Follow The Elefant: Building of the Bikes

Discussion in 'Moto Bellissima: All Other Dualsports' started by chaos616, Jun 15, 2017.

  1. chaos616

    chaos616 Sasquatch

    Joined:
    Aug 10, 2008
    Oddometer:
    196
    Location:
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    Hello,

    We are Ehren and Brittany and we are riding our 1994 and 1995 Ducati E900s (Cagiva Elefants) through Central and South America. We are currently sidetracked due to some unfortunate circumstances, however we will be continuing our travels very soon. In the meantime, we wanted to do a build thread here for those interested in our bikes and what we've done to them to prepare them for such a journey. We started a Ride Report when we left on the trip on May 6, but again it's a little slow until we get back on the road. Either way, check it out here if you want to follow along!

    We love feedback and comments from people who also like to tinker with their stuff. Of course, we're pretty much all done with this build as the bike are currently in San Diego awaiting our return to the trip. Either way we love to hear your comments and/or criticism of our build and if you have questions, don't hesitate to ask.

    This journey would require 2 bikes since we like riding our own bikes and it's more comfortable, for this we chose the same bike for the obvious reasons, such as same parts, same tools, etc...

    Our very first Elefant, Smokey (Ehren's bike), in the state we bought it in:
    [​IMG]

    Our second bike, Fritz (Brittany's bike), in the state we bought it in. Sorry about the picture, it's the best picture we had until we got the bike to Minnesota to start working on it:
    [​IMG]

    Now, we could have chosen any bike in the world to do a trip on, but we chose the Elefants. Ok, we'll be honest here—we couldn't choose just any bike because there were many that we just couldn't afford, but either way we still like the bikes we chose. There were a couple specific things we were looking for:

    For starters they had to have decent suspension - with some help from a couple BM shocks and a fork rebuild, all was well.
    They had to have decent size fuel tanks - 6.1 gallons stock would do just fine.
    We wanted carbureted bikes for simplicity and fixability - We run dual FCR 39mm carbs.
    Air cooled another must for simplicity - obviously air cooled but with an oil cooler too.
    We preferred dual piston engines for the little extra torque - weight is the only downside

    We ended up with Smokey for a cheap price but the bike was a bit rough, and not only around the edges but inside as well. Eventually the reg/rec gave up the ghost and almost burnt the bike down, but in the end didn't and only took out part of the electrical system! Yay...!!! The bike was going under the knife for some serious surgery. Smokey is a 1994 year model.

    Fritz came to us a bit later. As we were searching for a second bike, we were contacted on ADV about a guy who had a couple Elefants sitting around. After some emails and calls, indeed we were the owners of two 1995 Elefants, full bikes essentially, but we used one of them for parts temporarily until we stop traveling. We will eventually build the third Elefant and hopefully add some serious goodies to it too! Fritz just stopped running for whatever reason one day, it was also scheduled for a full rebuild.

    We eventually got both bikes back to Minnesota and we began the process of building the bikes.

    Our shop setup for building the bikes: we had just started the teardown on Smokey, but Fritz was left whole to be used as a template for all the goodies we were going to add!:
    [​IMG]

    Step One was teardown: we had to disassemble the whole bike down the the last nut and bolt. Everything was run through the parts washer and labeled for reassembly. Unfortunately we didn't take as many pictures of teardown as we did rebuild. We'll leave it to your imagination, it was a dirty grimy mess that was half chaotic and half semi-organized, but eventually our bikes ended up one by one in bags and boxes. The adventure so far was turning into a basket case as they say, but there was hope far in the horizon!

    Step Two was to do complete motor teardowns, inspections and rebuilds. There were a couple reasons behind this:

    1 - The mid 90s Ducati motors had a center gasket that sealed the two case halves together. There was no silicon sealant used. Ducati, or anyone for that matter, does not make a replacement gasket. Making our own was an option, but if the need arose on the road to tear something apart, using a silicon sealant would be better for quicker and more efficient rebuilds. Since we believe firmly in rebuilding instead of buying new all the time, this was the option for us...plus remember were on a budget and new Ducati motors (not that you can get these early motors new anyway) are not cheap!

    2 - We wanted to inspect all the parts for such a long journey, call it due diligence. Although we didn't replace everything, we know what all the parts look like and potential problem areas.

    3 - We wanted to know where every single part in the engine was, how it looked, and how it functioned. Even how each part functioned within the system as a whole and interacted with other parts of the system. Best way to do this was tear it down, learn a little something, and put it together again. We did this three times (Smokey, Fritz, and a parts motor) and now we at least know a pile more about Ducati 2V motors than we did before!!!

    Once torn apart, the mid-90s Ducati engines tend to look something like this:
    [​IMG]

    Here is Smokey's motor getting checked for sealing up the case halves:
    [​IMG]

    The gasket issue was all well and good, just scrape off the gasket and smudge some silicon sealant (Threebond specifically) in there and ride off into the sunset. Except anyone who works on engines will know this isn't as simple as it sounds. The gasket used ended up with a thickness on average of 0.010" after being compressed. This meant that the crankshaft, layshaft, countershaft, and shift drum would need to be re-shimmed so that the endplay (side to side movement) of the shafts would be within tolerance. To add injury to insult, the crankshaft had an endplay of nil or 0.000". Of course each shaft had its own size shims and each had only certain thicknesses available, but we did what we had to and eventually got both engines completely re-shimmed. Both crankshafts in Smokey and Fritz came out to be tight by 0.002" with no other shim options available. We figured that in the end they would be just fine as the bearings may seat just a little more. We did check final movement of the crankshafts and it was smooth as silk and easy to spin.

    Smokey's engine, re-shimmed and set with Threebond, just needs to dry now:
    [​IMG]

    Through much tightening of nuts and bolts and spending way too much time trying to carefully get the pistons and rings (specifically the oil ring made of cast iron) in without busting anything, we ended up roughly with this:
    [​IMG]
    Here we had most of the clutch in, but no cam belt gear except the main camshaft pulleys. Also of note, we use the stainless Scott's oil filters, mostly so we don't need to carry a bunch of new oil filters all the time since no one seems to carry them at all.

    Other parts we did spend a lot of time rebuilding were the heads. We made sure everything was in spec, like the rocker arm endplays and the valve clearances obviously (we actually set them just a tad loose in the closer shim department, we did this so that over the next however many rugged miles before re-check we wouldn't run into any breakage issues). The only real issue we have with this motor is its weight, its a porky bugger for sure, but its advantages are many. To this point, with our four various Ducati's all of the same vintage (except the '99 Gran Canyon) we've not had a single real issue or breakage with any of our motors. They are simple, reliable, and can take a fair amount of abuse. They don't even have head gaskets to deal with or leak due to overheating warpage!!!

    The next real issue to tackle was the electrical. Smokey did a number on some of the systems after the little burnout we had, like the charging wires, the stator, the rec/rec which was the cause of all the mayhem, etc... Instead of tracing down a few wires and hoping the rest of the wiring would be fine, we did a complete teardown and rebuild. Its pretty common knowledge that while Italian manufactures build awesome machines, they somehow manage to screw up the wiring, in almost everything, these bikes included. It's not that it's wrong, it's just too small, so we beefed up the higher amperage systems and changed a few systems over to relays to combat issues, the lighter amperage stuff was left well alone.

    The electrical wiring harness, after being modified but before being re-wrapped up for installation on the bike:
    [​IMG]

    This is a list of the stuff we changed on the wiring system (we're probably forgetting something here):
    1 - Larger starter wire (from 8 gauge to 4 gauge wire, all the way from battery to starter)
    2 - 10 gauge wires through the whole charging system, reg/rec to battery
    3 - 100 amp connectors for battery, quick disconnect in case of electrical issues
    4 - New reg/rec, used a Mosfet style
    5 - Smokey got a new stator
    6 - Headlight system was set up for both lights to have low and high beam, added two relays in the system, larger wires, and new connectors
    7 - New headlamp/horn/blinker switch (J&S brand I believe)
    8 - Changed the ignition wire over from running all power through the kill switch, to using a relay, kill switch operate relay, and power runs through relay instead for both coils.
    9 - Added wiring for a trailer hookup (we'll talk about the trailer later). It has tail/brake/left/right/ground/and power
    10 - Added a PDM 60 unit, this powers everything from extra lights to our front SAE and rear SAE outlets. Allows us electrical flexability in a smart manner
    11 - Set of cheap extra LED lights on the front with a switch for night use or visibility
    12 - Added Skene Designs lights to the rear, lots of extra stopping visibility and options for flashers if needed
    13 - Changed blinkers to all LEDs and swapped in an LED-specific blinker relay
    14 - New coils from CA Cycleworks, old ones worked fine, but new ones work good too, plus we have extras now
    15 - Wrapped with cut-resistant wiring loom and used silicon tape for joints. It's not waterproof but can also dry out if wet. We also covered all wiring connections in waterproof shrink tubing (with goop in them) or used Weatherpak connectors which are weather-resistant

    More to come so stay tuned to our Elefant rebuild adventure!!!

    Cheers
    Follow the Elefant
    #1
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  2. chaos616

    chaos616 Sasquatch

    Joined:
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    Oddometer:
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    As a side note to all this building fun, both bikes got exactly the same treatment throughout. We figured at least we could exchange parts if needed, but also we would know where to look if issues arose. So far, Fritz (Brittany's bike) is the only bike that seems to fall apart on a regular basis, I blame it on Brittany but she would say otherwise.

    The other great thing about these Italian bikes, is that generally when something fails, it doesn't just fail in a sort of un-impressive breakdown. Oh no, these bike involve, flames, smoke, and sometimes explosions when they go down. We prefer it that way, at least it makes for a better story and you for sure know what broke (possibly because its on fire).

    After the electrical and engine work had been done, the next step was to tackle the frame portion of the build. Every single bearing nut and bolt was gone through for inspection and most of the suspension bearings were replaced

    Smokey has the suspension with all new bearings put together with the front forks on, the bike is prepared to recieve the engine next once completed:
    [​IMG]

    Here is the new BM shock and the approximate location of the high and low speed compression damping adjustment and remote reservior:
    [​IMG]

    While all this rebuild was happening on Smokey, Fritz was being used as a template to create all of our crashbars, racks, top box plates and trailer mounts:
    [​IMG]

    One of the requirement we had for racks was that the had to be smooth to operate and quick to use. Too many of the commercially available racks out there require all sorts of pins, or locks, or just have designs that are not either simple, strong or both. We wanted a fail safe system that would allow use of the racks without a lock, but the ability to lock them as needed. We also prefered to use a little master lock as they are easier to replace when broken. The system had to have a single action release to remove either the top box or the panniers.

    We first had to start by creating some sort of frame to attach the panniers to, we used a common hoop design which we built ourselves and then built upon that idea:
    [​IMG]

    Our hoops ended up looking like this when done and no attachment points yet, to the left is one of the plates used to attach the trailer:
    [​IMG]

    If anyone is curious, we use a Harbor Freight pipe bender (12 ton) to bend all our tubing. The only problem with this is that pipe and tubing don't have similar outer dimensions. Tubing is outside dimensional, as in a 1" tube has an OD of 1". Pipe is inside dimensional, as in a 1" pipe has an ID of 1" and depending on thickness or in pipes case schedule, it may be nearly 1/8" or 1/4" thickness, larger pipe has larger thicknesses.

    The next step was to mark out the tubes in preparation for the attachment mechanism, we went with a double shear pin design that would allow a pin to be pulled back to release/attach a piece of tubing (attached to the pannier) with a spring to keep things closed:
    [​IMG]

    Here are the double shear sleeves that get welded on to the hoops on the top part of the hoop. The pin will slide through these:
    [​IMG]
    These tubes are made out of 3/4" tubing, same tubing as the hoops themselves, and use a 9/16" solid rod as the pin, we like beefy stuff!

    Next was to design the rest of the layout for the attachment pin. Since we were using a spring to help out, we needed to run a roll pin through attachment pin to hold the spring and needed to support the far end of the attachment pin as well as provide a location to lock it. We needed to attach this designed thing to the hoop to complete this function:
    [​IMG]

    Here is the final design ready to be traced and cut out of 1/8" steel plate. You may have also noticed lots of holes in our stuff so far, we did this so that 1 - we could save a little steel weight, 2 - to release some steel tension throughout the entire system and 3 - to provide lots of holes to connect bungees or rok straps if ever the need occured...plus we think it looks cooler:
    [​IMG]

    Well get back to the pannier rack soon, but the other consideration was to have the pannier rack connected via an intermediate plate to the front crash bars, so that minimal bolts would be needed to take the racks off for maintenance and to provide more structure throughout the whole system. The intermediate piece would be made from multiple plates but one of the plates would also provide a mounting point for the trailer. These pieces had to be strong and used the mounting holes in the frame and the footpeg bolts to help support it. It also in turn provided a double shear system for the footpeg bolts. Since they were just in aluminum, this provided a lot of strength and support for standing on the pegs:
    [​IMG]
    This is the plate for the trailer mount, and the plate that sticks out at the top of the thicker plate is the intermediate plate between the racks and crash bars. The intermediate plate also provides for the 1/8" spacing needed to properly secure the footpegs in place without weird spacers and such.

    Heres another look at this place, also note the left plate got notched for the kickstand and the right plate was not notched for strength, here you can also see better how the heim joint for the trailer will mount, we used another heim temporarily for mocking it up:
    [​IMG]
    Also going to the front you can start to see the crash bars evolve and how they will eventually all come together.

    Of course we need more holes and just plain holes don't look cool, so some chamfering was needed:
    [​IMG]

    After a pile of more work (which i cannot seem to locate the pictures we took) we ended up with a completed crashbars and racks. The racks were placed and then tubing bent to create an attachment to the rear subframe. The crashbars attach at the main part of the frame, the front mounts for the skid plate and up front on a bracket built to mount where the dash mounts on the headstock:
    [​IMG]

    After both sets of racks and crash bars were built, we were able to assemble everything on the ground and this is what it basically looks like, you can see set two in a pile behind this setup:
    [​IMG]

    We also built a top rack mount which mounts exactly the same way, with a pin and spring, here are all the pieces that we sent out for powder coating, also note the large odd piece in the middle is our front trailer swingarm which we will discuss later:
    [​IMG]
    The odd pyramid shaped plates at the end of both rows are the mounting plates for the top boxes. We use old Pelican cases and the metal plates shown bolt to the pelican cases and then quick mount onto the top plates on the bike.

    The final thing to take care of before starting complete assembly was to shore up the rear subframes on both bikes, the mounts we used to mount our racks were pretty flimsy and so some addition of steel and some support measure were needed, this is what we came up with:
    [​IMG]

    Soon we would be assembling, the fun bit of building bikes. By this time we were sick of fabricating and just wanted to get on with it!

    More to come soon!
    #2
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  3. chaos616

    chaos616 Sasquatch

    Joined:
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    Right, so on to the build, the fun part where you get to bolt all the new shiny stuff on the bike and imagine how fun it will be to ride as you sit and make engine noises because your engine is still on the bench waiting for a few parts to show up. Thoughts begin to emerge on how you'll tie a rope to one of the working bikes you have and get towed around on your bike because you just want it to work...and right now, but patience is a virtue they say. Part of the joy of building a bike to your liking is finally getting that first test ride, all of your hard work paid off in just a few laps around the yard or down the street. Its even sweeter when there is a mission to undertake, like riding the bikes to Argentina and beyond.

    Ok, back to the real world and the work bench in this case! And an apology for skipping around a bit, it was a very convoluted rebuild on both bikes, with both in different stages at all times. At this point we've begun to assemble Smokey, but Fritz was still whole and being used for mocking up racks. The next step really was to get the powdercoated parts back and see how it all fit.

    Here is a few pictures of Smokey's shiny new racks all powder coated and ready to be fully assembled, still waiting for some engine parts though:
    [​IMG]
    Also by this time we started assembling the electrical systems and some other ancillary parts just to get the build moving along a bit, threw the tank on for a reference. Also of note we both run the same handlebars and rox 3" risers, mostly for standing up while riding on rougher dirt sections. The handlebars are Pro Taper SE Trials bars, they are very stiff (a bit of vibration gets through) and very straight, not the best bar for just street riding, but great off road.

    [​IMG]
    We have had good luck with odessey battery's taking a real beating both physically and electrically, seems we can wear them completely down, charge them up and all is well, expensive but worth every penny.

    Also we run pretty much the stock dash but have since switched to Trail Tech Vapor/Striker units for our bikes, better speed gauge and we can switch the units from metric to standard all while tracking mileage, voltage, rpm etc...
    [​IMG]

    Here's a pretty terrible picture of Brittany's pro taper bar setup, before all the controls and such were installed:
    [​IMG]

    So I apologize again for the second time this post, but i'm pretty terrible at documenting builds, i forget to take pictures and just start assembling stuff, i did better with Brittany's bike but Smokey just somehow got assembled magically. Either way here is a few photos of the bike without the rear rack on doing some motor testing and light testing outside:
    [​IMG]
    Also of note, we use Staintune mufflers for both bikes, much lighter than the stocker, and our centerstand uses the trailer mounting plates to swivel on and the stoppers are welded on to those plates as well.
    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    With everything running well it was time to focus on Brittany's bike Fritz and get things really going on that, we don't have any pictures of disassembly, however it only took a few hours really. Its the parts cleaning that takes so long:
    [​IMG]

    So after some time, we had Fritz in this state, although we had a little issue at first with the oil pump not priming properly, after a removal of the side case and oil pump, and a good dunking in oil, all was well:
    [​IMG]

    A few more pictures of some little stuff like welded on remote reservoir and new battery straps and such:
    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    Finally we assembled a few more things along with Brittany's shiny new powder coated rack parts, we didn't see eye to eye on the color choices, so we made them different, why not right?:
    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    And of course Smokey is poking around in the background here mostly complete but still many finishing touches to fix up:
    [​IMG]

    With both bikes nearly complete, it was time to start on our trailer which would end up taking us many more months than we expected, but in the end turned out quite well.

    More build to come soon!
    #3
  4. chaos616

    chaos616 Sasquatch

    Joined:
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    Uffdah, been a little while, sorry for those watching this thread, busy working on a construction jobsite helping my father out. And we all know how projects go, you help with one thing and your list just keeps growing. Its nice though to be working with the hands again, to feel tired at the end of the day and not feel bad watching the TV and eating an ice cream cone (as opposed to when both of us worked in offices, diets and forced activity abound!)

    So for the trailer, we knew the one requirement was that it had to haul our two paragliding units. Paragliders and harnesses vary in size and shape, but ours are pretty big because 1 - we have novice to intermediate wings (rated A-B) and therefore they are a bit larger in size relatively to a more advanced wing (C or D) and 2 - because were kinda big people, we both require kinda big wings (basically were sorta on the chubby side these days...dang office).

    Just to make sure everything was going as planned (BTW there was no plan), our shop cat (he's actually an indoor outdoor cat, only likes Brittany and sometimes I think Brittany only likes him...) had a watchful eye on us and our progress. NO FOOLING AROUND IN THE SHOP!!!
    [​IMG]

    The trailer base frame and some sides done, checking for sizing and dimensions and figuring out modifications to make:
    [​IMG]
    The basic principle was simple, one wheel at the back, a heim joint swivel for the hitch up front and a frame that also served as the box of the trailer in the middle, our earlies tacked together version. And for those wondering, those are our paragliders.

    Here it is after our final frame modifications, also note the lid has been skinned with the 0.040" aluminum that we decided to use for the body covering:
    [​IMG]

    Sorry for the terrible image, but here it is from the other side, lid up:
    [​IMG]
    The small part to the left of the lid will have its own lid and serve as a quick entry box for getting things we want during, for example, a rainstorm when we don't want to get the main compartment soaked.

    The initial suspension consisted of 1 wheel, we made up this with roller bearings and everything to allow for smooth suspension actuation:
    [​IMG]
    The rear wheel was the spare rear wheel off the "parts" E900 that we want to build one day into a real bike.

    At this point, we decided to start skinning the whole trailer, here is 1 of many videos on our youtube channel that film us in different stages of the trailer build:


    Here is a series of photo's showing us in the middle of skinning the trailer:

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
    Also of note, we primed the frame with acid etch primer and then coated the outside (touching the aluminum) with a material used in roofing for metal flashing and such, the goal was to keep the corrosion to a minimum due to various metals.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    Internal structure of the trailer:
    [​IMG]

    before we had finished skinning, we decided that we needed to spruce up the inside of the trailer a bit (figuratively and literally sorta). to be able to slide gear in an out easily, big open spaces between the frame sections just wouldn't do, so we lined the bottom of the trailer with 1/4" 5 ply plywood and also made shelves in various placed (pre determined by the framing):
    [​IMG]
    Of course we did all this before skinning the trailer (sorry for the out of sequence mashup).

    Panels laid out for varnish:
    [​IMG]
    The odd panel on the right is the battery box, more on this later!

    Brittany wanted to do some woodburning, but instead of classic woodburning, we made a pattern out of automotive gasket maker and torched our design on the splitter panel:
    [​IMG]

    Final touches were some pretty paint, we decided to use our webpage logo, which of course is follow the elefant, colors for this.

    Some green for the top coat:
    [​IMG]

    Then some blue on the bottom with some white parts that we had taped off earlier:
    [​IMG]

    Installation of swingarm and suspension:
    [​IMG]

    The end result hooked up to the bike finally!!!:
    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    Now, this iteration of our trailer worked as intended, but there were some non-intended side effects that made the vehicle difficult and dangerous to ride. The issue came down to our hitch swing arm, it just wasn't strong enough to reduce all flex, which is generally fine, but when the trailer would get to wobbling just a bit, or you would be too harsh on the handlebars, the wobble would build instead of fade. This wasn't going to work, but we were not going to give up quite yet.

    More to come on how it took us 3 months to build this trailer, where the last picture was we were only about 2 months in, maybe not even that!

    Cheers,
    #4
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  5. DakarBlues

    DakarBlues One-everythinged man

    Joined:
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    Great job, I sold my Elefant in January, I am still not getting over it.
    Anyway, did you think about mounting a steering damper at the hitch? You should try that first prior to beefing up that hitch swing arm. That would counter the torque effect quite well I believe.
    #5
  6. chaos616

    chaos616 Sasquatch

    Joined:
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    Hey, well we made some massive changes from that version of the trailer. We were thinking of a steering damper of some sort but your post made me think of the handlebar style dampers, which technically would work i suppose, didn't think of it until now. I was thinking basically a shock between the trailer body and swingarm allowing left and right motion. Some good points you make...
    #6
  7. DakarBlues

    DakarBlues One-everythinged man

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    Right after I read your post i saw that you went the route of the 2 wheels :(
    #7
  8. chaos616

    chaos616 Sasquatch

    Joined:
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    So the 1 wheel design wasn't working how we wanted it to, it needed to be more stable, so we ended up deciding that the only option was 2 wheels. We wanted to avoid this, but there was no way. At this point we were also under the gun and had about 3 weeks to finish the new suspension design to get some testing in Florida done. Therefore we don't have a ton of pictures of the design process...

    It basically is a reverse swingarm design with a wheel attached on each arm (arm is solid) and 1 shock in the middle to suspend the whole thing.
    [​IMG]
    This is in the mid stage of design, however everything worked very well. We used the same bearings in the single swingarm for the swingarm pivot for this.

    [​IMG]

    Here is the trailer basically how it will sit without a load, hence the taller stature of the rear suspension:
    [​IMG]
    Another major modification to this design was the swivel we had to add to the front hitch swingarm. Here you can see the swivel completed, its bascially a trailer bearing setup (larger inner bearing). The heim joints didn't change, just a swivel addition. We also made a note to add the swivel on the swingarm side of the setup as that would reduce the pressure on the bike as far as wight while turning the bike. This setup allows the bike to completely free ride, leaning without any weight effects.

    This suspension design did a couple things for us. It allowed the bike to ride like a bike without extra stress from the trailer and no wobbling. It also pushed the wheels on the trailer a bit forward so that the loading on the front swingarm went from about 100 lbs. to about 65 lbs.

    We ended up putting about 1000 miles in Florida on the setup somewhat successfully:
    [​IMG]

    Trailer in the Keys:
    [​IMG]

    Somwhere east of North Naples:
    [​IMG]
    And yes, for Florida street riding, knobby tires were a bad choice, although our run up time to get things like tires change was pretty short, didn't leave us with much choice.

    The trailer again basically functioned as designed, but had still a few negative effects that we decided were not acceptable. The major effect was that since the wheels on the trailer, while suspended, were basically connected via a girder, like an axle. Since the suspension only acted up and down and not side to side, every time you went over a bump not straight on, the trailer was forced to rock side to side with the terrain, and fairly sharply. This quick motion would transfer through the bike into the handlebars due to the side to side motion of the front swingarm. Pulling into gas stations became an exercise in semi-controlled chaos. It became a bigger issue when on something like a pot-holed dirt road, unless you wanted to go 20 mph or less, not an acceptable speed when trying to make miles on rough roads.

    After 1000 miles, we decided yet another change needed to take place, we would have to keep the 2 wheels but we really needed to have independent suspension.

    Our new design would utilize 2 swingarms, one on each side, each with an independent shock for spring and damping, it would require well damped shocks and a new suspension setup.

    Here is the old suspension to the left, and the new stuff to the right being fabricated on the back of the trailer:
    [​IMG]
    This setup would used trailer spindles and round DOM tubing with bearing races to provide easy up and down motion of the suspension arms, no busing and nothing to really wear out.

    Here is the swingarms pretty much prepped and being greased for installation:
    [​IMG]

    Here they are on the bike, ready for some testing:
    [​IMG]

    In an attempt to save some cash, we tried using the stock Boge shocks from the Elefants, however one had a bad seal in it, and getting seals for these successfully is almost impossible:
    [​IMG]

    Here is the result of all the work, ready for testing:
    [​IMG]
    This is an unloaded stance again, hence the high stature

    We found that the boge shocks wouldn't work so searched for easier to maintain solutions that wouldn't break the bank. We found that there were many old Yamaha KYB shocks that could be had for under 100 dollars a piece in various conditions. We ended up buying three of them, as one was in really bad shape and had some differences in the shock. We took the 2 good shocks and rebuild them to the same specs, we even made sure the shim stacks were the same (yes we spec'd out all 40+ shims for thickness, OD and ID). After our shims stack change, we put new seal heads in them and put them together, making sure to bleed all the air out.

    This is the final result:
    [​IMG]
    Rem checking out the final product, its cat certified!

    The Yamaha shocks provided some benefits over the Boge's as well. They had better springs on them as far as spring rates go for our application. They also had better parts availability. The shocks had both rebound and compression damping adjustment which allowed us to fine tune the shocks to reduce sway action and dangerous situations at speed, but allow enough action off road to deal with rough roads and undulations.

    The new suspension also stuck out the back of the trailer less, shortening the whole unit length by almost a foot and moved the wheels forward even more in one go. The weight on the front swingarm was now about 50 lbs. which ends up being about 10% of the total trailer weight, just about where we wanted to be. The setup was as good as it was going to get, we were finally ready to hit the road!

    The next step was to actually leave, If you want to follow our progress on ADVrider, head to our Follow the Elefant thread!
    #8
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  9. Langanobob

    Langanobob Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Dec 23, 2006
    Oddometer:
    373
    Location:
    Reno
    This is a very good thread. Thanks for taking the time to do the writing and post the pictures.
    #9
  10. pitbull

    pitbull Long timer

    Joined:
    Aug 24, 2004
    Oddometer:
    6,337
    Pretty awesome project you guys took on.

    As monster 900 rider, I appreciate your choice of bike and engine and am in awe of the custom crash frame and trailer.
    #10
  11. chaos616

    chaos616 Sasquatch

    Joined:
    Aug 10, 2008
    Oddometer:
    196
    Location:
    Flyin and ridin
    Hey Langanobob, No problem, we figured it would be worth posting if even to catalog our build for ourselves, however, i'm glad people are enjoying looking through it. Its a bit long winded and lacking a few pictures, but if I find them, i'll edit them in!

    Cheers
    #11
  12. chaos616

    chaos616 Sasquatch

    Joined:
    Aug 10, 2008
    Oddometer:
    196
    Location:
    Flyin and ridin
    Hey pitbull, thank you! We do really enjoy the ducati motors and feel the build quality, although not the prettiest on this particular bike, is really quite good. Our gran canyon is the stylin bike of the group though! One of the bikes on the to-get-eventually list is a mid 90's Monster 900 (I think non fuel injected)...and a early model multistrada ds1000/1100, topped off with a S2R1000 because why not. I think any of the 2V motors are great.

    I was glad the crash bars came out as good as they did, spent a lot of time lining it all up before welding with the old eye ball method. I was glad the powdercoat covered up some of my awesome welds though.

    Cheers
    #12
  13. pitbull

    pitbull Long timer

    Joined:
    Aug 24, 2004
    Oddometer:
    6,337
    I have two other bikes on the list of "want" and one is a GC and the other is a multistrada 1100s, so we have very similar taste in bikes.

    My M900 is an 01 and fuel injected and I have to say the FI is fantastic and has never been an issue in 120,000 km's.
    #13
  14. chaos616

    chaos616 Sasquatch

    Joined:
    Aug 10, 2008
    Oddometer:
    196
    Location:
    Flyin and ridin
    The GC has fuel injection as well. It does seem to work well enough. A bit notchy at slow speed but apparently correctable via either computer tune and or a fbf chip. I don't have either done. The system is the Webber marelli FI. It does have more power than our carb bikes for sure. Is the Webber system the same as the monsters had? Of course the monsters also have larger valves.

    Cheers
    #14
  15. pitbull

    pitbull Long timer

    Joined:
    Aug 24, 2004
    Oddometer:
    6,337
    The FI system on the 01 monster is a weber marelli system as well, but I'm unsure if it's the same system on the GC. It works well enough, although a little slow on cold starts.

    It was or is probably also "notchy" at low speed but after 15 years I don't notice it. I think I'm so neurologically meshed with the bike that I don't notice any of it's quirks anymore.
    #15
  16. chaos616

    chaos616 Sasquatch

    Joined:
    Aug 10, 2008
    Oddometer:
    196
    Location:
    Flyin and ridin
    Pitbull, that's interesting. 120k is a bit of milage, it goes to show the reliability of the ducati motor and what some regular TLC can do. Part of the notchiness of the GC may also be the dual staintune mufflers which were on the bike when I got it. Could be not compensating for a slight lean condition. That's awesome to be that comfortable with a machine that it feels a part of you instead of just another bike! That is good stuff!

    Cheers
    #16
  17. falcn

    falcn Squidless Soul Supporter

    Joined:
    Oct 29, 2006
    Oddometer:
    1,044
    Location:
    Los Altos, CA
    Love it! I would love to build new crash bars for mine and fix the left side Hepco bag mount, or just weld up some soft bag tubes to mount my R80 to the Elefant.
    #17
  18. ThumperX

    ThumperX Been here awhile Supporter

    Joined:
    Nov 15, 2010
    Oddometer:
    130
    Location:
    St. Ralph
    Oh this is fun! A build thread and ride report on semi exotic vintage ADV bikes! Woot!
    #18
  19. chaos616

    chaos616 Sasquatch

    Joined:
    Aug 10, 2008
    Oddometer:
    196
    Location:
    Flyin and ridin
    Hey falcn, Thanks, we made sure to build all of our crash bars and pannier racks very beefy, we figured they would save the hard to find bits like fuel tank and some engine cases (more expensive than hard to find).

    ThumperX, We love scouring ADV for old ADV bikes ourselves so we were only to happy to put up some fun rebuild content of the old beasts!

    Cheers,
    #19
  20. chaos616

    chaos616 Sasquatch

    Joined:
    Aug 10, 2008
    Oddometer:
    196
    Location:
    Flyin and ridin
    As an update, we are about to re-start our journey to SA, and we will be making a few changes. Even though we were only 3 weeks on the road, we decided as a result of the life changes that have taken place recently to follow a different path than we have. Among a few large changes, we will also be making numerous small updates to our gear to address some problems that we were encountering (like water storage and fuel storage etc...).

    Cheers,
    #20