If there’s a middle ground between the reliability of a modern bike and the charisma of a classic motorcycle, it’s occupied by guys like Walt Siegl. Walt is a master craftsman who gives vintage machinery a new lease of life, and if something isn’t quite the way he wants it, he’s got the skills to make it himself in his New Hampshire workshop.
According to Walt, “The owner of this bike already has a couple of late model Ducatis, and wanted another princess from Italy—but with classic curves and low maintenance.” Although this bike looks like a resto-mod to the untutored eye, it’s effectively a ground-up custom. Old school craftsmanship just oozes from every weld. The custom trellis frame is built from 0.65 chrome moly—TIG welded and heat stress relieved—with a 24-degree rake. (The design is based on the iconic bevel frames.) At the front, fully adjustable Showa forks lead to Ducati trees, custom risers and custom bars. At the back, Walt has selected a stock 900SS swing arm and shock body, but fitted an Öhlins spring for better damping. He’s also modified the rear wheel spacing to accommodate a late-model cush drive.
The engine is from a 1994 900SS, upgraded from 904 to 944cc with a big bore kit. Performance gets a further boost from 39mm flat slide Mikuni carbs, with custom manifolds and gorgeous polished Gianelli mufflers. The engine covers, painted cases and cylinders are polished to match.
Walt built a custom tank and tail—painted by Nate Weiner—and got the custom seat covered by Kevin Rothe. European Cycle Services supplied a wiring harness, allowing Walt to position the electronics under the tail. Up front are a Motogadget tachometer and a Monster headlight on a custom bracket; at the back is a genuine 70s CEV taillight.
If this bike whets your whistle, Walt can build something similar for you: he tells us he’ll be offering “a limited series of air-cooled customs with Ducati engines by spring 2011, similar to this bike.” The price will be in the low 30s; if you have a bit more to spend, you’ll be able to specify an ‘R’ model priced in the low 40s, with carbon fiber bodywork and full Öhlins suspension. Tempted? Check this retro Ducati racebike and radical custom Harley Sportster for more examples of Walt’s work. [Images by Eric Ahlquist.]