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Peters Pantah Plus Project

ER Classics Desktop 2022

Huge success numbers become classics. Technical feats become classics. Misses and sales flops become classics. We wouldn't even think of calling the Ducati Pantahs with their belt-driven camshafts misses or sales flops. But they did not have a smooth start. Because Ducati's 'should be' single cylinders. Or two cylinders with king shaft driven camshafts. And Ducatis were beautiful.

Desmo as USP

The king's technique was far too expensive in production terms. By the way, the whole desmo technique had become more of a mechanical gimmick, because Japanese bikes were already running at higher speeds with conventional valve control. The event is a very nice mechanical and emotional solution to a nonexistent problem. And that, in turn, is heart-stopping Italian. Moreover, the desmo control is a USP, a Unique Selling Point. Something that others don't have. Nice puh!


But the Pantah blocks were engineer Taglioni's masterpiece, and they were Ducati's rescue at the time. The green light for it must have come as a blessing to Taglioni. Because it was the motor he had already designed when he had to come up with the convincingly flopped, beautiful / earth-ugly (cross out what is not wanted), parallel twin by order of the management. Those machines weren't good, didn't sell well and are now reasonably sought after. Because: Ducati and rare.

The 'Pantah' series from 1979 onwards, is therefore the founder of all Ducatis built since then. Even now in 2020, more than forty years after its introduction, the various two-cylinder models, both two-valve and four-valve from Ducati, are based on the technology of the 'Pantah'. 

Perhaps the most important Ducati model in the history of the factory. It all started in the late 70s with the introduction of the '500SL Pantah'. The 90 degree air-cooled V-twin engine has a bore x stroke of 74 x 58mm, making it 499cc in size. All Pantah-based engine blocks have desmodromic valve actuation, which via timing belts from the crankshaft and an idler wheel, operate the single overhead camshaft per cylinder, and thus the two valves per cylinder. The vertically divisible crankcases have an axle bearing for the swingarm, a Ducati novelty. The 'Pantah' has a starter motor under the front cylinder, a kick starter is missing.

 Some teething problems ...

In the late 1980s, the Pantahs were almost ready to fly. In XNUMX production got under way and it appears that the Pantahs are very rickety at low and medium revs. And the gear ratios have been chosen incorrectly, so that the Duc does not rev up. Details for an Italian production bike at the start of its career ... But the thing steered and braked fine. That again.

The Pantah grew from 500 to 600 cc and existed as 600 SL next to the 500 SL. The drill went through the cylinders again and so we got the 650 cc Pantahs. The Pantah story ended due to home competition of the Ducati 750 F1. The engines reincarnated for a while in the Cagiva 650 Allazura.

The beauty under the rug

We already mentioned that there were many people who did not like the Pantahs. And there were soon who felt that they should conjure the True Ducati from behind the sheet metal again. And a long time ago friend Peter Kuitwaard from Friesland did that with his own Pantah. Peter is the kind of technician people end up with complaints / problems that cannot be solved elsewhere. But he does tinker and build his own challenging projects exclusively for fun. He has thus found the definitive solution to the lubrication problems that the 500 cc Moto Guzzis have had since their early days in 1914 or so. And he also taught his Falcone to shift properly. Peter bought his Pantah in 1991 from the first owner, drove it tens of thousands of trouble-free kilometers, and then restored it to perfection again. After that restoration it drove 1500 km. Where it is only indirectly important that the machine is now for sale. Peter is now working on a Moto Guzzi Mille. Because that must be the bike that his Lief can ride on.

The lessons: 'Sometimes there is a beautiful princess under ugly clothing' and 'Motorcycling with two can also be fun'.

There is no arguing about taste

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