Vintage Cafe Racer
Few companies have a more marketable sport heritage than Ducati. Its L-twin stable, introduced in June 1971 by the legendary Ducati 750 GT, evokes a feeling elicited by no other brand. The 2007 Ducati SportClassic Sport 1000 monoposto unapologetically taps into that powerful emotional nostalgia, and the spirited café racers the period birthed.
Without a doubt, the Sport 1000 provides that experience, bringing along with it the good and bad. First, let’s talk about the good. The 1000 monoposto (so appended because of its solo seat) delivers modern Ducati handling. The trellis tube frame gives the 1000 the 24-degree rake we expect from Ducati, along with a mid-length 56-inch wheelbase. The inverted 43mm Marzocchi forks are like nothing you would find on a 1971 machine—these are superb units that offer both stability and outstanding handling.
The exacting suspension (there’s a single Sachs shock in the back) means that you can throw the sub-400-pound (claimed dry) Sport 1000 into a turn without the least bit of protest. Yes, it prefers the selection of a proper line and sticking to it, but mid-turn adjustments are not out of the question. Straight-line stability is rock solid; the clip-ons tuck you in, out of the fairing-free air blast. Over 100 mph you will start to notice the motor-produced wind, but you’ll be fine at double-digit velocities.
More of the modern good is provided by the well-tested, two-valve air-cooled 992cc powerplant. While the 92 horses do not sound like much, the Sport 1000 is all about torque and easy acceleration. There is no need to wind the motor up—maximum hp is at 8000 rpm and its peak of 67 ft/lbs comes 2000 rpm earlier. Short shift the fairly high-geared 6-speed transmission and let the sweet desmodromic motor work its modern and nostalgic magic.
It’s a motor that will never leave you feeling overmatched, but, when ridden properly, the real-world thrust is more than enough—in conjunction with the terrific chassis—to keep your 4-cylinder friends in view, as long as we aren’t talking mile-long straight-aways. Canyons and twisties are your friends on the Sport 1000, and the twin semi-floating, 320mm discs, with 4-piston floating calipers do their job with aplomb. The Sport 1000 isn’t the fastest bike down in the canyons, but it may be one of the easiest bikes to ride quickly through closely positioned corners.
On the downside, this is an exceedingly uncomfortable motorcycle—those cafés you’re racing to had better be close together. The reach from the seat to the handlebars is long, stretching your body over the elongated tank. Then, the clip-ons force your wrists down to waist level. The longer your arms and the shorter your legs, the more you will like this bike—reverse those statistics and you are looking at backaches and wrist pain. When you’re riding hard, you can settle into the position for a while, which is certainly effective for sport riding, before your body starts to demand a café stop. But, if you are looking for a bike to cruise around on, a 1000GT, with its upright ergonomics is a much better choice.
What we are left with is a bike that is remarkably fun to ride—for a short period of time. If classic good looks (right down to the period-perfect bar-end mirrors) and modern performance is a combination that gets your right wrist twitching, the SportClassic Sport 1000 monoposto delivers both–and it gives you an excuse to wear a stylish Italian pudding basin helmet. Just make sure you partake in short doses, unless you want to be on a first-name basis with your chiropractor.
Helmet: Momo Essenziale
Leathers: Kushitani custom
Gloves: Cortech Scarab R.R.
Boots: Spidi Vertigo Corse