Additional photos of this Ducati Pantah 500SL are available here for your perusal.
Ducati has had a long and storied history, but the late 70s were not something that the Italian firm would be proud of – the square case 860s were a commercial failure, and their parallel twins were even worse, earning the not-so-affectionate nickname of “paralyzed twins” by some. Drastic changes were required, and they came in two fronts. The big bike was replaced by the instant-classic Darmah, while the twin was replaced by the Pantah 500SL.
As noted in this excellent Motorcycle Classics article, Fabio Taglioni’s Pantah was based on two existing Ducati racers. “By smartly borrowing from both examples, Taglioni’s last design for Ducati was a culmination of his life’s work, uniting virtually all his innovations into one bike that would form the basis of almost every Ducati for the next 30 years.”
Specifically, the article is referring to desmo valves, the trellis frame, and belt-driven cams, many of the features that Ducati fans deeply associate with the brand. Basic specifications of the 500SL were 45 horsepower at 9,000 rpm, a top speed of 115 miles per hour, and a wet weight of 433 pounds.
But we bring up Motorcycle Classics for another reason – the bike featured in that article is the same one in front of you here today on Iconic Motorbike Auctions!
This Pantah (VIN: ZDMAP5504B66097) shows 20,816 miles on the odometer and it is stock with the exception of the air filters and seat (the seller has the original parts for both). All the electrical functions work correctly and it is equipped with a new battery.
There’s an appropriate level of wear on the engine cases for a nearly 40 year-old machine – the only two serious cosmetic issues are bubbling around the gas tank and some dents/scratches in the exhaust.
Per the seller, “the bike cold starts well with the choke on it takes a few seconds. If you research the Pantah, a lot of people put a relay on, but I didn’t find a reason to do it. After you ride and stop, it starts up super quickly.”
In many ways, the Pantah defines the modern Ducati, making this 500SL an interesting piece of the Italian firm’s history.