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Old 11-10-2012, 01:38 PM   #1
2trally OP
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848 Buell Ulysses?

I have an XB12X. For the most part it's a great bike, but it doesn't really fit what I want. I want a highly capable off road/long distance tourer. Like a KTM 990 minus 75lbs I guess. This would necessitate changing pretty much everything except for the frame.

I want to use a Ducati 848 Streetfighter engine. It has a decent valve adj./maintenace schedule. A hydraulic, wet clutch, boatloads of power, and as far as I know no huge reliability issues. Its also relatively light and I'm pretty sure it will fit in the Uly frame. I'm worried most about the output sprocket location and front tire clearance. Ist gear is probably going to be way to tall as well.

As far as chassis setup goes this ones a doosey. To get proper steering geometry I think I would have to tilt the entire frame back 3 degrees or so. This would give me approx 26 degrees of rake (with a triple clamp parallel to the steering head) and allow me to use a lower swingarm angle. It would also lower the seat height slightly (I want to fabricate my own subframe to give me a lower and slimmer seat) and keep the wheelbase shorter. I'm a little worried about seat height because its near the limit for me already (I'm 6' w/ about 33" inseam) and adding 4" of travel without keeping the seat close to where its at now puts this whole project in the toilet.

I'm going to try to do this with off the shelf stuff as much as possible. So a new front end, ideally 50mm WP's, but probably just a re-valved, re-sprung 450 dirtbike setup. I have an idea for an adjustable braking system that I want to try out. It should allow the ability to change the power and braking feel to suit the road surface.

I might be able to use the stock subframe with some modification. Ideally, I want about 8 gallons of fuel capacity and I don't think it's possible to add a 3.6 gallon tank to the stock subframe, but I don't know. I would have to work out the upper shock mount and the electrical stuff before I'll know for sure.

For the swingarm I would focus on getting the angle and length right. I want around 10" of travel. Again, hopefully I could use the swingarm from another bike but I don't know how likely it is I'll be able to find one.

I'm still undecided as to if its worth it. No doubt if i pulled it off it would be one hell of a bike, but if I sold the Uly and got a KTM 690 Enduro I would have one hell of a bike and I wouldn't need to do a complete engine and susp. swap. The KTM would also handle better off road. The KTM wouldn't be near as fast on road or in a straight line and would still require some work before it could go long distances comfortably. I can't decide so I figure I would put this out here and see what others think.

2trally screwed with this post 11-11-2012 at 10:19 AM
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Old 11-10-2012, 02:10 PM   #2
Donkey Hotey
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Put down the bong and just go ride the bike. Unless you've irreparably destroyed the stock engine, there is not a single good reason to do what you are suggesting. Even then, replacing the engine with stock is a better idea. Buy a freakin' Multistrada if that's what you want.

I've deleted all the paragraphs of why this won't work because it's a waste of bandwidth.
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Old 11-10-2012, 02:13 PM   #3
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I don't like the engine. I don't want a Multistrada because I want a motorcycle that can actually handle off road competently. Why it cant work?
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Old 11-10-2012, 02:35 PM   #4
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You don't like a maintenance-free engine, with no liquid cooling system to break or leak, no valves to adjust, self-adjusting fuel injection, low RPM torque and still has 101 HP?

I bought four Buells because belt and shim maintenance on the Ducati engines is such a pain. Both Ducs are sitting here right now waiting for that maintenance. All four Buells are ready to ride.

Ducati valve maintenance is a huge pain in the ass. Add liquid cooling to that equation and it doubles (because all that stuff has to come off to get to the stuff you need to service). Now shove that whole mess up inside the confines of the Buell frame and you'll quickly realize that the entire engine will have to come out to do valve adjustments.

Then you have to consider all the mounting problems. The Buell frame is designed to carry the engine, in rubber, at three points. The Ducati is not at all compatible with that mounting system. You can't just go weld onto that Buell frame. Most of it is pressure-cast aluminum and will turn to instant mush when somebody tries to weld to it. There would be heat treating issues afterward, etc, etc.

None of this addresses the physical dimensions or layouts of the engines. The Ducati engine is an open V--45 more degrees than the Buell. That puts the front cylinder WAAAYY forward. Yes, the Ducati engine is shorter through the crankcase but, the cylinder is going to be hanging out where the front wheel needs to be. I'm pretty sure a 21" front wheel won't even come close to fitting with the stock Uly engine. Now stick a cylinder out there for it to clank into and I'll bet even the stock Uly wheel won't fit.

There's nowhere for the exhaust to go, the radiators have to be mounted somewhere and still clear the forks, I don't think the intake is going to fit in the stock engine bay of the Buell frame, blah, blah, blah.

There, I wasted the bandwidth. Go ride your bike. It's insanely nice the way it is. Erik Buell is a freakin' genius. If you want a Ducati, go buy yourself a used 916 instead. Then you'll have two really nice bikes to ride and you can suffer through some of the hell that is Ducati maintenance. I'll bet a nice 916 will cost you less than the 848 engine and what even the simplest fabrication will end up costing you.

If you want a big offroad bike, go buy the KTM. There's a reason they dominated the Dakar Rally. Nothing you build will be nearly as capable as a stock 950/990.
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Old 11-10-2012, 04:16 PM   #5
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Well I certainly wasn't planning on using the engines stock mounts. I could use the points on the frame where the stock mounts bolt to though, without welding anything. Since its a 90 degree twin I won't have to use rubber mounting. I've done an engine rotation to replace rocker cover gaskets and it didn't seem like there would be no way to fit any other engine. I thought it looked like they designed the frame and then figured out how to put the engine in, not the other way around.

I'm not planning on using the stock front suspension either. There isn't much in the way of rake or offset on the stock setup so I can gain some clearance there. I really don't know how far that front cylinder will sit. I am concerned that it won't fit but I think there is a way to make it work. I can always side mount the radiators.

Stock airbox won't fit. Not to difficult to make something that will work if I'm not concerned about a loosing few hp. Stock exhaust isn't going to fit, another given. Not too difficult to weld up a set that will.

For the engine I was planning on buying a salvage 848. Last I checked there were some locally for around $700

Look I know there are plenty of reasons not to do this. I enjoy building and working on things as much as I like riding. I like KTM 990's a lot but I don't really want one.The Harley engine does a decent job but I just do not like it. I like the frame a lot though and I want to see if I can make it into something that would be f**king awesome.

2trally screwed with this post 11-10-2012 at 04:24 PM
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Old 11-10-2012, 04:33 PM   #6
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Speaking of whether or not the 848 will fit, could anyone with an 848 streetfighter measure from the center of the countershaft sprocket to the tip of the front cyl.? I could run down to the Ducati shop and measure but I have a broken right foot and it's illegal to drive with the boot I have on.
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Old 11-10-2012, 05:40 PM   #7
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Of course it's possible. Perhaps not advisable however. I have only the faintest idea what your Buell looks like naked and I do know what a Ducati engine looks like.

I've done two successful conversions of street bikes into adv-type bikes but I've always used the same motor & frame. I did try once to put a CR500 motor in a YZ450F chassis but thankfully it was stolen before I got the chance to finish it

I'm guessing you are probably underestimating the amount of fabrication, skills and tools required. And I say that because I still don't feel like I have the appropriate amount of each and I'm getting ready to start my third bike.

I would say at a minimum you would need a decent drill press, metal lathe, milling machine maybe, TIG welder, metal band saw and a whole host of hand & power tools. I will say I have probably spent $10k on tools alone in the last two years to make 2 bikes. And that doesn't include buying the bikes and the parts to make the bike. Looking back it would have been WAY WAY WAY cheaper to just buy a KTM 990 farkle it to the moon and maybe swing by the Ducati dealership and buy a 1098 for nice days. I wouldn't change things for the world because I really enjoy doing it. My bikes are no where near as polished as a factory bike, nowhere near, but they are unique in their own ways.

So if you are up to the challenge by all means jump on in. You'll get lots of advice from people here who have a lot of experience. Listen to it

My advice would be to start with the Ducati frame and motor and go nuts on that. Believe me, you'll have plenty of challenges basically fabricating a custom swingarm and not have to reinvent the entire fuel, wiring and cooling systems. Don't underestimate how much work this is. I'll repeat that in case you missed it, don't underestimate how much work this is.

One of the biggest snags to a conversion is whether or not the swingarm bolts through the motor. On the FZ1 it did not and same with CBR. And my next bike also won't. And there is a really good reason. KTM makes the best parts for these conversions as they are designed for them, parts are easy to find and it just works. Especially when you consider that they don't have a linkage which makes engineering the suspension relatively easy. And I can guarantee you that the KTM swingarm won't fit the ducati motor because the swingarm bolts through that motor. So now you can try and find a Ducati swingarm that will get you 10" of travel but that's probably not going to happen because they don't make one. So now you'll need to machine up all the parts of a swingarm, or cut up and weld another one. But that's an awful lot of trust in your abilities to weld a swingarm.

So now you can essentially forget that and weld up some plates to bolt behind the motor that you can now mount up any swingarm you want. Eureka!! Until you discover that the further back you mount the pivot from the countershaft the more the chain goes slack every time the arm pivots and creates a riding nightmare.

All that was just what I am thinking of off the top of my head without even seeing what you are talking about. Oh and losing 75 lbs off a 990 is tough to do, real tough. My CBR is leaned down to the absolute minimum and weighs 364 lbs and it literally has 2 gals of fuel and a piece of cardboard for a seat.

My advice to have a successful project is to start with an engine and frame from the same bike and go from there. You'll have a much higher likelihood of finishing it. You'll have learned a metric shitton about fabricating and the realities of building and then you can assess whether or not the Buell would be a good candidate.
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Old 11-10-2012, 05:59 PM   #8
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Originally Posted by sailah View Post
Of course it's possible. Perhaps not advisable however.
Your right, of course. It would be much easier starting with something closer to what I want to end with. This probably won't be the first build I go with but hopefully I can swing it.

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So now you'll need to machine up all the parts of a swingarm, or cut up and weld another one. But that's an awful lot of trust in your abilities to weld a swingarm.
To bad Ducati doesn't make their swingarms out of square steel tubing, then I'd be in business.

You should see some of the other projects in my notebook though, this one is cake compared to a few of those.

edit: I figured nobody with an 848 Streetfighter was going to see this so I decided to do some extrapolation. Using the wheelbase as the known length I figure the engine is somewhere between 23 and 25 inches across its longest point. The Uly. is about 25 inches from the swingarm pivot (the rearward most point of the engine) to the tire. Fitting this engine without compromising handling would be difficult.

2trally screwed with this post 11-10-2012 at 06:15 PM Reason: addition
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Old 11-10-2012, 06:09 PM   #9
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To bad Ducati doesn't make their swingarms out of square steel tubing, then I'd be in business.

You should see some of the other projects in my notebook though, this one is cake compared to a few of those.
If they made their swingarms from steel there is no way you're going to hit your weight target. To get an ADV bike below 400lbs takes careful planning I don't care what anyone tells you. My old boss use to say "If you watch the dimes, the dollars watch themselves" which is a good analogy. Steel swingarms blow. And you really want a stock swingarm so you can easily fit braking components that you know will work. Not an area you want to screw around with.

Hit me with some of your crazy ideas, now I'm interested
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Old 11-10-2012, 07:54 PM   #10
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This is like using a thoroughbred to pull a plow . Peaky high strung engine in slow speed torque function.
My thoughts,Ed
ps Cr 500 in YZF chassis ? ,ouch !
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Old 11-11-2012, 07:27 AM   #11
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It sounds like the only thing you want to retain from the Uly is the frame (which doesn't have as much fuel capacity as you want) and maybe the rear subframe. Wouldn't you be better off to start with a Duc 848 Streetfighter and modify that?
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Old 11-11-2012, 08:36 AM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sailah View Post
If they made their swingarms from steel there is no way you're going to hit your weight target. To get an ADV bike below 400lbs takes careful planning I don't care what anyone tells you. My old boss use to say "If you watch the dimes, the dollars watch themselves" which is a good analogy. Steel swingarms blow. And you really want a stock swingarm so you can easily fit braking components that you know will work. Not an area you want to screw around with.

Hit me with some of your crazy ideas, now I'm interested
Sorry, I'm not very good at putting tone in my writing. I was being a little sarcastic. Steel tubing is easy to work with, so if they made their swingarms from steel it wouldn't be difficult to modify.

Crazy idea #1 You know the 1300cc 2 stroke triple waverunner that yamaha makes? Put that engine in a 600 sportbike. That engine makes 160hp without proper expansion chambers. If I kept the stock floatless carbs I could always joke that when its tumbling down the road at least its getting the proper amount of fuel.

#2 I want to put together a system that monitors fuel load and adjusts the suspension to match. It specifically would be for rally bikes with 8+ gallon tanks. The adj. suspension is here, but I haven't heard of anyone doing this. Oh and while I'm on the subject of adjustable suspension, I want to fit some magneto rheological dampers to a motorcycle.

#3 Has anyone seen a hoverwing? They are basically hovercraft with stubby wings. They use the ground effect to create lift and fly between 2 and 10 feet off the ground. They sell a private use one but its payload is only 550lbs so I want to build one that can carry around a 1000. Then I could carry some motorcycles with it.

I could go on but you get the gist. Way over ambitious. But hey if I can get one of these done in my lifetime I'd be happy.

2trally screwed with this post 11-11-2012 at 10:25 AM
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Old 11-11-2012, 08:51 AM   #13
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It sounds like the only thing you want to retain from the Uly is the frame (which doesn't have as much fuel capacity as you want) and maybe the rear subframe. Wouldn't you be better off to start with a Duc 848 Streetfighter and modify that?
Yes I would be better off. Hell, the Ducati's frame looks a lot like a KTM 990's frame. The only problem is that I have this vision of what the Buell would be. And it's a pretty compelling vision. Well to me at least.



I pulled this off of ducati's website. If its is accurate the 848 streetfighter has a very usable torque curve. The streetfighter is at a little lower state of tune than the standard 848.

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Old 11-11-2012, 11:38 AM   #14
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Well I have seen a few guys swap engines into their Sv650s using one piece mounting plates that bolt to the engines, then to the frame so if you have some decent layout skills just bolting an engine in is not hard, making it look good and sturdy is different however.

Maybe expand your net of engines to the suzuki twins as well, size wise they are close to what you are looking at, slightly better power on a similar curve and much improved reliability as well, plus you will have a much better choice of swingarms and wheels as well.

Given you will have to build a place to mount the swingarms as they bolt to the frame vs the engine cases.
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Old 11-11-2012, 03:03 PM   #15
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Ducati do make steel swingarms, on the Monster and the Paso, which is longer than the Monster swingarms. There is also the Cagiva Elefant. Mate built this one below! 50mm Magnum forks, 100mm extended Monster swingarm, Custom Ohlins rear shock. http://www.advrider.com/forums/showthread.php?t=428685

Lots of great advice above!!!! However I would say, build what you want, and half the fun is overcoming the challenges. That is what this section of the Forum is about. Once you start to build a bike you will realise there will be plenty

DrJoe's build thread has taken many changes and ebbs, he has learnt a lot on the way through. So have those who have read it. Started Feb 4th 2009 and still going. http://www.advrider.com/forums/showthread.php?t=429917

If it works or not and time is of no constraint have a play

You will learn so much in the process. Im sure John Britten would have received some criticism on his builds too

Saliah is correct that it is much easier matching the engine and frame, dont know why you want the Ulysses Frame, if you like the styling, why not graft the tank and other body parts onto a suitable frame to start with.



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