HELL FOR LEATHER – Ducati 749 ‘Arriera’
Every country has some national symbols that they are proud of. America has the bald eagle, Australia has the kangaroo, England has the Queen and Argentina has the gaucho. What is a gaucho, I hear you ask? The gauchos were fearless and skillful horsemen who used to handmake tools for carve out wood and metal. These men were legends and are a significant part of the folklore in Argentina, where bike builder and sunglasses entrepreneur Sebastian Achaval is from. “I am from that part of the world and wanted to make something that would capture the spirit and be unique in that way,” he says. This 2003 Ducati 749, named “Arriera”, with all its handcrafted wood, leather and metal, is not only a tribute to Argentina’s past but also to its future.
When Sebastian first bought the bike he was already impressed with the performance. “It was a beast to ride already, so I didn’t have to do much to get the bike I wanted in that sense, but still wanted to re-style to a naked bike and change the seating position to a more relaxed and upright one. Then one thing led to another and all of the sudden the bike was pulled apart and I was in the middle of a major conversion.”
Sebastian’s plan was to keep the tail section looking nice and clean. Firstly, he handmade the subframe and made the seat a single-seater. “I had to redesign and reroute the exhaust pipes down and to the right side of the bike instead of under the seat. I didn’t have the right tools but was able to make the curves and welding as neat as possible. Considering that I did that job without a motorcycle lift, I am very proud of myself that I survived that part of the build, it was tough!”
As for the stopping power, the original Ducati had decent brakes when it was first released in 2003. But as they are now almost 16 years old, he decided to upgrade the older units with modern Brembo brakes and brake lines. He also swapped the original front end with Showa forks.
Sebastian chose the Ducati 1098 triple tree that gave him enough meat to make the right holes to place the Ducati streetfighter clamps on; it also allowed him to use Rizoma straight bars with custom-made aluminum spacers to get the heights just right.
The handlebar switches are custom units, because Sebastian couldn’t find the perfect ones with the right buttons he wanted. “I was running out of time to mess with the M-unit. Plus, again, I wanted to make it simpler.”
When it came to the electrics, Ducati’s ECU is notorious for causing all sorts of troubles if you’re installing new lights, but he was lucky enough to be working next to an experienced Ducati mechanic: Mark from Brooklyn Moto. “With Mark’s help, we figured out a way to skip the dash, then I was able to design and create an independent flasher system, lights, switches – and I was able to wire the new Motogadget Speedo, with all the dummy lights hooked and working independently, to each system”.
As for the exhaust, Sebastian choose the Supertrapp purely on the basis of the deep note they produce. “It was also the classic muffler back in my hometown of Argentina where every single XR had one on.” He didn’t like the look of the exhaust shield on the end of the Supertrapp muffler, so ended up repurposing it as a nice detail around the headlight. “I like to play with parts and use them where they don’t necessary belong.”
To truly build the bike as an honor to the Argentinian gaucho, it needed to have some wooden and leather details. With a basic high school knowledge of woodworking, Sebastian went about handcrafting wood for the seat sections, speedo, and fairing – sometimes taking around 100 attempts to get it perfect.
We love a good story behind a bike build, and we think Sebastian has nailed his own brief of building a tribute to his motherland and the gaucho craftsman.