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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
Please read the thread “Once upon a time in Canada”. It has a few photos and back story to this. In that thread I promised to find Dino’s story. It first appeared in the Canadian magazine Motorcycle Mojo as well as being reprinted in the Ducati Owners Club of Canada’s newsletter Moto Desmo. This is only half of the story and I’ve had to break it into three parts due to length.


Di Notte Baci
(A Night Full Of Kisses)
DINO’s Story

It’s difficult to pinpoint an actual beginning to “DINO’s” story. The love affair could have begun in any number of places, for instance Pages 158 and 159 of the magnificent book, Ducati 50 Golden Years thru the pages of Motociclismo magazine, a must have publication for any true Ducatisti. These two pages wheel only a brief glimpse of what many refer to as an “Untrue” Ducati, but what a selective few consider an elusive beauty that only a handful of people residing on the other side of midnight have been fortunate to see and fewer still have had the privilege of riding.

The love affair could have begun several years ago with a brochure photo on the Internet of a bike up for auction. A bike that skeptics didn’t trust actually existed. I visited the auction site several times a day for a week before circumstances arose forcing me to lose track of the bidding, I found out much later that the reserve had not been met. Tracing down the supposed keeper of my dream machine seemed equally as elusive as the bike itself.

I can’t help feel though, that the love affair started as many true romances of the heart do, with a rumor. A fabled individual who slipped away into the night with a stable of brand new uncrated mid 80’s exotics from different manufacturers such as Ducati, Bimota, Moto Guzzi and so on. Assorted conversations with a multitude of enthusiasts worldwide over the past few years have circled around the very existence of this man and his machines. The reality of ever seeing either was only ever a fleeting dream.

Every once and a while though, life’s road puts us on a path of circumstances. For me, this started in July at the Vintage Motorcycle Festival at Mid Ohio. While Stephen purged his pores in the torrential rain interspersed with scorching heat spells, I stayed dry entertaining friends in the Ducati hospitality tent in the infield. Time was wisely spent on various conversations with motorcyclists of all ages. Some talk even included the afore mentioned mystery duo and a particular motorcycle’s European availability up to a few years ago. It was later while taking a reflective stroll together thru a Show and Shine of undoubtedly the finest gathering of vintage machines ever assembled that Stephen (innocently enough) popped the question.

“If you had the means to own any motorcycle in the world, what choice would you pursue?” As if that was a question that needed any deliberation. “ A 1987 Ducati Indiana 650”.

A couple of weeks later in a casual conversation, Stephen asked me point blank ‘Do you really want an Indiana? Unsuspecting (even though I had seen an unknown number on the phone display), he proceeded to tell me that not only had he found but had actually spoken to my mystery Italian. So enters the one and only “Francesco Romanelli”. Stephen then proceeded to recount the conversation, which wisely enough (at least for the time being) was general banter, rather philosophical and not really about bikes at all. This was a very interesting individual that we wanted to get know personally before any shop talk, if ever a conversation about purchasing a bike was even to take place. He was able to ascertain though, the existence of my elusive Italian dream machine. For me, the excitement was instant and filled my head with questions of the technical nature: did he have original sales literature? Has the crate ever been opened and how had it been stored for the past 18 years? Did he have all the proper papers for titlement? And oh yes, what color was this bike? (it was only available in 2 colors maroon and black). Whether it was nerves or the pure adrenalin coursing thru my veins, my first conversation with Frank was stilted, but ended with an invitation to meet man and machine (or rather box) on his own ground, a warehouse tucked away in Quebec.

Being a four and a half hour drive and a province away from where we reside, it was a major commitment for us to travel the distance and it proved ultimately to be both educational and entertaining. Frank for a lack of any simple description was a wealth of knowledge on a vast multitude of topics from engineering, to current manufacturer trends, to political issues plaguing today’s world at large. By days end, we were fast friends and for myself I considered him a valuable enrichment to my future. The office complex and warehouse are mesmerizing from the moment you enter finding two rows of what Frank fondly refers to as his riders. Bimotas, Moto Guzzi, Ducati, MV Augusta, Cagivas and even an HD. Stephen and Frank walked the gauntlet of two wheeled exotics as Frank recounted the history of each bike while I wandered in search of the one thing that had brought me this far from home. It didn’t take me long to locate “the crate”. Sealed, intact, DINO’s paddock for the past 18 years. Still, we never steered the conversation down the path of what it would take for me to own this bike.

Before finishing our tour, we were joined by a fellow DOCC member with a surprise. A quick exit outside found me face to face with the matched bookend to the bike sealed in the crate. Sal had purchased the mate several months ago (from Frank) and had yet to fully prep, clean or assemble it, but there he was tied down in the box of his pickup. Awed! Simply awed! Sal offered to release the bindings and lift it down to the parking lot, but I urged him to leave it in the truck. For me, I could do nothing but walk around the box drinking it all in: every nook, cranny, fin, line, chrome, chrome and more chrome. Sal and Frank wandered off, leaving me alone with my thoughts and inspection. Stephen broke into the silent reverence only to voice his amazement that an actual Indiana had been under my nose for almost an hour and had yet to make it under my butt. It took no further prodding before I was positioned, feet pegged, hands gracing the bars. It was difficult swallowing the emotions welling inside me and concentrating on all the false impressions this beauty was feeding me. Being tied down, the front forks were slightly compressed, the box liner bottom of the truck bed was a further false representation of where my feet would not be in relation to the road. Most drastic of all was the saddle. Sal had immediately dispatched the original to a friend who had proceeded to shave almost 2 inches of the foam down and totally reshaped the seat. All these combined and I still could not put both feet to the ground. Just how tall was this bike? I eventually crawled down, stood back and stared. I had remained quietly reflective, emotionally unresponsive up to now and even Stephen had difficulty gauging my true reactions. Hell, even I was suddenly unsure and then Sal appeared with a key offering to fire up his beast. For such short cans, his music was softly muted in comparison to our 900 or even my ROSA’s (01M600M) high pipe performance exhaust.

The day had evaporated all to quickly and it was time to trek back to Ontario. I now started to steer conversation in the direction of the crate tucked away in the warehouse. I was still unconvinced that I truly wanted this bike. Frank must have sensed this, as his only response was “Let us both think about this for the rest of the weekend, the bike’s not going anywhere. Call me on Monday.” A long good bye, a hug and a promise to call, we were headed back home. Torture! For years I had dreamed about this machine, here he was within my reach and now I was filled with doubts and questions. My head ached! The analytical side of my heart had taken over and it was time for me to make a decision list. By the time we reached home, I’d convinced myself that he’d be in my garage by month end. Monday arrives, the phone call is made and the promise to come back to Quebec on the following Sunday was bringing Dino closer to reality.

 

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Discussion Starter · #2 · (Edited)
Dinos' Story Part 1b

Uncrating Day Arrives​

The overcast skies open up with a spattering of rain just as we arrive at the shop. Frank had pulled some of his riders outside making enough room to move the crate. We quickly wheeled them back inside and proceeded to dry them off. Gravitating to the back of the shop, I realize that in preparation for the upcoming birth, Frank had already removed the top of the crate and my Black Italian Stallion lay waiting patiently for his first breath of clean air. Everybody moved in slow motion (or so it seemed) as the nails were carefully removed not damaging the wood (every splinter of which was coming home). Finally, one side was removed and there he was covered by 18 years of dry dust. It didn’t take long for the rest of the wood to disappear into the trailer and allow me my first up close and personal inspection of the project facing me.

The sun’s rays poked thru the clouds washing the crate bay with light and all elation disappeared into the dust settling on his tank. Dino wasn’t perfect. I was staring at Ducati’s near legendary lack of quality control. The tank had not been properly paint prepped and rust granules were piercing him everywhere. A quick look at the other side of the bike also revealed a broken side cover. With no hesitation, Frank chirped that he’d keep the tank and cover and have them repaired, which meant that Dino would not be coming home intact. You see, all we were doing today was fitting the front wheel and rolling him into the trailer, his assembly was to be my project alone. That said, I proceeded to inspect the rest of the crate accounting for all his other essential parts. Shock of shocks, how could I have forgotten the Ducati factory’s bin picking technique which is still no different today. He came with 2 left mirrors. It was around this time that Sal showed up chuckling that his also had come with 2 lefts. At least Ducati was consistent at one thing. Frank had hoped that my crate had housed 2 right mirrors, but that was too much to expect.

The boys readied the frame and started to install the front tire so we could roll him off the crate floor bindings. Between taking pictures and checking on their progress, I got hit with another shock. One key Does Not Fit All! Ducati honestly expected you to carry 5 (five) keys, every one a different shape and size! The cover would be falling off the manual before I got them all memorized. I ferried an armload of parts out to the truck, returning to find Frank and Sal deep in conversation. They turned in unison to face me with a most generous and unexpected offer. As Sal was conveniently local, he’d retrieve his bike and swap the tank and side cover with Dino’s. That one gesture deserved the biggest hug and more appreciation than words could describe. It meant of course that Dino would not be coming home with all his original parts, but he’d be intact. Swaps made, Frank and I slipped into the office to finalize paperwork while Stephen tied Dino into the trailer and it was time for goodbyes. The hours of real work were about to begin and all without the aide of a shop manual (still unfound in the sea of boxes at the warehouse).













 

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Discussion Starter · #3 · (Edited)
Dino's Story Part 1c

We had enough daylight on arriving home to snap a few pictures of the bike and crate, before it was time for me to swing my leg and plant my butt on the passion now totally consuming me. I was tall in the saddle, literally with only one foot to the ground. How was I ever to ride my stallion? No matter, that was hours (to be hundred’s) away. Anyone who knows me knows my obsession for detailing my motorcycles. No part would be assembled on Dino until every dust and dirt particle had been removed, every painted surface waxed, every hint of chrome polished and buffed as to leave no finger print acid burn when he fired for the first time. Before nightfall, Dino was up on stands (where he’d remain for almost a month) and his transformation begun.

Odd Duc that I am, I have always had my own detailing system, faithfully starting not with the top of the bike, but with the lower front end. First the front rim, followed by the forks, headlight, gauges to the top of bars, on to the frame, exhaust, engine casings etc. to the rear wheel. For Dino, this was all very time consuming as to remove the years of build up, mindful not to scratch or create any imperfections along the way. Once gleaming, I undertook the placement of the handlebars and instruments. Positioning was guesswork at best without any visual aides from which to draw instructions. I left bolts and brackets loose to change positions later if need be. The clutch amazingly was right there, while there was no response from the brake lever at all. No worry, all the fluids would have to be drained and bled anyway. The question starting to haunt me now was how to get both reservoirs level when the bleed time came. Most of the required assembly would happen on Dino’s right side as the exhaust, pegs and sundries had been removed for crating. For nights now, Stephen has left me to my own devices alone in the garage often to well past midnight. Now I needed his muscle to man handle the exhaust can into the port. The actual box muffler for this model is located not so conveniently under the rear swing arm. Once squeezed into position, I proceeded to place the passenger and forward foot pegs as well as the rear brake lever. Methodically all brackets, bolts and clamps were tightened. Now it was time to clean everything all over again, especially the chrome areas. A few more nights melted away.

Finally satisfied, I once again called upon my man’s muscle, this time to break the drain bolt. It was fluid time and my biggest challenge was at hand. How the hell could the reservoirs be positioned level as to bleed the lines effectively? After numerous attempts and a lot of deliberation, I finally got the brake lever assembly level. The screws were all too easy to turn and the reservoir found void of fluid, which meant that air, contamination and time had all done their jobs leaving a dark sludge in the line. It took two full bleeds before the fluid was clear. Reseal, cap the nipple and wow the front brakes finally felt mean. Hours later, the same ritual was complete on clutch and rear brake alike. Time for one final clean and polish.

Several weeks have now passed and we are finally ready for the big test. Still up on stands, it is time to remove the spark plugs, put Dino into gear and crank the rear wheel. It is a relief to see the pistons freely pushing up and down in the cylinders. After replacing the plugs and connecting the battery for the first time, I begin my next system check. Headlight check, brake light check, left turn signal check (wow audible turn signals, I never expected this), right signal check, time for petrol, Remembering that this bike has a pet cock on both sides of the tank, it was time to put Dino in neutral, flip the kill switch to run and press the magic button. Pause. I glance at Stephen as the starter button is pushed for first time and blink! Without so much as a full engine revolution Dino sprang to life. 18 years of waiting over, he was prancing for his mistress, making sweet music in the process. A visual leak inspection revealed a slight amount of fluid being pushed from a dried seal on the left petcock. Hopefully moisture will swell the gasket and it will reseal itself.

Now I don’t consider myself a fool, so when it came time for Dino’s first trip down the open road, it was not from generosity alone that I approached Stephen about doing the honors. I had after all put Dino together relatively unaided with little instruction and no manual. Residing on a dead end road, Stephen ventured out in the direction of the round about. What’s this, he’s not stopping. Stephen just kept right on tooling to the stop sign at the other end of the road. All systems were apparently operational. The only trouble encountered was of course Dino’s height and not having the ability to put both feet on the ground at the same time which also meant needing help to simply put the kick stand down.

For my part, I was to have a shakier first ride. Nervous was to be an understatement. After climbing up, Stephen helped me release the kick stand while I danced to get my right foot planted enough to free my left foot and put him into gear. Sweating, I was unsure as to how much throttle to give him and shuddered him down the driveway, flaying my legs panicking at not being able to locate the foot pegs. They are quite a ways forward in comparison to my Monsters rear sets. Avoiding the ditch, much to hubby’s surprise, we took to the road. Shifting was a dream, cornering as smooth as butter melting on a cob of corn. I sat so high in the saddle that breathing seemed difficult and I expected a nosebleed from the elevation. On returning back to the driveway, I simply hit the kill switch unable to trust the strength in my lower limbs to do the dance of finding neutral. Where is the GD kickstand? I HAVE TO LOWER THIS BIKE! So begins the hunt for a custom seat builder. My rule is that what’s original stays original. Of course I should also look for shorter shocks.

All in all, Dino’s story has been an education, a multi level experience not with standing, for whom I must thank my friend Francesco Romanelli for storing my Italian Stallion safely all these years and judging me worthy enough to entrust Dino’s future care and enjoyment to my ample adoration. To Sal, your generous nature overwhelms me and leaves me forever indebted. To Stephen, my love, your gifts have always left me wanting for nothing, nothing that is but more time with you. To Mom, I miss you deeply. Rest quietly, knowing that I will see you always in all the elephants adorning that which you have made possible.

Finally, no doubt for many of you will be the topic of how my 1987 Ducati Indiana 650 received his full nom du plum. Di Notte Baci ( a Night Full of Kisses). How else does a girl reward the exquisite present of a magnificent Italian Stallion?







 

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Thanks Stephen for taking the time and trouble to post this. And thanks to your wife, Linda, for writing such a heartfelt article. I enjoyed it immensely.

Also wanted to mention that up until fairly recently one of these rare bikes was still in daily use over here in Italy.
Used to take a bus which during it's long, torturous route through some small towns, would pass in front of a village pharmacy.
Every morning - rain or shine, summer or winter - parked in front of the village pharmacy would be a Ducati Indiana.
By the time I used to come home in the evening it would have moved on. Always meant to try and talk to the owner...
Then about two years ago, the bike vanished.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Peter, there is an Indiana club in Italy. The owner of that bike you used to see may be a member. http://indiana.altervista.org/
You may be surprised by how many ride their bikes on a regular basis.
 

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The last Indiana I saw that was being ridden was at Ducati Corner at the Moto GP @ Indy a few years ago. Stephen was probably there, photobombing in the background. :)
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
The last Indiana I saw that was being ridden was at Ducati Corner at the Moto GP @ Indy a few years ago. Stephen was probably there, photobombing in the background. :)
Kevin, was this the bike you saw, parked in front of the Ducati hospitality tent in 2010?



If yes, than that was Linda's Dino. If it was the one in the Ducati only parking area then the owner of that bike is from New York. (Sorry I don't recall his name.)
 
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