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Ducati Paso

Ducati Paso

The Ducati Paso was introduced in 1986 with the slogan "Il nostro passato ha un grande futuro" (Our past has a great future). The name was in honour of racer Renzo Pasolini, nicknamed "Paso", who died on 20 May 1973 in an accident at the Monza race track during the Grand Prix of Italy.

Background

The Cagiva (from CAstiglioni GIovanni VArese) company, founded by the Castiglioni brothers, needed an engine - while Ducati, who had just been released from a difficult past of statutory public management (IRI), needed revenue.

Over a series of Italian style meetings/lunches in 1984, they agreed a deal for Ducati to supply engines to Cagiva - and then go out of the business of producing motorcycles. However, the Castiglioni brothers of Cagiva were eventually offered a deal to buy Ducati, subject to the Ducati name living on as an actual motorcycle product. On closure of the deal, Ducati engines were instantly installed in a number of Cagiva bikes, which included the Alazzurra and the Elephant enduro bike.

At the time of the takeover, due to its financial difficulties Ducati was in a state of animation with regards to engineering development. By that time, the classic bevel drive V-twin, which was old and expensive to produce, had been replaced by the belt-drive Pantah, designed by Fabio Taglioni. The Pantah was already known to be a strong and capable engine, and known to deliver in the Ducati 750 F1.

The Pantah engine has been constantly developed up to the present day, and remains the only production motorcycle equipped with desmodromic valves. And around it they wanted a Ducati motorcycle unlike any other, that showed the world both Ducati's capabilities, and where it would go in the future.

The design challenge

The challenge consisted in constructing a bike with innovative technical characteristics and image to fight the intense Japanese competition. To undertake the ambitious objective Ducati hired Massimo Tamburini, brilliant co-founder of Bimota and to-be legendary designer of bikes like the Ducati 916, MV Agusta F4 and Brutale.

Tamburini decided to streamline the bike and its motor in a close-fitting integral fairing that hid all mechanical parts. The bike was equipped with latest-generation technical features: square frame tubes made in chromoly steel, rear aluminium swingarm with progressive suspension, 16-inch wheels with radial tires, air-and-oil cooled engine, electronic ignition and a complete dashboard. All realising a bike that was an innovation in the history of Ducati: the first sports tourer in the world.

Sales and development

Unfortunately, commercial success didn't come. The Paso was more expensive and had lower performance (72.5 hp and 210 km/h top speed) than its competitors, and had some reliability problems with the electrical and fuel systems, due to the use of an automotive Weber carburetor (substantially inadequate for a bike).

In 1989 the Paso 906 was introduced, with a six-speed gearbox, a 904 cc engine which provided 88 hp and a 220 km/h top speed. The bike still had the same automotive carburetor and unreliable electrical system, but its greatest development was the incorporation of liquid cooling.

After much development, the maturity of the design came in 1991 with the 907 I.E. (Iniezione Elettronica) that lost the name "Paso". The engine remained liquid-cooled and the carburetor was replaced by the most modern Weber-Marelli IAW 043 system that integrated ignition and electronic fuel injection. Power increased to 90 hp and top speed to 230 km/h. The wheels were changed to 17 inches, giving the bike more stability. Production ceased in 1992.