By Alan Stulberg’s own admission, Revival Cycles is “the kind of shop that puts subtlety high on the list of design priorities.” It shows—Revival’s builds are typically laced with well-considered details that are easily missed at first glance.
Case in point: this ’83 Ducati 650 Pantah. The client—a friend and ex-AMA racer—kicked off a conversation with Revival a year ago about building him a bike. “After much deliberation and collaborative conversations back and forth,” explains Alan, “he eventually decided on an ‘affordable’, simple and somewhat obscure Ducati model from the 80s.”
The Pantah rose to the top of the list, partly due to its relatively low price, but also because of one subtle difference—its staggered intake manifolds. Positioned on opposite ends of the cylinders, they give the bike a more vintage feel than the aligned carbs on more modern Ducatis.
The Revival crew had their work cut out for them though: “The client picked this bike up as a mostly sad looking hodge-podge of weird improvised pieces for a whopping $1,500 (hence the name ‘Fifteen Hundred’).” Their first step was to get it running—and shoot some ‘before’ photos, with Alan citing it as “one of the ugliest machines anyone has ever delivered to us and asked us to save it from itself.”
After more deliberation a brief was settled on: the client wanted a passenger seat, custom exhaust and a full rewire, and was after Revival’s signature “stripped down look”. Modern suspension and powerful brakes were on the table too—but the decision was made to shelve these ideas for later, and build the bike in two stages.
As it turns out, the Pantah rode as badly as it looked with poor brakes, soggy suspension and a sputtering engine. “I’ll admit that the combination of the loud whine of the straight-cut primary gears and the famous rattle of the Ducati clutch sounded amazing when they hit just right, but there were discernable ‘extra’ rattles that I found disturbing to say the least.”
Once the engine was cracked open, the cause of the ‘extra’ rattles became quite apparent—for starters, a main gearbox bearing was shot. Even worse, Revival discovered a completely intact 11/16” socket rolling around inside the engine! The scope of the project quickly changed to include a full engine and gearbox rebuild—with the happy side effect of being able to send the cases, cylinders and heads off for sandblasting the remove the crusty old black paint.
While working on the engine, the team turned their attention to the frame. They lopped off the rear subframe and peg hangers; rebuilding them to be better looking and lighter, with new passenger pegs. The frame was also de-tabbed and reinforced for extra strength, and hidden LEDs were installed with custom mounts welded into the rear of the frame.
Up front, the Pantah’s stock fuel tank was retained. But Revival beat out the dents and de-seamed it for a cleaner effect. The internal shape of the tank was altered too, giving it a more finished look and making space to stash the electrical system and battery underneath it. This included an Anti-Gravity Lithium Ion battery and a Motogadget M-unit (a Revival staple) on a custom bracket. “Getting everything to work perfectly under the tank and largely appear to be factory is a tough step,” says Alan.
A new seat pan was fabricated to fit the new subframe and sent off to Ginger at New Church Moto to complete. It came back wrapped in black suede with cream stitching, matching the tank’s new coat of paint. Revival then made up a bespoke two-into-two stainless steel exhaust system, terminating low down in matching cones.
The stock suspension was completely rebuilt at both ends, and the braking boosted with custom-built stainless brake lines. An LSL headlight was fitted via custom fork-mounted ears, and the ignition relocated and hidden under the seat. LSL also supplied the wide and high bars, now fitted with Motogadget M-buttons.
As Alan says: “Sometimes subtlety is wasted and sometimes it’s everything.” I’m going to go with the latter on this one. Revival have clearly transformed the “sad sack” Pantah into an elegant street machine, and along the way improved its rideability.
“The new engine runs amazingly well and has no problem pulling the front wheel into the air for hooligan shenanigans, and the freshened factory suspension and brakes performed MUCH better than they had as old worn out components.”
In fact, the team doesn’t even think a second stage is necessary. “Regardless … I’m pretty sure it will soon come back after a few hard miles for custom triple trees, big modern brakes and a completely reworked rear suspension setup as well. We’re ready whenever.”