Kaspeed Custom Motorcycles Ducati 750 SS
Change is difficult to appreciate and often fairs far better in hindsight. We tend to follow regimens and live within hard-packed paths, not out of fear or discomfort, but because that’s what has become most familiar to us.
What we consume follows those trends as well. Our tastes are a product of familiarity and when the pendulum begins to swing in the opposite direction, it can be frightening.
There are few designers that have shaken motorcycling to its core more so than South African Pierre Terblanche. To this day, he remains a controversial figure for all who appreciate motorcycles.
Terblanche’s designs were a radical departure from anything that the legendary Massimo Tamburini had ever produced and justifiably so—they needed to be. Terblanche could not be a simplistic derivation; he was tasked with to usher in a new era.
Beneath all of the aesthetic draping, the machines were competitive and undoubtedly surpassed their predecessors. Terblanche’s Ducati 999 went on to claim three World Superbike Championship titles in only four years of its production.
However, beyond the apex predators of motorcycling lie equally iconic motorcycles such as the Ducati 750 SS. The two-valve, air-cooled SS line is an undeniable part of the Italian brand’s DNA. The SS represented something attainable; a sport machine for the road, not a battle-hardened Superbike.
Ducati’s renaissance of the early 2000s was rapid. Terblanche took his pen to all current and new models, reshaping the brand as we knew it. In recent years, his designs have become far more widely appreciated and sought after, despite their initial polarization.
There is always something more within the Terblanche bikes and in Glauchau, Germany, a family owned shop known as Kaspeed Custom Motorcycles discovered the possibilities and built a stunning café racer out of a 2001 Ducati 750 SS i.e.
The Dressel family—Jimmy, his twin brother Mick, and their father Karsten—owns Kaspeed Custom Motorcycles (often shortened to Kaspeed Moto). The family owned and operated shop has been producing café racers, bobbers, brats, trackers, and just about everything else under the sun, from their small workshop in the German Free State of Saxony for a few years now.
The Ducati 750 SS does not lend itself to the sleek, narrow profiles typically associated with café racer builds. “Even before when we acquired the bike,” Jimmy recalls from when they first devising a strategy for the 750 SS, “we knew it would be a tough task to turn this bike into a cafe racer given the wide and curvy gas tank.”
The trio of builders set upon the task of slimming the 750 SS’s profile. Starting at the rear, they chopped the rear end of the trellis frame down, streamlining the tail-section of the frame to create a more uniform appearance, while shortening it during the process—svelte and tidy, just as the Ton Up Boys would have done back in the day.
“We wanted to create a seamless connection between front and rear bodywork from the front fairing all the way to the seat cowl,” Jimmy says. To achieve that look, the three builders smoothed the lines on the frame. All tabs were removed, giving the frame sleek look.
With the hard part out of the way, the Kaspeed boys left the 750 SS’s fairings on the shop floor and opted for something with a classic charm. Beginning up front, the team opted for a classic fairing and oddly enough, they had something specific in mind.
“We found a distinct front fairing with Moto Guzzi Le Mans style, that was shaped to support the classic and racer like look,” according to Jimmy. The vintage racer fairing begins to set the entire build off and the 750 SS began to truly take on a completely new personality.
The 2001 Ducati 750 SS’s fuel tank is hearty to say the least. Its curvaceous design doesn’t seem to be in line with the ethos of a café built, but with enough hard work, Kaspeed were able to make it happen.
The first order of business for Kaspeed Moto was to remove the large tank pad that sits at the rear. Having done this myself, I know what a pain that can be. With that large piece of rubber out of the way, the tank was able to blend in with the newly forming lines of the machine.
Of course, our eyes are naturally drawn back to the solo seat with a decidedly racy cowl. With the exception of the seat, which was done by a local upholster, the seat pan and rear cowl were all hand made within in house.
Exterior work catches the eye, so ensuring that they’ll get the most out of the 750 SS is a top priority. The team went through the wiring of the bike, upgrading various electronic components as they saw fit.
Beyond that, the 748cc L-twin was bestowed with dual GP-style exhaust and the manifold polished. I’ve always had a soft spot for the air-cooled L-twins, as I find them to have an absolutely brilliant exhaust note, and I’m sure the Kaspeed Moto 750 SS doesn’t disappoint.
Perhaps one of the most striking elements of this entire build is the paint scheme. Subtle and elegant, the Kaspeed crew took care of the work in-house, as with almost all elements of their work.
“We wanted to keep the paint scheme simple to let the shapes speak,” Jimmy says. “The logo on the gas tank is a reminder to Ducati’s racing heritage.” The deep red is known as Ferrari Rossi Fuoco. For those of us who don’t speak Italian, that translates to Fire Red. The paint itself is three-layer paint, requiring a great deal of care when being sprayed.
That wasn’t the only element of the Kaspeed Moto 750 SS that went into the spray booth. The trellis frame and wheels were repainted in their original colors, while the engine was given a much darker, metallic grey paint, giving a bit of contrast to the build.
The finishing touches come in the form of masterfully chosen retro gauges from Daytona. Just below that the team CNC machined a set of warning lights into the upper triple clamp. This unique addiction keeps the dash area uncluttered. Motogadget bar-end indicators were used throughout the bike, keeping with the modern-retro narrative, while also serving a real purpose—this motorcycle remains road legal.
When Terblanche first put pen to paper, it is tough to say that he had vintage café racer aesthetics in mind for the new generation Ducati SS. As radical as his stylistic ideas were for the time, they were built upon the familiar—a thoroughbred Italian motorcycle.
We have always struggled with change, young or old. While things may look radically different on the surface, we only need to peel back those layers to find what we’re looking for and that’s exactly what Kaspeed Custom Motorcycles has done with its exceptional Ducati 750 SS i.e. café racer built.
Photography by Jimmy Dressel