Retro motorcycles are very ‘in’ right now. Triumph, Honda, Royal Enfield, and Moto Guzzi all make bikes that echo their classic forebearers, but with less oil leakage. Ural makes a sidecar-equipped bike that can take part in WWII re-enactments. And Honda’s even bringing back a beloved compact trail bike. But, although Ducati’s Scrambler is arguably a throwback, the Italian motorcycle company doesn’t really have a retro bike. At least, not anymore. That’s because the Ducati Sport 1000 was ahead of the game.
The Ducati Sport 1000 was retro before it was cool
Although some may argue the current Triumph Bonneville and Thruxton ushered in the neo-classic, café racer-style renaissance, the Ducati Sport 1000 actually came first. Kind of.
As Bennetts explains, the Ducati Sport 1000 is part of the ‘SportClassic’ line. Although the Sport 1000 was shown in 2003, the line was kicked-off by the Mike Hailwood-inspired limited-edition MH900e, which was first shown in 1998, RM Rider Exchange reports. That’s about 2 years before the reborn Triumph Bonneville hit dealers. The café racer Thruxton didn’t arrive until 2004.
The Sport 1000 was inspired by the Ducati 750 Imola Desmo of the 1970s. This, Cycle World reports, was the first Ducati L-twin (90° V-twin) bike with desmodromic valves. That engine design is still used in almost every Ducati made today. And in its debut at the 1972 Imola 200, Ducati racers Paul Smart and Bruno Spaggiari took 1st and 2nd place, respectively.
Like the 750, the Ducati Sport 1000 had an air-cooled, desmodromic valve L-twin. However, the Sport 1000’s engine had a 992cc capacity, putting out 92 hp, The Classic Motor Hub reports. And that wasn’t the only improvement the Sport 1000 had over the original.
What’s the Ducati Sport 1000 like to ride?
Although Ducatis are known for their dry clutches, the Sport 1000 switched to a wet clutch in 2007. And instead of the original 750’s 5-speed, the Sport 1000 had a 6-speed. The Sport’s engine was also fuel-injected. In the rear, it had 3-way adjustable Sachs shocks, with upside-down Marzocchi front forks. And, for improved handling, the Sport 1000 was built on Ducati’s trellis frame. And speaking of handling, there’s a reason a Ducati Sport 1000 was the hero bike in Tron: Uprising.
While the suspension is on the stiff side—appropriate, given its intent—Rider Magazine reports the brakes are excellent. Although there was a sport-touring version, the GT, which had curved handlebars, the Sport 1000 had clip-ons, for lower center-of-gravity and better handling. The Ducati Sport 1000 is not a bike for long highway rides, Autoblog reports. Instead, it’s a bike for sweeping corners and back roads.
It doesn’t hurt that many reviewers were quite taken by its aesthetics. There was even a Paul Smart limited-edition, based on the racer’s original bike. Ducati made 2000 of these bikes, which came with an enclosed fairing and upgraded, fully-adjustable Ohlins suspension all around.
Unfortunately, the Ducati SportClassic line wasn’t particularly successful. Production stopped in 2010. Ironically, that’s roughly about when the current trend for retro bikes started to pick up.
Today, a Ducati Sport 1000 can go for as much as $11,500 on Bring a Trailer. GTs go for slightly less; one sold in 2019 on BaT for $7,300.
The Paul Smart LE versions, though, have actually gained value. A particularly low-mileage example sold on BaT in 2019 for $25,000. More recently, a 7000-mile model sold in February 2020 for $17,000.
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