Real-World Italian: 1981 Ducati Darmah SD900 for Sale

1981 Ducati Darmah L Side

The Ducati Darmah was just about the end of the line for Ducati’s bevel-drive v-twin motorcycles, aside from a handful of Hailwood Replicas and S2 models, before the move from gears and tower-shafts to simple, rubber belts. The change made plenty of economic sense but, while the Pantah engine is considered one of the most charismatic engines of all time, it certainly isn’t as good-looking as that earlier Ducati powerplant.

1981 Ducati Darmah Tank

The Darmah was introduced in 1977 to replace the unloved 860GT and has a definite 70’s Superbike vibe about it, with the upswept tail and wide bars looking much more like the Japanese competition than the angular, futuristic 860. But unlike those bikes that offered comfort and straight-line speed, the Darmah could hustle through the turns on its Marzocchi suspension and pull up short with its Brembo brakes.

1981 Ducati Darmah Clocks

And it wasn’t just about style: the Darmah included evolutionary updates to the basic platform to improve function that included an electric start and a redesigned shift lever that did away with the cobbled-together crossover previously used to convert the bike to left-side shift. Combined with the comfortable ergonomics and torquey v-twin, those changes made for a very appealing package for folks who want to ride, rather than just admire their motorcycles.

1981 Ducati Darmah R Side Engine

This particular example isn’t completely perfect, but appears to be in very good, very original condition. The Darmah featured an improved build-quality compared to earlier Ducatis, so you should get more “patina” and less “corrosion…”

From the original eBay listing: 1981 Ducati Darmah SD900 for Sale

Very nice Darmah here. I also have the Silentiums that it came with, the pipes on it are Stainless. Always maintained to a high standard. Valves set, new chain and sprockets, clutch plates, steering head bearings, tires and cables. Calipers rebuilt and stainless front brake lines added. 1981 models are actually rare in the US and you get some nice features for this year: FPS wheels, stronger transmission, upgraded clutch and the motor is exactly the same as the 900SS version. That means you get the SS rods (beamed) and the wide stud heads with larger ports. Earlier versions did not have these features, using 860 rods and small port heads with narrow stud spacing.  

Everything works and the bike is the smoothest Ducati I have ever ridden with a perfect riding position. Seat has been recovered with new padding and it is comfortable. Bike also has the excellent Marzocchi shocks these came with and they are smooth and leak free. Same with the forks. Paint is perfect and the tank is sealed with Caswells. Factory seal is in place on the cases. No leaks, no crashes, never dropped. Shift lever has been shortened to fit a size 12 foot – or smaller. Backs of the mirrors show wear and one of the headlight ears has a spot in the chrome that is flaking – shown in the pictures.

You can buy a cheap one and spend more than this bike costs to get it this good. This is not my first Bevel and I have owned multiple versions since 1980. Nobody has ‘learned’ to work on a bike that owned this. I am an old man and have taken very good care of the bike, never planning to sell it. It is part of a collection that I planned to keep forever. A current massive construction project is forcing the issue. I have an open title for it and can give a bill of sale also. Buyer is responsible for shipping. If you want one of these, buy this one.

1981 Ducati Darmah Tail

The Darmah used to be the only affordable way into classic bevel-drive Ducati ownership, and I guess it still is. But, with a Buy It Now price of $13,500 it’s just that “affordable” means something a little bit different than it used to… While the Darmah may not have the sexy, race-replica lines of the Super Sport bikes, it does offer something those bikes don’t: comfort and practicality. And unless you plan to just show your Ducati off in the living room, the Darmah is better at doing just about everything a motorcycle is supposed to do…

-tad

1981 Ducati Darmah R Side

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2 Responses

  1. sr88 says:

    I could have bought several of these in the $6-7k range a few years back. Damm!

  2. tad says:

    Oh jeez, between the Moto Guzzi 850 Le Mans that sold for $5,500 or so when I first fell in love with them, to the Maserati Ghibli that used to sell for $25-30k, I do have my regrets as well!