Old Empire Customs: The Ducati 900SS “Typhoon”

Check Out This Awesome Ducati From Old Empire Customs

Updated August 18, 2018

Take a look at this awesome build from UK custom garage Old Empire Motorcycles. Based around a Ducati 900SS Supersport, this isn’t your average custom machine. There’s no shoddy workmanship going on here, just fine fabrication and an abundance of ideas. It might seem a little on the steampunk side, and it might be considered a bit outlandish for purists, but when the guys at Old Empire Customs allowed themselves to let loose on a build of their own, they definitely pulled out something original.

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And that’s what we like best about custom garages: the bikes they build for themselves, rather than those built for clients. Why? Well, if you’ve ever dealt with a client (in any type of industry) you’ll know that most clients like to believe that the customer is always right. In the custom bike scene, that is very rarely true…In fact, a good friend of mine who runs a custom shop adds a rather hefty fee when clients have too many “good ideas” of their own…Anyway, this bike, known as the Typhoon, is not a client request, and as such comes without the restraints of a brief or budget. With no rules to adhere to, this is what they came up with.

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Trying to identify what’s left of the 900SS isn’t particularly difficult, but there isn’t much. Firstly, the distinctive L-twin is an easy spot – there’s no mistaking that powerful but untidy looking power plant. Then we’ve got the remnants of the iconic Ducati trellis frame, but not a whole lot of it. Apart from those two thinks, the rest is more or less bespoke Old Empire motorcycles.

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The rest of the bike has a very board-tracker inspired aesthetic, from the handlebars with their reverse lever assemblies, to the girder forks. Every single detail has been exquisitely executed, such as the leather grips, the hand machined controls, and the bevel style throttle. The girder forks are quite the sight to behold, with a wood effect paint job splashed across them, and the unique friction based damping system that keeps them in check.

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Despite having a rather playful Ducati 900 engine providing the power, Old Empire Customs opted to do away with disc brakes altogether, and stick with a more traditional drum brake arrangement. Modern naysayers will be quick to point out that drums are no match for discs, but if used properly (i.e planning your braking about a week in advance) they work just fine, and provide ample stopping power for the 85 hp machine…possibly. Couple the vintage brakes with a bespoke hardtail rear end, and a pair of good old fashioned thin rubber, and you’ve really got the makings of a modern board track racer.

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Final details include some rather cool brass work, such as the headlamp fashioned that’s been fashioned from a bell, the steering cap, and a few other assorted fixings here and there. It all ties together to bring us something not quite futuristic, but not entirely straight from a fictional past either. Is it practical? Not at all – but who said it had to be?


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Joe Appleton
About Joe Appleton

I’ve done a bit of work here and there in the industry – I’ve even ridden a few bikes for actual money but what it comes down to is this: I ride bikes, build bikes and occasionally crash ‘em too. I like what I like but that certainly doesn’t make my opinion any more valid than yours…

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