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Riding Up the Mountain on a Stellar Ducati 900 "SuperSport" SSD

Posted by Scot Wilson on

The weather is perfect here in the desert and I had the opportunity to take the recently restored 1981 Ducati 900 SSD to the Ducati club gathering and then up Mt. Lemmon. This is the second "break-in" ride with this bike to make sure that everything is sorted. This machine is not just a good ride but a magnificent performer  and with great looks as well. 

She fired up on the first push of the starter motor despite the fact that she has been sitting for almost 3 months due to work conflicts and the normal rains that come to the desert in December and January. My I-Phone does not do justice to the beautiful 

exhaust note, however, it is a nice place to start before I invest in more sophisticated video equipment. 

As expected, this beautiful Bevel Drive 900 SuperSport is an attention getter. This particular color scheme is also one of the Ducati factory's best. In matching the paint, we discovered that the base light blue is most closely resembled a Volkswagen paint color from the 1980's which we mixed to get a perfect match. A full restoration takes many experts and I thank the professionals at Cut Grafix for the decals, Tony O'Connor of Eldorado Seat Restoration for a new vinyl seat cover, and Phil of Road & Race for the front fairing. 

This restoration was a complete build from the "crank-up" and a bike that I am extremely proud of and especially now that I have been able to ride it. Again, this bike came as boxes of bits in an inventory that I purchased from Jan and Toine Biggelaar whose Ducati dealership has existed in Osterwijk, Holland for the past 3 generations. 

I am so thankful that Jan encouraged me so to take this 900 SSD project on and bring it back to life. Further, it was Jan and his lead tech, Wim, who rebuilt this 900 SuperSport engine with their decades of joint expertise, knowledge and passion for the Ducati Bevel Engines. The engine started on the first "push" of the starter button and with No Choke!! That is a big departure from the Norton's that I have owned where I had to kick and fiddle with the Amal's for some times 40 minutes before the bike would start. No oil leakage from the engine cases for the time it as been dormant or since we put oil in the engine crank cases.  A huge difference from the beloved British bikes that I started with.

These Bevel Drive engines are magnificent. To quote Tony Hamilton, the Ducati Bevel Drive can defy the laws of physics and metallurgy as they deliver modern horse power from engines that were originally built in the 1970's and 1980's for Twins and earlier for Ducati Singles. What masterpieces of engineering excellence that work so precisely like a Swiss watch. I enjoy immensely my Ducati Superbikes but I love riding my Bevel Drive Ducati's! Always excited to pass that lumbering Harley Davidson at 7,000 RPM or more.

Due to the sophistication of these Bevel Geared masterpieces, it takes real experts with years of experience to get the shimming correct, the advance and sealing of the engine components so that these engine cases from the 1980's do not leak oil. I have been a "replacement mechanic" for the most part as that was all that I had time to do at the track. However, I give the job of rebuilding these engineering marvels to professionals such as Biggelaar Specialty Performance, Malcolme Tunstall of Syd's Cycles or someone like Tony Hamilton in Oz. Further, as I had agreed with my wife that I would sell this Ducati 900 SuperSport SSD, the engine needed to be perfect from a master technician and that is what I have. 

We are so fortunate to live in Tucson, Arizona, surrounded by mountain ranges like the city of Rome. The road to Mt Lemmon takes one up the "twisties" to 10,000 ft level. It is gorgeous and a phenomenal ride on a phenomenal bike. As the engine was built to factory 900 ss specifications, it breaths its fuel mixture through 40 mm Del Orto's and creates a symphony of an exhaust note through Conti header pipes and Conti Replica exhausts. It would have been sacrilegious to have any other exhaust system on this bike. I am easily able to stay with the modern Ducati twins without effort. Had to post a photo of our mountains and our famous blue skies. 75 degrees F today!! 

In reading Ian Falloon's books like Ducati 860,900 & Mille Bible, he confirms the success and popularity of the Darmah range of Ducati Bevel Drive Twins and especially the 900 SuperSport Darmah with its clip-on handle bars and half-fairing. Yes, it is a heavier bike than my Ducati 900 ss Mike Hailwood Replica. Yet, I am convinced that like Mr Falloon, that this 900 SSD is a very successful Ducati Bevel Drive and a great performer on the mountain roads of Italy and here in the Sonoran Desert of Arizona USA. One must ride the bike, to understand what I am trying to communicate in words. 

As there is so much expertise and money that went into this special build, I will be holding out for the right individual who is looking for a limited production Ducati 900 SuperSport Bevel Drive and will love to ride it. This is a great US bike as touring is such a significant part of riding in the US. Further, the US is a large country where a solid touring machine that is comfortable to ride on a long trip is a real advantage. 

In conclusion, this Ducati 900 SSD, is a treasure and I will continue to put some miles on it to keep the oil circulating and the fun continuing. I am happy to entertain any real offers from someone who understands the historical significance of this limited production Super Sport and understands the cost and necessity of paying experts for an expert engine build. Suffice it to say that I have talked with numerous sources domestically and internationally to get the pricing range correct for the value of the bike after this full "crank-up" restoration. If you are looking for an exquisite example of Bologna's finest Bevel Drives and with the confidence that the restoration has been completed by professional engine builders and restorers, please contact me at: italianiron@msn.com. 

 


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