A very particular Panigale: Mr Motorcycles’ Ducati 899

Custom Ducati 899 Panigale cafe racer by Mr MotorcyclesThere’s a definite trend to stripping the bodywork off modern Ducatis. And we’re all for it. The superbike engines may not have the retro elegance of a Triumph parallel twin or a BMW boxer, but there’s an intricate, H.R. Giger-esque mechanical quality to them.

This 2014 899 Panigale comes from Mr Motorcycles of Montréal, in Canada’s Québec province. Mathieu Renaud started the shop as a part-time venture in 2012: “I was looking for something to do during the winter,” he says, “because I’d sold my snowmobile due to the lack of snow in Quebec. In two years I built three custom Hondas for myself, and was invited to exhibit one of them—a 1979 CX500—at the Montréal motorcycle show.”

Custom Ducati 899 Panigale cafe racer by Mr Motorcycles
The customer orders started to roll in. At a race meet in 2014, Mathieu met Frenchman Hervé Remetter, a former mechanic for a European endurance racing team. Hervé joined the company, and his mechanical skills complemented Mathieu’s aerospace background.

The goal for the 899 Panigale was to transform it into a modern cafe racer while maintaining its performance and giving it an aggressive look. But the job almost didn’t happen.

Custom Ducati 899 Panigale cafe racer by Mr Motorcycles
“When the client contacted me, it was to build him a BMW R100,” says Mathieu. “But when he met me at the garage, he saw the Panigale up on the worktable and fell in love with that project.” The Ducati actually belonged to Hervé, who sold the bike to the client.

Mathieu and Hervé usually restrict themselves to one or two projects a year, because the most important thing is to do it right. “Quality over quantity at all times,” Mathieu says.

Custom Ducati 899 Panigale cafe racer by Mr Motorcycles
They’ve certainly gone deep into this build. To begin, they changed the original swingarm to a single-sided 1199 item, and installed the wheels, rear brake system and shock from an 1199 too. The forks have new springs so that the front suspension is a little firmer.

For the engine, they added a slipper clutch with a clear wet clutch cover. They’ve also powder coated several engine cases—as well as the wheels—in gloss black, with frame parts powder coated in matte black.

Custom Ducati 899 Panigale cafe racer by Mr Motorcycles
The Panigale engine delivers a punchy 148hp, and in stock form, has only 169 kg (372 pounds) to push around. This machine is probably a few kilos lighter than stock, so Mathieu and Hervé have restricted their powertrain mods to K&N filters and a new exhaust system.

New pipes are terminated with Arrow mufflers, and the ECU was given a Woolich reflash and tune on the Turcotte Performance dyno. “We removed the restrictions on the throttle opening and the exhaust valve, but the main thing was to make the radiator fan operate at a lower temperature,” says Mathieu.

Custom Ducati 899 Panigale cafe racer by Mr Motorcycles
“This bike will live mainly in the city and the Panigale tends to heat up, so we also changed the OEM radiator to a Febur radiator,” he continues. This is an extremely efficient racing-style unit that cools the water as well as the engine oil, and allowed the Mr Motorcycles crew to remove the oil cooler from the right side of the engine.

On the dyno, peak rear wheel horsepower was measured at 136, a boost of around 5% over a showroom bike.

Custom Ducati 899 Panigale cafe racer by Mr Motorcycles
A more obvious change is the new bodywork, which has been handcrafted in fiberglass. Mathieu and Hervé bought a front fairing designed for the Ducati Monster, and heavily modified it to suit the Panigale.

Leading the way is an adaptive J.W. Speaker headlight, that follows the movement of the motorcycle when cornering. There’s a custom bracket to secure the fairing, lighting and dashboard.

Custom Ducati 899 Panigale cafe racer by Mr Motorcycles
“One of the biggest challenges was to relocate all the electronics of the Panigale, which were behind the various fairings: the battery, fuses, starter and so on,” says Mathieu. “It was necessary to relocate everything under the motorcycle.”

The wires are now hooked up to Motogadget blinkers; and Mathieu chose the same brand for the mirrors and grips.

Custom Ducati 899 Panigale cafe racer by Mr Motorcycles
Next on the job list was a custom subframe to accommodate a new tail and seat unit, with a genuine leather seat pad made by Rod Alves. The fabrication side was finished off with a custom battery box directly under the engine, and the boys have also added a smattering of Carbonvani carbon fiber pieces—including a front fender and a rear hugger.

The paint was entrusted to JP Huet, and the color is Ford’s classic ‘Wimbledon White.’ “We opted for a tone that would give it a classy feel, and will last for the years to come,” says Mathieu.

Custom Ducati 899 Panigale cafe racer by Mr Motorcycles
It’s a superbly judged build, and miles ahead of most customs from ‘part-time’ builders working the hours outside their regular jobs. “For me it’s a passion, and I like to push the limits,” says Mathieu. “My greatest quality is being meticulous.”

Mathieu Renaud Instagram | Hervé Remetter Instagram | Images by Jean-Sébastien Dénommé | Video by Gabriel Lalande