Sunday, June 12, 2011

Monthly Message for June 2011

Sorry about this letter combining two months, but May was a washout for riding motorcycles in the St. Louis area.

We held our May bike night at the usual place and time, and attended to the order of business, electing Bob Oesch as our Treasurer. We discussed the upcoming rides, also the various attempts of our riders to prepare their Ducatis for the riding season.

Thunderstorms and rain delayed the official group ride until the last Saturday in May. Vito Sicola led a contingent of 6 riders on a 4-hour ride, with some riders ending the ride at the Triumph Grill. All riders returned safely.

The group ride was held on June 4, a day with the mercury in the 90s, and the humidity in the same area. Vito led 7 riders and one passenger on a 4-hour journey in the heat. Congratulations to Kim Tortora, the first passenger to participate on a group ride. All the riders returned in one piece and everyone had a great time. As evidence of the better riding weather in June as opposed to May, Vito and others went for a ride on the 11th. All returned in one-piece.

On June 7, we held our bike night, and our visitors were Jeff Pittenger, his wife Karen, and John Scala. We had 14 members attending the bike night. Jeff and John represented the MSF and discussed the merits of continual rider training as a way to maintain and increase riding skills. The MSF Advanced Rider Course was what they specifically were discussing. I am taking the course on the 18th at Forest Park Community College. To summarize their presentation in one sentence, which does not give them credit, the MSF’s thesis is that having a second pair of eyes, in a structured and safe environment, coaching you in a non-threatening manner, will allow you, while riding, to use the tools and techniques to assess your abilities and manage the risks inherent in the environment and your machine, and emerge from the situation in one piece. I am looking forward to the training session and will report next month.

For our July bike night, we have invited Jeff and John to attend and present the official MSF Group Riding Video. More details will follow in emails closer to July 5. The next group ride will be held on July 2, weather permitting, with a rain date of the 9th.

On a personal note, my Multistrada has returned from the Ducati Spa at Motorrad St. Louis, running very well. This particular MTS has had valve-guide issues and cylinder-head issues since day one. Do to the efforts of Denny Perino at Donelson’s, Ducati stepped up to the plate and realized that a certain run of engines had problems, and they acted in good faith, paying for many of the repairs over a 2 to 3 year time period. The repairs involved replacing valve-guides, new crankshafts, new sensors, ECU, sensors, etc. These repairs worked until about 20,000 miles, which was well past the warranty period in miles and elapsed time. Then one of exhaust valve guides decided to try and leave the head. This was discovered during one of the major services. George at Motorrad worked on it, and the motorcycle was running well. Fast forward to the 24,000-mile service. When the valve covers were removed, both exhaust valve-guides were trying to leave the cylinder head. After consulting with George, the repair team at MotoEuropa, and Austin Gray of Ducati, NA, I decided that I owned the problem. The time was long past when Ducati should pay for the issue. By the way, there was a very good change that Ducati would step up to the plate again, but there comes a time when responsibility needs to come home to roost. So I authorized George to pull the heads and send them to Ben Fox at Fox Performance Engines. After Ben machined the heads, put in oversized valve-guides and manufactured and installed new valve-seats, the heads were returned to Motorrad St. Louis. Andrew and George commenced the reassembly process. Upon conclusion of the reassembly, which was fraught with riddles, conundrums, challenges, and situations beyond normal, the machine runs very well. George and Andrew at Motorrad St. Louis have acknowledged the “special” nature of the machine. Over the past 5+ years of ownership and 25,000+ miles, I have learned more than I ever wanted to learn about Ducati Desmo engines. Thanks to the efforts of all the technicians who have ever worked on this motorcycle- the local ones at Donelson’s, Motorrad St. Louis, and those from afar, including Ducati NA’s chief service technician, Austin Grey, Ben Fox at Fox Performance Engines, along with the patience and understanding of my wife, I am back riding.

Gary Kwawer
Chief Contact Person and President
Gateway Ducati Owners Group

1 comment:

  1. This was my first ride with the group, and Vito chose some great roads for us. How good you ask? When we got to Taco Bell, the first words out of the girl's mouth weren't "welcome to Taco Bell," or "May I take your order;" nope, they were, "Are those Cidadas all over your shirt?" The usual sunburn on the outside of each calf and a nice tan on my arms, this was a pretty good ride to be under 200mi.