Ducati Dragbike 2011: Stage 1

Well this is an attempt to condense the other wing of the development project here at Motorcycle Performance. 

Initially the dragbike was intended as more of a mule for the development of the engine platform for the Bonneville land speed bike (LSR).  The chassis for the LSR bike was so long (at around 12 feet) it took three people to maneuver it around in the shop to get it on the dyno for testing and development.  It was also pretty darn scary to try and ride around the block to see how the systems operated in real time.  As you can imagine, a bike with a 98 inch wheelbase and 45 degree steering angle is quite a handful which relegated any attempts to early on Sunday mornings.  The neighbors sure got an eyeful. 

Dragracing seemed to be the type of racing most closely akin to Bonneville and a good type of chassis to start with.  We have put a little out on it but the ECU ignition-side failures last fall pretty much pushed it to the back of the closet. 

The decision was made early in the year to pursue the other goal we had in mind all along, which is to have the quickest Ducati in the world.  To be able to hold both titles, maybe simultaneously, would be a little shop’s dream come true.  The chassis was built to handle 300 to 450 horsepower and that was what we expected would make the goal attainable.   The wheelbase and center of mass lent itself to possibly a no wheelie bar configuration, but that would be dependent upon static weighting and dynamic weight transfer. 

Building the intake and exhaust all over was decided because of the compromises needed to fit the LSR stuff in the chassis and it would allow us to finish sensoring and mounting the various bits on the other bike.  Some calculations were done and manifold/plenum made, and the exhaust built and then the two were joined, not always the easiest of tasks.

The dragracing allowed the testing of a few systems that wouldn’t be appropriate to LSR racing. 

The first was the Li-Fe Ion battery systems (or what ever series of letters describes it, bad as a Harley).  Having looked around at the dealer trade show at Indianapolis we decided on the current supplier as a product to test further.  To be able to drop 9 lbs with just the battery was great.  Now would it hold up?  We planned to use it to crank the Ducati and run the fuel pump and ignition, no small tasks.   We run a charging system on this at this point in time, so it also would test the response to a deep drain, quick charge environment.  So far, so good. 

The second system was the carburetion that provided no small amount of difficulty in the past.  Trying to get on top of the manifold explosions we encountered before would reopen the door for possible use in another LSR project.  We started out with what had been run at Bonneville before, figuring that the transition through any particular circuit would be so rapid that it shouldn’t provide issues that can’t be tuned out.  Little did we know…..

Instruments were another area we had questions about and wanted to test some different types and manufacturers as they might find their way onto various customers’ bikes in the future and we wanted to be able to speak from our experience rather than someone else’s.  Lightweight was what we were looking for and set up with initially. 

Building the bodywork was another task and that was undertaken by Jacki.  We started with a carbon fiber 916 tail and added nearly 18 inches into it to accommodate the seat/fender length of the bike.  A few body lines needed changing, but the basic shape was retained and stylized a bit.  The front fender and fairing came from a previous Top Fuel Bike project and required very little modification. The tank shelter was a piece made from that Top Fuel project and required a bit of fiddling and stylizing to accommodate the different frame configuration.

As the bodywork progressed the driveline started to come together.  Using a taller but narrower plenum shape made the feed from the turbocharger a bit easier. 

The exhaust entailed the use of all the sensor accommodations that were in the LSR bike with two exhaust gas temperatures (EGT), a manifold pressure sensor, and an EGT fir the wastegate to tell us when it opened.  Just trying to think ahead for the possibility of the Motec ECU unit’s possible use at some time in the future.   Much easier to put them in now rather than later, when the pipes are contaminated with exhaust remnants. 

The advent of the busy season made extensive testing impossible and we (I) figured that the combination should be close enough to at least get down the track, give us an idea and we could tune from there. 

The closest to testing stated as a ride around the block a couple of times and the ride away from the front of the Barrymore Theatre before the Slimey Crud movie showing.  Should be good enough, right? 

We then progressed to a date at Byron Dragway in Byron IL.  A bike event would give us a chance at getting in some laps and seeing what was what.  Nick needed to get two 9 second passes for his license cross-over and we figured it shouldn’t be a problem. 

I haven’t been a victim of my own overconfidence to this extent for many, many years. 

Nick did the burnout and staged the bike.  It sounded a little ragged, but I attributed it to the motor not being warmed up and the carb being a little off.  He launched the bike and it never really came up on song.  It started to pull a bit and then a sound like a gunshot.  I stood there wondering what happened for an instant and then I knew.  Bonneville all over again.  Nick rolled to a stop. 

When the bike was back in the pits the damage was evident.  The manifold had suffered from a lean backfire and blew the manifold apart.  Luckily the tank shelter deflected a majority of the energy and it was louder from my vantage point than Nick’s.  The other good thing was that we didn’t have time to paint it beforehand as it definitely stretched it and bent up the fasteners. 

As it was we then had to settle for making laps on the shop Hayabusa that had 149mph trap speeds but never got the e.t. below 10.20’s.   

Stage 2   Richer!! Richer!!


2 Comments Add yours

  1. Brian Hotker says:

    The Dukes have such enormous grunt that they become a handful off the line. I race with the Pattersons from Bunbury Ducati. Currently we a modifying an 1198 – adding a 999 swing arm and extending it 10 inches, removing the mufflers etc. Lost quite a few kilograms just doing that. Hoping for quarter mile times of 9.8 sec @ 150mph. Then….wheelie bars, turbo, NOS, who knows?

    Brian H

  2. Hello there, You’ve done a great job. I will certainly digg it and personally suggest to my friends. I am sure they will be benefited from this website.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s