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Ducati 748RS

Ducati 748RS
I’ve always thought the 748 was one of the prettiest and most appealing Ducatis of recent times. It had the elegant architecture of the 916, but a shorter-stroke engine that revved to a sky-high 11,500rpm. Ducati made several versions of the 748, but the ultimate—and rarest—was this 748RS model. These delicate, rarely-pictured machines were homologation specials; stripped-down versions of the street bike with lightweight bodywork, race-only wiring looms and exposed cam belts. The engines were modified internally in line with FIM regulations, and were supplied with extremely aggressive cam profiles. A sinuous 54mm lightweight Termignoni exhaust system completed the spec. They’re not user-friendly bikes, and require very specialized maintenance—not least replacing the valves every 750 miles or so. The RS was campaigned with success on the track; in the US, it delivered a Battle of the Twins win for Dario Marchetti in 2004 and a Pro Thunder win for Kirk McCarthy in 2002, and in France it took David Muscat to three consecutive Supersport wins between 2000 and 2002. The bike shown above comes from UK outfit Sigma Performance, and is one of the very few 748RS models imported into the States. Ducati 748RS00*000666—‘The Beast’—has hardly been used, having just five track days under its belt, and Sigma has produced a set of images showing how the 748RS arrived ‘in the crate’, with carbon fiber everywhere and the multitude of small but critical touches that separate the race bikes from their road-going brethren. [Thanks to Anthony Creek of Pro Italia for the tip.]

Ducati 748RS
Ducati 748RS
Ducati 748RS
Ducati 748RS

  • bruce

    what a sled!

  • Pamberjack

    Do we have any idea of the power and torque figures?

  • BryGuy9

    Can someone explain to me why the valves need to be replaced every 750 Miles?

  • chromegelatin

    I’m guessing the valves have to be replaced every 750 miles because Ducati uses a desmodromic valve system. In essence the cams actually open and close the valves instead of just opening them and letting a valve spring return them. Way back in the day… Way way back in the day. The metallurgy of the springs meant that they would break under sufficient pressure, or they didn’t have enough resistance to return a valve back to it’s original position in sufficient time for high RPM operation. The desmodromic valves overcame this issue. Mercedes actually used an desmodromic car engine for a while. Until the last couple of years even two valve Ducatis had something like a 5000 mile valve adjustment interval. I believe it’s up to 7500 miles or something like that now. Now desmodromic engines are a Ducati signature. Something akin to a boxer engine in a BMW. At one point it was a technological advantage but now common motors have overcome the problems that these technologies once solved. Also it’s a high spec race engine, most only last a race or two at most.

  • Bald Shaun

    Very incitefull reply, Chromegelatin. One thing I have to point out though, the old 5,000 and current 7,500 mile intervals are for valve inspections, not necessarily adjustments. My valves needed no adjustment at 7,500 miles and I have heard of many late model Ducati owners getting 20k or more miles without needing any valve adjustments.
    Obviously, the 748RS is a different beast. A sexy beast, though.

  • I think the power for this bike was mentioned as being around 120bhp or so. That’s a pretty good bhp-per-liter figure.

    The valves are 36mm chrome-topped Menon racing valves, which can handle aggressive race cam profiles. According to Sigma, “After 750 km of racing use the chrome round the retaining ring groove is usually starting to break up”.

    This is purely a function of the race setup — it’s no relation to the reliability of a road-going 748.

  • Carbon-arc