They call them ‘parts bin specials.’ They're the bikes that have been thrown together from all the leftovers that the other bike builders didn't need. That old second tank. The spare rear shock. Your mate's unused set of rims. The very thought of something built this way conjures mental pictures of a franken-bike; something that looks more like the result of a welder gone postal in a bike wreckers than anything that been done with any forethought or planning. But here's a bike that goes a long way to prove that assumption wrong. So far, in fact, that the results look more like something you hope Ducati would build rather than something they'd run from in fright. Meet engineer John Grainge and his Monster SR2 Café Racer.
John, a Mechanical Engineer by trade, found himself running a business making printed circuit boards. The change meant he was missing working with my hands, so the idea for a bike project was born. After having pretty much every bike he'd ever wanted (or about 17 bikes in 21 years of riding... lucky bugger), he was pretty bored of mass produced bikes. Then he saw what Spanish shop Radical Ducati were doing, and was inspired to do a project of his own along similar lines.
The bike started life as a bog standard Ducati S2R 800, which John noted was a really fun bike straight out of the box. It was stripped so he was left with a rolling chassis with an engine in it to stop the wind blowing away. John then bought a Radical seat unit and hacked off the rear subframe of the Duke. He wanted to keep all the wiring and ancillaries in the engine bay, so there was nothing at all needing to be placed under the seat unit. Scott Francis, a friend of John's who is also a welder, helped him make a new subframe and mounts for the tank and footrest hangers.
The tank was sourced from a Ducati 749, but it's original seams down the side of the tank were filled in to give it a unique look. The forks are 848 Ohlins units with a trick billet machined bottom yoke. John had to have the standard stem pressed out of the original yoke and repressed into the new 848 item. The top yoke is from a 999, and both have been anodised black. The discs are ALTH units, with 848 Brembo monobloc calipers (which John notes are ‘awesome’). The rear shock is a 999 Ohlins stick with a shorter Sato Racing ride height adjuster. The wheels are Marchesini forged alloys from a Hypermotard 1100S. The headlamp is a Harley V-Rod unit. The exhaust was made from stainless steel and was blasted for a killer satin look. “It sounds a little un-Ducati like,” notes John. “It's a bit more like a parallel twin, which fits the Café Racer style just fine.”
To wrap things up, John was keen to give credit where credit's due. “I would like to thank my friend Alan Stanley who did all the paint, including the wheels and chassis. The seat was custom made by Saddlecraft. The biggest headache was the electrics; I wanted to bin the original instruments and fit a Motogadget dash, but the immobiliser has to be disabled for the ECU to work. Louigi Moto were a big help, and the world renowned electrical guru Ferrett came to the rescue by managing to fit the dash and engine Start button that I wanted.
I have been going to Shelsley Walsh hillclimb with my Dad for as long as I can remember and they very kindly agreed to us taking some shots of the finished bike on the start line, which made the photos special.”
[Shots by Bone Photographic]