Foray: A Ducati-supplied build with recycled Bimota parts
No one upgraded quite similar to Roland Groteclaes. Based in Belgium, he is a multi-talented creator who divides his time between illustration, design, painting and sculpture. And the latter is almost always made using salvaged parts.
His artistic approach is reflected in the custom bike he just built. Dubbed ‘Foray’, it is best described as a Bimota/Ducati cross. But this isn’t a simple engine swap—instead, it’s put together almost entirely with leftover parts from many donor bikes.
The inspiration for Foray came from a particularly unusual source. Roland told us: “A friend in the UK gave me a used Honda F1 carbon fiber heat exchanger. “He thought I could use it in a sculpture, but it was clear to me that I should give this piece a new identity, which is a recycled motorcycle gas tank. “
“So the creation of Foray—its mere existence—revolving around one component: the fuel tank.”
Roland needed to put a motorcycle together to hold his new gas tank, so he took an inventory of the things he had in his garage. “I drive a Bimota DB3 Mantra,” he explains. “And, like most motorcycle enthusiasts, I have a ton of new and used parts, all kept with the thought that I might one day be able to use them.”
Roland’s equipment includes Bimota DB3 rear grips, DB4 Antera wheels and DB2 exhaust system. Given that those parts were all from Italy, he decided that the Ducati engine would be the perfect choice.
After searching, Roland found the perfect engine in Germany; a factory Ducati 944 cc geared up for the old Battle of the Twins race, complete with an open Keihin FCR carburetor. He immediately sent it to a friend at a Ducati dealer in the Netherlands for a health check.
But there was one more piece Roland needed before the project could begin in earnest: a suitable chassis. He has been on the hunt for what he calls the “Holy Grail”—an original Bimota Tesi Omega frame. But even that is out of stock.
The Bimota’s frame has been stripped down to special CNC machined mounting plates, which are flipped around for a shape to match the new trellis frame Roland has conceived. He told us: “Building the trellis, cutting and filling the tubes into different shapes and angles is really complex and is a complete blend of meditation, frustration and excited.
“I have always been honest with myself and I know that I am not a good welder. And since all motorcycle frames need perfect welding, I decided to take on this task. So I reached out to a friend who is a talented metalworker to lend me a hand.”
Roland’s connected TIG welded the whole thing together from 15CDV6 tube—a high-strength, low-carbon steel used in the aerospace and motorsport industries. True to form, some scraps of recycled aircraft steel are also added to the mix.
Once the frame was ready, Roland spent 18 hours on it with silver markers — covering every inch in an intricate hand-drawn pattern. A few custom badges are also sprinkled on it to personalize it even more. (Roland even added a stamped Ducati badging right behind the steering wheel, as the engine is the only truly identifiable part on this build.)
With a CNC machined yoke from a German shop and a Showa fork from a Ducati 916, the Foray started to come together. The cockpit features a pair of CNC-machined fork preload adjusters, along with BKG clamps, Keihin throttles, Renthal grips and Spiegler master cylinders. A custom headlamp illuminates the road.
Foray has no speedo or tacho; instead, Roland added a watch from his favorite horoscope researcher. “I love Sinn-Spezialuhren from Germany,” he tells us. “I want a Sinn NaBo airplane watch on my motorcycle, so I can always get home on time for dinner.”
With the help of another friend, Roland finished the last of the electrical and mechanical work. The swingarm, wheels, and Bimota exhaust he has on hand are also fitted to this bike—but one last part is missing and it needs a quick trip to Switzerland.
“I wanted to put an eight-piston Spiegler front brake on the bike,” he explains. “But the owner of these parts insisted that the only way he would sell them to me was if I showed up and had a cup of coffee with him.”
“Project Foray reflects work done with passion and determination, as well as a good level of madness and caffeine, which also relies heavily on camaraderie and ingenuity.”
Sounds like a great recipe for us.
Roland Groteclaes | Instagram | Photo of Gregor Collienne