When reviewing the specifications of the 1979 Ducati 500 Pantah, New Zealand Motorcycle Specifications first highlight the technical design of this motorcycle. It was a four-stroke engine with a two-cylinder design each having two valves. It had a capacity of 499 cubic centimeters and a bore per stroke of 74 x 48 millimeters. The compression ratio was 9.5:1 and had an electric start motor. Its power was 45 horsepower at 9,050 rpm. The chain-driven final drive had a ratio of 2.533:1 at first before becoming 2.786:1 in 1981. The front suspension was a thirty-five millimeter Marzocchi or Paiolli fork and the rear used brand linked twin shock absorbers with three-way adjustable coil springs. For the frame, the Pantah used a tubular steel trellis with a seat height of 29.9 inches from the ground. At dry weight, this bike weighed 397 pounds and had a fuel capacity of 4.8 US gallons. At top speed, the 1979 Ducati 500 Pantah reached 121.8 miles per hour. It was Ducati’s answer to getting back into the game as a world-class producer of race-grade motorcycles.
500 Legacy of Pantah
Italian company Ducati had to come up with a capable motorcycle in order to at least keep pace with its competition as one of the elite brands in the industry. One of the company’s first brilliant moves was the decision to offer a middleweight motorcycle as a specialty class accolade. This was out of necessity, as the Japan-based manufacturers were always at least one step ahead of the competition as lightweight superbikes that could outperform anything in this category. Still, even as a middleweight class, this bike’s ability to hit what started out as 117 miles per hour proved its power where it mattered most. The first of this line appeared in 1979 at a bike show in Milan, Italy. Introduced as the 1979 Ducati 500 Pantah, these motorcycles only began to appear in 1980. Like all other Ducatti models, they featured a 90 degree SOHC V-twin with desmodromic valve gear . Unlike its brand-related companions, this model had belt-driven cams.
Previous models used a bevel gear OHC design. At first, these models came with the Marzocchi fork. Later some bikes had the Paiolli fork. The 500 Pantah models remained on the production line until 1983. The last of the line, a 650SL, was sold in 1986. It was a significant improvement from the disappointment of 1976 when the 350 cc and 50 parallel twins cc from Ducati turned out to be a marketing. failure. Company engineer at the time, Fabio Taglioni, took the opportunity to develop what was the last of the 1973 GP500 racers. First introduced as a prototype, the Pantah bicycle trellis frame with the Suspended engine acted as a stressed member while the swingarm pivoted aft of the crankcase. The rubber toothed belt is what drove the single overhead camshaft with its Morse chain transmission. The drone’s disc brake was a Campagnolo Hydroconico design. The wheelbase of this bike was 1,450 millimeters and was less bulky than the disappointing 1976 models that were introduced. In looks and performance, the 1979 Ducati 500 Pantah was a significant improvement.
The real beauty
According to Rider Magazine, the beauty behind the 1979 Ducati 500 Pantah was the straightforward statement of not allowing bureaucracy to dictate how a motorcycle company should do business, at least in Italy. Even though this Italy-based company faced financial difficulties, it managed to stay competitive, thanks to the involvement of the Italian government. Since then, Pantah and its successors continue to demonstrate that it still has what it takes to compete in the world of world-class motorcycle production. In 1980 when the Pantah 500SL came out, it featured a plain bearing crankshaft. In the end, the stock Pantah 500 still outperformed the 500SL until Ducati got to work making all the necessary improvements. This was what later gave birth to the Pantah 600 and then the Pantah 650. When Cagiva bought Ducati as a company in 1985 they kept the brand design and logo because it was the brand best known in Italy. Like Ducati, Cagiva is a company founded and operated in Italy. In addition to buying Ducati, Cagiva continued to expand its business portfolio through the acquisition of Moto Morini in 1985 and the purchase of Husqvarna in 1987. In 1991, it bought out the trademark of the MV brand Augusta. Ducati remained under Cagiva’s control until 1996, when Texas Pacific Group acquired it, along with Moto Morini.
The Ducati heritage
Ducati was founded in 1926 by Antonio Cavalieri Ducati and his three sons, Adriano, Marcello and Bruno. Originally, the company produced vacuum tubes, capacitors and radio components. In 1935, the family business built a new factory in the company’s founding city, Bologna, Italy. After enduring two world wars, Ducati earned its place as a manufacturer of world-class motorcycles that performed superbly on the racetrack and on the road. This legacy continued until competition from Japanese motorcycle industries presented a new challenge before Ducati had to take drastic measures to keep pace. After Ducati was acquired by Texas Pacific Group in 1996, it became an Italian company again in 2005 for the investment fund of Carlo and Andrea Bonomi of Investindustrial Holdings. In 2012, Volkswagen Group chairman Ferdinand Piech bought Ducati and the brand has been a subsidiary of the German-based car production company ever since. Piech, a longtime Ducati fan, had the opportunity to purchase the brand from the Italian government when it became available in 1984, but passed it on. He said he was not about to make the same mistake again. Currently, Ducati is under the direct control of AUDI AG, through Audi’s Automobil Lamborghini subsidiary.