Improving on Excellence: Cameron Jones’ 1980 Ducati 900SS

A restoration elevates this 1980 Ducati 900SS from a flawed masterpiece to something approaching perfection.

| January/February 2015

1980 Ducati 900SS
Claimed power: 56.3hp @ 7,000rpm (period test)
Top speed: 125mph (period test)
Engine: 864cc air-cooled OHC desmodromic 90-degree V-twin, 86mm x 74.4mm bore and stroke, 9.5:1 compression ratio
Weight (dry): 414lb (188kg)
Fuel capacity/MPG: 4.7gal (18ltr)/40mpg (avg.)
Price then/now: $3,600 (1979)/$21,000-$25,000

Cameron Jones would not be the first Ducati 900SS owner to acknowledge both the timeless beauty of the bevel-drive desmo bike and the cosmetic detail shortcomings that mar its splendor. Think Scarlett Johansson with acne …

Nor would Jones, of Langley, British Columbia, Canada, be the first owner to bring the feted Bologna bike up to scratch — something the manufacturer would have done, no doubt, but for the indifference of its then bureaucratic government owners and the budget constraints they imposed.

Jones imposed no such constraints, and what he has achieved elevates his classic 900SS from a flawed masterpiece to something approaching perfection. The process took more than five years and what seemed like every waking minute outside Jones’ day job, supervising the installation of hydro-electric generation sets: Jones estimates that cleaning and re-painting the FPS wheels alone took 100 hours, and the Brembo brake discs and calipers a further 200 hours!

The starting point

The starting point for Jones’ amazing transformation was a somewhat sad and neglected 1980 Ducati 900SS. Originally gloss black with gold decals and wheels, when Jones bought it the Duc had covered 40,000 hard miles and had been sitting in an underground parking lot for nine years — though the owner had been thoughtful enough to lube the engine and turn it over every so often. Cosmetically, though, it was hurting.

The Brembo discs “looked like an old frying pan,” Jones says, noting that the shocks and forks were blown and leaking, the tires were rock hard, the alloy wheels were oxidized, the carbs were a mess and the electrical system was “ready for a meltdown.” The swingarm had “about 3mm of side-to-side slop,” Jones says, and the Conti mufflers’ mounting brackets had been welded back on a couple of times. The bodywork had been painted flat black, with incorrect white decals applied. “But it was all there,” he emphasizes.

2/5/2015 8:54:58 AM

Nice bike. I like the upgrades. Thanks for sharing it with us.

Ride 'Em, Don't Hide 'Em Getaway

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