Tamburini’s Dream Machine: The Ducati Paso 750

Tomorrow’s Classics: 1986-1988 Ducati Paso 750.

  • Ducati Paso 750 full right view
    Ducati Paso 750
  • Moto Guzzi 1000 Le Mans
    Contenders: Moto Guzzi 1000 Le Mans
  • Honda VF750F
    Contenders: Honda VF750F and VFR750F

  • Ducati Paso 750 full right view
  • Moto Guzzi 1000 Le Mans
  • Honda VF750F

Ducati Paso 750
Claimed power:
72hp @ 7,900rpm
Top speed: 131mph
Engine: 748cc air-cooled; SOHC L-twin; desmodromic valves
Weight: 420lb (dry)
Price then/now: $6,377/$2,000-$4,000

If you remember the 1980s, you probably remember Victor Kiam saying on TV he was so impressed with his Remington shaver, he bought the company. And that’s pretty much what Cagiva’s Claudio Castiglioni did. After using Ducati engines in its own bikes for three years, Cagiva acquired the Bologna bike maker in 1986, and the Paso was the first of a new generation of Ducatis to emerge from the partnership.

So just how much of the Paso was authentic Ducati? Pretty much only the engine, a 750cc version of famed Ducati engineer Dr. Taglioni’s Pantah mill, with belt-driven overhead cams and desmodromic valve operation. The rest of the bike was designed by Massimo Tamburini (the “TA” in Bimota), and owes much to that company’s DB1 model. “Paso” was the nickname of Tamburini’s friend and fellow Rimini native Renzo Pasolini, who died at Monza in 1973 after crashing in the 250cc Grand Prix race.

Tamburini took the engine from Ducati’s 750 F1 Sport, reversed the rear cylinder head and fitted it into a new cantilever frame made from square-section chrome-moly steel tubing with the engine as a stressed member. With the rear head reversed the intakes could now be paired, breathing through an automotive-style Weber DCNF dual-choke downdraft carburetor with a large air box under the gas tank. Kokusan ignition replaced Ducati’s own black box. The headers, now exiting in front and behind the engine, connected to dual mufflers via a trick diamond-shaped collector box that split the exiting exhaust evenly to both pipes.

A single Ohlins shock controlled an aluminum swingarm with eccentric adjusters at the rear. At the front, a steep-ish 25-degree rake matched to a more conservative 4.1-inch trail promised sharp handling while retaining stability. Ingenious Marzocchi 41mm anti-dive forks used one leg for compression damping and the other for rebound. The Paso ran on 16-inch Oscam wheels with dual 11-inch Brembo discs up front and a single 10-inch rear disc.

But what really made the Paso stand out was its bodywork. To set the Paso apart, Tamburini designed a swooping full-enclosure fairing with dual oil coolers mounted one on each side, with the promise that engine heat would be wafted away by the Paso’s “Controlled Air Flow.” And it worked, as period reports confirm Tamburini’s hypothesis.

4/7/2012 2:46:59 PM

Go for the 907ie instead. It's got the odd....err, unique looks of the 750, with many of the bugs worked out.

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