-cnthu-siast composites specialist. "He still had the molds for the gas tank."

The longitudinal tri-colore paint scheme was the idea of Len Lochmiller, who also modified the AirTech tailsec-tion to fit the C&J frame.

Lots of trick hardware-Kosman triple-clamps, early YZF-R1 fork, custom fully' adjustable Wilbers shock, 851-style Marvic magnesium 17-inch wheels-round out the mechanical package. The finished product weighs an astounding 380 pounds without gas.

"It's an absolute blast to ride, so torquey and quick to transition from side to side," enthuses Bracken. "I wish to hell I'd had this when I raced!"

Icing on the cake was a win at Ducati's 2008 Supcrbikc Concorso, held at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca during the MotoGP round, where both Schilling and Neilson were in attendance.

"I was just about speechless when my name was called for the grand prize," he says. "I never expected to enter the bike in any contest much less win one. The trip to Italy and the Ducati factory tour was a dream come true. My wife Anita even forgave me for all the nights and weekends in the garage spent building the bike!"

We just hope she knows it isn't finished. "I'm giving the bike a little facelift, going through it front to back to lighten it a bit," says Bracken. "Titanium bolts, etc."

Better cue up another trip to Italy... -MarkHoyer

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