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Meet our new Ducati GT1000 project bike

Ducati GT1000 project bike

Our Honda CX500 project bike has gone to a happy new owner and we are now working on our next project, a 2006 Ducati GT1000.

I first tested a GT1000 more than a decade ago and fell in love with its torquey engine.

However, the suspension was horrible on anything less than a billiard-table surface.

I also rode one with Ohlins forks and shocks and it was an absolute joy.

Ducati GT1000 project bike
Ducati GT1000 with Ohlins suspenders

Ever since, I’ve wanted a GT1000 with the plan to do a lot of work on the suspension.

However, the second-hand prices stayed high for a long time because Ducati abandoned the retro model in 2009 just as the retro bike craze hit!

Ducati has now added the Scrambler range as their retro model (particularly the new Cafe Racer version) and the price of the GT1000 has consequently dropped several thousand, making it a worthwhile second-hand buy.

It’s a beautiful retro bike with possibly Ducati’s most reliable engine, the ballsy twin-spark DS1000.

The perfect vehicle for our project.

We may do some cosmetic work like getting rid of the “insect-antennae” mirrors, but largely it’s about handling and comfort.

Thankfully the most important mod has already been done – a smaller gearbox sprocket to lower the gearing and reduce surge at low speed.

Project suspension

Ducati GT1000 project bike
With Ventura rack has gotta go!

First off, we are searching for decent forks and shocks to replace the current suspension which is both too soft and too harsh with virtually no damping.

It nearly broke my back on the ride back from Sydney.

I can’t remember it being this bad, but since the forks are sealed and can’t be reconditioned, they are probably shot from a decade of riding.

The previous owner was shorter than me and he had swapped the rear shocks for shorter Hagon units. Some owners also do that just to reduce the big visible gap between the rear wheel and the fender.

However, it totally changes the fork rake and ruins the steering which becomes heavy and wants to run wide on corners.

I returned the original shocks the bike and the nimble steering was restored.

However, it still bounces over small lumps, hits the bumps stops on big hits and has wicked bump steer that can fire you into the weeds in a hurry if you are not careful.

Project seatDucati GT1000 project bike

The original seat is notorious for pushing the rider’s genitals into the tank and being too soft, which means you sink down on to the hard supports underneath.

When the bike had shorter rear shocks and the rear sat down, the slippery seat was more horizontal and didn’t push me forward. It was actually quite comfortable, but with the shocks back on and the downward slant restored, it needs some work.

So I’m taking it to perhaps the best seat “doctor” in Australia, the legendary John Moorehouse of Ergo Seats, Brisbane.

John Moorehouse with Ducati GT1000
John Moorehouse

He now works from his Alexander Hills home after a heart attack a few years ago, rather than his Capalaba store, so check his Facebook page.

A little bit of skilful sculpting by the master, some decent foam and a non-slippery cover should fix the problems. However, we’re keeping it black and retaining the rear “Ducati” white lettering.

Stay tuned to see what John can do.Ducati GT1000 project bike

Project wheels

We can understand that Ducati opted for spoked wheels to retain the retro flavour.

However, most retro bikes with wire wheels only have one front brake disc so you can see the wheel in all its glory.

This Ducati has double Brembo discs which have awesome performance, but they cover most of the wire wheel.

They also make the whole wheel assembly look way too fussy for such a simplistically designed bike.

Ducati GT1000 project bike

Also, wire wheels are heavy, they don’t take tubeless tyres, they are tricky to get the air hose in to pump up the tyres and they are difficult to clean.

The previous owner was quite fastidious about keeping the bike clean, but obviously it was too much effort to access the inner spokes. Consequently they are covered in grease, grime … and rust!

They’ve simply got to go.

At the moment, we’re thinking of carbon wheels to replace them.

Yes, they’re expensive, but they are much lighter which means better braking, handling and steering.Ducati GT1000 project bike

And, after all, isn’t that what you want a Ducati for; performance?

Hopefully our bike will be the GT1000 Ducati should have made right from the start.

  • What other suggestions do you have to make this a better Duc? Leave your comments below.
  1. Have a look at the Ducati Sport Classic Facebook page – there are 2,500 owners happy to share their tips.
    With mine the front sprocket was 1st, then to Racetech. The front forks are not sealed at all, and respond very well to an expert hand. Mine already has excellent new rear shocks, so the boys drilled out VaValve, upgraded to Racetech springs, changed oil volume and weight, dropped forks a little in triple clamps. Then setup correctly with rears shocks (static sag, damping)
    Only $700 instead of new forks and a ride and handling near as good as thousands more. Bumpy back roads to tracks days all of. A lot buy Monster S4S forks as another option. A few go a bit OTT with Ohlins but overkill on what is essentially a fun bike, not a fang bike.
    And Staintunes look and sound most period appropriate Vs other options. There are cool tubeless alloy spoke options rather than carbon, but if you’re not paying go crazy

  2. Hi Jeremy,
    Some great advice there.
    The sprocket has already been done.
    Looking to go with Ikon shocks and fork springs.
    You’re right; it’s a fun bike, not a track weapon.

  3. “It’s a beautiful retro bike with possibly Ducati’s most reliable engine, the ballsy twin-spark DS1000.”
    Actually most DS1000 engines suffer from soft valve guides. I would recommend you check it first before breaking the bank on suspension upgrade.

  4. Oh, and you’d better plan for (if not already done) fit a new 3rd party MOSFET voltage regulator. They fail and cook the plastic base under the seat. Can be very exciting.

  5. I think you are trying to turn a retro classic into a sportbike. I understand the impulse to switch wheels, but if that’s what you want get a modern machine. Spoked wheels are the major styling cue of the bike. The first thing that needs to go is the chromed pontoon outrigger exhaust. It is heavy, poorly designed rubbish and ruins the performance of the bike. I replaced mine with beautiful to view and hear set of Conti replicas. A nice retro touch as they don’t look like a madman’s plumbing project. Next to get the heave -ho is the ridiculous rear fender. Ditch it and get a rear wheel hugger. Front sprocket change – yes. A Fat Duc O2 sensor trim pot unit is a great addition and probably required with an exhaust upgrade if you don’t change the EFI Unit. Be sure to get decent tires-I am running on Dunlop Sportmax tires. I had my seat re-contoured, re-foamed and covered in leather. Best upgrade of all. Your mileage may vary.

  6. Nice bike. Inner tubes suck big time, the goo in a can hardly ever works if you get a puncture.

  7. Hi, I also have a GT1000 07 model, a great bike that I love getting out on. A suspension upgrade is next on my list of mods so I’ll be interested in what choice you make for the project bike. Mods I’ve made thus far are:
    – Chrome barend mirrors
    – Sport Classic 1000S seat and tail cowl (fits straight on)
    – Palatov tail tidy
    – Termignoni stainless slip-ons with performance ECU
    – Matris steering damper
    Cheers Al

    1. Hi Allan,
      No need for the steering damper if you sought out the suspension.
      I’m still not totally satisfied.
      I think the fork springs might need more preload.
      Waiting on a bigger rear cog to sort out the gearing and then I’ll test out the new carbon fibre wheels.
      That should make a difference to the suspension as well. Not as much weight to deal with.

      1. Cheers Mark,

        Suspension is definitely next on the mods list. Re gearing, I run a 15/41 and find that perfect for around town and highway cruising.

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