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Nichols Flywheel ($250 + $60)

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The Nichols flywheel is probably the performance enhancement which has given me the most bang for the money: Along with increased acceleration and engine-braking, my bike became a wheelie-happy toy.. or how else do you think a flywheel that weighs 280 grams handles compared to the stock one of 1,567 grams..?! (That's 9 ounces compared to 4.2 lbs) The following I wrote on Ducati On-Line shortly after this acquisition:

The new Nichols flywheel looks more like an ashtray than a flywheel. The difference between this new flywheel and the old is that they now manufacture them in-house, contrary to just lighten up the stock flywheel (as they did before). Up till now, I'm very pleased with it -- this is perhaps the best price/performance mod there is when it comes to performance upgrades. There are however a few minor artifacts, but which I luckily found quite easy to live with: For instance, it vibrates a little more, especially at certain RPM's. The powerband seems also shifted upward by 300-400 RPM, which makes it slightly harder to cruise at lower RPM's (i.e., you've to use a lower gear for this kind of riding). When it comes to the goodies; the first thing I found was that it really feels like a bunch of horsepower has been added -- the engine is much more lively. Also my riding technique changed somewhat since it's now easier to accelerate and engine brake. I also tend to shift differently than before -- this I noticed right away when going on my favorite ride (being in different gears than before..). I think this is an inexpensive performance enhancement which any Ducati owner should consider before anything else.. om inte annat sa kan du ju andvanda det som en stilig ask-kopp.

A few years later, I posted the following on the Ducati mail-list:

Recently there have been a few postings about Nichols flywheel -- a discussion of whether it would be better to lighten the stock flywheel than to get a Nichols unit. Since I have some experience with Nichols flywheels (and their products in general) I'll try to explain why a lightened stock-flywheel might not be a good idea after all, and why those will never stack up to Nichols'.

So far I've put 75,000 miles on my 900SS of which 45,000 have been with a Nichols flywheel. In addition to this, I have ridden the following Ducatis with Nichols flywheel and clutch-basket; M900, 916, 996SPS (with 129 rear wheel HP), 748/"890" (110 HP), and a 851/"955" (118 HP) -- and I must emphatically add that all those bikes were very smooth and VERY streetable.

So why replace the flywheel rather than lighten the stock? Well, the stock flywheel is not balanced precisely, (in fact some stock units are cast). As a result, when you remove material evenly from the flywheel, also the drilled balancing holes are removed. This affects the balance -- hence, you must have it re-balanced, (i.e. it requires two processes to make those units acceptable). Whoever is lightning stock units nowadays is more than likely not doing both processes (the price charged clearly indicates this). Trust me, there is a reason why Nichols decided to no longer lighten the stock flywheel (which he initially did eight years ago) but instead started to manufacture his own flywheels. Performance and quality are the keywords here.

So what about performance? Frankly, it's baffling to see someone on a Ducati list arguing that Nichols' flywheels are "too light". What would you rather get; an aftermarket exhaust system that gives you 5 HP increase, or a system which gives you 7 more horsepower..?? If you wanna improve performance, why would you only remove 1 or 2 pounds, when you can remove 3 pounds..??

In any case, keep in mind that the total rotating mass of the crankshaft is approx. 22 pounds, so there's still 18 to 19 pounds left after a Nichols flywheel is installed -- which is plenty of rotating mass to make any engine streetable.

Besides, whose flywheel has a money-back guarantee?
- Ducati Performance -- no.
- STM -- nope.
- A lighten stock unit -- nada.
- Nichols -- yes.

In addition to this, Nichols have been making performance flywheels the longest. In fact, it's kind of amusing to see that most everyone (including Ducati themselves) now tries to copy Nichols' products and innovations: First Ducati copied Nichols' engine mount bolts (which Nichols started to make in '93), and then in '97 Ducati tried to copy his aluminium flywheels (which Nichols has made since '95), and now Ducati start using dual spark-plug heads which Nichols has done for eight years!! It just shows that Ducati think the guys at Nichols know what they're doing, (I wonder how long it will take until Ducati will copy the rest of Nichols' products ;-)

As always; speaking & representing myself.

-- peer