If you've got it, flaunt it - that's what Mel Brooks says, and who am I to argue with the master? Especially when the subject is heritage; both Harley-Davidson and Triumph are making a good buck out of trading on theirs, so why shouldn't Ducati follow suit?
Well, it looked as though that was what Ducati was doing when it launched the SportClassic bikes, but the bikes have turned out to be much more than just a tribute to Ducati's history. The GT1000 is an ideal bike for everyday use, and especially for touring. I borrowed one from the factory in Bologna recently for a few days and rode across Italy's Apennines and back, a total of about 800km. Not only is the performance ideal for this sort of work, and the thumping of the twin is a wonderfully reassuring sound and feeling, but the suspension and the tyres work together to provide unfussed, easy riding.
Cues to the bike's heritage include the side covers and the indents in the sides of the slim fuel tank. Unlike the original, the new GT has many parts - such as the top yoke and handlebar clamps - that are made of polished aluminium, which looks a lot better than the rather poorly finished and quickly tarnished metal on the machines of the ?s. The exhaust system is a vast improvement as well, chromed and made with dual-walled tubing to make sure that surface remains untarnished.
The GT1000 has a similar chassis to the other Ducati SportClassic models, with a slightly longer wheelbase of 1425mm and trail of 103mm, achieved by moving the fork legs forward by 25mm with respect to the steering axis (front wheel offset) and setting the fork rake at 24 degrees. It has traditional chrome steel tubular handlebars, which use a classic bend and rise to produce a comfortable riding position ideal for around town or long distance trips.
Entirely unlike the original, the bike has 43mm Marzocchi upside-down forks. To maintain the same feeling as the GT750 of the 1970s, the rear suspension uses twin shocks, which are adjustable for spring preload. The classic 17in spoked wheels are formed in chromed steel and laced to silver-painted aluminium alloy hubs. The wheels mount modern compound radial construction tube-type tyres with tread designs derived from the classic sport bike patterns of the European sport tyre manufacturers.
Touring riders will also be pleased to know that the multi-function instrument display includes a trip-fuel function, allowing you to check remaining mileage once the fuel reserve light is on. And the traditionalists will just love the look!
Ducati SportClassic GT 1000
Engine: 992cc, air-cooled, four-stroke, two-valves-per-cylinder, 90-degree L-twin
Bore and stroke: 94 x 71.5mm
Fuel system: electronic fuel injection
Power: 92bhp at 8000rpm
Torque: 91.1Nm at 6000rpm
Frame: tubular steel trellis
Front brake: twin 320mm semi-floating discs with twin-piston Brembo callipers
Rear brake: single 245mm disc with single-piston Brembo calliper
Front suspension: 43mm upside-down Marzocchi fork, non-adjustable
Rear suspension: twin shocks, adjustable for preload
Wheels: wire spoked
Tyres: 120/70R17 front; 180/55R17 rear
Seat height: 828mm
Claimed dry weight: 185kg
Fuel tank: 15lt
Price: $17,995 plus ORC
Colours: red or grey
Warranty: 24 months/unlimited kilometres