Bevel-Drive with an NCR-Prepped Engine: 1978 Ducati 900SS for Sale

1978 Ducati 900SS R Front

Looking like it’s sitting in God’s living room, this very nice bevel-drive Ducati 900SS apparently has an NCR-prepped engine, although the seller doesn’t detail exactly what that entails. Which would help, as that could mean just about anything, from a simple rebuild or blueprint, up to and including a barely-streetable race engine.

1978 Ducati 900SS R Engine

Introduced in 1975 and powered by an 864cc version of Ducati’s iconic bevel-drive engine, the bike was really their first attempt at a global-market bike: along with a quieter set of stock mufflers, the shift mechanism was significantly redesigned to make relocation to the left side of the bike less of a cobbled-together affair and improve the action for riders in the US market. By now, many 900SS bikes have had the stock pipes swapped out for a set of appropriately-loud Contis, as seen here.

1978 Ducati 900SS R Rear

Obviously a bit less desirable than the original “round-case” bevels that were introduced in 1974, the “square case” 900SS shared much of its DNA with the far more practical Darmah. But the sex appeal of that half-fairing and clip-on bars, along with the undeniable links to racing mean that these will always be the most desirable Ducatis of the period, barring actual race bikes.

1978 Ducati 900SS L Engine

From the original eBay listing: 1978 Ducati 900SS for Sale

Original Ducati 900SS engine prepared by NCR with NCR specification, two owners up to now, all history known. Excellent condition, runs perfectly.
NOS Tank

  • Original Veglia Borletti racing rev counter
  • 40mm Dell’Orto carbs
  • Original Conti exhaust (not rechromed)
  • Marzocchi shock absorbers
  • CEV 177 headlight
  • Greek documentSeller great Ducati collector

1978 Ducati 900SS Tach

They say that “presentation is everything.” And it never ceases to amaze me to see auctions for high-end motorcycles where the seller hasn’t even bothered to haul their $30,000 motorcycles out of the back of the shed into the light to take a few quality pictures. So it’s always nice when someone makes the effort to really show off their pride and joy, especially when it’s a beautiful, black-and-gold Ducati 900SS. This one obviously needs a quick trip down a windy back road to clean off those rusty brake discs, and it’s not in perfect cosmetic condition, with some minor surface corrosion and pitting and general wear. But it looks well cared-for and the listing suggests that it’s ready to run, a very important consideration when you look at what a mechanical restoration would cost for a bike that’s been sitting.

Also: genuine Veglia white-faced racing tachometer!


1978 Ducati 900SS L Front

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2 Responses

  1. Aaron says:

    I love the memory lane aspect of your blog. So many of these bikes bring back great, and sometimes not so great memories. I bought one of these in 1986. It was sex on wheels. A previous owner had painted it a blood red–body and frame. It was insanely, deafeningly loud. When the bike was idling on the center stand, you could literally feel the pavement shaking under your feet. People love to talk about bikes that “handle like they are on rails” but nothing I have ever ridden really matched that descriptions like the Duc. It was so long and stable that it inspired huge confidence. The negatives? Oh boy. First, it was kick only. On a high-comp 900cc twin, that’s an issue. Next, it was stiff and weird stuff would break all the time. The main fairing mount, especially. And look at that big taillight mounted on that skinny glass rear fender. Yeah, the fender cracked.

    But on the open road, this thing was fantastic. It loved sweepers, and I would ride it up to Summit Point Raceway with my hooligan pals and it was a ton of fun. Reno Leoni was there one weekend and he signed the side of the tank. Super cool! The taillight never really wanted to work and I was constantly being pulled over. A friend got the then brand new GSX-R 750 and offered me a straight swap for the 900. I was still in love with it and was never going to trade for a Suzuki!

    Ultimately I couldn’t deal with the bike breaking itself all the time. I swapped it for a wonderful LeMans I that is still in the family. Regrets? Yeah, but what are you gonna do? Lesson: Starving college students shouldn’t buy exotic Italian superbikes for daily transportation…

  2. sr88 says:

    A friend of mine has an early MHR and I have ridden it several times. I agree with the “sex on wheels” analogy! And yes, those barely silenced Conti mufflers do indeed provide a noticeable rumble!