The ultimate cafe racer from Oil In The Blood filmmaker Gareth Roberts…
The Ducati MH900e (Evoluzione) is an ultra-rare, hand-built retro sport bike that paid homage to Mike Hailwood’s (MH) victorious 1978 Isle of Man TT race bike. It began as a sketch by famed South African designer Pierre Terblanche, and only 2000 would ever be built. When Ducati’s website opened for orders on January 1, 2000, the first batch of 1000 sold out in just 31 minutes!
The heart of the MH900e was the 904cc engine from the 900SS ie — an air-cooled, fuel-injected, 2-valve L-twin whose low-end power and torque could surprise more modern bikes in the right hands. Said Motorcycle.com‘s John Burns of that engine:
“Maybe I’m getting old, but something about the old air-cooled two-valve twin makes me feel like I’m having a purer Ducati experience; it rumbles and clatters a little more — and I know for a fact it’s fairly easy and inexpensive to turn these engines into midrange monsters.”
Enter Gareth Roberts, the former racer, BSMC co-founder, and career filmmaker whose 2019 documentary, Oil In The Blood, is the finest film to date about contemporary motorcycle culture, featuring interviews with more than 300 builders, riders, journalists, artists, and racers from across the world (available to rent or buy on Amazon and iTunes). For a 50th birthday present to himself, Gareth decided to build a bike that would represent everything he loved about motorcycles: design, speed, classic styling, and individualism. His vision was clear:
“It was to build the ultimate cafe racer in my eyes, using the very best in modern technology to create a classically styled futurist machine.”
Three years in the making, the result of that effort is the stunning “Ducati Superlite” you see here, boasting a one-off StradaFab titanium MH900e factory-spec frame, one-off Stradafab titanium exhaust, one-off Kineo wheels, modified Ducati S2R swingarm with titanium pivot, Panigale forks, full carbon fiber bodywork, custom Redmax Speedshop huggers, Motogadget m-unit, Power Commander…the list goes on. The bike was previously featured on Bike EXIF, and it’s simply one of the highest-spec, most well-executed Ducati builds in existence.
Gareth recently moved here to the States to join Revival Cycles — host of the annual Handbuilt Motorcycle Show. Due to the USA’s 25-year rule on imported bikes, he’s decided to sell his beloved Ducati. The bike is located in London and can be shipped internationally. This is a top end build and the price will reflect this. Prospective buyers can email Gareth at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Below, we get the full details and specs on this incredible machine, as well as more stunning shots from photographer Ivo Ivanov (@imagefactorystudio).
Ducati MH900 Superlite: Builder Interview
• Please tell us a bit about yourself, your history with motorcycles, and your workshop.
I’ve always been fascinated by bikes for as long as I can remember.
The first bike I can recall was a Norton Commando from when I was around 6 or 7 years old. I started riding bikes when I was 14 on borrowed bikes from older friends and older brothers, and when I was 16, having saved up from part-time jobs, I bought a 1972 Vespa 50 Special. I was a Mod and loved old scooters. I subsequently had a string of pretty and very unreliable vintage scoots, culminating in the earliest bike I’ve ever owned, a 1957 Lambretta LD150.
I then switched to two-stroke hooligan machines on a Yamaha RD250LC and a Suzuki PE250. The nineties saw me on superbikes, the climax being a Ducati 916SP. I became something of a track day warrior, and in 1999 I took the plunge and started racing two-stroke 125 GPs, which are single purpose race bikes, on a Honda RS125 at club and national level. After a couple of seasons on the most fun bike I’ve ridden, I went up a class to a RS250, the most frightening bike I’ve ridden. After a thoroughly unremarkable and hugely enjoyable three seasons of going very fast but not fast enough, and crashing more times than my bank balance allowed, I hung up my leathers.
At that point I became interested in slower classic and vintage bikes, but disliked the rigidity of the “period-correct” culture. I was more drawn to the Tritons and Bitsa’s and the Japanese café-racers. I’d always been fiddling and fettling my bikes, so I made the decision to make a 60s style café-racer from a CB750, and that threw me into the custom world. I was one of the founders of the Bike Shed in London, when it was just a blog and a bunch of mates putting on shows. I parted company with them in 2016.
I am a career filmmaker, spending the last thirty years making music videos, commercials, independent feature films, and most recently the feature documentary on the contemporary custom culture Oil In The Blood, which is available to rent and purchase on Amazon and iTunes and a number of other platforms.
After completing Oil In The Blood, I decided I wanted to focus on producing motorcycle content. I joined Revival Cycles, the custom and restoration workshop in Austin, Texas, headed up by the founder and curator of The Handbuilt Motorcycle Show, Alan Stulberg. I create the video content and work with the social media media and marketing team.
• What’s the make, model, and year of the donor?
The donor was a low-mileage 2010 registered Ducati 900SS ie.
• Why was this bike built?
It was a fiftieth birthday present to myself. A bike that represented all the different aspects that I love about bikes. Design, speed, classic styling, and individualism. It embodies the cafe racer ethic, with sports bike sleekness, with classic Italian design cues.
• What was the design concept and what influenced the build?
It was to build the ultimate cafe racer in my eyes, using the very best in modern technology to create a classically styled futurist machine.
• What custom work was done to the bike?
Almost every aspect of the bike was custom, from the wheels to the frame to bodywork to the triple tree and gauges.
• Can you tell us what it’s like to ride the completed bike?
The bike is a great ride. It’s fast and nimble, with great handling. It doesn’t have the power of a Panigale, but feels fast as it’s been fitted with a Power Commander and been tuned on the Dyno at PDM in the UK. It starts on the button every time. It’s perfect to me.
• Where’s the bike located?
The bike is located in London and can be shipped internationally. It’s not practical exporting to the US because of their 25 year rule, which makes it virtually impossible to import a road bike (or at least a bike to be ridden on the road) that’s less than 25 years old. If you’re American and it’s going to be a display item in your home or study, then you’re OK, but if you want to ride it on the streets then no. That’s why I’m selling, as I’ve recently moved to the US. Pretty much anywhere else there’s no major issues.
• How should potential buyers contact you?
They can email me at email@example.com
Full Build Sheet
- Donor bike: Ducati 900ss ie
- StradaFab one-off titanium MH900e frame to factory spec.
- StradaFab one-off titanium exhaust system
- StradaFab ti sprocket cover, cambelt tensioners, covers, fastener set, gear linkage, rocker covers.
- Ducati Panigale forks
- Custom triple tree built by Performance Parts
- Modified Ducati S2R swingarm and custom TPO titanium swingarm pivot
- One-off Kineo wheels
- Ducabike carbon clutch cover, pressure plate, bolts
- Oberon clutch slave cylinder
- Gilles rearsets
- HPS carbon clip ons
- Seattle Speedometer custom Motogadget instrument
- Full carbon fibre bodywork from Ducati Performance
- Redmax Speedshop custom fabricated carbon front and rear hugger
- Custom paint work form Paint Monkey.
- Ohlins rear shock
- Brembo M4 monobloc brakes
- Brembo radial RCS master cylinder and levers
- Adjustable Domino throttle assembly.
- Various custom bracketry and heat shields by Redmax Speedshop
- Pirelli Phantom tyres.
- Rizoma mirrors
- Motogadget bar end indicators
- Motogadget switch gear
- Mh900e petrol tank
- Brembo race levers
- Power commander
- Motogadget digital key ignition
- Motogadget m unit
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