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New York Motor Works StreetfighterS Valve Adjustment

My friend Jeff is trying to start a motorcycle maintenance business... or at least he's thinking about it.  He's got a fully equipped shop out near Huntington, and has immersed himself in Ducati knowledge, striving to be a DIY master Ducati tech.

(*please note this article was never completely finished, but I'm publishing so I can go back and review at a later date, or perhaps complete it someday).
He's a bit of a perfectionist, but not afraid to get his hands dirty, so makes for an excellent mechanic.
I guess I should also mention he's been working on cars for years (and is a bit of a Volkswagen nut), so has a pretty good baseline of engineering knowledge to draw upon as well.

I'm not a wrench myself, but I'm also not afraid to grab one, and feel relatively comfortable replacing a clutch, flushing fluids or changing my oil.  However, the big costs associated with Ducati ownership are the maintenance intervals, namely checking (and shimming) Desmodromic-actuated valve clearances and changing belts both of which, depending on the bike, requires you to at least partially pull apart your machine.  I've always wanted to learn how to do valves and belts, so when Jeff offered to help me, I jumped at the chance to learn.
Jeff's space in Long Island is immaculate, and he's been acquiring tools for years.
Long Island is largely a concrete jungle, but Jeff's shop is situated in a serene, sylvan little pocket of woods that makes you feel like you're hours outside of NYC.

The first step is preparing your work space, and organizing your necessary tools and parts before you begin.  There’s nothing more frustrating than ripping your bike apart, then realizing you need a special part shipped from Italy…

Then, the motorcycle needs to be prepared to be worked on.  You can buy a fairly good lift from Harbor Freight for a few hundred dollars, though a nicer hydraulic bike lift will cost you up into the thousands.  

Jeff and I used Pitbull Stands on the lift, bungeed and rachet-strapped to mounts on the lift, creating tension on the stands to keep the bike from moving around during our work.  The lift alone is probably secure enough, but this gives an added level of safety should you stumble and bump the bike during disassembly. 
The next step was removing the front wheel, for easier access to the horizontal cylinder.  As you probably know, most Ducatis are a V-Twin, with one cylinder facing towards the front of the bike, and the vertical facing up into the tank. The first step in wheel removal is to get the two brake calipers removed from the rotors, which takes the removal of a couple bolts, and then a very gentle prying back and forth so as to open the caliper piston and pry apart the brake pads.  

The Streetfighter 1098S has 55mm monoblock Brembo brakes, providing incredible stopping power, but at the same time minimal clearance from the rim, so it’s a bit of a delicate job, but after we got both of them off, we hung them to dangle off the bike, secured by a couple of interlocking zip ties hung off the bar grips.  Whoever replaced my tire last actually put a bunch of locktite on the caliper bolts, so Jeff took a wire wheel on a bench grinder to buff off years of corrosion, making the bolts nearly as good as new.
  Removing the front wheel takes a fork mount (or a triple-tree stand) allowing you to then push out the front axel and pop out the tire.  After that, we began to remove body pieces so we could access the engine, starting with the tank, which needed to be drained of fuel before disconnecting the clamps in the fuel lines.  

We removed the air intake tubes, and the skinny fairings that run under the seat into the tail. To access some of this stuff, it’s best to remove some of the electrical harness connection, but Jeff recommends labeling from the very beginning what connector belongs to the other, so there is no mystery when you are trying to put the bike back together. 
We then drained the coolant as well, in preparation for removing the upper radiator, giving us clear access to the horizontal cylinder. 

 If you open the filler cap, coolant will gush out immediately, so make sure you have some sort of wide fluid collection solution in place before beginning this step.
Disconnecting a few hose clamps and electrical connection, 

we were able to remove the radiator, 

 and now that it was drained and out of the way, 

we had clear access to the gold magnesium cover of the cylinder head and the ignition assembly. 
 We set up a table on which to work, and keep all of the body pieces and bolts removed from the bike.

Back to the top of the bike, we needed to wedge the airbox up a bit, so we needed to remove several more blts, as well as relocate the fuel line assembly.  

By this time, we pretty much have full access to the engine.

Next we pulled the ignition coils, allowing us access to the spark plugs, which in my bike’s case, were covered in oil.  

Then, it was time to remove my Streetfighter S’s carbon fiber belt covers, which while weighing next to nothing, are not the easiest thing to wrestle out from behind the frame. 
With the belt covers off, we now were ready to crack the engine case! 

Four bolts secure a magnesium head cover.  Jeff was extremely insistent that before we removed this though, that we place the engine at top dead center (TDC) so that the piston is all the way pushed, so that if we drop a valve or a bolt, it hopefully doesn’t fall up into the combustion chamber (which would mean disassembling the entire engine).
To do this, Jeff has a very cool crank tool, which requires removing the crank case cover, and inserting the tool into notches in the crankshaft. 

Rotating this tool allows you to see and hear the engine actually breath, as well as rotate the belts and the cams so we could measure in the future.


 The cams and valves are now exposed, and it's extremely important to keep any grit or foreign substances out of the engine.


Rides gone by...