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1993 Ducati 900SS/SL

4306 Views 44 Replies 7 Participants Last post by  dirkchecken
It's finally official, so I can make a real post about it.

TL;DR version - In 1993 I saw a Ducati Superlight. Loved it. Decided I wasn't in a position to buy it. As of today I own one.

Long version...

In February I decided I wanted a Ducati V2 Streetfighter. That meant I had to sell my Moto Guzzi V85tt. Right after putting down a deposit on the Streetfighter, I put the V85 up for sale. The ad clearly stated "No trades".

So of course I got the guy who wanted to trade me two POS Japanese bikes that didn't run and one old POS snowmobile that didn't run and some other crap that didn't work for my as new Moto Guzzi because sure, I want to take your junk in trade. Seriously? Do I look like a trash collector? What are these peolpe thinking?

Then I got another guy who wanted to trade, but his one was different. It's a long story but the gist of it was this guy had a Ducati Superlight that had been sitting at a friends house for 20 years, unridden.

Well at least this was something decent, but no, I needed money for the Streetfighter. I started turning it down, but as I was writing I ended up talking myself into getting more info. My reply was like "Yeah, no, but do you have any pics? Because, I dunno, maybe?"

I was very skeptical. Sitting for 20 years? The carbon fiber was probably cloudy. The tank rusty. Etc... the thing probably needed more work than I cared to do, but, come on. It's a Superlight. I have lusted after a Superlight since spending about half an hour staring at the first one I saw on the showroom floor back in the day. I bought a yellow 996 because of the Superlight. I love 900ss's, the Superlight is the top dog 900ss. Ya gotta check on it anyway.

A few pictures were sent. Hmmm..... not bad. It's a couple hours from here, I'll go look at it.

I got there, and about 45 seconds in I saw this and decided the bike needed to come home with me.

It already had FCRs. Braided lines. Open exhaust. The wheels have a little corrosion on them but nothing major... and it only had about 7300 miles on it. Did I mention the carbon fiber was clear, no cloudiness?

Once I got it home my IQ recovered a bit and I checked a few other things. The inside of the gas tank looked as new. The airbox was spotless too.

The only bummer was the swingarm is cracked. Not shocking, they do that.

It just so happens I have a 900ss trackbike that will need more work than I had planned, and it has the updated aluminum swingarm that doesn't crack as easily... which will need to be removed when I pull the engine. And I have a steel swingarm banging around that will fit in it's place. Problem solved.

So, the Guzzi was sacrificed to get the SL. The guy showed up this morning and we made everything official after about two months of planning.

Coincidently... I got a phone call last night. The Streetfighter is ready to go. I would have included more pictures of the SL in this post but they'll have to wait. Now I have to get ready to go pick up the Streetfighter!

The bad news is, once everything gets settled in I need to get serious about selling the 851. Sacrifices need to be made I suppose.

More info later, this probably won't be much of a project thread. Or at least I hope it isn't.
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I'm still trying to put together the details on the 851 for an ad. I'll send the details when I have a rough idea. The gist of it is, it's nice but not a museum piece, and I'll probably ask $9500 for it.

Appeal of the 900ss... I could go on for days but it turns into fanboy stuff at some point so I'll try not to ramble too long.

Basically, the Super Sport was the Ducati sportbike for the everyday guy. If the Superbikes were like prize fighters, the Super Sports were bar room brawlers. They may not win the fight but you're gonna know they were in it. Yestertech from day one, but attitude for days. And the best sounding exhaust of any Ducati of the era. I've got stories about that too.

The SS worked better on the street than the Superbikes did. I say that having owned a couple SS's, an 851 and a 996. The SL is my 4th 900ss.

Of course the early Monsters have the same engine and some would argue a better chassis, and they're pretty nice too, but to someone who got into Ducatis in the F1 era, the SS was the cooler choice. Last year I started looking for an M900 as my "classic" bike, but I've now bought two Super Sports instead. So yeah, I'm incredibly biased.

I can imagine your DB2 is a kick to ride, it's the Bimota I'd search for if I was looking for one. In fact the DB2 and an RC30 are two of the few bikes left on my "bucket list". With the addition of the Streetfighter and this I'm thinking I won't be buying anything else for quite some time.

I did bring the SL into my shop, so work can begin. Though if it's nice out I'll be out putting miles on the SF.
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I had been working to get my 900ss trackbike ready for this season but that's not gonna happen. It's nickname is now "donor bike".

It's suspension was downgraded a bit.

The donor, er, track bike had a perfectly good, updated (less prone to cracking) aluminum swingarm. And it came with a spare steel swingarm. What's a few pounds between friends anyway?

The belts had just been changed on the track bike too. Today was spent getting it into shape to wheel into the corner while the SL gets some love. It's a little worse for wear but it will get it's day in the sun. Someday.

I had a few parts left over when I was done, but I think I can find somewhere to put them.
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I'm surprised there is not more of a difference in swing arm weights, although I'm not sure what I expected it to be.
I was a little surprised too, until I thought about it in percentages. The steel arm is about 38% heavier than the aluminum, and I didn't include the blocks that the axle fits in either so that'd be more weight for the steel one.

i got somewhere for that rear shock
I've got a couple places for it!
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It looks like these tires didn't see a whole lot of use. I haven't checked the date code but they have to be 20 years old at least, so I'll be replacing them.

I was hoping to get more done today but things came up. I did make the first parts order though!

Looks pretty tidy under the tank

Took a look at the carbs, obviously they'll need to be rebuilt. No surprise there, my first clue was when I couldn't twist the throttle easily...

At least I got the trackbike out of the way. I'm hoping it stays there for weeks rather than years, but I'm not promising anything.
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On another site I mentioned the replacement swingarm was a newer version, which led to confusion when someone thought I was talking about a swingarm from a later generation Super Sport. Yes, those will fit but then you have to change to a later hugger too I think?

Anywhos, what I meant was, Ducati revised the design of this swingarm somewhere between 1993 and 1996, so same generation but different part. I'm not sure when it happened but the later arms have a mod that keeps them from cracking so easily. Here's a shot of the original swingarm (top) vs the later revised version. Notice the extra material on the front, you can't see the bolt head on the later version.

I also checked the date codes on the tires. Rear was made in the 8th week of 2000, front was 40th week of 2000. They're about due to be replaced I think. A new set of Pirellis were waiting for me when I got home, Diablo Rosso II. Older tech but available in a 170/60 rear and they're not expensive. Perfect for what I'm going to be using this for. I almost went with Angel GT sport touring tires, but they cost about the same and judging by past experience, these tires will probably die of old age out before they wear out...
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Progress for now still means going backwards

Carbs and airbox are pulled. Cracked swingarm is still on there but the shock is gone. Belts are off too, so that means everything's out of the way and I can check/adjust the valves. but instead of doing that I ended up cleaning one of the carbs. I can't get the freaking fastener out that covers the needle and am not sure how I'm going to deal with that without damaging a $200 slide... I could just leave it but it would be worse to deal with later if I want to change things. Hopefully tomorrow I can clean up the other one with no issues and get all the parts ordered.

Since this is a '93 it has the pesky flanges on the cam pulleys that make changing the belts a pain in the ass. Or I should say "had" the pesky flanges. They were removed and tossed in the bin - the later bikes don't have them and now neither does this one. I'll probably replace the tensioner and idler bearings, they spin just fine but the outer surfaces are corroded. I haven't checked prices yet... the track bike may need to step in with a generous donation once again. In fact it's got FCRs too, if things go south with the slide on this.
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I took a closer look at the swingarms this afternoon, and spotted another difference that explains someone else's issue with the chainguard not fitting. The original swingarm has a smaller brace.

Original swingarm. Let's call it 30mm

Revised swingarm. More like 40mm

Originally there was a little clearance (hard to tell but only pic I had)

while it hits the brace with the revised version

Could it be trimmed? Maybe. Do I care it doesn't fit? Not really.

BUT... the hugger doesn't really fit either now, because the tab for the guard hits the swingarm brace. I can trim it, but it kind of annoys me to trim an original hugger... I'll decide later aka get up the nerve when I price a new hugger. I'll have to figure out just how much would have to go to get it to fit.
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Slight progress made. Parts are showing up so I've got that going for me.

At this point the valves are done, belts replaced, swingarm replaced, shock installed, and I'm midway through rebuilding the carbs. I managed to pull the stuck bolt that was preventing me from getting to the needle without damaging the slide, so that was good. I hope the second one goes easier...

Ooooh... much more better now.

I also pulled the brake rotor off the rear wheel. This era bike is known for having crap bolts holding the rotor on. They use a 5mm allen wrench and commonly strip. I broke all six loose with no issues, and then when I went to remove the last one, it stripped. I guess it hadn't broken loose after all. I got it out, but it eventually involved welding a nut to the messed up bolt, all the while wondering just how easily magnesium can be ignited...
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Geezus this project is moving slow. It seems there's always something else that needs to be done first. But I AM making progress!

The carbs had a date with the ultrasonic cleaner and are now back on the bike. I made some jetting changes. There is a never ending supply of recommendations out there, but most of them seem leaner than what this was running, and the plugs did look like it was rich so I went with some settings I found on Brad Black's site.

Oooooh... shiny!

Much more better
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Now that the 851 is gone, I'm finding it hard to stick to my "don't spend money on things the bike doesn't HAVE to have" guideline.

It was time to get a new battery so I started searching for an AGM that would fit. I like lithium iron batteries but that would also mean a new regulator, and more cost. So off to the internet to find an AGM. An AGM will work fine. I've used them before. Here's what showed up at my house a couple days ago.

In for a penny, in for a pound, right? And it's a SUPERLIGHT so you pretty much HAVE to go with lithium. It just makes sense if you think about it.

About 20 years ago I bought a fancy double ringed piston for a stock clutch slave cylinder. I thought I'd treat the bike to that and avoid future leaks. While I was figuring out how to mount the regulator I pulled the cluch lever in. When I pulled the lever I thought dang, I must be getting weak. I don't remember them being that hard to pull. And then I remembered when I put an aftermarket slave cylinder on the 851 and thought "Why didn't I do this years ago?". So I walked upstairs and ordered a new slave cylinder so it will have a lighter pull.

I should probably get a braided line for it too, the one on there is 30 years old at this point...

There was a bracket mounted on a regulator mounting bolt that held the throttle cables in place. While I was screwing with that I realized the throttle cable routing was ridiculous. To the right of the regulator, under the airbox, across the bike, and then back up to the carbs? Why? So I pulled it apart and ran the cables the way I thought made sense. It would work fine, except the cables are too long now. Crap. Buy shorter cables, or shorten these? Looks like I'll be searching for info on that one tonight. I may have to make an order for cable making parts. Whatever, I need to make a couple for other projects eventually too, may as well order everything at once.

But that means the airbox still can't go back on.

I was also thinking about the stock coils. A lot of people say upgrading those leads to easier starting and smoother low rpm running... which sounds good. Upgrading the battery cables is a common thing too. It'd be a good time to do it, with everything being pulled apart anyway...

I swear this thing will be back on the road this year. Just not quite as fast as I was thinking. And with a little more invested than I had planned.

On an unrelated note - Has anyone else noticed that carbon fiber wheels aren't that much more expensive than forged aluminum these days???
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I took another look at the throttle cables today. I went back to routing them the same way they were when I got the bike, and found out when I hooked up the return cable everything got less than smooth. They need to be shortened and routed in a more sane manner, no question.

But wait, I've got a donor bike with the same carbs. Woo hoo! I pulled those parts off and proved to myself the cables I have are too long.

Trackbike cables on top, Superlight cables on the bottom. Told ya they were too long. The good news is, shortening the SL cables shouldn't be too hard and I can wait until winter to do it. For now I can use the trackbike throttle and cables. Great, I can put the airbox back on now!

Then I realized I'm going to update the wiring also and one of the grounds is in a spot that is oodles times easier to get too with no airbox in the way.

So, still no airbox.
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I spent some more time on the throttle today. Painted the housing and installed the trackbike parts on the Superlight. They work much better than what was on there, smoother pull and a satisfying "snap" when they close. Mission accomplished. I'll shorten the other ones when I'm back to working on another project that needs cables. The track bike is #3 on the list, there's no hurry getting it done.

Back to the SL, I decided I'm going to change the fuel lines before I put the airbox back on. They look great, but they have to be at least 20 years old and are probably closer to 30. May as well do it now while I'm waiting for other stuff anyway.

So I sat there staring at the bike trying to figure out what all I should do before the airbox goes back on. The clutch line can be done with the airbox in place, and the coils need the airbox in place. Hey... wait a minute... the coils...

I've been considering changing them out just because. But today it struck me... these coils aren't stock.

I'm not sure what they are, but I'm pretty sure they aren't OEM. They don't match what the trackbike has, and I don't recall them looking like this on my other two 900s either. I found a picture on eBay of the same coils, and they say they're from Nology, but the current photos I find from Nology look a lot different. The ignitors are stock for what it's worth.

Someone will be able to ID the coils, I'm not planning on upgrading them for now in any case. That money could be better spent on something else. Like a tail tidy for my Streetfighter. I thought I could live with the stock plate mount but dang... I'm pretty sure an Evotech unit is in it's not too distant future.
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Yeah someone on the Ducati forum pointed out they are stock coils for an early 900. All my previous bikes were later so these looked weird...

I ordered the upgrades yesterday so it's kinda moot now. :cool:
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I finally had a day where it felt like I got some things done.

The airbox is 100% installed with a newly cleaned/oiled K&N filter. I'm not a huge fan of them but it seems hard to buy a 900ss these days that doesn't have one installed. I've got extras on the shelf from previous bikes. This one came with a cut lid but I'm going with an intact lid with no snorkels that I had bought for the track bike. I've also got a couple aluminum rings I could go with but previous experience says I detest how loud an open intake is on these bikes. The track bike can be loud since I won't ever be on it for more than 20 minutes at a time.

The coils unexpectedly showed up while I was working on the regulator wiring so they were on the bike within an hour of getting here. They came with plug wires and plugs so they're replaced too.

The battery is in position and I know how I want to hold it down, but it involves 3D printing something which means using Fusion 360 which so far has been hugely frustrating to me. It doesn't work like the CAD software I used before so things that used to be easy are now confusing... but I guess I'll get over it. Or I'll just drill a hole in the battery box and put a zip tie around it. That worked on the 851.

And now that I've written it down it doesn't seem like all that much but the airbox was a big deal to me and feels like a big step forward.

Oooh, I put a new front sprocket on it too, so there's a 2 minute job out of the way!
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Ah yes, the infamous "max" oil line. Funny thing. If you look at different 900ss's you'll see different oil level stickers on the side covers. This one has the "Max" line where the "Min" line is on others.

Trust me, it's supposed to have more oil in it than that Max line would indicate. This one is a bit over filled now but the engine hasn't been turned over yet either, I'll drop a bit once it has.

In the end if you get it right around the level of the two holes in the plate behind the glass you should be good. But don't do this with it on the sidestand.

I also put the tank back on, just so I could feel like I was making progress.
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LOVED vented covers on those clutches! But I also liked the airbox sound with the "mod" (no lid, zip tied in filter, I'm a noise junky.
When people ask why the bike is so noisy I tell them they make about 3hp more with the oil a quart low so all the cool kids run them like that.

With no airbox lid there is a certain rpm that gets literally painful for me, especially if tucked in. My ears already ring 24/7, no reason to make it worse.

If you like noise you'd love this bike, even the front brakes rattle on it. I should post a video on what true "free floating" rotors look/sound like. Hmm... in fact I'm not doing anything important right now, hang on...

This doesn't show how horrible it sounds when you take a bike with these rotors and roll it backwards. Or how they rattle when you turn the bars just sitting there. "Refined" is not a word you'll see used to describe Super Sports from this era.
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Floating rotors freaked me out the first time I had a bike with them.
It never fails that each spring, the first time I move a bike that has them I get freaked out. They make noises that "normal" bikes just don't make. I wonder how many SPs have been overlooked because "dude, those brakes are trashed!"?
d, ever use dynojet or kn jetting kits in a carb ss? putting my 750 back together, which didnt come with stock airbox, thanks
I used a Dynojet kit in my SP a lot of years back. Worked fine, though you likely also have to replace the emulsion tubes which aren't included in the kit.

This is a common issue with the stock carbs and gets overlooked a lot. The one on the right is used. The bike fouled plugs regularly, the PO thought it was just one of things Ducatis do.

Edit: D'oh! I lied. It was a Factory Pro kit I used, not Dynojet.
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