Ducati 900 Super Sport – Vintage Motorcycles Online

30 Mar 2015 | Author: | Comments Off on Ducati 900 Super Sport – Vintage Motorcycles Online
Ducati 900 S 2

Ducati 900 Super Sport

Desmo domination in the 70s

Y ou’ll need to tip-toe around the left just beyond Superior. On weekends, patrols are notorious for hiding near the apex, but it’s Tuesday and it seems I’m all alone here. Climbing rapidly through the Queen Creek tunnel, old Highway 60 shoots you out the other end into Devil’s Canyon. Two lanes here means there’s no waiting, so I steer the silver beast left and blow past some locals.

Made for this road, the roar from the 900’s twin Contis reverberte off the granite as I muscle the Super Sport through the sweeping curves. Probably like those responsible for discovering electricity or harnessing the heat of fire, I’m filled with an awesome sense of self awareness. For years I listened to the words, but I didn’t hear them.

Then I experienced it. Ducati magic.

No need to retell the legend of the 900’s roots, or the 1-2 victory at Imola earned by Smart and Spaggiari on the 750cc racer. Perhaps still trying to fill homologation promises made by the factory, a limited number of square-case 750 and 900 Super Sports were scheduled for production in 1975. When demand for the raw boned SS overshadowed the other models in the company’s catalog, Super Sport production became a priority in 1976 and gave struggling Ducati the big seller it so desperately needed.

That view-from-the-saddle introduction describes this writer’s first real Ducati experience; just part of a week-long bonding I enjoyed with a 1978 Super Sport 900 nine years ago. Resplendent in blue/silver, that machine (since sold) belonged to Tucson contractor Bill Hardy, who on more than one occasion graciously allowed me the freedom to roam inside his considerable moto sanctuary.

Carefully tuned and expertly prepped by Ducati guru Steve Spreter (Renaissance Motorcycles ) the condition and performance of Hardy’s 900 SS insured that my impression was positive. Thanks to Steve (who educated me on the process) I was made aware of the skill and experience required to satisfy the attention hungry Desmo. In all fairness, it must be reported the reward more than justifies the effort.

A distinct identifier, the SS’s ‘square case’ casting came from the 860 GT tourer. Offering many mechanical benefits (like an electric starter, not fitted to the Super Sport) and helping to streamline big-twin production, the aforementioned batch of 750 and 864cc SS models were the first recipients of the Desmo valve actuation/square case marriage. Essentially a sleeved 900, the 750’s near equal price made choosing the 900 an easy decision for most.

As a result, the 750  was discontinued two years later.

Born for the track, the remainder of the 900 SS stays true to Ducati’s production racer formula. A direct descendant of the Imola frame, the 900’s chassis features a center-axle 38mm Marzocchi fork, twin shocks and three Brembo discs mated to aluminum Borrani rims. Ducati treated the engine to new cam profiles, hi-compression pistons, 40mm Dellortos with no airbox, and open megaphone Conti exhausts.

Replacing the 750’s fiberglass fuel tank was a similar item in steel, a color matched, bullet-shaped 1/2 fairing and a bum-stop solo seat with zippered storage in the tail. Low, forward mounted clip-on bars matched with rear-set controls and right-side gear change, changed to the left via linkage in 1978. Later versions fitted an airbox with 32mm carbs, more restrictive mufflers and even directional indicators, but most have been changed back to Ducati’s original tuning specs.

So equipped and in proper tune, the 900 SS was capable of either 12-second quarter mile times or top speeds approaching 140-mph, depending on gearing. Running in a class by itself, only riders with Rickman or Bimota inscribed on the fuel tank could challange the long, low and narrow Super Sport, which weighed only 420-lb dry.

I’d always wondered why every rider pictured upon a 900 SS found it necessary to assume the racer’s crouch. until I rode one. It’s quite a reach over the SS’s long, narrow tank, and with feet perched high and rearward, the position uncomfortably stretched my then-younger and more flexible lower back. In spite of its dedicated riding position, the Super Sport is reasonably easy to live with on a daily basis.

On my test bike the cold starting ritual consisted of fuel taps on, choking the front pumper and a couple twists of the throttle. A firm kick with the throttle closed usually lit the engine with little drama. Once warm, it was a one kick affair. Supple and smoother than the Guzzis I’d grown accustomed to, the engine is amazingly flexible; just as happy to pull the bike around in top gear as it is crowding redline.

Well spaced and rather tall, the gearing on my test bike allowed up to 70-mph before third was needed.

The Super Sport’s brutal ergonomics make sense when you’re flying through the twisties, cheating the blast while enjoying the 900’s unflappable stability. What most consider the Super Sport’s most enduring traits; its creamy engine and magical chassis are now taken for granted in a world where such qualities are commonplace.

What’s important to remember is precious few production machines from the Nixon years offered this level of at-speed confidence, making it clear why the 900 SS dominated on and off the track through the decade. Simply put, the Ducati 900 SS established the performance maker by being better than anything else available, and retained that position up and into the early 1980s. Admired for its unforgettable sound, remarkable lines and obvious pride found in its details, it isn’t difficult to understand why the Super Sport is one of the most desirable motorcycles on the planet.

Ducati 900 S 2

Now highly collectible, you’ll be hard pressed to find a clean, running 900 Super Sport for under $15.000. Not surprisingly most have seen a very hard life, be it from track use or the inevitable conclusions resulting from enthusiastic sport riding. Thankfully, the 900 SS and similar Ducatis enjoy the support of a knowledgeable aftermarket, and machines existing as not quite original or pristine can and are enjoyed as intended.

A critical benchmark in superbike history, the Ducati 900 Super Sport is  unforgettable because its performance, style and substance insure it could be nothing less. Nolan Woodbury

Ducati 900 Super Sport (1979 specs)

Engine . 864cc air-cooled 90-degree v-twin

with Desmo valves. Electronic ignition 86 x 74.4mm

bore and stroke Compression: 9.5:1. 2 (two) DellOrto

carburetors. 68 bhp @ 7500 rpm.

Clutch/gearbox: wet, multiplate. 5-speed

Frame and chassis . Steel tube. Engine as stressed member.

38mm Marzocchi fork and twin-shock swinging arm. 2 x 280mm

Ducati 900 S 2
Ducati 900 S 2
Ducati 900 S 2
Ducati 900 S 2
Ducati 900 S 2


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