We make no apologies: we’re featuring the latest two customs from Walt Siegl because we can’t tear our eyes away from them. And we’re not alone—a few days ago, Wall Street Journal reporter Jonathan Welsh fell for the charms of these Ducatis too.
We’ve already covered the story behind the Leggero bikes in depth here and here. But Walt’s new builds show how the concept can be stretched without losing its appeal. The commissions came from clients with very different requirements, so we have a ‘naked’ bike with a classic look, and a faired machine with a more modern vibe.
“The choice of color and graphics can dramatically change the ‘language’ or feel of the machine,” says Walt. “I know this is largely true for any bike, but I think it’s especially true for the Leggero.”
The faired machine has a more modern exhaust system than usual, and a contemporary aluminum swingarm—55 millimeters longer than most Leggeros.
“It puts more weight on the front wheel, and gives more stability coming out of turns on the power,” says Walt. “The rider gets more front-end feel, with the same trail as the shorter chassis. It makes the bike look less compact though—which is not necessarily a bad thing.”
Siegl is happy to adapt his design to client requirements, hitting the sweet spot between (relative) affordability and full customization. He makes small runs of key parts—such as the ultra-light frame—and uses computerized CNC data to turn out smaller components when needed.
“I get to know what my clients need, and not just by asking for their height and weight so we can tune suspension and ergonomics. We also talk about their cars, their watch, their riding habits, and the colors they like in the motoring world.
“We talk about the kind of performance they are looking for, where they live, and what they will end up doing with the bike. With these particular builds, it was obvious I was working with two very different men.”
The Leggeros, we’re told, are ‘tight and light’—which you can sense just by moving them around. Siegl has worked hard to get the geometries right and reduce weight, by using magnesium wheels, Kevlar bodywork, and cromoly frame tubing.
There is no shortage of power. The 900SS-derived motors are rebuilt and blueprinted by ace technician Bruce Meyers, who adds big bore 944 kits and ported and flowed cylinder heads. “He is simply the best engine builder and Ducati expert in North America,” says Walt. “Truly a legend in the Ducati racing community.”
Another legend involved in the Leggero story is painter Robbie Nigl of Peach Pit, who conveniently has a workshop an hour north-east of Siegl’s base in the old New Hampshire mill town of Harrisville.
“I love to work with people at the top of their game, and Robbie Nigl is the best painter I’ve come across,” says Walt. “Over the last twenty years I’ve seen his work on many racebikes, including mine. He puts so much pride into his craft, and won’t let a part leave his shop until he and the customer are both 100% satisfied.”
Blistering performance and traffic-stopping looks: it’s an irresistible combination. And the potential to fine-tune the Leggero configuration adds an extra layer of danger.
It’s a good job Walt doesn’t have one of those carmaker-style configurators on his website. We’d lose hours of valuable riding time specc’ing up the ultimate cafe racer.