Born in Blacksburg, Virginia, Brian Birch was always fascinated by cars, motorcycles, and what makes them tick. At the age of 18, Birch got his first bike, around the same time he enrolled to study mechanical engineering at Virginia Tech. While earning his degree, Birch filed his first patent — a design for a rear (swing-arm) track-stand that later won a national design award. For his senior project, in a move that Hank Hill would have very much approved of, Birch headed up a team that created what was reportedly the world’s first propane-powered motorcycle.
After graduating in 2000, Birch went on to work for a handful of elite engineering and research firms. Despite holding down a respected and well-paying position, Birch’s life changed drastically after 9-11 when the increasingly seasoned engineer abandoned his former professional and enlisted with the United States Coast Guard, flying helicopters and planes. While working his way up to the rank of Lieutenant in the USCG, Birch continued working on various engineering projects.
According to the seller of this 2003 Ducati 999, one of Birch’s former engineering gigs included working directly with Ducati’s MotoGP program on the development of the 2007 Desmosedici GP7 — the machine Casey Stone piloted to a world title. As the story goes: shortly after working with the Italian marque, Birch received a package in the mail from the Bologna-based company containing an array of top-shelf race components. With the box of trick race parts, Birch went out and scooped up a used 2003 Ducati 999 with 17,000 miles on it, and there began what would be a two-year project.
The build included the installation of titanium valves and forged pistons from a 999R, as well as the R-spec’s race ECU and Termignoni titanium exhaust. Other additions include a Barnett Clutch, litium ion battery, updated Brembo hardware, performance air filters, Marchesini forged magnesium wheels, and billet clutch pressure plate, clutch cover, and reservoir covers. There are also a decent amount of carbon fiber parts and covers. Birch’s 999’s suspension has been revamped as well, with an upgraded adjustable front-end tuned by Christianburg, Virginia’s Go Race, and a new swing-arm unit designed by Birch himself at Phoenix Engineering (also paired with a Go Race-tuned monoshock).
With the Duck’s mechanics all sorted, Birch moved onto the cosmetic aspects of the build, tacking on a full set of Dzus-fastened 2005 999 bodywork adorned in the Marlboro barcode/Alice Ducati livery, a la Casey Stoner’s GP7. The stock seat has also been replaced with a monoposto unit. By 2015, the 999 was complete, though not long after Birch would sadly be diagnosed with a degenerative neurological disease, which is what prompted the sale of the Ducati.
The current owner came into the possession of this example on New Years Eve 2017, but has since decided that souped-up superbikes aren’t for them and is now looking to sell. In addition to the bike itself, the sale includes front and rear track stands, and a “Casey Stoner signed and authenticated framed picture”. Considering the going rate for a 999, this seems like a particularly sweet deal, as you get a lot of the more expensive R-spec bits, the trick suspenders, Birch’s one-off swing-arm, etc.
You can find this Birch-built 2003 Ducati 999 for sale here on Craigslist in Pacific, Missouri with a price of $5,900.