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Challenge Y: VR Customs builds a Ducati 996 Cafe Racer

We’re not valuable about which bikes shouldn’t be custom-made. However we nonetheless really feel a pang of unhappiness when a basic is butchered—and smile massive when it’s finished proper.

Most individuals wouldn’t fiddle with a Ducati 996, however VR Customs aren’t most individuals. They’ve tackled two already, and turned ’em right into a pair of fashionable cafe racers referred to as Challenge X and Challenge Y. You’re taking a look at Challenge Y; the second of the 2 to be accomplished.

VR Customs is the bespoke construct arm of Vendetta Racing—a race group primarily based in Dubai that’s taken on every part from the Manx GP to the Dakar Rally. Run by Alan Boyter, the crew has over 14 years expertise in constructing race bikes, and strategy their race and cafe racer tasks the identical manner. “All the things has to carry out nearly as good because it seems to be,” says Alan.

Each tasks kicked off about seven years in the past, whereas Alan was restoring his 1997 Ducati 916 SPS. The group began pondering the concept of a track-focused cafe racer primarily based on the 916 platform, however concepts rapidly snowballed. Fairly quickly the idea concerned utilizing the 996 as a donor, including a full complement of alloy bodywork, and constructing two bikes as an alternative of 1.

VR Customs determined to farm out the metallurgy, so that they sourced an organization within the UK that would execute their imaginative and prescient. “Forming sheet metallic is an artwork,” says Alan, “and never discovered over a few weeks.”

The corporate had off-the-shelf fairings and tail sections that could possibly be modified to swimsuit the builds, however the tanks must be {custom} made. So VR Customs discovered an previous tank, then reshaped it with increasing foam and physique filler to make a template. Then they shipped it off to the UK to place their order in—and sourced two 996 donors from throughout the pond on the identical time.

Between delays with the bodywork, racing commitments, an harm and consumer tasks, Challenge X was solely accomplished late final yr. However Challenge Y had hardly left the blocks—VR had modified the subframe and fitted the gas tank, however that was it.

“The topic of the unfinished Ducati got here up over beers one night,” says Alan, “and to chop a protracted story quick, there was one other Ducati 996 venture within the VR workshop!”

Because the crew had simply wrapped up the primary bike, that they had an awesome blueprint to work from. So that they set themselves a much more formidable timeline: 4 months, to have the bike prepared for an upcoming {custom} present in Dubai.

First on the checklist was to mount the bodywork and end up the Ducati’s subframe mods. VR relocated the battery to below the tail bump, which is detachable through a recessed 12 mm nut beneath the tail. In addition they mounted a discreet LED strip taillight with built-in indicators, which is nearly invisible till it’s switched on.

The entrance finish proved to be an even bigger problem. VR intentionally opted for a unique design to Challenge X to distinguish between the 2 builds, so that they couldn’t copy and paste their earlier work.

They began by mounting a 7” headlight to the inventory headstock mounting factors, then constructed up a {custom} fairing subframe round that. The fairing attaches with simply 4 Dzus quarter-turn fasteners.

Tucked behind the fairing is a Koso digital sprint, full with a GPS speedo and a gear place indicator. VR put in longer-than-stock clip-ons, then added a Domino throttle, switches and grips, with clutch and brake controls from Brembo.

Sitting additional down is an aftermarket alloy radiator, with modified mounts to tuck it decrease and additional again. It’s hooked as much as the OEM fan, with redirected inlet and outlet nozzles to tighten up the plumbing. There’s additionally a custom-made Y-piece to delete the inventory thermostat and combine the three temperature sensors, and a {custom} alloy header tank and connecting traces.

VR have saved the 996’s OEM Showa forks, Öhlins rear shock and Brembo brakes, however rebuilt every part and added Goodridge traces. This can be a 2000-model 996 with Marchesini wheels—so the blokes saved these too, however modified their shade.

The exhaust system is {custom}, with a pair of asymmetrical pie-cut headers operating into GP-style mufflers. “Lobster-tail exhausts at the moment are the norm on all VR Customized bikes,” says Alan. “Design is clearly a part of it—however the extra easy purpose is that the workshop isn’t large enough to deal with a pipe bender!”

Alan managed to weld up the exhaust simply as he caught the Coronavirus—sending him into quarantine for ten days and threatening to derail the venture. However he was quickly again on his ft, and the group began buttoning up the bike simply two weeks earlier than the present. On went a full set of cadmium-plated bolts, and an in depth checklist of carbon fiber bits, together with a Monster entrance fender and rear wheel covers.

VR opted for a sea foam inexperienced powder coat on the body, as a nod to the long-lasting Nineteen Seventies Ducati 750 SS. In opposition to the polished bodywork and carbon fiber trim, it pops.

The crew managed to wrap issues up simply in time to enter each Ducati 996s into the present. Challenge Y’s first outing was successful, because it bagged first place in its class. Nevertheless it’s on the market now, to make room for a compelled induction Ducati 998/1198 venture. Are you tempted?

VR Customs Fb | Instagram | Vendetta Racing | Pictures by Michael Vosloo / Twist n Grip

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