The Anti-UJM: 1981 Ducati Pantah 600SL for Sale

1981 Ducati Pantah SL600 R side

Ducati’s original Pantah is perhaps the “anti-UJM”. Where many motorcycles of the late 1970’s and early 1980’s seemed cut from a very similar cloth, with the characteristic unfaired, transverse inline four, and stepped dual-seat, the Pantah is almost aggressively futuristic in a way that set the tone for the decades that followed, although no one would likely credit the fairly low-production machine with starting the trend…

1981 Ducati Pantah SL600 L Engine

Introduced in 1979 to replace the classic, but conventional models Ducati had been making up to that point, it’s main engineering claim-to-fame was the new engine that was designed to reduce production costs and maintenance compared to the bevel-drive models. While the venerable twin was powerful and very good-looking, the many small parts needed proper set up and needed fairly fine adjustment.

1981 Ducati Pantah SL600 Front

While the belt-driven Pantah engine did, until recently, famously require very regular belt changes and valve adjustments, both of these procedures are relatively straightforward, and the engines performed as advertised: they’re rugged, respond well to tuning, and make famously cool noises.

Originally a 500cc engine, the new twin made 50hp and could push the 443lb 500SL to 115mph. In 1981, displacement was increased to 600.

1981 Ducati Pantah SL600 Dash

From the original eBay listing: 1981 Ducati Pantah 600SL for Sale

Up for sale this week is a very nice 1981 Ducati Pantah 600 SL. It was just repainted and a new factory decal set was applied.

I acquired this bike a few years back from a noted West Coast Ducati collector, having searched for 3 years after regretting selling my previous one. It is the only Pantah in stock configuration that I have seen for sale on ebay since 2009.

According to the previous owner, this bike had been gone through mechanically within the 2 years prior to my purchase. The engine runs strong, and I’ve never had an issue with any of the electrics or ancillaries.

 The bike is beautiful, one of my favorite designs of all time. The engine presents beautifully, and the few places on the frame where the paint has rubbed off have been touched up.

The odometer shows 59,000 Kilometers. That’s 36,000 miles. It neither looks nor rides like an old bike.

The reason for selling this bike is two-fold. First, at 6’1”, my knees touch the fairing. Secondly, at 57, back issues have forced me to give up riding anything remotely café-style. Much as I love this bike, I’m not operating a museum over here, so she’s got to go to a new home.

As I said, I haven’t seen another stock configuration Pantah available on ebay in 5 years. If you have been looking for one, this is the one. I have set a fair reserve based on the condition and availability of these bikes. You can be confident that this bike won’t disappoint.

These bikes were until recently dirt-cheap to acquire, although they’ve been headed ever-upward in value: this one is looking at a starting bid of $5,000. They represent the perfect useable classic, with real performance and handling, good parts availability for the engine, and even a bit of wind protection.

1981 Ducati Pantah SL600 L Rear Wheel

If 36,000 miles on the clocks puts you off, it shouldn’t: Ducati’s two-valve twins are very rugged and can reach 100,000 miles before needing any significant internal work, assuming they’ve been properly cared for.

This one looks ready to gas up and ride.


1981 Ducati Pantah SL600 L side

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