I heard about a Ducati open house that was going on and I decided to check it out today. It all took place at Northern Ohio Ducati and they promised lunch. Who says there’s no such thing any more?

Ennie and I took the bike to Akron to check the place out. In addition to lunch (in this case brats and burgers) they had test rides on a the new 796 Monster and the 1200 Multistrada. Of the two bikes the Monster is what worked for me. It was a naked air/oil cooled twin just like the GS I have. I suppose I just have a penchant for the old-school bikes of that genre.

Needless to say it didn’t take a lot of arm twisting to get me on the bike. :-)

Riding the Monster was a lot different from my bike. Nothing stands between you and the road in front of you. No big tank. No windshield. Even the instruments are tucked out of your normal field of view (tilting your head down, of course, they are quite evident). It really gave me the sense of flying over the road. I can see why people like these bikes. The riding position itself didn’t contort me in funny ways, though more than a couple hours would start to get a bit painful I’m expecting; it’s not an all-day bike. The engine pulls strong and the handling crisp. It makes for a fun package that I’ll probably buy at some point. The Blue Ridge Parkway, of anything I rode recently, would be the perfect place to open her up a bit and have some fun!

I started talking to one of the salesmen there about the Monster and bikes in general. Out int he back someone pulled in a racing sidecar bike and we discussed that a bit then moved on the talking about BMWs a bit. It turns out they service all sorts of bikes and sometimes they see a BMW in the rotation of bikes that get brought in.

Then he brought up the “un-true-able” BMW wheels that someone took to them. Try as they might they couldn’t do crap with them. They had to send them out to the one guy that can fix them.

“Woody?” I asked.

“Yep” he replied.

It’s a small world out there. Not only did he build me a set of wheels that I took up to Labrador, but it fixed a wheel that I bent. One of the un-true-able BMW wheels. ;-)

Woody of Woody’s Wheel Works is a genius when it comes to spoke wheels. If you ever need something done, ask him first. Trust me.

The fun thing is I just got the custom wheels back in a trade with the guy on The Rock (Newfoundland) that purchased my old wrecked bike. Those wheels are just sex on a stick. Beautifully machined jewel-like aluminum hubs coupled to some light and strong rims. Engineering: Light, Strong, Cheap — pick two. Now you know what I picked. They are still cheaper than what BMW charges though. Each one is a few pounds lighter than the stock amazingly! (It makes a difference too — un-sprung weight is a bad thing on vehicles)

The hubs are carved out of a solid chunk of aluminum on a CNC lathe and router. The spokes are made from super-thick stainless steel. The wheel is manufactured my Excel in Japan for competitive off-road racing. It’s all brought together by Woody’s custom spoke lacing pattern to make it even stronger. How can you argue with that?

There’s some more pictures of the part-way machined hubs and wheels over at his site. You should go and check them out.

Now I just have to get a pair of brake discs attached to the front and spoon on some tires and I’ll have two complete sets of wheels to play with! I just have to figure out what type of tires goes on which set of wheels. This is a good problem to have I suppose.

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