Project Ducati 998 Superbike Part 3: Radiator, Fairings and Track Preparation

The brakes feel equally as amazing, although there’s a slight shudder from the discs under hard use from high speed. I’ll need to either replace the buttons or look into new discs. Turning left into turn two I’m amazed how light this thing feels for a nearly twenty-year-old machine. It doesn’t feel any heavier than my Triumph 675, just longer. The slipper clutch surprisingly doesn’t need any adjustment, it’s perfect.

Having a little difficulty figuring out the gearing on the track because it’s so different than the 675 I usually ride. I may have also under-geared the Ducati for this track. The current setup is 15t front and 40t rear. The tachometer shows 10,000 rpm in 6th before my braking marker into T1. It also makes 2nd gear extremely short for the tight stuff. Maybe thinking a 38T rear sprocket would be ideal for most tracks.

Diving into the fast esses I notice a propensity to headshake while transitioning. The front feels a little unstable and I’m having to keep too tight a grip on the bars.  Tank grips would help; they’ve been on my Triumph 675 for 10yrs and I never realized how much I rely on them. I’ll add some rebound damping before the next session to see if it helps.

After 2 sessions handlebar and footpeg position are sorted. A little extra rebound damping moves the suspension feel in the right direction. I’m beginning to feel more confident, the track temp is rising and grip from the Pirelli slicks is good. Coolant temps never go above 190*F, all is well with my hideously rigged 999 radiator setup.

For session 3 I thumb the starter and suddenly the bike won’t start. Cranks over without issue, but won’t fire. This has been the best starting Ducati I’ve ever witnessed up until this very moment. Diagnosis starts with the easy stuff. Fuel in the tank, coils plugged in, open the fuel cap and prime the pump. Crap. There’s 45psi or so of fuel spraying around in the fuel tank. I remove the tank and fuel pump flange to see the hose has slipped off the pump despite the use of high-quality Oetiker clamps. I grab a generic hose clamp and zip it tightly with an impact driver. That oughta do it. The rubber fuel flange o-ring though has now ballooned up from sitting in fuel. It’s never going back in. I have twenty of them at home and not a single one at the track. I tried getting it back together but failed and split the o-ring. Next time I’ll bring more damn o-rings.

Project Ducati 998 finally at the track next to my Triumph 675.



  1. Love it! Man… you have a 675 track bike too?! I’ve been eye balling the Street Triple to replace my 600RR for the street bike, but I haven’t convinced my wife to let me keep the 600RR too for a track bike. I just know I can’t sell the 600RR before picking up a new bike or there will be 0 bikes in the garage and it’ll stay that way, ha!

    In my previous job,, I learned the hard way about o-ring material and compatibility with different types of fluids. Even different types of oils. Who knew that one type of oil would react differently than another type of oil?

    I found this site for material compatibility with all sorts of fluids:

    Most generic o-rings are EPDM. Which is probably what you have. I’d recommend stepping up to at least NBR (nitrile). FKM (Viton) is the baller stuff which is typically easy to get.

    1. I can’t recommend the street triple enough. It’s arguably more fun even on the track than a fully faired machine depending on the track. The first generation ‘R’ models are the absolute jam, and they’ve made basically the same bike for so long that they’re dirty cheap on the used market.

      The fuel pump o-ring was a real bummer. I ended up sourcing Viton replacements from McMasterCarr. They’re much less susceptible to ballooning up after seeing fuel. Newer Ducati’s use Viton, but they’re something like $50ea. Sourcing them 3rd party saves something like 70% of the cost.

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