The Ducati 750 GT

The bike that set Ducati's course

| September/October 2006

Ducati 750 GT
Years produced:
Total production: 4,093
Claimed power: 60hp @ 8,000rpm
Top speed: 125mph
Engine type: 748cc overhead valve, air-cooled 90-degree V-twin
Weight (dry): 185kg (407lb)
Price Then: $1,995 (1972)
Price Now: $5,000-$8,000
MPG: 30 (period brochure)

I shouldn’t be surprised at just how good this Ducati 750 GT is. As a teenager in the 1970s I’d admired and lusted after the big Bolognese V-twins; read about them and dreamed about them, while riding around on a succession of much less glamorous British and Japanese machines. Since then I’ve been lucky enough to ride a few classic Ducatis, and not one of them has disappointed.

But the brilliance of the 750 GT, the first of the Ducati V-twin line, still comes as something of a shock to me. Even looking around this immaculate bevel-drive twin is a treat, admiring its stylish orange-and-black paintwork, its period badges, and the lines of that big air-cooled engine with its cooling fins going off in all directions and its attractive, rounded alloy crankcases.

Sitting astride the firmly padded seat and firing up the engine with a lazy kick to send the slender Conti pipes barking out their uniquely tuneful sound is an audible treat. Better still is riding away on what, after all, was the first and least powerful of the twins, to discover that it is not just respectably rapid, but torquey, stable, bursting with character and, most of all, wonderfully enjoyable to ride. After 20 minutes I am severely tempted to turn around, head straight back to the owner and make him an offer to buy it. (Before the thoughts of mortgage payments, my more mundane motorcycling needs and the commitment needed to keep an old Ducati in top form brings me sadly to my senses.)

Perhaps I am surprised at how good the 750 GT is because of the impressive reputations of more famous models such as the 750 Sport, 750SS, 900SS and others that followed it. Maybe I’ve subconsciously assumed that the basic 748cc V-twin that began the line must have been fairly ordinary. The more glamorous sports models overshadowed it, so presumably it must have had some teething problems, or at least some minor design flaws that made it less than desirable all these years later, right?

Nothing could be further from the truth. On the contrary, the Ducati 750 GT , with which Ducati’s design genius Fabio Taglioni introduced the V-twin line, was not just a bold and innovative high-performance machine when introduced in 1971. It was also remarkably capable and well-sorted right from the word go. Apart from paint color and a few minor modifications, there is no difference between this late-model 750 GT, which was built in 1974, and the first machines off the Bologna production line in 1971.

1/4/2015 11:27:08 PM

I can't agree that Ducati got everything totally right with the 750 GT. Everything is relative. Compared the four other Ducatis I've owned since then, the 750 GT seems clumsy and slow, and it was terribly unreliable. But in 1974 when I bought a brand new, orange and black (Ducati called it "bronze" and black) 750 GT, it was the sweetest handling bike on the planet. It looked great, and the handling was so good, and the sound of the exhaust note from the after-market Conti pipes was so fine, that I became a life-long Ducati addict. My 750 GT got wrecked while a mechanic was testing it in 1980. I had spent so much time working on the bike (replacing fouled plugs, crappy electrical switches, valve guides, the coil, etc.) that my wife said she would divorce me if I bought another Italian bike. Fortunately, Japan had quickly learned how to make better-handling bikes, so the three Suzukis I owned in the 1980s and 1990s actually handled better than my 1975 Ducati. They were also faster and a lot more reliable. Ducatis improved greatly over the years, too, and my wife relented and bought me a Ducati Monster in 2000. I've had three other Ducatis since then, each better than the previous. My current bike, a 2011 Multistrada 1200S, is an absolute dream. Its modern technology is a treat, and its speed, handling, and reliability are so great that I can't look back and say Ducati had a near-perfect bike in the 750 GT. But it was a damned good start. As a result, in 2015, as in 1975, Ducati is the only bike I want to spend my money on.

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