When I got the call to test what Editor Catterson described as "a two-valve Ducati in some sort of custom frame," I was more than a little skeptical. I've straddled my fair share of project bikes: some good, others sketchy. As time rolls on, I'm more concerned with the odds of somebody's brainchild spitting me on my head. You live longer that way.
I shouldn't have worried. As it turns out, the Boulder Motorsports F042 is one of the most intelligently built, meticulously prepared motorcycles I've ever ridden. If the devil really is in the details, he's never been near this thing! Workmanship is second to none. These guys didn't miss a thing. Shop owner Brian Sharp obviously does more than just talk about making things right; he and his crew walk the walk, and it shows. Their attention to detail is as good as to anything in the World Superbike paddock.
Have a look at the numbers: 1123cc, 305 lbs., 13.5:1 compression, 133 bhp, 85 lb.-ft. of torque. The parts list is no less impressive: Pistal 100mm racing pistons, Pankl titanium connecting rods, Ducati Racing 280-watt alternator, shift forks and drum, titanium intake and exhaust valves, STM 12-tooth slipper clutch with sintered plates, Öhlins 43mm inverted fork and shock, four-piston, radial-mount Brembo Monobloc brakes, carbon-fiber bodywork and titanium hardware throughout. Impressed? You should be. All that comes at a price: $60,000 to be precise.
The 305-lb. package sits on a racy 55.9-inch wheelbase with 23 degrees of rake and 3.7 inc
When I met the Boulder Motorsports crew at the Streets of Willow, we were greeted with less-than-sunny Southern California winter weather. It was cold, windy and wet, so I just sat under the team canopy and stared at the bike in amazement. B-e-a-utiful!
I went over the details while waiting for the rain to let up, and there's no shortage of them on this one. Sharp & Co. started with a combination of parts from Ducati's air-cooled Dual Spark twins, bolting the result into an Italian-made Pierobon 7020-aluminum skeleton. Sharp says his inspiration for the project came from the chassis maker's success racing similar bikes in Europe. Though the F042 is available in street and race trim, the bike we tested was full race-spec. The Boulder Motorsports team has done quite well at the racetrack, putting the F042 on the podium against modified 600s with multi-time MRA and USBA champ Shane Turpin at the controls.
When the rain finally lets up, the first thing I notice is how well the diminutive bike's ergos suit a taller rider. Laser-accurate feedback from both ends gives it the ability to change lines like a 250cc GP bike. Flicking into a tight turn, it feels even lighter than claimed. The brakes are very confidence-inspiring, and make you feel comfortable going deeper and deeper into corners. Gussets in the stout 6082-aluminum swingarm make it stiff in all the right places, and a crafty single-bearing system helps maximize rear-end grip and feel.
Those 45mm throttle bodies feed the 1123cc Pompone via instructions from a Nemesis N-7000
The electronics package starts with a Falcon digital dash and Superbike-spec data acquisit
Business end features a stout double-sided swing-arm and the latest 10-spoke forged Marche
The digital dash is easy to read and perfectly placed. The V-twin spins up to warp speed very quickly. Imagine a 250 on steroids with loads of midrange and a power delivery like fine Italian silk and you're pretty much there. Who knew a two-valve Ducati could be this refined? Thanks to an intoxicating mix of power, feel and stellar brakes, it's hard to make a mistake. And if you do, it's easy to recover.
One of the things that made the bike so easy to ride was its setup. The Boulder Motorsports crew did a stellar job of finding a starting point that made me feel comfortable right from the start.
On track, the F042 is easily worth 3.6 times the cost of a new Ducati 1198, if you've got that kind of dough. Each bike takes about a month to build. If you want an extremely unique, Ducati-powered sportbike that is eminently easy to ride, the Boulder Motorsports F042 is the bike for you. It's the perfect combination of engineering and art.