The 1985 750F1 Ducati

The 750F1 was first released in 1985 and represented a major departure from any production Ducati up until that time.

The F1 signalled a change in the way future Ducatis would be built, and introduced a range of features, many of which continue into todays production range.

It was the first production Ducati to use the minimalistic Verlicchi frame, mono-shock rear suspension, fully floating disc brakes front and rear, alloy fuel tank, remote oil cooler, and two into one exhaust system.

It was also the first production Ducati to cost more than $10,000 dollars AUS - a seriously expensive motorcycle in 1985.

The F1 was hugely desirable - but was just too expensive, too spartan, and too narrow focused for most riders. 

It was soon overshadowed by the introduction of the 851, which provided more of everything at an even more outrageous price.  Despite significant changes to reduce the price in 1986, increase power, and the release of some potent limited production models - the F1 was destined to become a rare beast in terms of Ducati model output.

I remember seeing the bike for the first time in 1985 and promising myself I would get one - once the jaw dropping price had diminished in the second hand market.  I eventually achieved that goal years later.

The 1985 model is to my mind an absolute gem - no cost cutting, no compromises, just pure unadulterated top quality, simple, lightweight, sports motorcycle.

The bike is quite basic compared to other offerings - and therein lay its appeal.  It was the end of an era.

In keeping with Ducati tradition until then, the modest power output was sufficient to propel the lightweight (165 kg) bike to a top speed of 210 km/h, with near linear and seamless power available throughout the rev range.

While most Japanese performance bikes would blitz it in straight line acceleration, when it came to on road usability, this grunty little motor with a huge midrange slotted into a frame with outstanding handling capabilities, made the F1 a rocketship on tight and demanding roads.

Some journo's were disappointed that the bike was not sold as a full blown TT2 replica.   This was impractical, for what is basically a sports road bike.

It was effectively the last Ducati to feature forward facing exhausts on both cylinders in the classic Ducati style.   Some say it was the last true Ducati, designed by Fabio Taglioni.

It's pure simplicity was destined to be replaced by modern micro chipped wizardry, fuel injection, liquid cooling, and other complexities.

The slurping Dellortos, distinctive howling exhaust, and simple electronics would soon be gone forever.

There are four basic F1 variants in the lineage.   Total production was 2,501 units.

Production numbers and specifications are rubbery for all models, with differing figures quoted by various sources.  The data presented is as accurate as I can determine.

The engine

The original 750 cc engine was basically a
bored out 650SL Pantah engine, and produced 46 KW at 7500 RPM with 9.2:1 compression.

Interestingly, the donor 650SL engine developed 43 KW at 8500 RPM with 10:1 compression.

Inlet and exhaust valve sizes of the F1 were increased to 37 and 33.5 mm respectively.

Use of the standard 650 crank cases may have limited the amount of horsepower Ducati could safely/initially use with the bigger engine capacity.   In race conditions these often cracked near the main gearbox output shaft bearing.

The engine was progressively modified throughout each F1 variant.

Early F1

This variant retained the Pantah wet clutch, had a different fuel filler cap, location, and tank vent to later models, and solid brake discs front and rear.

Information on actual numbers produced with this early F1 configuration is hard to determine, but is less than 392 - making it a rare variant.

The majority appear to have been sold in Europe and Japan.  At least one came to Australia.

An example is seen below.  This machine was delivered to Germany as production number 127 and now resides in Sweden.

Ducati F1

The indicators fitted are non standard, and should be the same as later models.

F1 instruments

The early model F1 first reviewed by TwoWheels magazine in Australia (July 1985), differed significantly from the one above, in several areas.

It had a flip type fuel filler cap in the original location.

In also used some later style components, including clutch and brake master cylinders with raised clear cylindrical reservoirs, black anodize fairing fasteners, a plain alloy front fairing cross brace, and rubber sleeved foot pegs.

This indicates gradual evolution throughout production, or variation depending upon what was available in the parts bin at the time.


Ducati made 593 units up to, and including, this variant.  Mine is number 393 (August 1985).

These got a centrally located flush mount aircraft fuel filler, different fuel tank venting into the left clip on, fairing mounted mirrors, and fully floating brake discs front and rear.

The engine now came with a dry clutch.

Horse power in road tests has been quoted as 51.5 and 52.1 KW, but this is at odds with the factory workshop manual specification of 46 KW at 7500 RPM with 9.2:1 compression, which I believe to be correct for all engines up to this point.

Here's a short video of my F1A.


The next variant was the 1986 model. 

1,208 were made, and consituted the majority of the total production run.

This received a major upgrade to the engine and front forks.  It even had basic air filters.

The engine received a head and cam job to raise the power (60 KW at 9000 RPM).

Valve size was increased, which necessitated the use of smaller diameter spark plugs.

mportantly stronger crank cases with increased webbing were introduced - primarily for TT racing.

Compression ratio increased to 10.1:1

The extra KW's (30% increase) while welcome, were much higher up the rev range, and dry weight had gone up to 175 kg.

The beautiful hand-crafted alloy fuel tank was replaced with a pressed steel unit, the rear disc was now fixed, the instrument cluster had changed, and the straight out Conti exhaust was no longer available.

The oil cooling system was changed from bypass to full flow.

The gold coloured wheels were now red.

A dual seat option was also introduced.

Limited edition

700 tricked up specials were produced in three limited runs, during later years.

These had bigger carbs, hotter cams, and lightweight components including an alloy swing arm, vented clutch housing, essentially for race homologation.

Models included the Laguna Seca, Santamonica, and Montjuic.

The most powerful, and best of the F1 range.  Highly collectable.

I have no doubt that the 750 F1 was destined to become an all time Ducati classic from the first day it hit the showroom floor.  

None of the F1 models is for the daily commuter or long distance traveller.

In his July 1985 review, Bob Guntrip of Two Wheels magazine described it as "rude, crude, impractical, anti-social and bloody uncomfortable.  It's a jewel beyond price."

He was right.

So how good is the 750 F1 ?

It's pretty obvious that the F1 was a huge leap forward in Ducati performance compared to bevels.  Just check out the race results.

A basic 1985 750 F1 will absolutely eat any 900SS Ducati on performance and most importantly handling.  No contest.

That is why Taglioni went this way - lighter, faster steering, flickable, everything a 900SS is not.

It's an absolutely fantastic motor cycle.

| More F1 stuff including photos here |

| Here's a few tuning tips |

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