Extra Special Edition Customizing The Iconic Ducati Mhr Mille



There’s a formula for releasing a special edition motorcycle nowadays, and it’s a lazy one. Take an existing bike from your model lineup, give it fancy graphics and a handful of shiny accouterments, and call it a tribute to someone who may or may not have had a vague connection to your brand at some point. But this was not always the status quo.
There was a time when special editions were truly special—like the iconic Ducati 900 MHR. Based on the Ducati 900 Supersport, the ‘Mike Hailwood Replica’ celebrated the racer’s legendary 1978 Isle of Man TT comeback with race replica bodywork, and sought-after upgrades like bigger Dell’Orto carbs, Brembo brakes and Conti silencers. It sold like hotcakes.

The Ducati MHR Mille followed a few years later, with an improved 973 cc motor making 76 horsepower, an electric starter, a hydraulically actuated clutch, and a whole whack of other improvements. While over 7,000 MHRs were produced between 1979 and 1985, only 1,100 were MHR Mille units. That, and the fact that it was the last bevel-driven twin produced by Ducati, makes the MHR Mille remarkably rare.
So who on Earth would be bold enough to customize one, and why? The answer is Benjie Flipprboi and his team at Benjie’s Café Racers. And the reason is because his client asked him to.

“Yes, I know it’s history, but I want something unique,” Benjie quotes his client as saying. “It’s my bike, my money. F*ck the purists.”
Despite the bike’s heritage, the BCR crew was more than ready to sink their teeth into it. And if the idea of cutting up a Ducati MHR Mille still sends you into apoplectic shock, rest assured that the donor bike was in dire need of saving. A victim of a restoration attempt in the 90s, it wore faded paint, cheap plastics, cracked tires, and had a mountain of mechanical and electrical faults.

The 1985 Ducati MHR Mille was an icon of the blocky late-70s and early-80s race bike aesthetic, but Benjie envisioned a more contemporary and streamlined look for the aging sportbike. BCR tore the bike down to its frame, building it up with new bodywork that shows hints of Pierre Terblanche’s brilliant 2001 Ducati MH900e design.
Like the MH900e, shades of the MHR Mille are still present in BCR’s re-imagining. “The original tank’s shape is unmistakable,” says Benjie, “one of the most iconic in motorcycle history. We retained its overall shape—but adjusted the dimensions for better proportions.”

BCR created a model of the new tank, which was then used as the basis for a mold. That mold was then used to make an outer shell out of carbon fiber, with a bespoke aluminum fuel reservoir mounted underneath.
Rather than reference the MHR Mille for the bike’s new tail section, BCR let the shape of the fuel tank dictate the design. A prototype of the tail unit was fabricated out of steel, before being recreated in carbon fiber and treated to suede upholstery.

The tail sits atop a custom-made stainless steel subframe, set at a sharp angle to create an aggressive silhouette. Gone are the MHR Mille’s twin rear shocks; BCR widened and braced the OEM swingarm and installed a mono-shock instead.
BCR also installed a set of Showa upside-downs up front, because, as Benjie puts it, “the outdated 1980s suspension had to go.” The running gear was upgraded further with a set of stunning (and lightweight) carbon fiber wheels from BST, plus modern twin disc brakes, and Michelin Pilot Street Radial tires. (An offset front sprocket ensures that the chain lines up perfectly with the wider-than-stock rear wheel.)

The Ducati MHR Mille’s narrow front fairing is another well-judged work of art. BCR once again started with a steel model before moving to carbon fiber, aiming for a stretched design that would flow seamlessly to the tank. It’s held in place by classic fairing stays, with a slick-looking aluminum bezel cradling the low-slung headlight.
A similar aluminum barrel holds the speedo just behind the windscreen. The cockpit also sports Brembo brake and clutch controls, and fresh Domino grips.

The MHR Mille’s once-neglected L-twin motor now looks clean enough to eat off, fed by a pair of burly FCR carbs. Gasses exit via a perfectly proportioned asymmetrical twin exhaust system, made from pie-cut stainless steel. With one conical muffler exiting alongside the swingarm and the other flanking the seat, it’s the type of system that wouldn’t look out of place on a well-sorted Ducati SportClassic.
The bodywork alone is a tour de force, but the Ducati’s new livery pushes it into the stratosphere. Raw carbon fiber dominates the build, punctuated by green and white graphics that pay homage to the original MHR graphics. A coat of gunmetal grey on the frame ties the whole thing together.

If you must customize a motorcycle as special as the Ducati MHR Mille, take a page out of BCR’s book and do it right. We love the MHR as much as the next guy, but there’s not a single misstep on this inspired reimagining of it.
If you’re still pining for an original MHR Mille though, there’s a one-mile example for sale over at Iconic Motorbikes right now, for a cool $53,500. Just imagine parking both in your garage…
BCR Designs | Facebook | Instagram | Images by Ben Chan



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