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Editor’s Note: While not a motorcycle most women would gravitate to, we thought we’d break up the slow summer doldrums with a review of a bike that’s different, exciting and off our radar screens. Tricia Szulewski did such a good job reviewing it, we wanted to share this unique motorcycle with you.
I realize I’m not the target market demographic Ducati intended for the GT 1000. After all, I was only about to be conceived when Ducati designer Fabio Taglioni sketched out an image of the bike that would become legendary to many motorcycle historians and the basis for this modern-day, retro-styled sport-standard.
When I was asked to test ride the GT 1000, I didn’t have high expectations and wasn’t excited at all. This was the kind of bike I’d never look twice at. I happen to think retro-styled motorcycles are a bit hokey, and prefer modern-day styling and technical features. I imagine that the profile of buyers this type of motorcycle attracts is re-entry riders who haven’t yet ridden a current production bike and are hesitant to move on.
Or maybe there are some who already have a full stable, and can afford the luxury of adding another whenever it grabs them.
Checking the bike over initially, I realized it was a simple package, with nothing too fancy to figure out. The ignition switch is front and center, and since the bike is electronically fuel injected, there was no need to search for a choke knob. So a turn of the key and a touch of the starter brought the GT to life.
Tricia Szulewski falls in love with the retro sporty Ducati GT 1000.
My first impression was that the bike felt extremely light and quick — almost uncomfortably so. After putting a couple thousand miles on the Kawasaki Concours 14, which I just finished testing, I needed to adjust to this un-faired standard. However, dodging in and out of cars on a three-lane highway, I was surprised at how quick the little bike was.
No, it wasn’t as spot-on as the 1400, but it certainly could keep ahead of all the four-wheelers on the Interstate.
The seat is narrow at the front so those with shorter legs have an opportunity to reach the ground.
Then came the best riding day of the season. I decided to take a day off from retouching photos and doing layouts so I could accompany a friend on a blast through Connecticut. Heading northwest into New York’s Dutchess County, we rode swiftly past green reservoirs, wooded riverbeds, and open farmland filled with sunflowers.
I was having so much fun that I was actually laughing at myself. How could I have misjudged a bike so badly at first glance? While I’m not one to care about how I look on a bike, I had quickly summed up what I thought of the bike before ever giving it a real run for its money.
The air-cooled L-twin pumped laboriously, and the beat filled my blood with excitement that I hadn’t felt all season. Now I was getting comfortable with this bike. The pegs are situated just right for my 5-foot 6-inch frame, and provided a comfortable bend without being over-aggressively positioned.
While I’d been annoyed before about the seat pushing me forward into the tank, I didn’t even notice now, as I leaned forward to meet the wide, classic tubular handlebar.
The Ducati GT 1000 is designed for twisties and scenic driving with sleek, classic lines.
With every promise of the next tight corner, even though illustrative signs warned us to slow down, we’d approach with full intentions of cranking up the throttle once we were through the apex. Over and over, all morning long, we met every great bend with anticipation of another epic entrance and exit, leaning the bikes through the curves together like a dance. The GT’s wet multiplate hydraulic clutch operated effortlessly, and I had an absolute blast as I took the chain-driven six-speed over the roads it was built for.
By pushing the bike harder than I had before, I could finally feel the current-day technology at work. The signature Ducati ALS 450 steel tubular trellis frame is derived from the other members of the GT series, and is light yet rigid. It retains the classic chassis design and simple-but-functional theory, and uses the engine cases as a stressed member.
Coupled with the 43mm inverted Marzocchi forks and two Sachs preload-adjustable rear shocks, the frame and suspension work well together to convey confidence-inspiring components. Initially, I was concerned about the limitations of the suspensions’ adjustments, and made a mental note of the visual amount of travel in the front fork. But after all the ground pounding was done, I was surprisingly pleased with the bike’s stability and comfort.
The GT 1000 uses a welded steel tube swingarm with two large, rounded legs linked by an elliptical crossmember. The simple system used to adjust the chain drive tension is reminiscent of some systems on bikes from the 1970s, but is much larger and stronger for modern performance.
The GT is fitted with two Brembo floating calipers and semi-floating 320mm discs up front. The 30 and 32mm diameter pistons are thermally insulated, and bring braking into this century, thankfully. The rear brake system utilizes a floating single-piston Brembo 34mm caliper with high-friction sintered pads and a 245mm disc.
Together, this combination works impressively to slow down anything the 1000 can deliver.
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