Rider: Rogelio Ramos

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I know Ducati owners have a reputation of being a bunch of rich assholes who ride their over-priced Italian bikes to a coffee shop on Sundays so they can hang out with other Ducati owners who are also wearing Puma track suits and talk about how cool they all are, but let me introduce you to a guy who defies the stereotype. This story is about a motorcyclist with damn good taste who ditched the vintage bike trend and started riding fast.

My good friend RR (whose real name I’ve been asked not to use) might occasionally park his 1198S outside Intelligentsia, but once he finishes his red eye he is off to burn up pucks chasing Adey and I up Angeles Crest. He loves the clean lines of vintage bikes and, in fact, used to cruise around on a real-deal ’70s brit bike.

After learning to ride on a buddy’s 1990 GSX-R 1100 in 1992 (terrible idea), he didn’t ride again until 2007. This is when he bought his first street bike, a 1974 Norton Commando 850. It was, by all accounts, a really cool motorcycle. It made all the right noises, was actually British, looked great parked outside a bar and probably even got him laid once or twice. But it also leaked oil, had Lucas electronics, was painfully slow and had 1974 suspension. In short, like most vintage bikes, it was giant pain in the ass. He sold the Norton to buy a Ducati Sport 1000, and then after catching the go-fast bug from Keith Code’s California Suberbike School, he had no choice but to also buy an 1198S to drag his knees on.

RR making a half-hearted attempt to look fast for the camera.

Benefiting from modern suspension, fuel injection, sportsbike tires and convincing vintage Ducati styling, RR’s black 2007 Ducati Sport 1000 is also a really cool bike. Sure, it’s a Ducati and occasionally requires special attention from Fabrizio to keep its valves in line, but this kind of scheduled maintenance is nothing compared to keeping a vintage Brit bike on constant life support. It’s also shockingly fast, comfortable and still makes all the right noises.

In stock form, the Sport 1000 isn’t actually this cool. RR has changed out all of the ugly parts and added more upright bars. Rather than buying a new top-clamp or bolting on heli-bars, he ordered some Rizoma bars and mounts, drew up what he wanted and sent his OEM top-clamp off to a machinist to be cut and drilled for the mounts. Yes, machinists still exist and you too can call them up and have things modified or even fabricated from scratch for almost no money. Cool. The new bars don’t drastically alter the look of the bike, but do make the riding position much more comfortable for trips to Rosarito or Laguna Seca. Conspicuously absent are large bulbous turn signals, huge taillight, over-sized mirrors and ridiculous plastic tag bracket of the stock bike.

Instead, he’s got miniature turn signals, a small tasteful taillight, single CRG 2″ mirror and every squid’s favorite license plate mod — no license plate. He pays the fix-it tickets as he gets them, usually two per year. Understated black Termignoni cans replace the stock units and may offer a slight power increase. One last notable change on the Sport 1000 are the Bridgestone BT-016 tires. The factory Pirellis that come on the Sport 1000 are more styling exercise than they are tires and decent Bridgestones help him hustle the Sport 1000 faster than most people would think possible.

RR’s 1198S is a fire-breathing (literally-I’ve seen it spit awesome flames) beast of a bike. That there is a 15 year gap between learning to ride on a GSX-R 1100 and buying his first street bike should be all that needs to be said about learning to ride on a serious sportsbike. Even still, the well-tuned 1198 is putting down a lot more power than that first superbike he rode. The admittedly expensive Termignoni full-system, Ducati performance ECU and hi-flow air filter are good for at least 160hp at the back wheel. “But that’s ever-so-slightly less than the rest of the liter-bikes!” you might say. Well, you have a point. It’s ever so slightly less. When you go to buy a bike specifically to go racing in a superbike class, that might be something you could take into consideration.

Factory Öhlins suspension contributes to the sky-high price of the 1198S and is good enough, aside from setup, for the regular track and canyon days this bike sees. The same can be said for the Brembo Monobloc calipers and radial master cylinder. Spend the big bucks up front and you don’t have to buy all the trick stuff later.

Making their second appearance are the Bridgestone BT-016 tires, missing plate and CRG 2″ mirror. The 1198 also gets matching black adjustable CRG levers. Yes, those mirrors really do work. The convex glass gives you a crystal-clear of the entire freeway behind you and the entire assembly is maybe 1/10 the size of stock parts. Another simple and functional addition is Stomp Grip on the tank. It blends in nicely and makes it easy to hold on with your knee. In the place of those pit-bull ear-like stock parts are Mad Duc LED signals. They’re not the prettiest thing on the bike, but they sure are better than what used to go there. Equal in flash to the gold Öhlins parts are the Speedymoto clutch parts. They don’t actually do much, but they sure do look nice. Besides, who wants to be the one 1198 owner without a neat looking clutch?

There’s one last trick that’s been performed here too. Almost too simple and easy, the ugly stickers have been removed from the frame and gas tank. Believe it or not, you too can do this free trick with nothing more than some Goo-gone or WD-40. It’s the difference between an artful composition that you can stand back and appreciate and a just another poorly styled bike with big lame warning stickers.

The small modifications to both of these bikes add up to an admirable achievement of performance and style. If you want a sport bike without the stigma of riding a plastic squid bike consider the 1198 S over its generic competition. And if you want to get there with the cool-factor of a vintage bike, no cafe “racer” can touch the reliability or go-fast of the Sport 1000.

  • http://bloodfalcons.blogspot.com motoguru

    All that clean up on the Sport, and he left the shit looking horns out in the open :(

    • Sean Smith

      Meh, I kinda like em. They echo the lights on the superbike and very subtly date this bike as a modern Ducati. And hey, at least they’re not black plastic.

  • Thom

    Somebody needs to introduce RR to the Irving Vincent ( assuming RR has the $$$$$$ )

    That way he can have his Brit Nostalgia with performance as well ,whilst kicking both his Duc’s butts into the weeds .

    Having had that little rant though, damn fine pair of machines and I’m liking the Sport 1000 a lot .

    • Sean Smith

      Nah, he spent all his money on really nice riding gear, tires, track days and girls.

      • Thom

        Can’t say as I blame him :o)

        Rock On RR !

    • http://rider49er.blogspot.com Mark D

      Agreed, that Sport 1000 is an awesome blend of vintage and performance.

      There is a guy in my office park with one, rocking loud Termignoni pipes. I can hear it from my office inside when he leaves (every 3rd sunny Friday of the summer, so maybe 5 times a year) and it sounds great.

      Rich prick… :)

  • Tucker

    I love the Classic Sport. One day I’ll have one in the stable… just need to keep playing these scratchers!!!

  • JonB

    Sport1k is wicked underrated. The GT1k makes an awesome 2-up bike and wheelies in a shockingly comfortable manner.

  • http://greatjoballweek.blogspot.com/ Case

    Loving the look of the Sport 1000. That is a hell of a nice bike. That he actually rides it instead of kicking it with the Starbucks Racing Team is an unexpected bonus.

    • Sean Smith

      Starbucks is a no-no. We only go to cool indie coffee shops ;)

      • HammSammich

        You can’t do much better than Intelligentsia…Amazing coffee.

        • rndholesqpeg

          You can do a lot better than Intelligentsia in my opinion, I usually walk out of any place that uses them as their roaster.

          Check out Counter Culure or Batdorf and Bronson if you want some amazing coffee

      • T Diver

        Ruthless was banned from Starbucks on Ventura. Now we meet at the Coffee Bean on Ventura and Coldwater. What is with all the coffee shops. I’m sick of coffee. Please never do a feature on an espresso machine. (Wednesday nights and Sunday AMs if anyone is interested.)

  • Denzel

    Beautiful couple of bikes… satisfies the need to have “one of each”.

    I’m also a big fan of stomp grips. More people should try them.

    I’ll ask the dumb question…why is RR’s name in the headline?

    • http://www.twitter.com/wessilerfanclub sean (the roommate)

      it isnt.

      • markbvt

        So the one that is is fake then? Why not just use RR there too?

        • http://www.twitter.com/wessilerfanclub sean (the roommate)

          because sean (the intern) isn’t very smart. stop rubbing it in, that’s just unkind.

          • Sean Smith

            Actually, Wes is responsible for that title.

      • Denzel

        Engañador… gracias…

  • Roman

    Digging the Rizoma bars on the Sport 1000. But some wheels on it and you’re in business!

    • Sean Smith

      Marchis are coming this month. I’m trying to convince him Öhlins suspenders aren’t a giant waste of money too.

      • Roman

        Nice, I’ve seen a few of those. Absolutely killer!

      • Robert

        I slapped a set of Monster 900 forks on my GT 1000 – straight bolt-on and fully adjustable. The stock forks completely suck. Those and Ohlins shocks transformed the bike – but the biggest grin for the buck was a 13 tooth countershaft sprocket.

  • Myles

    Huge fan of the Sport 1000, great motorcycle. It looks like a motorcycle, goes like a motorcycle, sounds like a motorcycle, etc. I dog on Duck all the time, but they really “got it” with their retro bike(s).

  • Glenngineer

    I think the number one reason not to run plateless is that while the fix it ticket may be small, the ire you draw from the po-po at other times may not be.

    If you’re doing 45 in a 30, or 80 in a 65, whatever, most cops aren’t going to stop you. But if they notice you’re plateless, they think you’re trouble – they stop you, so now you’re paying a fix it ticket and a speeding ticket

  • daniel

    Can someone explain why Ducati stopped producing the Sport classics? I ride a ’75 R90S as well as a Hypermotard and have always admired my buddies Sport 1000 as a great alternative to both bikes, but they have cut. No longer made. Out of production.

    A triumph bonneville test drive was all show and no go but they sell thousands of those docile doddlers.

    Cool bikes RR and I did the everyman/everybike articles. They help work day survival.

    • JonB

      They didn’t sell. The ergos, for most people, were a total nightmare. Stock they had crap suspension and brakes coupled with piss pooor tires. Add a steep price tag to it, combined with pre-1098 floor traffic at most dealerships, and it was a mild thrill.

      I love the bike, but you asked.

    • Kevin

      I asked the guy who sold me my Multistrada why the GT1000 models weren’t offered anymore. “Pretty much everybody who wanted one got one, and then demand tanked.” That said, they are a hot item in the used market.

  • Adam

    I have a Sport1000 too (also black) and I’m seriously considering doing RR’s bar swap now. I’d love to see some top clamp shots.
    The 1000 is a great bike, I just moved from NYC to Socal and I love it even more now that I don’t bang my nuts on the sexy, steep pitched gastank every time I hit a pothole or god forbid wheelie and come down too hard. I also would love a set of those Termis. I did however hide my horns :)

  • Tony

    Great bike. I have a SC 1000S. Good to hear he is getting new wheels. He needs to completely redo the suspension on the SC. Believe me the forks are pogo sticks.

    • Sean Smith

      The wheels are purely for cosmetic reasons. The 1198 takes care of the serious stuff.

  • http://www.urbanrider.co.uk UrbanRider

    I rode a Sport Classic for the first time the other day. Blown away by it. Fast, loud, comfortable and so easy to ride. Definitely on my list to own.

    http://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=220259608000179&set=a.216096195083187.73115.135315916494549&type=1&theater

  • http://www.muthalovin.com the_doctor

    I really like the bar swap on the Sport. Like a lot a lot. I am going to look into getting myself one of those mirrors.

    The 1198 is pretty trick, and I like the look of the black levers.

    • noone1569

      Yeah, I’m digging that bar end to replace my cracked 1125r mirror on my xb12r =(

      • HammSammich

        Check eBay before you go for the CRG’s…I got a set of knock-off’s for about 1/2 the price, and the quality is as good as my friend’s CRG’s. Much better look and function than the Napolean Bar-ends that I had previously, IMO.

    • http://www.facebook.com/beastincarnate Ben Incarnate

      My inner wuss feels the need to comment on running a single bar-end mirror, which looks great. I gave it a go for awhile with the larger 3″ hindsight mirror. The CRG mirrors do a good job of providing a wide field of view. That said, there’s still a significant blind spot on the opposite side. As I spend a lot of time in traffic on my commute, I couldn’t get comfortable with it.

      That Sport 1000 is right up my alley for an ideal bike.

      • noone1569

        I understand this. I was considering running the Blindsight with a Hindsight. . .this should do me well and still be a somewhat slim profile on the bike.

        • http://www.facebook.com/beastincarnate Ben Incarnate

          Yeah, that’s probably a good combo. I’m symmetrically-obsessed, so I already had two Hindsight LS’ and just tossed the other one on following my experiment.

          Also of note, RhinoMoto makes excellent mounts for the CRG mirrors that function as weights and sliders. I’ve had amazingly good service from them across multiple orders.

      • Sean Smith

        I’ve had a single blindsight on the left side of my bikes for years. Take your left hand off the bar, move your head around, see damn near everything. If something is super close on your right, you should already know about it. It’s worked flawlessly for me.

        • noone1569

          Can you mount the blindsight on each side? I can’t tell from the website. . . looks like it is side specific, but also could rotate around?

          • Sean Smith

            You can mount it any way you want to. They’re super easy. My only complaint is that after a few years in the sun, the black anodizing fades to a purplish brown.

        • http://www.facebook.com/beastincarnate Ben Incarnate

          I’m sure you’re right. I just get paranoid about the traffic down here given the amount of commuting that I do. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had someone come flying up the right lane out of nowhere as they race 30 feet ahead only to jam their brakes for the next standstill.

    • http://www.facebook.com/beastincarnate Ben Incarnate
  • Chris

    I have a new Monster, but damn how I’d love to add a Sport 1000 to the stable. Those are such sexy bikes. Glad to see another Duc owner that doesn’t hard park at the coffee shop!

    • http://www.facebook.com/beastincarnate Ben Incarnate

      Agreed. There’s this big part of me that wants to see if I can’t get a good trade on the new Sport they have at my local dealer.

      I’m almost certain that the answer is no, but damn if that thing doesn’t strike a chord.

  • HammSammich

    I’m still kicking myself for not buying the Paul Smart 1000LE that came up for sale, used at the local Triumph Dealer a couple of years ago. I would’ve had to trade in my Bonneville, and I was convinced that I wanted to keep the Bonnie forever…live and learn.

  • http://themotolady.com MotoLady

    This guy is rad. And Sport Classics are my fav. I think the small mods you can do to make em look super classic is niiiiice. And… the spoked wheels! Oh GOD.

  • JTourismo

    the real question is, which one get’s ridden more often…?

    • Sean Smith

      Maintenance cycles are staggered, so it really comes down to which one has good tires, chain, oil and isn’t in need of belts or a valve adjustment.

  • 1

    There’s something about Ducati sports bikes, they give so much texture on a ride.

    I mean, everything can be going ballistic through the mountains. Soaking up the edge of the limits on the bike. The thing is buzzing all over the tacho. I’m no Rossi. Then heading back home filtering through traffic, in the lower rpm the termis are booming and spiting fire off the gas. And you balls feel so fucking big that you want to attach big machine guns on the front.

    Crap I need to go out and get laid right now.

  • Jonah

    RR has addressed the few cosmetic short comings of the Sport 1000S and it really takes it to a new level of polish. Extremely well done.

    I own and heavily ride a 2006 Sport Classic 1000S and have to say the ergo’s are a bit of a pain, which RR’s bar mod seems to address. It’s not purely that it’s uncomfortable at slower speeds, but the bars don’t offer much leverage. That combined with heavyish spoked wheels and it takes some effort to quickly drop the bike into a turn.

    For those who haven’t heard, the Sport Classic line does have a major issue with the plastic fuel tanks expanding and distorting. Seems to be a reaction with the ethanol in US gas. I went through 3 tanks under warranty ( they literally begin to deform as soon as you fill it up for the first time ). This happens on all Sport Classics eventually. Recently I acquired a new tank and coated it with Caswell. Problem solved!

    If you are looking to pick up an SC, be sure to try lifting up on the tank. If it comes off the brackets it has expanded. The best thing to do is get it replaced under warranty and Caswell coat it before any gasoline touches it.