1986 Ducati 750 F1
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With an experienced team and a lot of data.
After Tony Rutter’s four TT2 World Championship wins, Ducati offered a handful of 600 cc replicas of the race bike in 1982 and 83, followed by a 750 cc kit in 1984. Only 50 TT2 replicas were built, but they paved the way for the Tri-Colore F1 750 cc street version of 1985.
Unfortunately, the introduction coincided with the sale of Ducati to Cagiva, which was more interested in mainstream bikes like the Pantah-based Alazzurra. The F1 was therefore marginalized. The F1 represents the last of the pre-Cagiva Ducatis, and as such is appropriately harsh and unforgiving with strikingly handsome looks.
There were three basic versions of the F1 from 1985-87, plus three more collectible versions at the end of production. The F1A was introduced in February 1985 at the Sydney Motorcycle Show and was the first street bike from Fabio Taglioni that traded bevel-drive gears to the desmodromic valves for the less exotic but much cheaper belts.
The 1985 F1A carried the old Giugiaro graphics and was finished in red, white and green. The 62.5 bhp 750 cc engine was based on the 650 cc Pantah, with the same small valves but no air cleaners. The black two-into-one Conti exhaust exited on the left. The space under the fairing was so tight that there was no room for cam belt covers, and the frame had an extra loop to support the seat and a center stand. Wheels were gold Oscam mags with Brembo brakes, but later bikes had full-floating discs. The handsome fuel tank was aluminum and fitted between the frame rails. Wheels were 16 inches at the front and 18 inches at the rear, which also had a Marzocchi monoshock.
The F1B of 1986 carried Cagiva’s typeface and elephant on the steel gas tank. The engine casing was significantly strengthened with larger bearings and new cylinder heads with bigger valves. Power increased to 75 bhp. The gears were 30 percent wider, and a dry clutch replaced the wet one. The F1B received Forcelle Italia front forks (formerly Ceriani) and the Oscam wheels were now red. The final F1Bs were made for the U.S. market with quieter two-into-two exhausts, Koksusan ignition, a two-piece front fender, and a dual seat with a replaceable cowling.
Three special editions marked the passing of the F1 and all of these are more collectible. The red-and-silver Montjuich (named after the Barcelona track) was built in 1986 as a full-on race replica with racing tires, no turn signals and a deafening Verlicchi exhaust. The engine was uprated with larger ports and hotter cams. The gearbox was redesigned, the swing-arm and gas tank were both aluminum, and there was no stand. Much lighter, polished Marvic-Akront 16-inch wheels were fitted at both ends and Brembo brakes were upgraded to four pistons.
Marco Luchinelli triumphed at Laguna Seca in the 1986 Battle of the Twins, so a signature model was named produced. It was similar to the Montjuich, but the gas tank was steel and it had Paso wheels and a Paso front fender. The windshield was also cut down and some bikes came with a dual seat.
By 1987, the F1’s racing days were almost over, but Lucchinelli won the opeing round of the World TT Formula One championship at the Santa Monica track in Misano, Italy, so one last red-and-white special edition was built, mostly for Japan. The Santa Monica was similar to the Laguna Seca, except it had the Marvic-Akront wheels from the Montjuich. All had dual seats. In all, 1,801 F1A and F1B models were built, along with 200 Montjuich, 200 Laguna Seca and 204 Santamonica models. There were also 1,370 350 cc and 400 cc F3 models built for Italy and Japan.
The F1s in all their guises are violent and unforgiving, and most owners ride them rarely, which they will grudgingly admit. F1s are cramped, prone to understeer, and inclined to stand up and go straight ahead under hard braking. Later examples have better electrics, but a battery tender is essential. Insist on full records – with belt replacement dates – and check carefully for crash damage. These are among the last Ducatis a skilled owner can work on and they provide a visceral thrill, including the ability to set off car alarms in closed garages as you roar past.