Bike of the Month
1978 Ducati 900 SS
by Rodd Lighthouse
As a young teenager, while attending the penultimate round of the Grand National Championship with my father, probably 1975, I remember watching the Superbike race at Ontario Motor Speedway, which featured Cook Neilson on his 750 Ducati Super Sport, “Old Blue”. I’m not sure why, but as a thirteen-year old kid, I fell in love with that Ducati. It sounded great and it kicked butt. Since that time, the Ducati 750 Super Sport has been one of my dream machines.
In 1980, my father had the opportunity to purchase a 1978 Ducati 900 Super Sport from a friend. Although not quite a 750 Super Sport, the 900 Super Sport is the next best thing. The Ducati had been in a wreck or two and there were a few things wrong with it, such as a broken fairing, few bent brackets and clip-on bar, but other than that, the bike worked fine. Being the generous guy that he is, Dad let me ride the Ducati around all summer long, eventually allowing me to take it to college with me in northern California, near the Napa Valley, and then to the University of Nevada-Reno. I had a great time riding the Duck all over the place and even taking a few cute girls on rides. Graduating from college in 1986, Mom and Dad presented me with the Ducati as a graduation present. Thanks a lot Mom and Dad!
Moving to Elko for work in 1987, the Ducati went with me, where I continued to drive it around. Trying to impress a beautiful girl during the summer of 1989, I took her for a ride on the 900 SS and she loved it. Within a year of that ride, the Ducati was not running well and it had a flat tire, but the beautiful lass was hooked and we were an item. While trying to repair the flat, I realized that the axle was seized in the hub. Neglecting the Ducati and storing it outside for about ten years, took its toll on my baby, so I decided that I was going to take it apart and fix it up. The bike was completely disassembled and put in boxes in 1990.
Fast forward to 1995, the beautiful lass, Christy, and I were married. Fast forward again to 2010, Christy requested that I get the Ducati running so that I could take her for a ride again for our fifteen-year wedding anniversary, what a gal! After approximately twenty years in a box, I began the long process of restoring the Ducati. Although the Ducati was not completed by our fifteen-year anniversary, it was completed a couple of years later for our seventeen-year wedding anniversary.
I’m so glad that my bride requested that anniversary ride; it motivated me to get one of my all time favorite motorcycles on the road again. Plus it was the pass I needed to spend money.