Despite all the expensive machinery we occasionally feature here, there’s something to be said for a back-to-the-basics classic built on a shoestring budget. “Something” like this Ducati Tracker by Peter Koren. Peters calls it his Ducati ‘XR900′. In 2003, Koren stumbled across an abandoned Ducati 900 GTS project in the UK. The bike was a non-runner and Koren bought it to cannibalize for his 750GT and 900SS. But the GTS turned out to be mechanically sound, so he left it intact in his garage for a couple of years.
After mulling over his options, he decided to turn it into a flat tracker. “One weekend while my father was staying I made a mock-up XR750 tank and seat out of Cellotex, a polyurethane insulation foam that is really fast to work,” says Koren. “Dad sat in the sun drawing the tank graphics and my son helped paint. I liked the result and decided to proceed with certain parameters: I would try to build it as if it came out of the Ducati factory—which would determine many of the details—and the budget was set at £500 (US$720) plus tires and chain. The budget was low because it would always be a bitsa and also because of fear of failure: I wasn’t sure it was going to work, and I’ve seen plenty of modified bevels that make me shudder.”
Koren bought a replica seat base and handlebars from the USA and made a wooden buck for the tank. “I had a sheet of aluminum, made a sand bag and cut down one of the kids’ croquet mallets and started bashing. Then I had to learn how to gas weld aluminum, which was tricky, and weld up the bits.” After making side panels and straightening out kinks in the frame tubes, Koren steepened the steering angle by five degrees to get the look of the XR900 just right. Next came the exhaust: “I had loads of old headers to cut up, but found I needed a tighter bend under the front cylinder and eventually found a grab handle as used in toilets for the disabled. (For the record, I did not steal one!) The silencers have cutouts for the rear shock—like the Imola high-level pipes—so they sit nice and close to the frame.”
The speedo and tacho housings are in the style of Scrambler ‘Beer cans’, which meant compromise on the handlebars and switches, even though the wiring is run through the bars. “I wheeled it out of the garage, put in some fuel, and kicked it over a few times with ignition off to get fuel in the cylinders,” says Koren, “and it started first kick. Brilliant reward after three years, and the cheap far-eastern silencers sound amazing with a really deep thump.” More pictures on Peter Koren’s Flickr page.