SaMi UNO: Ducati 999 Café Racer

Ducati 999 Cafe Racer

134 whp / 380 lbs: “It’s all show and a lot of GO!”

In 2003, the Ducati 999 was introduced to replace the iconic 916, and there was immediate controversy. The Pierre Terblanche design was not to everyone’s taste — especially since the angular lines and double-sided swingwarm were such a departure from the fluid grace of the 916. That said, it was hard to argue with the performance of the 124-bhp superbike:

On the right racetrack, the Ducati 999 feels sublime…” —MCN

Recently we heard from Michiel Benink of SaMi Motori, a mechanical engineer from the Netherlands who’s been riding motorcycles for nearly three decades, developing a deep love for Bologna bullets:

“Ducati was and is still my passion. I starting doing my own maintenance, which progressed into wanting to build my own special Ducati.”

Ducati 999 Cafe Racer

Three years ago, Michiel and his long-time riding buddy, Sander, picked up “the cheapest Ducati 999 we could find,” and the two began work on what would become the first build from their outfit, SaMi Motori:

“My riding buddy of 20 years now was always there during the build, and thus we created the name SaMi Motori. (Sander and Michiel made into one name.) It even sounds Italian so we kept the name.”

Ducati 999 Cafe Racer

They set out to build a lighter, stronger, faster bike than the original — and better looking, too! Michiel gives us the full rundown on the build below.

Nicknamed “SaMi UNO,” since it’s the first build from their shop, the highly-modified engine is putting down 134 hp at the rear wheel (as compared to the stocker’s 115 hp at the crank), and the bike has been lightened nearly 100 lbs — from 481 lbs down to 386 lbs wet!Ducati 999 Cafe RacerAs you might imagine, that extra power makes quite an impression from the saddle:

“Acceleration is fabulous from low rpm and you must lean forward to not wheelie all the time haha!”

Below, Michiel gives us the full story on this Ducati 999 café racer.

Ducati 999 Café Racer: In the Builder’s Words…

Ducati 999 Cafe Racer

Builder Info:
54 years old and mechanical engineer and company owner of Rescope BV and Reparts BV. They are repair companies for flexible endoscopes and a manufacturing company for repair parts for such flexible endoscopes. This means I have a complete mechanical workshop at my disposal. Basically I can do almost all machining myself. All machines are available or will be bought 🙂

I have been riding motorcycles since 27 years. Ducati was and is still my passion. Starting doing my own maintenance, which progressed into wanting to build my own special Ducati.

Ducati 999 Cafe Racer

My riding buddy of 20 years now was always there during the build, and thus we created the name SaMi Motori. (Sander and Michiel made into one name.) It even sounds Italian so we kept the name.

Since this is the first bike we built, the name is SaMi UNO. Hence the number 1 on the bike. SaMi DUE is being built and almost ready. It will be a stunner too!

Ducati 999 Cafe Racer

Motorcycle Details:
2004 Ducati 999

The inspiration was always cafe racers in general; a lightened and stronger and better handling bike as compared to the original. I wanted to use a modern bike to have an already good bike to start with. The goal was to make it look somewhat old-school but with very modern technology, with the ultimate goal to outperform many other bikes.

The SaMi Motori motto is “it’s all show and a lot of GO!” We used the 999 engine due to its tuneability and reliability. This resulted in a bike with lots of torque and a high revving engine. The Ducati 749/999 series is also famous for its handling.

Ducati 999 Cafe Racer

Build Process:
We started three years ago with the cheapest Ducati 999 we could find, and rode it home since we picked it up in the Netherlands. Due to the beefy looks, I opted for the standard Ducati Panigale forks. These had to be modified to make the lower yoke fit properly.

Ducati 999 Cafe Racer

I wanted to fabricate the exhaust with pie-cuts. This turned out to be a steep learning curve and I had to re-start twice to get it right!

Ducati 999 Cafe Racer

I wanted to show the mechanics of the throttle bodies because they resemble carburettors, which are old-school appearance. To do this I had to make a smaller airbox from aluminum, but with enough airflow. Opting for a semi-open top of the airbox, it turned out to be very loud. So it was modified to slightly normal sound levels.

Ducati 999 Cafe Racer


Also challenging was the making of the sub-frame. Before I could start I had to make a tube bender myself…. The last time I TIG-welded aluminum was roughly 25 years ago, sooo I had some catching up to do.

Ducati 999 Cafe Racer

The wiring harness had to be built from scratch, since I was using the Motogadget M-unit and I had to eliminate the Can-bus function of the OEM speedo. An Acewell speedo also had to be integrated into the electrical system. All in all a lot of challenges that caused some cursing and swearing but also cheering when we managed to get it working!

Ducati 999 Cafe Racer

OEM bike weighs 218 Kgs; we made it into 175 Kgs wet.

A lighter flywheel was used to increase engine braking and a faster revving engine. A quick shifter was added a well. OEM cylinder heads were ported, faster 999S camshafts were mounted, new 55mm exhaust was made, and the ECU was re-programmed on the dyno.

Ducati 999 Cafe Racer

This resulted in 134 HP at the rear wheel as compared to 115 hp at the crank. Also and more importantly for drivability, the torque went from 102 Nm at the crank to 122 Nm at the rear wheel. Acceleration is fabulous from low rpm and you must lean forward to not wheelie all the time haha!

Ducati 999 Cafe Racer

The Panigale forks give the bike the same specs as the WSBK racers, so handling is outstanding.

The name of the bike is SaMi UNO, since it is the first of our bikes produced. Hopefully we can create a lot more in the future! As a teenager I had a moped (Zündapp KS50) that was my first project and had a nice color combination with turquoise wheels and very dark blue tank and rear end. I did not want to use red again, so I thought of my first two-wheel experience. I have chosen similar colors that were custom made for this bike by the painter.

Ducati 999 Cafe Racer

Parts list:


  • Tank and tail are handmade from aluminum. Seat upholstery with leather and layered SaMi logo.
  • Large round headlight with LED lighting.
  • Indicators from Rizoma and period correct rear light with LED (so not to be overlooked by grandma).

Ducati 999 Cafe Racer


  • The bike has a new aluminum subframe and the OEM frame was de-tabbed.

Ducati 999 Cafe Racer


  • Open airbox
  • 55mm exhaust system
  • Yoshimura carbon fibre mufflers
  • Ducati 999S camshafts
  • Lightened flywheel
  • Ported heads
  • ECU reprogrammed

Ducati 999 Cafe Racer


  • Acewell speedo
  • Lithium battery
  • Rfid M-lock
  • M-unit from Motogadget
  • New wiring harness
  • Indicator switches modified into separate push-buttons

Ducati 999 Cafe Racer


  • Headlight
  • Indicator lights
  • Rearlight

Ducati 999 Cafe Racer


  • Marzocchi forks from Ducati Panigale 1199
  • Rear shock from YSS

Ducati 999 Cafe Racer

Wheels and Tyres:

  • Stock wheels with Metzler Racetec RR tyres


  • RCS master clutch and master cylinders.
  • Radial monoblock brake calipers from Ducati 1098
  • Front brake discs modified into full floating discs using Brembo floaters
  • Custom brake and clutch lines made by Brembo
  • Rear brake caliper from Brembo including racing mounting plate



  • Adjustable clip-ons made in Germany
  • Mini handle bar mirrors by CRG
  • AEM brake and clutch reservoirs
  • Lightweight racing footpegs
  • Radiator overflow canister made by SaMi

Ducati 999 Cafe Racer


  • Rear and front mudguard
  • Timing belt covers
  • Clutch cover
  • Engine cover

Ducati 999 Cafe Racer

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One Comment

  1. ratchetface

    Great bike, great story.

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