Winning MotoGP championships and World Superbike titles is something that Ducati used to be good at. Although they've slacked somewhat over the last few years. Providing a competitive alternative to the ubiquitous Japanese four-cylinder sports motorcycle, however, is something that Ducati is still very good at.
But even with the Diavel, the Bologna factory have never been particularly successful with any mind of Harley-style cruiser. With a couple of notable exceptions (such as Roger Allmond’s Techno Bobber – built from a crashed S4R Monster), any attempts to make a Ducati look like a Harley has been as sad an occasion as your mum’s funeral. Mind you, due to being performance-orientated and race bred motorcycles, Ducatis do lend themselves to the streetfighter genre very nicely thank you; examples of such being featured in the specialist press (ie Bomber, Streetfighters, Fighters and, undoubtedly soon in WWB) occasionally, albeit very occasionally in comparison with the more usual Gixer/Blade/Busa/R1 format ‘fighters.
In the good ole US of A however, where bling is king, sticking a fat 300mm tyre and a long swinging arm into a pocket rocket like a Ducati 749 was an easy choice for Sam Morris to make … for two very good reasons. Reason number one; although still at college, Sam had been building customising sport bikes and Jap cruisers for a couple of years and a Ducati seemed like an ideal crossover custom to combine both interests. And reason number two; his Ducati 749 had been run over in a car park.
A couple of years later, and Sam has now left school and is putting his studies in Automotive Technology to good use by opening up his own custom shop, Gooichi Motorsports (named after Sam’s college car club), with the intentions carrying on his dual identity and customising both sports bikes and snoozers. As an ongoing project, the Ducati had slowly metamorphosised over the years, gradually growing longer, lower, fatter and funkier, all the while displaying Sam’s diverse automotive interests. Definitely archetypical American custom sportbike with its long swinging arm, fat rear wheel and near stock bodywork, the heavily spoked wheels also show Sam’s chopper and custom car influences, while the paintwork is pure hot-rod.
More commonly seen on bikes with an H and a D in their name (but not HonDa), the Ride Wright rear wheel is a huge hoop, as wide as an elephant’s arse with a multitude of chrome spokes of a diameter more usually found on a classic sports car and fitted with the compulsory 300mm wide tyre. The big shiny four-piston rear brake caliper is similarly ‘chopper’ in concept, as are the pointy ends on the specially fabricated Diablo 14-inch over-length swinging arm that also features a sport bike style jackshaft with dual chains to offset the driveline around the bulk of the massive rear Metzeler. In order to get the bike low enough to the ground to negate the need for a stand of any description, Sam made his own version of an air operated rear suspension system so that when the shockers hit rock bottom, a steel plate bolted to the underside of the Ducati vee-twin engine rests (or scrapes if the bike is moving), on the road. Using two Clipperd Pneumatics industrial units, Sam has designed the system to be mechanically operated with full manual control that can be tuned for firmness and preset for different ride heights.
Up at the front of the bike, the stock Ducati forks are lowered a full three inches by poking the fork legs through the top yoke by exactly that amount. Brake calipers are OE Ducati Brembos, as are the master cylinders, clip-ons and the fork yokes (that feature adjustable rake of one degree – although with a 300mm rear wheel and a 14-inch over swinging arm I doubt that adjusting the fork rake for razor-sharp handling is a priority). Not OE Ducati, however, is the 18-inch spoked front wheel that Ride Write had to make specially for Sam to fit in the Ducati forks – that luckily just happen to be wide enough to accept the 130mm wide Metzeler tyre and matching Ride Wright brake discs.
Rated at 103bhp out of the box, the 8-valve Desmo vee-twin motor is enhanced with a Power Commander and a set of ‘free-flowing’ (fucking loud), exhaust pipes, while the exterior of the 748cc engine (so why it’s called a 749 is anybody’s guess), is dressed with carbon fibre cambelt covers. The tubular steel frame is also mostly stock Ducati 749 and the original five-position rearsets have been replaced with SSR assemblies. In keeping with the usual American custom sports bike manner, Sam’s Ducati retains almost all of the stock bike’s original bodywork, albeit with subtle differences such as the aftermarket tinted screen, the Ducati Corse carbon fibre pillion seat cover and custom made white seat pad. Featuring classic hot rod paint and pinstripes, the red an’ black paintwork also sports iconic hot-rod emblems such as the rolling dice and iron cross – the latter motif featuring on the artwork of Kenny Howard (better known as Von Dutch before his memory was bastardised by a T-shirt company), and Ed Roth in the 1950s, long before it was usurped as a logo by Jesse James and West Coast Choppers.
Like most Italian vehicles, the motorcycles made by Ducati Meccanica SpA are regarded as moving works of art by their respective ‘Tifosi’, whose quest for originality borders on a religious fervour. Sam jokes that while Americans generally warm to his Gooichi version of Pierre Terblanchi’s 749 L-twin (Ducati don’t call their V-twin engines V-twins), he’s had death threats from crazy Italians for daring to desecrate an example of their Bolognaise Holy Grail. And, in that vein, maybe the last word is best left to the enigmatic Kenny Howard (AKA the real Von Dutch), who said … Religion, it’s all bullshit. The Christians are fucking up the world worst than the others because they’re the only religion with a healer - so they capture more sick people than the others.
Sam Morris, Pittsburg, Kansas, USA.
2003 Ducati 749 with Power Commander, exhaust system by owner, BBT carbon fibre cambelt covers.
2003 Ducati 749 modified by owner, SSR rear-set footrest assemblies.
2003 Ducati 749 USD forks & yokes with carbon fibre top yoke cover, Ducati 749 brake calipers, brake & clutch master cylinders, Ride Wright brake discs, stainless steel braided lines, Ride Wright spoked wheel, 130/60ZR18” Metzeler tyre, Ducati 749 clip-ons & steering damper, SSR master cylinder caps, fork preload adjusters & bar-ends.
One-off Diablo 14” over-length swinging-arm with jackshaft & skateboard wheel, Clipperd Pneumatics fully adjustable shock absorbers, Ride Wright spoked wheel, 300/35VR18” Metzeler tyre, custom billet aluminium brake caliper, Ride Wright brake discs, Ducati 749 master cylinder & stainless steel braided line, Sprocket Specialities aluminium final drive sprocket.
Ducati 749 fuel tank, modified fairing & seat unit, Ducati Corse carbon fibre pillion seat cover, aftermarket tinted screen, custom seat pad by O2 Upholstery, Columbus, Kansas.
Custom wiring harness by owner, Ducati 749 headlights, switchgear & instruments, LED rear light.
Custom paintwork by Patterson’s Artworks, Pittsburg, Kansas.
All work by Sam Morris at Gooichi Motorsports, Pittsburg, Kansas, USA. Website: www.gooichimotorsports.com