In his shop in downtown Los Angeles, Max Hazan works harder than your average prisoner of war. And his efforts show – he routinely fabricates some of the cleanest, most distinctive builds you’re ever likely to see. This time around he’s outdone himself with a turbocharged 1978 Ducati 860GT, a bike that got really interesting a few weeks into the build when he received a call from his client.
“He asked what I thought about turbocharging the bike,” The Hazan Motorworks head honcho recalls. “Before he could finish his explanation, I said ‘Done!’” As you can imagine running a turbo on a bike is no easy task, but the old 860 made it even more difficult as it was set to be kick-start only. “That meant a blow-through setup for the turbo was the best way to do it,” Max says. “I knew I’d have my work cut out for me to make a reliable and streetable bike.” And he was right.
“There were three engine rebuilds and two seized turbos,” he says. “And we had to make the clutch hydraulic for the heavier spring load. We tried three oil system configurations, four different boost reference float bowl setups, two ignition systems and about 30 jetting combinations until I was finally able to sign off on it.” If anything, he’s learnt a lot from the build. “If I had to do it again I could probably tune it in about half an hour!”
For the record the racer runs a heavy clutch, 9:1 compression pistons, a Garrett GT15 turbo, Tial gates, a Weber DCOE 40 carburetor, Holley fuel pumps & regulators, an electric oil system, Electronik Sachse ignition and stainless exhaust & intake valves. But the engine is only half of the beauty here. The rest is the frame, manufactured from scratch using chromoly steel.
“We originally planned to only modify the 860 donor engine,” he explains. “But with all of the plumbing involved – the exhaust, turbo, wastegate, blow off valve, fuel pump, fuel pressure regulator, oil pump, oil cooler and all of the plumbing to connect them – it was actually better to build the whole turbo setup and then build the frame around it than to stick the turbo and parts wherever they would fit.”
“So we shortened the wheelbase about 2 inches by steepening the front end and changing the trail to elevate the heavy controls of the 860,” Max says. “And we went to a single Works Performance shock under the whole thing. From there, I did my usual foam shaping and after about five attempts got something that worked with the shape of the bike. For the plumbing it had to be function first, form second, so there was a lot of work that went into making the maze of tubing and lines easy on the eyes.”
Not only is the frame gorgeous, it’s functional as all hell too. Up front the Ducati has custom triples and Magura controls with the whole thing brought to a skidding stop by Wilwood calipers grabbing early GSXR rotors. At the rear the bike runs a 5.5″ Excel rim on a chromoly swing arm. It all tops off a build that handles and goes as well as it looks. But one of the neatest things about the racer is impossible to convey in photos alone.
“My favorite thing about the Ducati is the blow off valve,” Max says. “It may be a little ‘Fast and Furious’ but it’s fucking cool to change gears on a motorcycle, hearing the spool of the turbo and the feeling of the boost. I think that noise was part of the reason I made the bike.” Guys, I’m going to start the chorus off right here by demanding that Max films the 860 in action.
[superquote]“My favorite thing about the bike is the blow off valve… I think that noise was part of the reason I made the bike.”[/superquote]
Chalk this bike up as yet another astonishing custom ride from Max Hazan. And expect to see more in the coming years. “Although I’ve had offers to partner up, endorse and relocate, making bikes from scratch in my small shop in Downtown LA is what I love to do and what has worked for me,” he says. “The shop’s become a bit smaller after wedging in some new machinery but I still walk in the same small door on the second floor of a sewing factory at 9:30am and leave at 8PM. If I am lucky I will be doing the same thing in 10 years.”
I think we’d all be lucky.