Ducati Custom Streetfighter red

This is the start of my Ducati Multistrada project.  Here is the base bike purchased in late August 2017 and started after our holidays in mid September.  the plan is to have it ready for the spring 18.  Its currently almost finished, just a few snagging jobs.  below is a before and after, followed by a blog of the build process.

ducati multi 1

Ducati Multistrada custom 2

Ducati Multistrada custom 1


Sept.  First job has been stripping off all the plastic and relocating the battery and electrics to under the seat so I can keep as clean a look as I can.  The plan with this build is to mock it all up first, get everything “right” and then strip it all down and paint the frame and parts, and rebuild the engine as its quite tatty where the paint has flaked off.

battery locationwireingIn the last few days I have moved the location of the oil cooler, and started the wiring. Plan is to have a keyless ignition, as again I want to keep it clean looking. In the background you can see the wiring diagram which I have blown up to A1 as my eyes cant cope with the tiny diagrams!

replace shockerdown low

After the wiring is complete, I will start the build on the exhaust. I am going to do Pie Cuts, as I like the look of this.


12th Oct.  started the mock up and tacking together of the exhaust.  its satisfying work, but the angles take a bit of working out. I found a neat spreadsheet to help!  I have shortened the silencer, which was originally off a Fireblade.  Once it all fits I will replace the strap on the silencer with a bracket welded to the back.

exhaust apartweldingexhaust 2spreadsheet

final exhaust multistradaIt was exhausting making the exhaust so I had a break and made a couple of tools…  one for undoing the camshaft nuts, and one for pulling the alternator case off.

multistrada cam nut toolflywheel case puller

here is the engine out and on the bench..  next job will be to make an engine stand which will be adjustable to facilitate getting the engine back in.

ducati multistrada engine out

The strip down went well, but when it came to getting the primary gear off the crank, I realised from reading on line that they are REALLY tight.  So I made another puller…  quite crude this one but it worked well and after tightening it on there i used a little heat on the gear with the hot air gun…  it soon came off!  I also made a few mandrels to press the bearings out (and in later)

primary gear puller 2primary gear puller 1

multistrada tool 3

All the bearings came out OK. with the exception of one…  this was in a blind hole and   despite using a bearing puller, the bearing came apart and I had to resort to other methods.  I made a close fitting brass bush, with a taper in the middle, and a tapered bolt.  I then split the bush into four, and used this to pull the bearing out.


One of the other bearings was also difficult, so again I made a puller to extract it.  I don’t like taking bearings out without heating the cases.  she would kill me is she saw I used the oven!

bearing puller multistradabearing puller

It took ages to clean the cases.  I left them in a container of thinners for a few days, and then jet washed the paint off (what was left of it)  I gave then a clean in the bead blast cabinet afterwards and they came up quite well, but I don’t like building engines where the cases have been in a dry blast cabinet… it tends to impregnate the surface, not good in the inside of the engine.  So I took them to the vapour blasters who gave them the once over in the machine.  First time I have used this company after my other supplier retired, and I have to say they are VERY good, and offer a wide range of services.


Now here is the important bit…  they need to be cleaned to perfection!  I have seen many engines scrapped buy not getting every single bead of glass out.  so, jet wash to death…  making sure you flush app the oil-ways out.  dry off, and clean with paraffin, use an airline to blow the bead out of every single orifice.  Jet wash again,   clean again with paraffin, and blow out.  the final clean, i use some thinners in the oil-ways, blasted through at high pressure, just to make sure everything is out!

cases cleanedLots to clean….  I like to get everything washed and cleaned thoroughly before assemble.  Even thought the inside of the engine was very clean, I still like to wash everything off in petrol, and lay it out in trays.  In the picture below you will also see an engraving tool…  this has a diamond tip, which marks parts nicely, without putting a stress raiser in the component.  I like to mark things so they go back the same as they came apart, especially things like oil pump gears.

ducati multistrada oil pump

multistrada crank cases 4multistrada crank cases 2

here is the clutch crush drive, it all looked excellent in here, testimony to the fact this is a very low miles engine!  Also a selection of tools I have made.  the socket and the one holding tool is for the cam pulleys, which are torqued up to 71 NM, which is quite tight, you just cant do it without the tool…  the other is for holding the primary gear, which is torqued up to 190 NM, you definitely need this one!  I have seen people say put a copper 2P piece in the gears…  shame on you!

I could add a picture of the tool I made out of some old clutch plates to hold the basket and drum…  but its not pretty!

multistrada clutch drivemultistrada toolls 3

Again, no wear on the clutch drum, or plates, which is a bonus!  here are the pistons, in nice condition.  I removed the rings to make sure that the lands were clear of carbon, always a heart stopping moment, but it has to be done!

multistrada clutch drummultistrada piston

Another tool to make…  you need some way of holding the flywheel…  I was OK in undoing it with the air gun, but again this is tightened to 190 NM and you need some way of holding it solid.  the 10 mm alloy plate has a lug on it which engages in one of the holes in the flywheel perimeter.

I am actually building two engines!  one will be sold later when its finished.

multistrada engine build 1multistrada engine build 4multistrada engine build 6multistrada engine build 5multistrada engine build 7The rings are thin and fragile, and its easy to break them trying to get them into the bore.  best way is to put the piston in the bore, and then slide the gudgeon pin into place.  Not the paper towel in the opening…  the circlips are tricky, and if they ping out, you know where they will settle!

multistrada engine build 8

Next job was the heads….  seems the Multistrada and a few other models of Ducati suffer premature valve guide wear, its well documented.  While the inlets were perfectly fine, the exhausts has more play than I would have liked…  so I decided to replace them.  I heated the head in the oven (hope she does not read this!) up to 180 degrees and used a drift to knock the guides out.  I nearly fainted when I rang the dealer…  seems inlet guides are £14… but exhausts £150 each!  So I decided to have some custom made in Colsibro.  They came finished to the correct OD, and ID, I just had to machine the valve seal step.  Colsibro  is a wonder material for valve guides (google it!)  I first came across it with Ford Crossflows, which when fitted with extremely hign lift cams, wore the guides out rapidly due to the arc the rocker arm operated through, which pushed the valve against the side of the guide.  Once I did a head with Colsibro guides, they lasted forever!

Multistrada heads stripped for cleaningmultistrada valve guide 1Multistrada valve tools 2multistrada valve guide 2multistrada valve seal tool 1Putting the guides in is a little more tricky…   I made a tool up as in the picture, whereby a slow taper mandrel sits in the valve seat, so the guide can be knocked in square.  I heated the heads up again and they knocked in a treat.  A quick lap with the grinding paste and I have a nice seal on the valves.  An old trick is to mark lines across the seat with a felt tip pen, and then give the valve a light lap, just to be sure the lines are broken, indicating you have a full seal.

I also made a tool to knock the valve guide seals into place.  this is really important as they are really easy to damage.  Experience with these seals on many car engines is its best to use some super glue, so they stay in place.  I believe the factory do this as they are difficult to remove, and you can see where they are bonded.  you have to be quick knocking them on though!

multistrada valve seat 1The next job has been setting the valve clearances…  what a time consuming and fiddly job, and expensive with the shims costing £15 each, and there are 8!   Lucky I only needed to buy three…

headsWith the engine almost finished, I have turned to fully stripping the bike.  The frame and wheels have gone off to be powder coated.  this meant I had to remove the front wheel bearings.  They are difficult to remove as you cant get behind the bearing, despite a small cut out in the spacer…  so I mad this split mandrel which has a small .5mm lip, which expands behind the bearing.  with this they came out easily.  I have also designed some clutch covers, and headlamp brackets and had them laser cut in 304 Stainless.

I have also removed the bearings from the swinging arm, so this can be polished, yet another puller!

puller 44puller 45laser 1puller 46First time I have tried Hydrographic dipping, the result came out quite well!

small carbonI cant decide which is best…  Polycarbonate windows or full covers!

cover off

I hate hammering bearings in…  where I can I make a tool to pull them in, here is the needle roller on the swinging arm being pushed in.  I have also been frustrated with the finish I get in my bead blasting cabinet.  A bit of research and I have found that for years I have been using too high a pressure!  seems this shatters the delicate glass beads.  some new bead, and a low pressure and the results are MUCH better.

bead blast comparrisonswinging arm tool

Wheels and frame back from powder coating.  the engine is nice and easy to get in the frame, you just lift it on!  started the build on the calipers, they are pretty good inside, no marks on the pistons at all.

wheels paintedengine in frame 2


brake callipers 1

It took a while to decide what to do about the instrument cluster…  I have no choice but to use the original as there are too many electronics on the bike integrated into the unit.  I ended up making a case out of aluminium, but it didn’t look right with straight sides, so I planished the edge using a former in the vice.  It came out quite well.





I wanted to put the exhausts on, but didnt have any new copper gaskets…  I found a bar of copper thats been under the bench for 30 years, I turned a couple up and annealed them.  I also had a couple of rear wheel sockets cut by the laser cutter out of 10mm steel plate, rather than spend £50 on big sockets I will never use again…  one 42mm and one 46mm.  I am amazed at the accuracy of laser cutting.  I design the parts in Solid Edge (free software) and send the file to the laser cutter, who feed the drawing straight in!


Not much progress over the Christmas holiday, I have been banned from the garage!  lots of bits arrived though, new brake lines from China, along with a wireless key relay.  I have used these a few times on custom builds…  saves having an ignition key, and as they have a learning mode they can  be integrated with an alarm system.  They are prone to failure though vibration though, which can be overcome with a few blobs of silicon to mount the circuit board in the box.wireless key

The results of a mornings polishing…A job I hate…  its not the polishing bit but the cleaning up afterwards I hate, hence I try to do it in batches!

multistrada polished parts

I have been doing a few light jobs as I have cracked a rib and its painful to do much…  here are the finished cam belt covers with the poly-carbonate inserts and spark plug holes accurately cut…  also made a new clutch lever pin as it was a bit worn.

finished cam covers 2clutch piviot

Here it is fully mocked up.  it started first time, but it looks like i need to reset the TPS so I need some cables.  I will soon start the paintwork, but I am a bit undecided what colour…

duke as is

I pondered a long time how to finish the ends of the tank where the fairing used to connect.  I sat down with some cardboard and tried to cut and fabricate a shape that I could transfer to aluminium so I could weld it up.  the shape I wanted was just too complicated.  Then I hit on the idea of using body filler…  I made a brass bush to sit in the filler, then covered the end of the tank in aluminium foil, and slapped the filler on!  once sanded to shape I hydrographic dipped them in carbon fibre film.  They came out rather well!

I treated myself to a new spray gun…  after all, my Binks Bullows 230 is 40 odd years old!  It was not long before I went back to it though!  better the devil you know sometimes!

carbon 3mudgaurd 1tank 2tank 1

Almost there…  back together.  problem was although it started first time (much to my supersize!) it didn’t run well.  In order to reset the Throttle Position Sensor I ordered some leads from China, and these took 2 weeks to come…  a long wait.  Problem was, despite resetting the TPS with the software on the laptop, it still backfired and ran really badly.

I retraced my steps on the wiring…  I noticed that the ECU was earthed… and I had missed that wire off and as I had  rubber mounted the ECU it in its new location, I had not earthed it!  I added a lead and bingo, it ran perfectly!

I am really happy with the way the tank finishers I made came out, less so with the headlight brackets, which I will be replacing with a different design shortly.




missing black wirefront of tank

Here it is in the sunshine for the first time since September.  almost finished (if specials ever are!) except I want to change the headlamp brackets sometimes soon.

tension cam belt

Just changed the cam belts… First time I have tensioned a belt using the Hz frequency method. I was surprised how sensitive the adjustment was, and how consistent the readings were once set. just like twanging a guitar string! I used the free Iphone app from Gates Belts.

Also done the final set-up of balancing the throttle bodies, setting the CO and re-checking the TPS base line….

TPS reset


multistrada headlight

The bike actually ran quite well straight from the rebuild, but it was a bit rough at low speed…  I adjusted the mixture at the local test station using their gas analyser…  I had to ritchen it quite a bit.  runs really well now!

MOT station

While the bike ran well. there was a low speed vibration that bugged me…  I had used the vacuum gauges on the right to balance the throttle bodies, but I have never been happy with their accuracy.  So I connected up a single gauge via a “T” piece, and by clamping the pipes individually was able to get an accurate reading.  Guess what, they were miles out!  it ran MUCH better after doing this!

vac gauges

Well I have ridden it all the summer of 2018, what a great summer…  I have LOVED the bike…  and decided to change it for next year, so If you want to see rebuild part two, click on this link!


to be continued…. on the page above!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s