Road & Track (USA)
THE DEAD RINGER
“WHY BUILD A BIKE FROM SCRATCH THAT YOU CAN BUY AND RESTORE? HE WANTED TO BUILD A REPLICA OF A MOTORCYCLE THAT ALL HIS BUDDIES WOULD NEVER HAVE A CHANCE TO SEE.”
Konrad Eriksen was having the time of his life. Leaning into Turn 10 at Thunderhill Raceway Park in Northern California, he eased onto his motorcycle’s throttle. It was a bluebird day in the spring of 2020. The 650 twin-cylinder launched him forward on a hot lap. He hand-built this 1982 Ducati TT2 replica in his garage and had shaken it down in his suburban neighborhood, but this was his first day on track.
Talk about earning your turns; it took Eriksen three years to build this motorcycle.
His eyes focused in on Turn 11. But dark smoke was fuming off the rear of the bike. “I had no idea,” he says, in retrospect. “I wish someone had blackflagged me. But no one did.” An oil plug had fallen out, and oil was leaking onto his leg and rear tire. Midway through Turn 11, he lost the rear end. The next thing he knew, he was sliding across the pavement in his leathers and the bike was on a trajectory all its own. By the time he got it back to his garage in Reno, Nevada, he was nearly in tears—bruised more emotionally than physically.
“I had to order some new fairings,” says Eriksen, 58, a structural engineer who sells giant shock absorbers for buildings to withstand earthquakes. “I had to rebuild the gauge cluster. I had scrapes on the gas tank. It was a mess.” Time to roll up the sleeves, all over again.
The odyssey of Eriksen’s TT2 replica stretches decades. He grew up in a small New Zealand town called Wanganui, which is famous for one thing: a motorcycle race held every year the day after Christmas on the Wanganui Cemetery Circuit. One year he saw big-time racer Robert Holden compete in this event. Holden famously rode Ducatis, so Eriksen became a Ducati nut.
He bought his first “Duck” in 1998 and quickly filled his garage with exotic Italian bikes and the tools to work on them. Trips to Northern California for track days at Thunderhill resulted in endless memories and a couple busted ribs. When Road & Track visited Eriksen in May, he had five Ducatis in his garage, plus a KTM dirt bike and a 2011 Aston Martin V8 Vantage S. The tires on his 2009 Ducati 1198 were so smoked from hot laps, they looked as if they’d been slow-cured like a ham. His 2019 V4 S Corse weighs just 384 pounds dry and packs 214 hp. Think about that for a second.
The pièce de résistance, however, remains his handmade TT2 replica. Like all purpose-built race bikes, it is a rolling contradiction—beautiful enough to sit in an art museum and violent enough to kill. The 650 twin sounds like it could launch this bike and its rider to Mars. It was Eriksen’s wife, Sherry, who came up with the idea for him to build a motorcycle from scratch. (“She’s the best wife in the world,” he says.) He started in 2017, and the first thing he had to do was decide