Ducati Multistradas At 14,000 Feet

Retracing the road from Newport Beach to the garden of the gods

By Tim Carrithers, Photography by Kevin Wing

Pikes Peak has changed, though you probably hadn't noticed. But aim a motorcycle at the 156 corners of the Pikes Peak International Hill Climb, and the 14,110-foot-tall chunk of granite we got in 1803 with the Louisiana Purchase looks completely different. The gritty dirt surface that favored bellowing, sliding sprint cars and flat-track bikes is disappearing under a ribbon of pavement: bad news for the Trackmaster Triumph set, but very good news for Ducati and the little race team that could, otherwise known as Faulkner Livingston Racing.

Paul Livingston has climbed this mountain himself. He talked race organizers into letting him put together a stock Honda CRF150 class in 2007, which included a fortuitous conversation with some Ducati guys. Segue to Pikes Peak specialist Greg Tracy winning the 1200 Pro class in '08 on a Ducati Hyper-motard. Alexander Smith-son of 69-year-old living legend Malcolm Smith-rode another Spider Grips/FL Racing Hyper to fourth; not bad considering that was the first streetbike he'd ridden in his life. Not bad for an air-cooled Desmodue twin with quirky steering, either. The important thing was everybody had fun, which is the prime directive at FL Racing, and the main reason they wanted another go.

Since the other teams were bringing more horsepower, Livingston wanted to up the ante with a Ducati Streetfighter. When that didn't pan out, former Ducati boss Michael Lock suggested the upcoming 2010 Multistrada. "I immediately pictured the '09 RoboCop model, which was a good bike, but it's essentially the same two-valve engine we'd run in the Hypermotard," Livingston says. "Michael just said, 'Trust me,' and that we'd like what we saw."

After initial testing with the pre-production Multistrada you might remember from our May 2010 cover, Livingston uncrated three stock S-models; two would become Pikes Peak racers, the third would step in only if one of the others got wadded into a ball or tossed off a 6000-foot cliff.

Unlike the Hypermotard, power wouldn't be an issue. Fortification consisted of a full Termignoni exhaust system and a Dynojet Power Commander V fuel-tuning box, complete with the nifty Auto Tune feature to minimize power loss climbing to the finish line 4720 feet above the start. After dialing everything in at Dynojet's Las Vegas headquarters, Tracy and Smith had about 145 rear-wheel horsepower to work with.

Aside from K&N air filters and fresh NGK spark plugs, the engines would go to the starting line in stock trim. "We were prepared to do a lot more," Livingston says, "but Greg and Alexander liked the bikes as they were, so there wasn't much to fix." Nice surprise there, especially with race day little more than a month away.

Paul Thede at Race Tech blueprinted the stock fork and shock, filling them with his Ultra Slick suspension fluid. A GMD Compu-track session made sure each chassis was straight. Beyond that and a few bolt-on bits, the biggest change turned out to be a lot of little ones: meticulous setup for each rider. Ducati Performance forged-aluminum wheels and Bridgestone BT003 race rubber replaced the standard rolling stock. After binning the mirrors, passenger pegs, license-plate brackets and assorted other vestigial street parts and swapping others-the pillion pad and headlight, for instance-for carbon-fiber facades from John Mitchell at Carbon Spider, the racebikes shed 23 lbs. apiece in three weeks. A little over a month after that, they were lining up for tech inspection in Colorado Springs.

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