2015 Zero S

In the not too distant future electric vehicles will be the majority on roadways around the world. To get a glimpse of what this means for us motorcyclists I picked up a 2015 Zero S. I’ll admit, I’m afraid of change when it comes to vehicles leaving the glorious sounds and smells of internal combustion for clean and quiet electric motors. While I’m in no hurry to get an electric car, being a motorcycle enthusiast compels me to at least try out the future of our beloved machines. The Zero S I picked up is certainly not a bike of the future design wise, it’s actually a design thats been on the market quite awhile in pretty much the same form with only battery and motor updates for the most part. This of course changed this year with their new redesigned models being released so I will probably need to test ride one of those soon. 

The example that I purchased has been sitting in a parking garage for a few years without much use so I was able to get a decent deal. It needed to be gone through before riding, but I figured since it’s electric there aren’t as many things that need attention so I chanced a ride to the shop. This was a test of my riding skill as the brakes were not working very well, requiring a couple pump at each stop to engage fully. Luckily for me the electric regen helps slow the bike down so I just kept it slow and got a right hand grip workout during the ride. 

Once at the shop, the Zero was steam cleaned to remove the layers of dust and degrease the bottom of the motorcycle. After the clean up it was time to get those brakes working. As you can see in the pictures it was looking like syrup. Not the good 100% maple syrup, but some of that diabetes causing McDonalds type syrup. A full flush of the front and rear master cylinders followed by a good bleed and top off with fresh fluid. 

With the brakes working, proper tire pressure, and a full charge overnight, there was nothing left but to ride. 

My overall thoughts on the Zero S is that it makes a great city bike or short commuter. The overnight charging with the base charging system being the limiting factor. I pretty much kept it in sport mode the entire time I rode it, only briefly switch to try other modes. In sport it gets going pretty quickly with a constant pull since there are no gears. The throttle isn’t as linear as another E bike I rode shortly after, the Energica, but those are a lot more pricey than this Zero S. At well under $10k in the used market these are a decent introduction to the world of electric motorcycling.

2009 Ducati Monster 696

I had the opportunity to save a neglected Ducati Monster 696 from a sad dusty life and return it to the beautiful California roads. This Monster was still with it’s original owner from new who had ridden it sparingly, but kept it under cover in an underground parking structure which saved it from deteriorating too much. My Jenius Van NV200, motorcycle recovery vehicle, easily fit down in the tight underground parking for extraction of the monster. The owner had all the paperwork from original purchase, marketing materials, owners books, keys, code card, and service history. It was like a time capsule from 2009 with only 2500 miles, but needed a good going thru before attempting to start, let alone ride. 

Monster Extraction 

New battery verified 2500 miles from new

The first step was buying a new battery, this bike has had 5 battery replacements according to the service records, hopefully this will be the last for some time. As with anything Ducati, changing the battery isn’t as easy as it should be and nearly all the plastic pieces need to come off so I gave the bike a real good detail so my hands didn’t turn black while working on it. Once changed I was relieved to see that the mileage was accurate to what the owner had stated. Although it was tempting to start the bike, the 5 year old fuel needed to be changed out so the fuel system isn’t compromised. After swapping the fuel out, changing the oil and filter, and flushing and bleeding the brakes, it was good to go. The bike fired right up, but interestingly needs a Faux “choke” lever activated to stay running when cold even though it’s fuel injected. Leave it to Ducati to keep the classic bike “charm” in a modern bike.

Plastics removed to change battery. 

Full steam and degreasing detail.
All cleaned up and ready to ride!

With the Monster growling again it was time to enjoy some riding and take in it’s beauty. The Monster is light weight with plenty of V-twin grunt and was really fun to rip through the city streets. It could probably use a little better sounding set of silencers, but it’s tried and true air cooled Italian twin motor sounds the bit. I think this would be a solid daily rider for short commutes and weekend Philz Coffee runs as the 2V is reliable and easy to maintain. It has all the nice components and Italian style for Honda money. It’s a Jenius Buy.

2011 Ducati Diavel Carbon

The Ducati Diavel is a beast of a street bike! Like my FTR1200 there are no other motorcycles in it’s class which is why I have wanted to own one for some time. These amazing Italian machines have over 160 horsepower and a huge 240 rear tire. I have put a few hundred miles on this baby and there is nothing like cracking open the throttle and hearing the carbon race exhaust roar as the Diavel powers it’s way down the road. 

First ride with the baggers. SF-Gilroy-Santa Cruz-Gilroy-SF

I picked this one up below market value because it was in need of some TLC and more importantly a dreaded Desmo service. This bike represents one the biggest mechanical projects I have undertaken to this point, but with all my experience I was confident it was something I could accomplish. 

First on my list was replacing the tires. I bought a No Mar tire changer not too long ago and figured this was a great time to test it out! The No Mar worked great on the front tire, but that 240 rear was a real pain in the a$$ so I took an extra set of hands to get that monster mounted. I also chose to try the “dynamic” balancing beads instead of the usual static balancing technique. Before re installing the wheels I replaced the front brake pads.

Ready for new shoes

Huge 240 rear
240 battle with No Mar
Looks like a car wheel!
“Dynamic” balancing beads


Polish the spokes
Upgraded the Plate Mount

New Pads installed

Rubber and Brake Pads Changed

After the fresh rubber was mounted up I went a a nice long ride to try out the dynamic balancing. The ride started in San Francisco down to my friends house in Gilroy to meet up with a few baggers. From there we rode over to Santa Cruz for lunch then back to Gilroy to watch MotoGP. After MotoGP I rode back to San Francisco. This ride confirmed a few things for me. One, the Diavel is like no other motorcycle I’ve ridden to this point. Two the Dynamic beads worked in balancing the tires. 

After the ride I committed to the Desmo service by ordering up a bunch of parts which included a Barnett racing clutch, Shell oil, oil filter, belts, and plugs. The service itself wasn’t difficult, but was time consuming due to the level of disassembly required to access the engine. Basically all the bodywork needs to come off along with the exhaust and the tank needs to be lifted out of the way. The fortunate aspect of this service was that all the valves were within spec. The local dealer starts at 10 hours labor for a similar service so tacking this myself save me at least $2k! The only part of the Desmo service I can’t perform is resetting the Service indicator, why does Ducati make this unchangeable by the owner?

Clutch change in progress 

Disassembly Level 10

Belt change is straightforward

All valves measured in spec

Cleaned and oiled the K&N filter to complete the service

Ready for the next ride


Coastal Adventure

It's that time of year when I usually go on an adventure so when MotoQuest sent me an amazing deal it was time to ride! My best bud Ari was also itching for an adventure and the scheduling worked out for the same week as his birthday so he was in! Since we've ridden together on a handful of long rides, including a 6 week journey around the entire country, we are familiar with what's needed to properly enjoy the trip. The plan was fly down to LAX, Uber to Long Beach for breakfast at Berlin Bistro with Ari, then we Uber to MotoQuest Long Beach to pickup our bikes and start our journey North. 

Installed Cardo so we can communicate
Cardo action for tunes and communication
New Velomacchi Bag fits all my gear!
Face covering required at SFO

Arriving at MotoQuest around noon the staff were really helpful in setting up the bikes with us and giving a rundown of everything. We were surprised to find that the BMW F850 GS Rallye's slated for our ride were brand new with only 4 miles on the ODO! We have never owned a BMW motorcycle to this point so this would be a great introduction to BMW Motorrad. I was able to leave the panniers behind as I didn't need them with my Velomacchi holding all my gear and I like the slimmer profile. 

Brand new BMW for the win!

All loaded up and ready to leave.

We left Long Beach and headed up Highway 1 north taking in the beauty of the So Cal coastline on our way to a friends ranch in Templeton. The ranch is beautiful and the stop came in perfect time for a break from riding. Unfortunately we couldn't spend as much time there as we would've liked since we still had quite a few miles left to ride.

Iron horses at the ranch.

Catching up at the ranch

After leaving the ranch it was a mad dash to our friends place in Gilroy for dinner and rest. We made just as the sunlight was fading into the distance and the temperature was starting to drop. The next morning our host hooked us up with breakfast burritos and led us on an awesome ride from Gilroy to San Francisco.

Donut stop in Half Moon Bay

Three Amigos riding for the day

We made a quick stop at Cycle Gear in San Francisco to buy a couple cramp busters, as the BMW's lacked cruise control, before continuing north up the coast. The ride from San Francisco up the coast has some of the most scenic and great riding roads in America and we enjoyed every bit of it!

We made it all the way to Redway, California before calling it a day after some of the best twisty roads you can ride anywhere in the United States. The section of highway 1 that turns inland to meet with 101 ending in Legget is one of the most fun twisty sections of the trip and there was almost zero traffic. Unfortunately for us the only motel available was pretty sketchy and even left us without hot water the next morning for cold showers!

Breakfast in Redway

After a hearty breakfast we headed to the giant redwoods scenic highway to take in the beauty and splendor of the giant redwoods. We rode most of the scenic route along side 101 taking in the sights and stopping for pictures.

After enjoying the giant redwoods it was more Northern California coastal beauty on our way to Portland.

Since we had a long day own the saddle to Portland, we decided to splurge on a nice place to stay and book a room at the Jupiter Hotel. The room was plush, had hot water, and was in a nice location near restaurants and shops. 

Nice view from the room @ Jupiter Hotel

After checking in and unloading the bikes it was time to celebrate the trip and Ari's birthday with a nice dinner. Luckily there was a great sushi restaurant that harkened back to a time before covid, where one could eat fresh sushi in a restaurant, have a beer, and enjoy the atmosphere. 

Yes, Grand Opening during Covid

The next day we explored Portland a little before dropping off our bikes at MotoQuest Portland and catching our flights back home. Until the next adventure.....................................

Beautiful Portland weather
MotoQuest Portland