SaMi Motori builds a 172-hp Ducati Café Racer…
In 2003, the Ducati 999 superbike appeared. Designed by Pierre Terblanche, it was an abrupt departure from the iconic 916 – 998 series and caused no small amount of controversy among the world’s Ducatisti, abandoning as it did the single-sided swingarms, underseat exhausts, and twin horizontal lights that had come to define the Ducati superbikes.
While the design was controversial, there was no denying the bike’s performance. The redesigned 998cc 90-degree V-twin (or “L-twin”) cranked out 122 hp with plenty of the low-end grunt that riders and racers love, and it handled like a weapon. Then there was the sensory experience of the Bologna-built superbike:
“Riding the Ducati 999 is a very visceral, raw experience. The v-twin through a raspy Termignoni exhaust (a must-get feature — look around until you find one), coupled with a dry clutch, means that the 999 is a much more mechanical-feeling machine than many of its smooth Japanese contemporaries.” —Motofomo
The combination of blistering performance and questionable styling makes the 999 the perfect candidate for a custom café racer build like the one we featured last month from Ducati diehards Sander and Michiel of Holland’s SaMi Motori: SaMi UNO. Now the duo is back with their second 999 build, SaMi DUE (Italian for TWO):
“We wanted to meet the principles of a real cafe racer: lighter than the original, more power, better steering and it also just had to be a stunning bike and most importantly: BUILD IT YOURSELF. We think it is also important that it has to have the looks as if it came straight from the factory. We have been asked several times, which model is this? A big compliment for us.”
They replaced the subframe with a handmade aluminum one that matches the trellis frame, affixing the seat with 3D-printed supports, and the tank is from Raw Metal Racers with special interior coating:
“The tank has been given a coating on the inside that’s also used for F16 fuel tanks, and the tank is now perfectly resistant to E10 petrol (10% ethanol added to the fuel) and other miseries.”
The radiator was replaced with a Multistrada unit, and metal magician Michiel built the aluminum overflow tank from a large hospital syringe, milling a sight window into the unit.
The frame was detabbed of unsightly fairing mounts and the engine powder-coated.
As always for the Dutch pair, performance was just as important as aesthetics. This 2005 999 is now sporting Panigale 1299 Marzocchi forks, Brembo monobloc calipers, a YSS rear shock, complete 54 mm exhaust system with Cerakoted silencers, ported heads, a lightweight flywheel, and more. The dyno run at Biggelaar Performance told the full story:
“The mechanics walked out the door — it was that much noise. From the standard 136 horsepower (at the crank) to approximately 172 horsepower, mission completed.”
What’s more, they’ve managed to drop 38 kilograms from the bike’s curb weight — nearly 84 pounds! The power increase, weight loss, and bespoke ergonomics have transformed the DUE riding experience.
“With 170 hp and 180 kg roadworthy, this bike is absurdly fast, pulls like a fool, is super maneuverable, and the front wheel likes to take off. It has also become so small and light that you sometimes think you are sitting on a moped, but the power quickly reminds you to fully focus on the road.”
Below, we talk to Michiel and Sander for the full story on SaMi DUE. And if you’re hungry to see SaMi Motori’s builds in person, they’re hoping to bring them to the Bike Shed London show and several other shows in the coming year!
Ducati Cafe Racer: In the Builder’s Words…
Finally the time has come, SaMi DUE is finished. The name SaMi arose spontaneously from our first names (Sander and Michiel), and we build the motorcycles under the name SaMi Motori. We now also have a site: sami-motori.eu
Let me introduce myself to you:
My name is Sander Temme, 54 years old. My love for Ducati started in 1980. Me being 12 years old and riding my bicycle to secondary school in Hilversum, I heard an overwhelming sound in the distance — I could only read the last two letters and that was TI. It didn’t let me go (already infected with the Ducati virus at the time) and the same day I went to a bookstore and there I bought several books with motorcycle models — I still have them.
I found out it was a 1979 Ducati 900 SS, secretly still my favorite. I must and will buy a Ducati one day, I promised myself at the time. I started riding Honda four-stroke mopeds when I was 16 and already riding motorbikes now and then. On my 18th birthday I got my first motorcycle lesson, the car license came years later. I passed the first time and with the license in my pocket immediately bought my first motorcycle and never stopped riding.
After having ridden a lot of Japanese bikes, it was finally time in 2000. I bought my first Ducati 900 SS (well tuned) from 1989 — a beast of a machine. A lot of things went through my mind during the test ride. Thinking back to 1980: finally, so this is what I always wanted, what a feeling and a smile that has never gone away. Later I imported a yellow 916 from Belgium in 2003 and then picked up a practically new 999 in London.
I’ve always wrenched a lot on my mopeds and motorcycles and always found converted motorcycles more interesting than standard bikes. Twenty years ago I met Michiel. He was and is absolutely crazy about Ducati and a close friendship has developed.
Michiel is a master of metal and is also infected with the Ducati virus. We have been going to Glemseck 101 in Germany for several years now, an amazing three-day event for cafe racers, etc.
This has really fueled the virus of building our own bike, and a few years ago we started building SaMi UNO and that SaMi DUE would come next was already determined. For bike number three, SaMi TRE, the parts are already on the shelf and SaMi Quattro, etc. will eventually come.
We went to Glemseck 101 with UNO and DUE this year and what a party. Blisters on the tongue due to three days of talking. We only received positive feedback, a confirmation that we are on the right track.
Visually I already had DUE completely in my head; now we had to build it. It had to be a classic-looking power cafe racer with an overkill of power (just because it is possible) with modern techniques. We have learned a lot from building UNO.
Except for engine tuning, almost EVERYTHING is made in-house. Michiel and I used my 2005 model 999 as the basis for SaMi DUE. We wanted to meet the principles of a real cafe racer: lighter than the original, more power, better steering and it also just had to be a stunning bike and most importantly: BUILD IT YOURSELF. We think it is also important that it has to have the looks as if it came straight from the factory. We have been asked several times, which model is this? A big compliment for us.
While building UNO, I had already bought a lot of stuff for DUE. When building UNO, this was always a factor that slowed things down because parts had to be ordered all the time and the delivery time was sometimes bizarre / rudely long.
We quickly stripped the 999 bike and replaced the stock forks with a Panigale 1299 Marzocchi fork. It was a new front fork that I bought in Italy for a good price. The radial Brembo monobloc calipers I had bought from a Panigale 959. I replaced the 16-year-old Showa shock absorber with a new YSS.
In terms of color scheme, this one completely fit into the overall picture and not unimportant, it does its job very well. With UNO we used the same front fork so the machined spacers were already made and the job was done in no time.
We replaced the heavy Biposto subframe with a handmade aluminum one with the looks of the trellis frame. The final aluminum subframe has really become a beauty and quite a construction.
The next step was to radically change the exhaust system. With UNO, we worked with pie cuts, but I didn’t like that. Too much work and so I bought a lot of welding bends. Instead of three months of work, we were done in two evenings! It has become a complete 54 mm exhaust system and especially the lines of the exhaust bend at the vertical cylinder have become real exhaust porn.
I have completely rebuilt the mufflers and they are like new again and coated with Cerakote. The mufflers on the left and right side look nice and classic like the 851 series and the sound is magnificent.
It was still quite a job to align the dampers, but we now have our own bag of tricks.
Raw Metal Racers built the fuel tank. Even the 3D printer has been put to work. Two supports designed and printed for the fixation of the seat. Also beautiful printed grids under the seat and as a finish for the air filter intakes. As an extra, the tank has been given a coating on the inside that’s also used for F16 fuel tanks, and the tank is now also perfectly resistant to E10 petrol (10% ethanol added to the fuel) and other miseries. We have said goodbye to the standard 999 petrol pump and a 1098 pump has replaced it.
The original radiator and cooling fins of the 999 are not really nice to the eye. Fine for the 999 with a fairing but not for our project. I bought a new aluminum radiator and the cooling fins from a Multistrada 1200. The radiator didn’t fit well and we had to do a lot of work and then adjusted the cooling fins — eventually it has become a well-functioning combination.
The overflow tank of the radiator is made of aluminum by Michiel with a modified syringe that is used in the hospital as a reservoir. Michiel has also milled a slot in the overflow tank so you can see the coolant, a true masterpiece.
The stock 999 clutch and brake cylinder reservoirs do not match the looks of an old-school cafe racer. We modified the existing clutch and brake pump so that we could use round reservoirs. An eyesore with many Ducati cafe racers is that the lips are left attached to the frame (nice and easy) to which the fairing parts are attached. Looks ugly and we resolutely removed these and we also welded half rings into the frame where we could attach the wiring later.
We wanted to upgrade the engine, both mechanically and visually. I wanted the crankcase halves and the valve covers to be coated black with a sand structure. The cylinder heads were reworked and ported by Biggelaar in Holland (a well-known tuner for Ducatis worldwide). Due to the powder coating, all bearings and the sight glass had to be replaced and eventually also the entire clutch core and plates were replaced, everything was open anyway.
We replaced the 2.1 kg flywheel for a 670 gram one. And finally we could start her up! What a sound and throttle response. Finally made an appointment with Biggelaar and the mechanics walked out the door — it was that much noise. From the standard 136 horsepower (at the crank) to approximately 172 horsepower, mission completed.
Cafe racers are not really known for their comfortable seating position. We have done this differently for DUE, creating a relaxed seating position without compromising the looks. We have adjusted the frame so that the footrests are now at a really good height for my leg length and the subframe is also specially built for my height, which makes it lots of fun on this bike.
All wiring had to be re-done and as advised by Toine v/d Biggelaar, a 1098 wiring harness was taken as a starting point. Futuri Motion Tech adjusted the wiring in a few days so that everything worked as it should. We no longer need the key — just turn it on with a well-hidden M-lock.
Because it is a cafe racer, you want to hide the wiring. The lithium battery, starter relay, and quickshifter are under the seat hump. Where the battery used to be, we have placed an aluminum box for the ECU, fuse box, and various other plugs. The voltage regulator is too beautiful to hide and therefore it is prominently placed on the lid of the box — also better for cooling.
There is a small amount of titanium bolts in DUE, everything in the context of being lighter. The standard 999 weighed 218kg wet and we managed to reduce it to 180kg wet. Mission completed.
But…. how does this drive? Hard to explain, you have to experience it yourself (but that will never happen ????). With 170 hp and 180 kg roadworthy, this bike is absurdly fast, pulls like a fool and super maneuverable and the front wheel likes to take off. It has also become so small and light that you sometimes think you are sitting on a moped, but the power quickly reminds you to fully focus on the road.
We wanted to go to many shows with UNO, we also had invitations for abroad, but Corona has thrown a spanner in the works. The good news is that we can now go there with UNO and DUE. The aim is to show UNO and DUE in May 2023 at the prestigious event: Bike Shed- Tobacco Dock in London.
For December this year we have been invited to the custom bike show in Germany, a three-day event for custom bike builders, and we will participate in the election for the best built cafe racer in Germany.
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