Clean & Classy – 1997 Ducati 900SS Cafe Racer

In Cafe Racer, Custom, Italy by Tim HuberLeave a Comment

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When Ducati brought back the 900SS at the end of the 1980’s, it was already technologically and mechanically dated compared to the other offerings being sold towards the end of the decade. It boasted a retro style that was powered by an equally retro engine. For this reason, the 900SS is a terrific candidate when looking for a donor machine for retro-cafe builds. Combined with the fact that it’s relatively inexpensive model has led to it likely being the most commonly customized two-wheeler model for the Italian manufacturer. The SS’s V-Twin’s older technology – utilizing air-cooling and only two valves per cylinder – comes with a certain personality (and relative simplicity) that many classic designs possess.

A custom front fairing and a one-off tail section on this build work incredibly well with the SS’s stock tank. The three aforementioned parts have all been hit with a professional red and black paint job with accompanying red front and rear fenders and a black vintage 1980’s Ducati logo running diagonally across the tank, furthering the retro-racer visual-theme. The bodywork up front also houses the bike’s turn signals, while an LED tail-light tucked into the rear-cowl keeps the scoot clean and appearing more race-oriented while remaining street-legal. Bar-end mirrors accomplish the same. The seat itself is obviously a one-off job, though it appears to consist of little more than some nicely cut-out pieces of foam slapped onto the sporty tail-section.

Aside from this example’s Keihin FCR Racing carbs and 39-tooth rear-sprocket conversion, the transition this custom build underwent was almost entirely cosmetic. Various new non-aesthetic components such as a battery, chain, gauge cluster, and clutch disks also made their way onto this recently completed project. A dual under-tail exhaust – which has been wrapped in exhaust tape – replaces the factory side-pipes found on the stock 900SS.

The 900SS was powered by a 904cc air-cooled, four-stroke V-twin with two valves per cylinder that put down a modest 80hp at 7,000rpm, and 62.7ft-lbs at 6,400rpm. Married to the power-plant on the SS was a six-speed gearbox, together resulting in a top-speed of a smidgen over a buck-thirty (130.5mph). The stock SS’s factory power to weight ratio was 0.4301hp/kg, with all 410lbs of the SS being slowed by Brembo triple disk brakes.

Other modern sport machines would leave the 900SS in their dust on the track, but contemporary sport bikes don’t really come to life until reaching the latter portion of their respective rev-range. The 900SS boasts a much more usable power-band with low-end torque making it a genuine pleasure to pilot on the road without putting your license in jeopardy. The downside to this old school charm does come with old school unreliability and maintenance intervals, meaning these bikes aren’t for everyone.

This 1997 900SS had 13,000 miles on it before undergoing its customization. Other minor knickknacks includes a pricey partially-exposed clutch cover and shorty levers. While there are obviously a lot of cool one-off 900SS cafe-builds out there, this one is really clean, and is a fantastic opportunity to pick-up a hip cafe racer powered by the iconic Italian marque.

You can find this heavily customized 1997 Ducati 900SS cafe-racer for sale here on Craigslist in San Jose, California with a price of $7,250.

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