A Custom Ducati Chopper and a New Lease on Life

After being diagnosed with cancer, one man turns to his shop and a salvaged Ducati chopper engine.

  • Pictured here is Taff Baker's custom Ducati Chopper. The engine is a salvaged Ducati 900SS.
    Photo Courtesy Veloce Publishing
  • "Italian Custom Motorcyles" (Veloce Publishing, 2013), explores the world of custom Italian motorcyles, from custom Ducati choppers to high performance speedsters.
    Cover Courtesy Veloce Publishing
  • Taff Baker and his custom Ducati Chopper.
    Photo Courtesy Veloce Publishing

Italian Custom Motorcycles (Veloce Publishing, 2013), explores the world of custom Italian motorcycles, from speedsters to choppers. Through the testimonials of the custom engineers themselves, Uli Cloessen opens the doors to the world of custom motorcycles from the Italian peninsula. In this excerpt, Taff Baker tells of the creation of his custom Ducati chopper, and the life experience that brought about its genesis.

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Custom Ducati Chopper

Taff’s story: “One day, whilst sifting through piles of bike bits at Russ Taylor’s emporium I came across a wrecked Cagiva Gran Canyon. This bike had a newish Ducati 900SS motor and it seemed a bit rude not to buy it and stick it in the shed.

“Time passed, and, after a holiday, I was diagnosed with cancer. What was needed was a project to take my mind off the prospect of dying. We all have big ideas that we put off and off and off. But let’s face it, if not now, then when?

“After about five weeks of recovery, I was bored out of my wits and thought what I need now is to do some welding. A massive spending spree ensued. AC/DC TIG set. A small secondhand lathe and miller, and sundry other bits were shoehorned into a 9' feet x 18' garage, and I locked the door behind me.

“First task was to knock up a box section jig. Into this sturdy frame were clamped my first purchases, a spoked Harley sportster wheel at the front, and a Triumph T595 wheel at the back. The engine was mounted on angle iron mounts, to give a nice cool 4.5" ground clearance. A headstock turned up to accept the standard spindle and bearings, and was mounted at a rakish 40 degree angle.

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