Survivor: Restoring an earthquake-damaged Ducati 900 SS

Ducati 900 SS restoration by Switch Stance Riding
Toshiyuki Kozaka doesn’t have a massive profile outside of Japan. But in the Land of the Rising Sun, he’s established himself as the go-to guy for working on vintage bevel-driven Ducatis. Looking at this achingly beautiful Ducati 900 SS restoration, it’s easy to see why.

Kozaka-san runs his business, Switch Stance Riding, from a small workshop in Amakusa. It’s a city in the Kumamoto Prefecture that’s spread across several islands off the coast of Japan’s most southwesterly island, Kyushu. And the only reason we know who he is is because we have a mutual friend; the German photographer, Marc Holstein.

Ducati 900 SS restoration by Switch Stance Riding
“I’ve known Toshi since we met at Wheels and Waves a few years ago,” Marc tells us. We became friends, and since then we’ve spent time visiting each other, going to motorcycle festivals, riding, and surfing together.”

The last time Marc visited Switch Stance Riding, Toshi had just finished up the Ducati’s year-long restoration. Which turned out to be serendipitous for us, because Marc was able to photograph it and fill us in on its backstory.

Ducati 900 SS restoration by Switch Stance Riding
Back in 2016, a devastating earthquake hit Kumamoto—causing significant human casualties and leaving trillions of yen worth of property damage in its wake. It also did a number on this 1983-model Ducati 900 SS, wrecking the bike’s fairing, side covers, fuel tank, tail cowl, and muffler in the process.

A few years passed before the beat-up 900 SS eventually made its way to Switch Stance Riding. Toshi was tasked with returning it to its former glory—but we’d argue that he took it a step further. The classic Super Sport looks better than factory, with not a hint of the state it was in when Toshi started.

Ducati 900 SS restoration by Switch Stance Riding
Toshi started by stripping the Ducati down to its nuts and bolts and giving everything a thorough clean. “We focused on every single detail on this bike,” says Yoshi, “even down to the screws used. And we tried to improve the overall condition by only using genuine parts.”

Part of Yoshi’s job was discerning which parts could be saved, and which had to be binned. He managed to repair the fairing, side covers, and tail cowl, but the fuel tank was too far gone. So he sourced and fitted an aftermarket aluminum Imola-style unit instead.

Ducati 900 SS restoration by Switch Stance RidingA lot of the parts that you’d assume are brand new are just original bits that have been meticulously restored. That includes the shiny Conti mufflers, which were repaired, re-chromed, and re-fitted. Toshi refurbished the OEM suspension too, but he swapped the wheels out for the alloy hoops from a different Super Sport.

The engine was rebuilt to its factory spec, with a new wiring harness to ensure reliability. The lights, turn signals, and controls are all period correct.

Ducati 900 SS restoration by Switch Stance Riding
For the paint job, Toshi called in Orvis One—a Kumamoto-based paint shop that specializes in vintage bikes. They slathered the bike in an impossibly deep jet-black finish, with hand-painted gold graphics throughout. Toshi picked one of the vintage Super Sport’s less common liveries, but one that is nonetheless indicative of the era.

“The colors were mixed to tone down the overall exterior appearance and give it more of a uniform look,” he tells us. “The frame was painted matte black, providing contrasting black tones to create a sense of playfulness.”

Ducati 900 SS restoration by Switch Stance Riding
Mitsunaga Auto Interior Design upholstered the seat, replicating the original stitching design, but opting for a heavily textured fabric that has a more luxurious look. A brand new seat zipper does duty at the back and every last fastener has been cleaned and re-plated.

The whole thing really is clean enough to eat off of, with just the tiniest bit of patina to remind you that this is, in fact, a classic motorcycle.

Ducati 900 SS restoration by Switch Stance Riding
“It’s a well-built machine that focuses on taking traditional design to the extreme,” Toshi confidently adds. “We hope that it’ll recreate the type of excitement that will make you want to buy the Tamiya models from your childhood.”

Since we can’t own the real thing, we might just have to do that.

Switch Stance Riding | Facebook | Instagram | Images by, and with thanks to, Marc Holstein

Ducati 900 SS restoration by Switch Stance Riding

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