If you woke up today hoping that you’d see the single most 1980s bike that Ducati ever made, this could be your lucky day. Feast your eyes upon an absolute stunner of a 1985 Ducati Pantah 600TL. Did you just time-travel? Even if you didn’t, you may feel like you did just by looking at this thing. At the time, a lot of people considered this to be a giant Ducati misstep, probably second only to the Indiana.
You know what, though? Like all opinions, it’s totally subjective. Taste is often temporally contextual, too, and how you feel about a given design may change over time. In other words, it’s complicated. Looking at this thing now, in 2021, I think I would love the chance to take a closer look in person. Your feelings on the matter may vary. Point is, we all like what we like.
Anyway, 1985 was a strange year to be Ducati as the company was struggling to stay afloat and getting bought out by Cagiva. As a matter of fact, you may notice the Cagiva mirrors on this Pantah, complete with the company’s unmistakable elephant logo. Over its run, the Pantah engine came in a few different displacements, starting with a 500cc 90-degree V-twin engine that later evolved into 600cc and 650cc models. It was designed by none other than Fabio Taglioni, and Cycle World has an excellent, technical deep-dive into this engine that you should check out if you want to get elbow-deep in those details.
Gallery: 1985 Ducati Pantah 600TL
The Pantah introduced the triumvirate of features that arguably established Ducati’s identity for decades to come. Belt-driven cams? Check. Those world-famous Desmodromic valves? Check. Trellis frame? In 2021, it’s much more common, but back in the day? Not so much.
According to a Cycle World interview with Ducati Museum curator Livio Lodi, the trellis frame was simply the natural result of Massimo Tamburini’s family repairing a busted bike with pipes they just had laying around—because they were plumbers. It’s the kind of story that brings a smile to your face and encourages you to print the legend, because it’s just too good.
Now that you have a little more context about the Pantah as a model, let’s dive back into this specific example. It has a five-speed gearbox, a wet clutch (sorry, dry clutch Ducati fans), dual front and single rear Brembo disc brakes, electronic ignition, Paioli suspension, and an adorable quarter fairing up front. The TL stands for “Turismo Lusso,” because this was the fancy, upmarket, touring version of the Pantah. It also has both side and center stands, although the side stand shows some corrosion, according to the listing.
It has around 9,000 miles on the odometer, but total mileage is unknown. There’s no running video for this bike at the time of writing, but the seller says it will run with the choke on. However, you should know that it’s been sitting in a collection since 2014, and the selling dealer “recommends servicing the carburetors.”
The auction ends later today, Monday, March 15, 2021. At the time of writing, the current bid is up to $4,300.