After Ducati reigned supreme in the 90s with their formidable fully-faired 900 series superbikes, they presented the start of a new range of retro-inspired motorcycles at the Tokyo Motor Show in 2003. Aptly named the ‘Sportclassic’ range, It was a brave move for the innovative Italians which has brought them full circle, now producing bikes with a nod to those early café racer greats.
In 2006 Ducati launched the Sport 1000S which took inspiration from the 1973 750 Sport and the Paul Smart Imola Desmo. This model in particular is the 2007 Ducati Sportclassic 1000S, a bike that need not be ashamed of its past and is certainly not to be confused with any “home brew” café racer. The 1000S is purpose built for the job – in short this means it’s uncompromising in its ride, impeccable in its handling and good looking from any angle.
Ducati have never been ashamed to show off their tubular steel trellis frame, and there is a reason they should be so proud of it, not just because of how many have tried to copy it. It is an age old debate whether or not the characteristics of stiffness outweigh the flex in a traditional perimeter frame but one thing is for sure, it looks gorgeous. This particular machine is finished in the infamous Ducati red which is set off by the black accents on the engine block and the fully black painted exhaust system.
Powering this lightweight road racer is the 992cc L-twin cylinder, 2 valves per cylinder Desmodromic; air cooled unit. The Sportclassic outputs a mere 92HP but coupled with the six speed and fairly long ratio gearbox, with the right rider you can make some serious progress on either road or track.
Not only is the engine and transmission beautifully married, the suspension is certainly up to par. A pair of fully adjustable shocks on the rear and 43mm upside down forks on the front give the bike a ready and poised stance.
If you’re used to anything but large capacity café racer style bikes, be prepared for a bit of a shock when it comes to ride position. The good news is, the feedback from the 1000S will determine within the first half and hour ride whether or not this is the bike for you.
Riders who suffer from aches and pains on a less focused machine, need not apply. With your leg flung over the chassis, you will have to shuffle to sit your rear in place before figuring out your feet and handlebar positions.
Thankfully everything about the Ducati Sportclassic ergonomics are well-proportioned. The cockpit is lovely to look at with distinctive equal pair of classic look analog/digital gauges, which are mounted centrally on the painted frame. The yolk and frame also add to the overall symmetry of the riders perspective.
This may look like a retro racer but aside from aesthetics, there is nothing old school about this 70s homage. It’s still a Desmodromic 90 degree twin but now with extra punch at almost 1000cc. Fed by a fully electronic ignition and fuel injection system, all put through the wet clutch and modern six speed box, it is the full package, but what does all this mean on the road?
Well, handling wise it is quite phenomenal. It could be that a regular road rider would never truly experience the Ducati Sportclassic’s performance at its limit. Firstly, take a look at the bike, does it look like a commuting tool?
This is for solo rider indulgence, a pin point accurate, torpedo shaped feast for the senses. Any rider familiar with counter steering should be suitably impressed by the Sportclassic’s eagerness to drop into a turn and commit. Changing course or direction is uncomplicated and satisfying, so good in fact it could have you thinking you own the wrong bike within minutes.
The power is relentless, yet smooth in its delivery. Slicing through an apex and pinning the throttle on the way out will not fluster the Ducati Sportclassic, it was built for that. You’ll find yourself transitioning through the bends enjoying your new found methods of execution, your head will begin to creep further down behind the screen as you begin to realise the true intention of this Italian red rocket.
Words by Mike Belshaw