In this week’s Speed Read, we’re looking at a Ducati 749 from Romania, a two-stroke KTM flat tracker from the UK, and a Husqvarna 400 Cross that’s just been put back into action. Plus one of our all-time favorite Ducati cafe racers is up for sale, and we close off with a moto and surf film from New Zealand.
Ducati 749 by Dan Iluta Based in Transylvania, Romania, Dan Iluta’s an economist who also happens to be a big MotoGP fan. And, by extension, a Ducati fan too. Since there’s no Ducati dealership where he lives, he sourced this 749 via a shop in Bucharest—and then proceeded to customize it incrementally, over a three-year period.
The first round of upgrades was done by the workshop in Bucharest, before Dan even took delivery. It included a teardown, motor rebuild, changes to the suspension, a single-sided swingarm from a 996 and Marchesini wheels. Dan went to Bucharest to break it in on the track, and then booked it in again—this time for a software upgrade.
About a year later, Dan decided to change up the Ducati’s aesthetics as well. So he pulled in his friend and painter, Radu Asanache, to pen a fresh design for the 749. Using traditional tools, the guys formed up a new headlight nacelle, fuel tank and tail section from aluminum sheeting. It’s a killer silhouette that takes classic lines, and infuses just a hint of modern aggression.
Other tweaks include a new subframe, custom-made foot pegs and grips, and a one-off filler cap. And then there’s that stunning two-into-two exhaust. The project wasn’t without its hiccups though—the first paint job was ruined by undetected pores in the paint. So the guys had to strip it, patch it, and try again. [More]
For sale: Gareth Roberts’ Ducati MH900E Superlite One of the most spectacular Ducati customs we’ve ever featured on these pages, is now up for sale. It belongs to our good friend and Oil in the Blood filmmaker, Gareth Roberts, and it has a build sheet that’ll make your eyes and mouth water.
Dubbed the MH900e Superlite, it’s actually a high-end replica of the Pierre Terblanche-designed MH900e—commissioned by Gareth as a 50th birthday present to himself. The main bits are a 900ss ie motor, a one-off titanium frame from Stradafab in Kansas, USA, and carbon fiber bodywork. Add Panigale 899 forks, an S2R swingarm and an Öhlins shock, and you’ve got one hell of a motorcycle.
The Superlite’s also running Brembo brakes, a full race-spec exhaust system, and Ducabike clutch components. And the finer details are just as trick: HPS carbon clip-ons, a full Motogadget setup, and a plethora of small upgrades. Wrapped in an unusual blue hue, it’s both stunning and timeless.
KTM 250 SX flat tracker This wild flat tracker belongs to George Pickering—a Lincolnshire farmer and flat track racer, who also runs the Greenfield dirt track. George’s race team has been racking up impressive results on Kawasaki KXF 450 race bikes, so he figured it was time for a new challenge. So he bought a KTM 250 SX two-stroke off a friend, and decided to have a go on that.
After a basic flat track setup focused on wheels and suspension, George realized the two-stroke was actually fun. But then he rode Mike Hill from Survivor Customs’ custom-framed Honda CRF450 and figured out what he really wanted: a 250 SX framer. Luckily a friend was selling a motor, carb and wiring loom—so George bought them, and dropped them at Mike’s workshop in the north of England.
Mike fitted the motor to a completely bespoke chassis, made using TIG-welded sections of BS4 T45 aerospace tubing. The guys also fitted a set of Survivor Customs adjustable offset yokes, and added an extra inch of wheelbase adjustment to the swingarm. BG Motorsport supplied a set of Öhlins forks, and a length adjuster for the real shock—so George can pretty much tweak the bike’s geometry any way he wants.
Once George got the KTM back he stripped the motor down, dropped in a KTM PowerParts 300 cc kit and sent the casings off for powder coating. It’s finished with a bunch more performance parts—like SM Pro wheels, and a beefy exhaust header hand-built by John Riley. George’s KTM framer looks wily, rides great, and weighs next to nothing; 89 kilos, to be precise. [More]
Museum rescue: Husqvarna 400 Cross Any avid rider feels a pang of sadness when a bike that’s built to be ridden exuberantly is relegated to a life in a museum. If you feel that way, you’d probably consider Jochen Hecht a hero. That’s because he’s just bought an original Husqvarna 400 Cross from a museum, with the sole purpose of riding it.
Jo’s dreamt of owning a Husky Cross since seeing Steve McQueen tear across the screen on one in the iconic moto film, On Any Sunday. So when his friend, Rainer Klink, told him he had a 1971-model for sale, Jo jumped.
Rainer owns the Boxenstop Auto Museum in Tübingen, Germany, which is where the Husky has lived for the past ten years. He originally bought it from a collector in the Netherlands, and recently put it up for sale along with a BSA B50 MX.
Jo bought both bikes, and got Thomas Helbig at Rebel Moto Company to give the Husky a once over. Then he kicked it to life, and thrashed it along a beach in Southern France, in front of photographer Kati Dalek’s lens. He’s now fielding the BSA in select European flat track races, and plans to race the Husky in vintage MX races. It’s true what they say: not all heroes wear capes. [Images by Kati Dalek]
Lost Track: New Zealand With many of the world’s borders still closed, a lot of us miss the joy of traveling. If that hits a nerve, perhaps this hour-long film is just the fix you need.
Lost Track: New Zealand follows lifelong friends, Torren Martyn and Ishka Folkwell, as they spend three months zigzagging across New Zealand’s north and south islands “in search of surf and solitude”. The pair travel on a couple of travel-prepped Royal Enfield Himalayans (complete with surfboard racks), as they take in New Zealand’s unparalleled scenery.
If motorcycles, scenery and surf tick your boxes, grab a cup of your favorite beverage and kick back with us. [Thanks to Marc Holstein for the tip]