1999 Ducati 748
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