You’ve probably noticed the new breed of moto gear store springing up around the world. The products are curated, rather than piled high. And there’s usually a cool bike in the window, or in the middle of the shop floor.
In Toronto, Ontario there’s a fine example of the type, called Town Moto. And yes, there’s always a cool display bike to stop the traffic. Right now, pride of place is taken by this incredible and very obscure Moretti, a vintage race bike based on the Cagiva Alazzurra.
If you’ve never heard of Moretti before, don’t worry—it was a new name for us, too.
The bike was built by Canadian race enthusiast Paul Hewitt, and it’s one of just ten in the world. While toying with the idea of building a custom Ducati Pantah, Hewitt stumbled across the tale of Domenico Moretti, famous in Italy for building a gorgeous racer based on the Ducati TT2 in the 1980s.
Replica kits are now available from Carlo Leoncini, so Hewitt placed his order. A package soon arrived from Europe, with a TIG welded Chrome-Moly frame, a swingarm, custom footpegs, and that delicious bodywork.
The hunt began for an engine. The TT2 was built around a Ducati Pantah engine, but those machines are becoming too valuable to chop up these days.
So Hewitt found an engine from a 1985 Cagiva Alazzurra—which is is mechanically identical to the Pantah, because Ducati’s then-parent company built it.
He boosted the original 650 cc engine to 750 cc, and added a solid dose of headwork for even more power. The engine internals have been lightened and balanced, with performance upgrades including Carrillo connecting rods and 900SS camshafts.
According to the guys at Town Moto, the new 41 mm Dell’Orto carburetors are “Big enough to suck a cat off the sidewalk.” They’ve been modified by the Italian company Malossi, with reshaped bellmouths for increased airflow.
The Marvic magnesium wheels are replicas of 1980s Campagnolos, hooked up to forks from a Ducati 851. The rear end is suspended by an Öhlins TTX shock originally designed for a Honda CBR600RR.
Kits are supposed to be easy, but this build took six months—with a ton of brackets and machining to make it work. Ten kits have been made, but Hewitt completed his first.
Being a bicycle nut, he decided to paint the Moretti a minty ‘Celeste Green’— the signature color of Bianchi. But his painter very wisely refuted the suggestion, given the Moretti’s slab-sided bodywork.
They ended up agreeing on a low-key, metallic white—not a million miles away from modern Ducati paintwork. And it looks sublime, doesn’t it?
As soon as the Moretti was finished, it was time to hit the track. But on the first day out, the timing belt skipped a tooth. Valves met pistons, and the head of the exhaust valve was ejected from the muffler.
“Builder error,” Hewitt admits. “I squeezed it a little too tight. But I didn’t crash, I stayed upright.”
He’s already rebuilt the engine, and as soon as the Moretti has finished its stint in the window, he’ll be back on the track again.
If you live within riding distance of Lake Ontario, zip over to Town Moto for a closer look at this incredible machine. The rest of us will have to make do with Cycle Canada’s great tech article on Mr Moretti’s magnificent motorcycle.