A Hot-Rod Ducati Built From Spare Parts

Racebike evolution plus perspiration equals a street-smart masterpiece.

rebuilt motorcycle
Racebike on the floor, streetbike on the bench: both pretty, both capable. Moto Corse sprayed the paint on both machines to Brian’s drawings. The streetbike’s pipe, built by Ron Mangus (Mangusta Enterprise), once resided on the racebike… But that one’s Ti now, also built by Mangus. The bike on the bench came into being as the bike on the floor was updated.Brian Smith

Before we look at this Ducati, let me get you up to speed on how it happened. My friend Brian Smith raised a family, got his coatings and construction business rolling smoothly with his brother Denny and sons Jeremy and Jordan, and then returned to motorcycles. He attended Champ school at the age of 56 and saw a path to safe and successful roadracing with AHRMA (American Historic Racing Motorcycle Association), a place where a lot of us race.

Brian Smith
Brian Smith at (race-winning) speed in AHRMA competition.e-tech

He examined the classes and decided on a 2007 Ducati Paul Smart replica, a 1,000cc air-cooled twin that could run in three AHRMA classes per day. Chris Boy at Moto Corse built the bike, and Brian began racing it—and then tweaking it. An Evo motor was found. Carbon wheels migrated on. Ti pipes were made by Mangusta Enterprises. Then Phil Sieberlich was hired at Brian's company and the ex-Doug Polen crew member became the chief mechanic. This was over the course of three years but the progress never abated.

And guess what grew? Extra parts! Brian takes over the story. "In the middle of cleaning some wheels, I caught sight of the two metal shelves behind my racebike. There's an engine and fuel tank, a set of wheels, brakes… Man, there's nearly an entire bike sitting on the shelf! Dang!

"I pulled down the attic steps and rummaged through about 20 boxes and found more stuff. When I laid it all out, it was a decent pile of usable parts. I wondered what this would fetch on eBay. I thought for a moment, then shook my head, What the hell am I saying? I don't do eBay, I build stuff! And that's when it hit me. How cool would it be to build a street version of my racebike? I bounced the idea off of a few friends and got a unanimous 'Do it!' "

Motorcycle parts
Parts—almost forming a whole. The early days were stimulated when Chris Boy, who Brian Smith calls “the source,” had a frame and swingarm on the Moto Corse shelf.Brian Smith
1098 fork
Getting close, as details get tended to—such as brake lines, air filters, oil cooler, and chain. Brian’s friend Bob Robbins, who also races strongly at AHRMA, coughed up a few tidbits including the 1098 fork which is held in place by Adriana triple clamps via MotoWheels.Brian Smith

From CBX To A Ducati Paul Smart Parts Bike

Brian laughed when I reminded him about how we met, over a letter about a CBX that Brian sent to Motorcyclist magazine in 1988. That letter launched our “Power of the Poconos” articles. “The difference there was that I started with a real bike,” Brian said. “This bike rose out of the scrap heap.”

Of the two, this one means the most. Brian, with help from Phil, gathered and fit various pieces to form a whole bike. Welding. Grinding. Then they tore it down again to professionalize it with paint and correct fitment. With the bike running roughly but looking streetable, Brian sent it south to Moto Corse (via Istvan’s RacetoYou Transportation) so Larry Zullo could fine-tune the fuel map on the Moto Corse dyno.

Dash part
While the hot rod was in Florida, fabricator extraordinaire Al Brown built the brackets for the AIM Strada dash. This was the third of Brian’s bikes that received Brown’s precise fabricating touch. Meanwhile, Moto Corse GM Carl Cohen pulled the bodywork and laid out the design for the paint to exactly match Brian’s racebike.Brian Smith

At the track, Brian has broken through to not just podium on his Paul Smart, but to win in AHRMA competition. On the street, this Smart project is a comfortable, loud, wheelie-happy joy in his life. “I’m riding it everywhere—took it to the gym yesterday. It’s just so simple, comfortable, easy to ride. It makes usable power and is surprisingly fast because it only weighs 380 pounds.

“I’m hoping this story encourages other parts collectors to become bike builders and riders. I was encouraged and mentored by Harry Penn, who I met when I was 12. He taught me how to weld and use a milling machine, and we still ride together. He loves this thing, and I hope it inspires others the way Harry’s very trick Triumph Trident inspired me,” the 62-year-old Brian adds.

Brian also adds some words of advice. “I never wanted to be a guy with a project under a blanket in the corner of the garage for years, so I set a timetable for my racebike builds and also this streetbike. I encourage you to do this so you can plan and plot progress. Have a finish date for each step, and a completion date. This helped me stay on track and enthused. And I have to include the quote my friend Nick Ienatsch always says, ‘Don’t be the guy who’s always gettin’ ready to get ready.’ Let’s go!”

Sitting outside Brian’s work, ready for fun—always ready for fun. The seat pad took a few iterations as Brian balanced the look and comfort after fabbing a simple aluminum plate for the upholsterer to work with. That’s a MotoWheels headlight in place of the racebike’s full fairing.Brian Smith
Phil Sieberlich
Phil Sieberlich helped Brian fit a Rizoma bar and mirrors to fine-tune the ergos and improve rearward view. These parts have factory-like finish and performance.Brian Smith

Blah, Blah, Blah. Let's Ride It.

The last step was to fit a Rizoma handlebar and mirrors, which happened two days before I arrived in Pennsylvania with my street gear. With a forecasted high of 96 humid July degrees, we left at first light “for a quick one-hour ride” on the Smart 1000 and Brian’s Multi-Strada. Three and a half hours later we rolled back in, sweaty but completely in love with this new bike.

Nick with his bike
Do we ride for breakfast, or have breakfast so we can ride? Would you like some more coffee? No thanks, bikes are waiting, the sun is shining, pavement is curving, and we hope the highway patrolmen are still enjoying their donuts!Brian Smith

Our ride through Bucks County tackled every gnarly, twisty road Brian knew, and the Smart was a joy every minute of it. This bare-bones bike revs eagerly and feels significantly faster than the dyno sheet reads, mainly because it’s hauling so little weight: 88 hp pushing 380 pounds, but the 73 pound-feet of torque seem to be available at idle. It accelerates with the same carefree surge that turbo bikes bring, the partial-throttle get-up-and-go that starts way down on the tach. There’s never a time where you’re waiting for the engine to spin up, never leading with the throttle, because even small amounts of fuel and air get this thing pushing forward.

The seating position is perfect for our veteran bodies and on this hot day, the minuscule fly screen was a significantly smarter choice than the three-quarter fairing on the Multi. On the Smart, there’s nothing in your lower peripheral vision; it’s as if you’re flying through the air on your own. We both loved it. If you’ve driven or ridden in a Porsche 911, you know the feeling.

This is as basic a motorcycle as you can get, as basic as I’ve ridden in a long time (but not as bare-bones as the street-legal TZ750 dirt-tracker I rode last week; stay tuned). Seat, tank, front fender, and a fly screen—everything else is all business. Rather than add beautifying parts like a bellypan or or a full fairing, Brian let the mechanicals take center stage with his subtle and clean trademark gray and black with red signage. The bike’s beauty is in what’s not there, what isn’t covered, and in the stance Brian created with the suspension choices and paint.

The bike is loud and I’ve written about riding a quiet bike faster, but as texting while driving becomes more commonplace I’m okay making a little noise now, especially in the crowded environs of the American East. I found myself short-shifting the Smart in certain areas to keep the noise down on this early morning, though this bike barely seems to notice the rpm, it just accelerates. The fueling was spot-on—good job, Larry Zullo, with a nod to Eraldo Ferracci who came up with a Microtech ECU and provided general support and blessings all through the project.

We got into some nasty back-road pavement and both agreed that a steering damper would be a good next move. Other than that, this bike felt factory finished. It rode solidly, but neither of us felt it was overly stiff, just simply ready to be loaded with brake, throttle, and lean angle pressure. We were happy to comply.

It’s rare when a motorcycle represents this much. Sure, this Duc is pretty, fun to ride, rare, and comfortable, but for my friend Brian Smith this Smart 1000 will forever remind him of his foray into roadracing (which is ongoing, by the way). The parts from that experience have formed a daily reminder of one of life’s most enthralling pursuits.

hot-rod Ducati
Pretty and light, loud and perfectly fueled: a rideable hot-rod Ducati. Paul Smart would be pleased.Brian Smith

More next Tuesday!