Protecting the gas tank with some kind of pads makes sense in multiple ways. Let’s just name scratch protection, resale value, or upgrading looks. For me, and that goes for decades of riding on and off race tracks- the main reason is to stay in place where I want. In fact- I am almost ‘abusing’ my gas tanks. Here is how:

  • Squeezing knees in the tank cove pads while braking (keeps weight low and in the rear AMAP)
  • Dragging ass over the seat to the other side by pressing outside knee in the tank pad

There are some products on the market, but my requirements are narrowing it down, especially since i have a healthy wear of those tank pads. I always end up with TechSpec Gripster Tank Pads for some good reasons also for my Ducati Panigale 1199R:

  • Easy to install (smooth material)
  • Looking real good (that’s clearly individual preference)
  • Giving the right amount of hold (other products killing your gear)
  • Reliable (protect function and price)
  • Easy to remove/replace (no stain, no paint killer)

TechSpec’s theory of achieving a solid grip is based on material properties and surface area contact. Their products are available in two materials: Snake Skin and the XLine.

What I personally like is that I easily could customize a pad if necessary.  We have TechSpec pads mounted on all Superbike-Coach bikes. Especially on our Supermotards, the wheelie 1on1 bike and the rental bikes, because they give the hold on to the gas tank my students need once that front wheel goes up. TechSpec even makes installation videos which shows how easy it is:

So, my recommendation to you is… what’s good for me should be good for you. I think that this is one of the first upgrades a rider should do to the motorcycle. Not just before scratches even happen… also to not to miss out on that extra hold when you might need it the most… in an emergency braking maneuver.

Headcoach Can Akkaya, Superbike-Coach Corp

The new paint job was done and it was time to go into the details, such as to integrate the Ducati gas tank into the design. It was planned from the beginning, that we don’t want to mess with the beautiful design of the stock 1199R tank. The brushed silver and red was to blend into the new design.

My friend John Wolf does vinyl wraps to cars professionally, so for him this was a walk in the park. He extended two white stripes and one black piece over the gas tank, and that turned out pretty hot. The dynamic of the bike makes your eyes stuck to it.

We also customized our  sponsor stickers to one size and color, as well as I finally got a new design of my pro racing number ’36’. If you ever want something special and have somebody making it perfectly… then you need to see Diane and her Tokay Press company in Stockton, CA.

Headcoach Can Akkaya

Finally the race fairings have arrived, and I am highly impressed by the quality and paint job they did to it- exactly as I put it down to paper about one month ago. A fully customized paint job- clear coated on ABS plastics, including shipping to California for a total of $470 bux!!!

If you ever removed a stock fairing from a modern sport bike, then you might know that there are hundreds of puzzle pieces- but dealing with the preciseness of a Panigale fairing goes even beyond that point. But before I can go to install the kit there were things to do on the stripped bike.

To teach riders on the track, I need GPS/Satellite supported equipment. The challenge once more is the price and weight. I for sure don’t want to pay Ducati’s plug’n’play lap timer for about $700 (!)… but I wanted to have a device which plays along with the capable stock cluster gauge. For only $200 bux I even accept to splice 4 wires. In all honesty… I chicked out on this one, and asked my friend Steve Collins to do this for me. Steve is a highly capable technician and knows all about Ducati. We had a blast doing this together.

Back home I modified the upper triple clamp, which doesn’t allow much of a handle bar adjustment. Removing some notches does the job, and the difference is significant. Also, the installation of some radiator guards makes sense since this bike keeps rolling on public roads. Since California’s streets are not much better than ‘developing nation’ standards- a guard is recommended at least for the lower radiator.

Yes I know I won’t be able to repair ABS, but for that price I would say you go and stick to your glass fiber race fairing kit for 800 bux and to paint it poorly in your garage… while I just go and order another fully painted kit for a little more and have a showroom bike in my garage which nobody else has.

Headcoach Can Akkaya

After doing an ECU flash (upgrade 9), I was still very unhappy withe the “city” riding abilities a Panigale comes up with. Disappointing, but that’s maybe the difference a customized map via dyno runs can make. But since even this isn’t a 100% solution, I was looking for alternatives- and I found a logic one. It turns out to be cheap and simple as well.

Coach's Ducati OK, I use to have almost no free-play in all my bikes, so that there is no fiddling around the point where/when the throttle valve opens up. That makes it more predictable at the brake to throttle transition around the apex, and for city riding, where you constantly operate the damn thing on that edge.

Before you refer to any manufacturers manual… let me tell you that I don’t care about their purpose of such a big free-play in the throttle/cable- because it makes lots of things better and your right hand and nerve costume will thank you for it as well.

Now, a row 4 cylinder is almost a Lamp against the Panigale, which loves to open her heart at any occasion. There is much more torque to play with at that low throttle position, and that free play makes you sweatin’ like a dog, so let’s get this solved.

Coach's DucatiThe Panigale, and many other modern bikes, are ‘fly-by-wire’. Means- the throttle is all electronically, and no more via cable operated. These $30 bux spacers (pics) eliminate the free play on the “Joystick” almost at a 100%, and they are super easy to install. I took it out on the street today and the difference is just amazing… almost from Mr. Hyde back to Jekyll

So… if you have cable… turn that free play out by let’s say 80%. If you are flying by wire… research for spacers. If you have Mr. Hyde dressed in Ferrari red sitting in the garage… then this is what you need to do!

Headcoach Can Akkaya

I started doing the minor work at the front end first since I am still in the research for the ‘bottoming out issue’. I knew there was a wobble in one of the the brake rotors, which is why i didn’t even change the ‘street rider brake pads’ to do my track day back on 8/5/. Accordingly bad was my performance on the brake, especially into slow turns. Good arguments to change to fully floated (short expl.: the rotor centers between the pads) rotors and freaking ‘race brake pads’. 330mm in diameter should do a darn good job on Cleopatra.

A set of ‘ready to wire’ caliper bolts are on ebay for 25 bux. Also the bulky stock wheel spacers had to be replaced by black anodized aluminum spacers for about 30 bux.

That carbon front fender closes the work on the front wheel… wait… brand new Bridgestone Battlemax race tires are waiting already, but first I’m going to brake-in these bad ass looking rotors.

Side note: Race bike feel… ergo… race bike problems. Cleo is shaking and braking one bolt after another..


I pretty much rode Cleo like a raw egg at my track day on 8/5/. Too much going on to be focused. The track gig showed some issues which I’ll be working on in the next 3 weeks: brake rotor wobble, poor brake pads, real bad front end, carbon heat shield came off, GPS lap timer, to flash the ECU, and to change fairings/design.
I finally got rid of that super cheap and way to big looking tire huger. I was looking for a long time and found this one in Italy… of corse

Let me draw up an interim balance:
All the stuff you see on the last picture are parts which I could replace with carbon, aluminum or even titanium (again… I’ll keep the ball low). Even though I’ve measured differences of about 60% less- I will take only 40% off the scale to calculate fair. What you see on the picture makes 9.35kg on the scale, minus 40% = 3.74kg. Now lets look at the stuff I could just take out of the bike: license plate holder, everything what’s in the mufflers, and whatnot. The difference is significant: 4.8kg
The total weight loss until now is 10.41kg, which is about 23 American pounds!

That’s the weight I try to eat less in Pizza, but kinda not getting it done- so here we go :-)

Headcoach Can Akkaya

I thought this is something I should add, because it’s important as the upgrades itself, and this is to adjust it all right. You might think that the position of the damn clutch lever ain’t that important, but guess what… it add’s up. At my Superbike-Coach ‘Workshop & Track Time’ events I can help you with this- suspensions and whatnot pretty well, so you might want to check on my schedule here (…/ca…/motorcycle-preparation).

However, by playing with all kinds of adjustments, I truly found my ‘old’ sitting triangle which I use to have on every singe race bike. Needless to say that I felt ‘home’ on this Ducati from there. At that point I also remembered how important this part is, because since I deal with street bikes I kinda let go on that part.

OK, so this is hard to explain without pictures… but riders put their foot pegs way too high into the rear- and the Panigale is even worse with this. just sitting rolling straight, makes your torso hanging down like a wet potato sack. Adjustable rear sets going all the way to the front and up (aligned with seat (thickness) height D of course). So that was perfect, and the shifter lever at the same time of course. Now, race bikes giving you much more space to figure handle bar pos out. Not so a street bike, which also comes with pins in the controls. All of that needs to be removed in order to let your fingers quickly glide over the levers to grab the brake and to operate the throttle. I had to add steering restrictions to get ‘A’ to the measurements on my race bike records. Can I just give you numbers?… if you are between 5.10 and 6ft then maybe. I might could convert my numbers to percentages to make it more accessible for you.

What else… after installing some more carbon, I prepared ‘Cleopatra’ for the Superbike-Coach track day at Thunderhill tomorrow… uninstalling that fender eliminator I’ve made- unplugging a 10amp fuse to shut of front lights, and pulling the plug for the rear lights. I am considering to add simple switches to it later (if some elecrto geeks under you have some ideas?…). Now I can’t wait to see lots of students again- and welcome lots of new faces to the Superbike-Coach family tomorrow on my track!