・Super-low mileage example ・Meticulously maintained ・Higher-powered S version ・Official factory upgraded exhausts ・Recent refurbishment
Ducati has a habit of bringing race technology to its road bikes and the 749 models of the early 2000s were no exception. Introduced in 2003 and running for just four years, this was a smaller-engined version of the 999, using a 748cc 90° V-twin with the marque’s Desmodromic fully- mechanical valve actuation. The engine sat in the same World Superbike-derived steel-trellis frame as the larger-engined 999 but the lower power output – 103bhp on the base 749 and 110bhp on the S variant – meant it was actually a far more relevant road bike than the 999 though it inevitably found its way onto numerous circuits thanks to its propensity to come alive in the absence of speed limits.
Designed by Pierre Terblanche, the 749’s styling was… unconventional… with its stacked lights and angular lines. The range was revised in 2005 with the S gaining a further 6bhp thanks to revised camshaft profiles and electronic adjustments and identified by the loss of the upper air intakes either side of the lights. This was a pure rider’s bike, with no electronic aids – no ABS, traction control or rider modes – it delivered a thrilling ride with a soundtrack to match from the V-twin.
The current owner bought this 2003 749S Testastretta in 2009 as a present to himself when returning from his final tour of duty with the British military in Afghanistan – this particular model had always been his dream bike. It was purchased from Dave Bliss Motorcycles in Luton, who had originally sold the bike when new though the previous three owners appeared not to have been able to come to terms with its particular nature.
The bike had around 3000 miles on it by its previous owners in its first six years of life and the current owner has since doubled this, in fair-weather use only both on the road and on UK track days. The owner rides a larger adventure bike for regular use and the 749S is reserved for fun but he is now finding the sportsbike riding position – weight forward, feet high on (adjustable) footpegs and high seat – too extreme for his body, which has suffered in his four-decade career in the British military.
He is therefore presenting the bike for sale for the next generation of riders to take on and enjoy its compelling nature. The bike will be accompanied by its genuine Ducati paddock stand, the storage ‘bag’ the owner has kept it in in his garage and the Optimate4 battery conditioner that is connected to the bike continuously. The owner added the private registration and this will also go with the bike, along with the appropriate documentation.
Very little original paperwork accompanied the bike when the current owner obtained it. As a result, it is presented with the V5 registration document in the current owner’s name, proof of its current MoT (valid until April 15, 2022 despite the bike currently being declared SORN) and with invoices and receipts for the considerable work carried out by the owner. However, there is no previous service history or the original owner’s handbook to accompany the bike.
According to the owner, the bike’s exterior is in as good condition as it looks from the photos, going as far as describing it as; “Showroom”. He admits there are one or two inevitable marks which show it has had some life but the fairings are apparently unmarked and the frame is in exceptional condition.
The owner has had the bike looked after and serviced by renowned Ducati experts Pro Twins of Godstone and this included a full refurbishment in 2018, removing the bodywork and cleaning the frame and polishing the exhaust systems before replacing all the bodywork fittings and fixings with new. Combined with its very low mileage, no use since its refurbishment (other than an eight-mile annual round trip for its MoT check) and its meticulous humidity-controlled and warm storage, the frame, bodywork and all ancillary parts of the bike are in excellent condition.
This is a mono-posto (single-seat) example so there are no pillion footrests or brackets and the rider’s seat pad looks virtually brand new. The tank is unmarked, thanks to careful use by the owner and the bike is fitted with crash bungs on the outside of the fairings – useful, according to the owner, when the bike fell on grass at a track day and saved the bodywork.
The bike retains its original front mudguard and rear hugger, though the bolt-on heat shields on the exhaust pipes that run next to the rider’s legs appear to have been replaced with carbon-fibre versions. The dashboard confirms the mileage on the smaller LCD screen indicating road speed, while the large analogue rev counter shows engine speed – arguably the most important function to be aware of on a bike like this.
With just over 6000 miles on the odometer, this 749S is only just run in and as such, the engine runs perfectly, according to the owner. The bike has been fitted with the optional official Turmi exhaust system, retaining twin under-seat exhaust silencers and it would appear that the bike has also had its original ECU replaced with that from a 999 model to take care of the fuelling, though the original ECU will also be provided with the bike.
These exhaust cans are fully MoT-compatible and the owner confirms that the bike meets all necessary circuit noise limits for trackdays, at 98dB. The owner also confirms he has always run the bike on super unleaded petrol and it is presented for sale with a full tank of fresh fuel.
The owner installed a new battery in 2013 and this has been connected to the conditioner/charger when not in use. He had the cambelts replaced in 2017 at 6317 miles by Pro Twins, a standard part of the 749’s service schedule and had a full service carried out at the same time, including a valve-clearance check.
He had the rear monoshock replaced in 2014, removing the original Showa unit (which had a slight oil leak) and installing a fully adjustable WP item, with adjustable high- and low-speed compression and rebound damping. He also had the front fork oil seals replaced at the same time, as these were leaking and verified that the adjustable front damping was also working correctly.
The brakes are the original Brembo calipers though the owner suspects these may have been fitted with uprated pads, as the stopping power of the bike is exceptional, requiring just a single finger to provide ample retardation from circuit speeds.
When he obtained the bike in 2009, it was fitted with non-matching tyres that adversely affected its handling and so he replaced them with Michelin Pilot Power 2CT fast-road/track day tyres which have, apparently, transformed its handling.
The 749S is widely regarded as a far better handling bike than its larger-engined sibling, benefitting enormously from its race-derived chassis. While it has less midrange grunt, the engine nature is far better suited to the nimble and agile chassis.
However, it is without doubt a rider’s bike. The owner, who has been riding for most of his life, says; “She’s a bit of a handful – you need to know what you're doing. But on the track she just comes alive. You can throw her around from side to side… And she is quick.” The engine’s responsive nature and the sweet-handling chassis mean it responds instantly to rider inputs and will corner and hold a line superbly with acceleration and braking ability to match.
The breadth of adjustability in the suspension means it can be set-up perfectly for any rider though to get the best from this bike, they would need to be flexible and ready to adopt a typical racing truck. This isn't a bike for eating high touring distances; this is a bike that will supercharge the pulse and provide a permanent grin on the rider’s face. And this example is surely one of the best around.
If you like comfortable, quiet and relaxed cruising while wafting along in a cocoon of calmness, then this is not the bike for you. If, however, you cherish engaging, rewarding and downright thrilling middleweight superbike excitement, then this Ducati 749S is definitely right up your street start/finish line.
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