The monthly newsletter for Supermono lovers

January 2016

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Builder: Alistair at Britaliamoto on
Webmaster: Lotte at liberate-u

Our new premises

Last year was very exciting for Britaliamoto. Though we took possession of 3A Bruce Street early in 2014, it took a whole year to make it a workable space. Alistair being the perfectionist he wanted everything in the right place before he moved from Overstone, lock, stock and smoking barrel.

The now not-so-new premises in Northampton St James are kicking distance from the Saints Rugby Football Club – though so far no balls on the roof.

The getting ready included carpeting the first floor workshop and setting up storage of a lifetime’s paper, designs, books, and tools. The area is also home to workbenches with Ducati Supermonos on them in various stages of construction or reconstruction.

The workshop came with an exterior 500kg winch that Alistair redesigned and constructed as a transportation cage to take Ducatis to the skies, into this top floor workshop area. When this exercise goes on it gives plenty of entertainment to the neighbours. 

Blue Moon Tracker

How the Scrambler got to Bruce Street

At the launch of four new models of Ducati Scrambler at the Cologne Show October 2014, Alistair got the idea of mixing and matching parts from all the models plus adding his own ideas to make something really special. When the bikes arrived at the NEC bike show in Birmingham a few weeks later, he approached Tim Macabee (MD of Ducati UK) to see if he was considering commissioning a makeover/customisation of the Scrambler similar to some Italian customisers. He visited the new workshop, accepted my proposal, lent him a Scrambler Icon and access to other parts.

Three Motorcycle Customisers won the opportunity to do a makeover. Alistair was one. It was a mad scramble to do the changes, in the six week timeframe prior to public showing. Not many of the customisers planned to move the steering lock and speedo or remake the fuel tank and seat tail assembly and exhaust system in such a short time frame. Friends were called to help, many nights Alistair slept at Bruce Street. It became a labour of love and challenge.

The designs went public in late 2015 at The Bike Shed held annually at the newly converted Tobacco Dock in Tower Hamlets. (continued below)

Above and right: Blue Moon Tracker . Below: Sophia crated to go

Bye bye Sophia Bye bye

Sophia left British soil in early 2014. It was both a sad and happy time for Britaliamoto - sad because Sophia had been the first Supermono Strada that Alistair had built and so her departure meant the end of that initial euphoria, blood, sweat and tears era. Happy because she was going to a customer in America - the Land of Golden Opportunity - who wanted to race her.

Since she’s been in her new home she’s been racing in the Thunderbird Championships on the West Coast and finished runner-up against much bigger engined competition despite starting the season late.

The thought behind the action

Alistair’s main focus was to turn the scrambler into a dirt tracker style.  The focal point was changing the exhaust system.

“I believe a twin cylinder needs to have two high level pipes.  It harks back to the Norton Commando S or the BSA Firebird Scrambler or even a Harley Davidson,” said Alistair.

“This has never been done by Ducati. It’s a style they haven’t produced, so this made it quite ground breaking,” he added.

“I had to change the shape of the swinging arm from a banana shape to a flat tubular one so I could position the twin stacked silencers close to the chassis on the right hand side to avoid the arm colliding with the silencers at full suspension travel.”

Because of the time constraints there was no chance that Alistair could make a swinging arm, so he used one from a Ducati GT1000. This needed some modification such as removing the twin shock mounts, and adding a bracing mount for the shock on the left side. 

In addition, he changed the single piston over slung rear brake caliper into a two piston under slung rear brake caliper which he proudly commented  ‘works better, looks better’ as well as freeing up some space for the swinging arm to travel.

He also removed the rear pillon footrest mounts for solo riding and modified the rear number plate bracket to balance the front to rear look.  This ended up a shortened cut and shut version of the original.

Other changes included changing the ignition switch to behind the steering head so that he could mount the round speedo/rev counter assembly. The ignition switch was bolted to the frame tubes with carbon bracket.

“This modification has got some favourable reviews and I believe it looks much better,” said Alistair.

The redesign of the fuel tank was driven by the new position of the ignition switch and the desire to put more curves into the bottom edge of the tank, to make it more 3-dimensional and give it greater depth.  

In turn the seat design was driven by the more curvaceous shape of the tank and it also followed the shape of the tubular rear sub-frame. He blended it into the original rear light position.

“Headlight brackets are a work of art and a challenge. The original had an aluminum die-casting holding the headlight unit, but I was really keen for the headlight to sit in its own shell. What we achieved was simple and effective and fitted into the style of the rest of the bike,” added Alistair.

“Between you and me I bent a lot of aluminium wire making the headlight mounting brackets.”

Alistair changed the heavy steel side stand for a modified aluminum 916 side stand as an opportunity for losing some weight and streamlining the design.”

“All the work I did lost 17 kilos and dropped the weight down from 186.5 to 169.5 kilos.”

A final step was changing the handlebars for medium height motor-cross aluminum Renthal bars to complement the tracker look .

“When it came to the colour you can ask my girlfriend about that. She’s a great fan of a pale turquoise and thought it would be both striking and different. The response has been very positive. Blue Moon just seemed the most obvious name from there.”

“Ducati UK said they loved the overall finished package so much they displayed Blue Moon at the Goodwood Festival of Speed and Donington Part WSB Paddock hospitality unit.  Racing greats such as Chas Davies took a shine to its curves. Could he be a customer - who  knows?”

Downstairs we’ve invested in some new equipment.  Pride of place has been given to the benchmark milling machine – a Bridgeport. Its workshop mate is a Colchester Student lathe. Neither come alone – there’s a whole swathe of measuring and machine tooling equipment which have their own cabinets.

Also downstairs Alistair has set up set up a ‘dirty’ area with grinders, belt sanders, pillar drill and TIG and MIG welding equipment.

A separate clean area for engine assembly is on the plans for this year.

He has also cleared a space to create a storage area for customer’s bikes. This is important in Northampton because there is so little local winter storage for bikes. The footprint can house 20 bikes and this winter is full. Customers can come and go and work on their bikes when they want to. The new security alarm system and security bars on the ground floor windows give customers peace of mind. 

We look forward to welcoming you to Bruce Street. Alistair will be proud to show you round, but let him know you’re coming so that fresh coffee can be ready

Ducatis aloft at Bruce Street, Northampton

Maserati 50 ’Rospro’ 19

This was a wonderful project for Britaliamoto as this bike is one of only 7 made (left).

When Italy’s main distributor of Maseriti bikes took delivery of this bike his wife likened the fuel tank to a toad (Italian ‘Rospro’). Immediately he wrote the name on the side of the bike and it has had that nickname ever since.

Our customer is a great fan of Maserati bikes and cars. He had already purchased a Maserati 160cc bike from a private seller in Japan.

When he organised collection of that bike, the sellers offered him The Toad as well. It wasn’t until he registered it with the Italian Owners Club that he learnt it was the Rospro. It had been thought to be lost forever, so surprises all round.

Bob Brown

Bob Brown is an Australian bike tuner and in 1986 built a SOHC 4 valve per cylinder head for the 750 Pantah engine. What made this unusual was the chassis was an aluminum twin-spar monocoque (which contained a fuel cell in each spar). The chassis and swinging arm was made by Rod Tingate.

It had an underslung pull-rod rear suspension system.

As a restoration project this was challenging because it no longer had the aforementioned cylinder heads. Instead it had the standard ones. Alistair had to make a custom inlet manifold for the horizontal cylinder to make room for the Del’Orto carburetter. He had to recommission the engine and chassis ready for track testing.