Blue Blood

WAYNE HUFFER’S SKILLS ARE IN BODYWORK – AND IT SHOWS. HIS HEAVILY REWORKED DUCATI ST2 IS NOW TRANSFORMED FROM STODGY TOURER TO EAGER CAFE RACER. HERE’S HOW…

Blue_Blood_Mar_18

You won’t find any fancy tools in Wayne Huffer’s garage. No press, no lathe; few of the things many of us consider essential to specials building. “I don’t even have a pillar drill,” he says. Knowing this before even inspecting the clever detail of Wayne’s 1998 Ducati ST2 special makes it all the more remarkable.

Did we say ST2? What, surely we’re not talking about the rather dowdy yet worthy sports-tourer of the late 1990s/early noughties? But we are. The lines of Wayne’s home-built special make it look like a rather more recent factory sportsbike.

Indeed lines loom large in Wayne’s way of thinking when it comes to specials. While some have a particular bike in mind when they want to make a custom, Wayne is rather more inclined to see the potential in a bike that drops onto his radar.

“I hadn’t been looking for a Ducati at all. I’d never been into Ducatis. My favourite road bikes are Suzukis. Although I had always admired my mate Richard Jones’s 748. That’s an amazing bike. Richard is a fabricator/welder who has worked on top-level race chassis, and his own bike has some amazing works-like fabrication he’s done. Anyhow, I thought the Ducati trellis frame looks good. Then the ST2 turned up. It had belonged to an old boy in Coventry. Even though it was a tourer it was just a bit too much for him. It was a totally standard bike in good shape with just 24,000 miles on the clock,” says Wayne, who paid £1600 for his latest project’s donor bike.

That was two years ago and Wayne would work on his special over the course of the next year in his spare time in his garage at home. As a bodyshop specialist he had the finishing work covered as well as a keen eye for line and detail. One thing he wasn’t possessed of was a huge budget. So he spent a lot of time trawling the internet for the parts he did want and prepared himself to get to work. Any hopes of recovering some money through selling the unwanted ST2 stuff were soon dashed. “In the end I threw away most of the ST2 stuff. You list it on the internet and no one wants it or they want it for a quid,” he says.

Disappointing but not a deal breaker. The most expensive purchases were a pair of 999 wheels at £400 and an 848 fairing and seat unit at £380. The fuel tank is also from a 999 and cost a mere £100.

Those endless hours have paid off – handsomely

Those endless hours have paid off – handsomely

Richard Jones welded up the exquisite rear subframe in aluminium after Wayne had first modelled it in plastic tube. “We tend to help each other out with jobs,” says Wayne, describing a perfect example of the barter economy in action. “Richard also made the rear caliper bracket. My mate Steve Usher machined wheel spacers for me on the same basis. You go to a big engineering company and they have to charge you the set up time even for small jobs. I wouldn’t begrudge paying – I just can’t afford it.”

Many hundreds of hours went into Wayne’s build and a good chunk of those were spent looking and thinking. “I stood there for hours and hours to make sure everything was sitting right. I’d do a bit of cutting then look at it again. I don’t know how many times the fairing was on and off for minor adjustments. It’s now as close as it can safely go to the front wheel. It makes a huge difference to the stance of the bike,” says Wayne, who also had to fabricate a new subframe for the front of the bike as well as new brackets for the fairing sides. Strada 7 Racing clip-ons offer the sufficient clearance to the fairing. “An 848 fairing sits a lot higher on the bike it came off,” notes Wayne, who saved a few quid repurposing a Suzuki GSX-R750 K2 screen in the 848 fairing. It’s a surprisingly good fit, or maybe not given how closely modern bike manufacturers monitor each others work.

SPECIFICATION DUCATI ST2

ENGINE: 944CC, SOHC, TWO VALVES PER CYLINDER, 90° L-TWIN. STANDARD WITH REFINISHED OUTER COVERS.

CHASIS: STOCK GEOMETRY FRAME DELUGGED WITH NEW TABS AND BRACKETS FOR TANK, REARSETS, AND CUSTOM SUBFRAMES FRONT AND REAR. ST2 FORKS, SHOCK AND SWINGARM. ST2 BRAKES WITH CUSTOM REAR BRACKET. 999 WHEELS AND FUEL TANK. TWM FUEL FILLER CAP. MUCH MODIFIED 848 FARING AND SEAT UNIT.

CUSTOM TOP YOKE AND DASH, NO SPEEDO. CUSTOM EXHAUST. BATTERY RELOCATED AND INTACT LOOM RELOCATED. STRADA 7 RACING CLIP-ONS. RACE PRODUCTS REARSETS. RENTHAL SPROCKETS.

848 fairing looks like it was made for this ST2, but it actually sits much higher on the donor bike than this

Red disc carriers shouldn’t ordinarily work (unless it’s 1981 again) but they do. They’re more crimson really

Race Products rearsets look the part after new mounts in the right place were welded on to accomodate them

Further work was required on the frame. With the clunky ST2 rear subframe now departed and with a new desire to fit rearsets similar to those on Richard Jones’s 748, the main frame had to be tidied up and gusseted, with new mounts made to accept Race Products rearsets. Wayne welded on brackets for the 999 tank’s front mounts to slip into and fabricated a tray to sit under the nose of the tank, relocating the battery from its former position on the right side of the bike, where it would have once been covered by the ST2’s bulbous fairing.

1. Seat unit has lost 3in from the back, 2in out of the front and had both sides cut away. There then followed extensive remoulding.

2. The top yoke was reworked by hand by Wayne. The minimalist dash plate was shaped from aluminium sheet using nothing more than snips, pliers and a hammer. “My mate calls it the Allegro dash,” says Wayne.

3. Rear wheel spacersand bushes machined by Wayne’s mate Steve Usher. The rear spindle needed some bushes to match the spindle to the bearings the wheel and some narrow spacers were needed to take up the side play. Steve also made a spacer to replace the redundant speedo drive.

4. Db eaters inside the pipes offended Wayne’s critical eye so he made these mesh covers to tidy things up. Better than that, he may well start a fad for these simple but effective finishing touches.

The exhaust pipes are stock ST2 headers cut and shut to exit on the same side of the bike. These were sandblasted and Scotchbrited to give an almost-titanium look. The end-caps were fabricated by Wayne. “I made the little meshes over the exhaust because I didn’t want to look at the dirty baffles. I didn’t have the money for a fancy exhaust so I spent four or five hours fabricating the mesh covers. I used hole cutters to make the rings, filled the holes with stainless steel mesh then welded on a couple of tabs so they could be riveted into the ends of the pipes,” says Wayne.

The 848 seat unit needed a lot of work to make it fit Wayne’s vision. The cans sit underseat on an 848 and as we’ve just noted, Wayne opted to have silencer-less exhausts exiting low on the right side of the bike. It also had to sit right with the rear of the 999 fuel tank. That meant reworking the tail and removing material from just about everywhere.

All the hours spent in contemplation and cutting and shutting paid off. “Until you get an 848 next to it it’s really hard to see how and where I’ve altered the lines,” says Wayne. Once all the cutting, moulding and filling were done, Wayne brought the rest of his bodyshop skills to bear, finishing the flat surfaces in Ford Bermuda Blue, and the frame and wheels in Rolls-Royce Chestnut Brown: “Quite possibly my favourite colour,” says Wayne.

In Ford Bermuda Blue and Rolls-Royce Chestnut Brown: subtle yet eye-catching too

In Ford Bermuda Blue and Rolls-Royce Chestnut Brown: subtle yet eye-catching too

As someone who suffers from the common phobia associated with motorcycle wiring, Wayne wasn’t too keen on cutting anything out of the ST2’s cumbersome wiring loom. He did however extend it to move the ECU further back to get it under the seat and he also managed to tidy the rest away. “If I or a subsequent owner wants to put in lights or indicators they can,” says Wayne. “For now it has a daytime MoT.”

All was well mechanically when it came to the two-valve liquid-cooled Ducati engine so Wayne was happy to leave well enough alone: “I don’t like engines so didn’t open it up or do any servicing. The belts and valve clearances had just been done before it came to me anyway. The only thing I did was to alter the final drive ratio with new Renthal sprockets. They’re only about 80bhp these engines so I wanted more acceleration as I’m used to inline-fours.”

It’s the great truth of specials that they’re never really finished. Wayne says: “There’s not really anything I’d change on it right now. Ultimately I built it to sell it and a few people are interested. But they say, ‘why didn’t you do this, that or the other?’ And I can’t just keep ploughing money into it. If I was a well-known builder it would be worth three times what people want to pay for it.” It’s a blessing and a curse in that regard that Wayne’s ST2 kind of looks stock and you have to do a double take when you first see it. “People don’t realise what’s gone into it, like it’s a stock bike in a different colour. Some might say that’s the mark of a high quality special. “I like stuff to look like it could have been done in a factory,” says Wayne. His building and fabrication skills are being recognised in the wider customising community, however. Under the name Dustmonkeycreations he sells cafe racer seats on Instagram and Facebook. US builders Cognito Moto are regular customers. So for now Wayne recognises that the best thing he can do with his ST2 is ride it. “It might look uncomfortable,” he says, “but the ergonomics are very close to those of a 748. It’s an awful lot lighter than an ST2 as well; it has to be with all the stuff that came off of it. I need to get out there and ride it properly – then I can claim some of the heat bobbling on those used eBay Supercorsas for myself.”

Those endless hours have paid off – handsomely

Those endless hours have paid off – handsomely