For a motorcycle that only sold in small numbers and was produced for just five years, the Ducati SportClassic generates a remarkable amount of press. It’s virtually impossible to find a good condition example on the secondhand market, and if you do find one, you’ll have to pay handsomely for the privilege.
Put simply, Ducati’s 992 cc air-cooled twin was the right bike at the wrong time. Launched in 2005, the Pierre Terblanche design married retro looks with modern performance. You got 91 bhp to play with, plus 43mm USD forks and adjustable shocks. And all variants tipped the scales at around 400 lb, some 50 lb less than a Triumph Bonneville. It was a bike with no competition—and unfortunately, little demand.
It’s only been three years since the last GT1000 version rolled off the line. But in that time, the motorcycling landscape has changed radically. Demand for traditional roadsters has soared, and the café racer scene is enjoying a resurgence.
Although the Ducati was a good-looking bike—especially in Sport 1000 guise—that hasn’t saved it from the attention of the custom shops. So we’ve chosen five machines from builders skilled enough to shift the SportClassic from good to great.
Radical Ducati Cafe Veloce (Above and top) Radical Ducati’s recent closure was a huge loss for the custom world. This 2010 build is one of their best, taking the SportClassic a step back in time visually but increasing its performance still further. Using a late-model GT1000 as a base, the Spanish workshop blueprinted and balanced the engine, fitted a lightweight flywheel, and replaced the wet clutch with an EVR dry slipper clutch. The modified GT1000 tank is matched to a custom race-style tail unit sporting a 1970s Montesa taillight. (The frame has been shortened 5cm to match.) The front suspension is from a Monster S2R and Öhlins shocks bring up the rear. There are far too many other upgrades to mention here, but every component is the best you can get—from the Discacciati brake system to Tomaselli clip-ons. Simply incredible. [More about this bike]
ShedX’s sleeper SportClassic At first glance, this looks like a relatively stock SportClassic. And that’s just how ShedX’s client wanted it. But closer inspection reveals a whole raft of changes from the Sydney, Australia-based company. They lift this machine into superbike territory—like Ducati 999 forks, triple trees and wheels, and clip-ons from a 1098. The frame has been discreetly de-tabbed and cleaned up, and the brakes have been overhauled with Brembo Serie Oro components and front discs from a Multistrada 1100S. The stock airbox has been dumped in favor of a free-flowing pod system, and the custom exhaust was designed to stop just short of the swingarm. The bulky standard tail section has once again been ditched, this time for a hand-fabricated unit fitted with a simple suede seat pad. [ShedX Customs]
Revival Cycles SportClassic Texas-based Revival Cycles are one of the most technically-accomplished shops in the USA. They’re about the engineering as much as the style, and you get the impression that no problem is too thorny to solve. But this job must have stretched Alan Stulberg and crew more than most. The donor SportClassic had been burnt out by a fire, and the owner wanted the bike reconfiguring to suit his 6’5” frame. So Revival moved the seat unit back 5” and narrowed the rear frame by 6” as well, for a sleeker look. There’s a custom ECU to boost engine power, and full Öhlins suspension front and back—minus the usual gold coloring, thank goodness. The highlight, however, has got to be the seriously trick hand-welded exhaust system. “The bike sounds like it is about to kick someone’s ass in a bar fight,” says Stulberg. [More about this bike | Revival Cycles]
Flying Hermans MC ‘Hermanus Volante’ The Belgian café-racing club may be called the “Flying Hermans,” but in July 2012 one of its members wrote off his beloved Ducati Sport 1000 in spectacular fashion. Andy Gerooms was okay, but the poor bike was totaled. Its front wheel was pushed in and its frame buckled. Andy just couldn’t bear to banish the remains to some cold and lonely junk-yard, though, so he purchased the wreck from his insurance company, hauled it back to his shed and set about rebuilding the Duc better than ever. It was no easy task: “Five months, every day, every free hour,” he says of the work involved.
The frame and gas tank are from a limited-edition 2006 Paul Smart replica; repainted in the shed, they went a long way to making the bike whole again. From there, Andy did more Ducati parts bin engineering, adopting the cast Marchesini wheels from a 999, the front brakes from a 998 and the carbon-fiber front fender from a Monster S4R. A zoomy Zard full titanium exhaust system caps off the spectacular rebuild. [Via The Ride: New Custom Motorcycles and Their Builders]
Louis75 Jubiläumsbike Sport 1000 If there’s ever a criticism of naked Ducati customs, it’s that they can look a little ‘busy.’ Fins on the cylinders, complicated engine castings usually hidden by fairings, and pipes and wiring everywhere. And the tubular frames don’t help. But this SportClassic from Marcus Walz takes a big step in the right direction with smooth, understated aluminum bodywork. It was a commission from the huge German moto accessory retailer Louis, and they picked their builder well. Surprisingly, the bike was designed using feedback from Louis’ Facebook fans, who helped to choose the styling direction, the wheels, bars and instruments, and also the paint. Once again, a Ducati 999 has given up its front end, but the rear bodywork is unique. Slim and elegant, it adds a modern and refined look to a bike that usually defines retro muscle. For the finishing touches, Louis called in a little help from their friends: Akrapovic supplied a custom exhaust system, and Ducati offered its exclusive “Anniversario Rosso” paint, normally reserved for anniversary and presentation models. [More about this bike | WalzWerk Racing]
That’s our pick of the best SportClassics. Does it match your selection?
Last week’s Top 5 covered the Triumph Thruxton.