1999 Du­cati 748

Practical Sportsbikes (UK) - - Restoration Revealed -

Andy Smith, Black­burn, United King­dom

“I had a 916 pic on my wall when I was a teenager, so when the time came around to get stuck into an­other project I saw a tatty one on ebay and went down to Cam­bridge to get it. The owner had started try­ing to do some sort of Carl Fog­a­rty replica, but failed. Un­der­neath it was good, so the plan was sim­ple: get it home, strip it down and get it back to how Du­cati in­tended.

“I know a lot of peo­ple are scared about restor­ing Du­catis, but I didn’t find it a tricky bike to do. Once I’d had the bike stripped down it was in pretty good nick. The en­gine is ob­vi­ously a bit spe­cial­ist and quite a dif­fer­ent ket­tle of fish to restor­ing some­thing like a Kawasaki Zed, so things like set­ting up the belts could take me four or five days whereas it’d prob­a­bly take a proper Du­cati ex­pert half a day.

“The last thing you want to do is get the tim­ing wrong and ruin the en­gine. I wouldn’t like to try and find an­other mo­tor for it, that’s for sure. Other parts are hardly cheap – I saw a set of sec­ond­hand fair­ings on ebay go for £800. I ac­tu­ally got Chi­nese replica ones and they’re made of bet­ter qual­ity, plastic than the orig­i­nals.

“Some parts are also dif­fi­cult to get al­though it’s noth­ing like restor­ing a Zed, which I have done. A lot of peo­ple are strip­ping these Du­catis and sell­ing the parts on ebay, but if you’re af­ter OEM stuff then be pre­pared to pay be­cause Du­cati cer­tainly know how to put prices on stuff. The gen­eral build qual­ity of ev­ery­thing isn’t quite Ja­panese though – things can be a lit­tle hap­haz­ard. They can be a bit tem­per­a­men­tal too, and it’s prob­a­bly fair to say the newer ones are bet­ter built.

“A lot of peo­ple ask me what it’s like to ride, and the bru­tal truth is that af­ter an hour I’ve had enough. It would be amaz­ing on a track, but once you’re into your 40s it’s a bike that makes your back hurt a bit. Even so, it’s a crack­ing bike. My ad­vice would be to get one with good his­tory and all the re­ceipts if pos­si­ble – make sure the belts have been changed, as that’s one of the things that can go wrong. Pay more for a de­cent one to start with and you won’t re­gret it.”

“Pay more for a de­cent one with his­tory to start with”

Don’t be daunted by a Du­cati resto

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