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Ducati 749 – Your Entry into Bologna Sporting Legend

The Ducati 749 is a race bike with no two-ways about it. Sure, you will see them being ridden on the streets but everything about the 749 screams competitive sports racing. 

The leading race model, Ducati 749R was produced for one reason only and that was to compete in SuperSport World Championship Racing with the sole intention of competing (and to annihilate) in a class against the big Inline-4’s from Japan.

In 2003 it was time to replace the top of the line racing bikes of the Ducati 916 and 748 that the Italian company had great success with, and so the Ducati 999 and 749 were introduced and they were completely different animals from their predecessors. 

The Ducati 749 had a relatively short run before it was replaced in 2006 by the Ducati 848

We will dig into the ins and outs of the Ducati 749 and it’s variants in the range, before concluding with whether or not it could be a future collectable Ducati? Let’s get started.

Ducati 749 Review 

Pierre Terblanche was the man in charge of the Ducati 749 and 999 design and decided to take things into a new space that the chiselled predecessors had captivated audiences with previously. 

Massimo Tamburini had led the charge on the Ducati 748 and 916 and is credited with them being regarded by many as the most beautiful bikes ever produced. 

Terblanche opted for stacked headlights and large slab-sided fairing panels which gave the new Ducati 749 a beefy look, and turned what was something majestic into a brute.

The Ducati 749 and 999 design both met with resistance
Having to follow the 748 and 916 meant the Ducati 749 and 999 design was met with resistance from the buying public

Maybe he did it to make his mark in Ducati folklore or maybe he thought it was where styling was headed at the time, who knows, but it stood out. 

Regardless of the styling which will split opinion until the end of time, although in recent years there is more affinity for the bikes; they were significantly improved on a performance basis and much more capable, reliable and ready for the track or the swift bends on the road. 

The 999 is the most successful Ducati to be raced in history. Despite this and claims at the time that the 749 would be overlooked in the shadow of the bigger bike; “the Ducati 749 actually out sold it’s bigger sibling in the UK (by 80 units) due to the fact it carried a far more accessible price tag, opening ownership up to a wider audience.” Bennetts

The handling of the Ducati 749 is perhaps its most stand out feature and one that all press and later the owners raved about. 

“The Ducati 749 has a kind of balance, an addictive precision in its steering, acceleration and braking that makes it a machine that surprises riders with its understated ability.”


Remember that Ducati wanted to win races with these bikes, they weren’t playing around and while the base 749 wasn’t race spec, the overall design was derived from the same high standards and therefore it makes sense that the bike handled so exquisitely. 

On the face of it even the base 749 produced the same sort of figures that the previous 916 had made, so it was far from a slow engine, but it did enjoy being revved and as result was thirsty. 

It lacked the mid-range of the bigger 999 but if you got used to changing through the gears more regularly and getting the revs up, there was a lot of fun to be had and most wouldn’t feel like they were lacking in power. In fact it probably had the most usable power of the range, with very few riders on the road needing to push the bike to excess. 

The Ducati 749S makes some more power and torque so that is the one to go for to meet that need, or of course the 749R which is the top of the league. 

Stopping power was in the form of Brembo four-piston calipers which were more than capable of doing the job, for the R model these were radial calipers. 

Ergonomically the Ducati 749 was about as comfortable as any other SuperSport of the time; the seat was fairly comfortable but the screen was very small and therefore the wind would take its toll on riders. 

It must be remembered however, it wasn’t built to be a touring bike or even a bike to do any real distance in a day, so comfort features just were never going to be prioritised. 

The low seat height and adjustability means it will suit shorter riders, and you can adjust the pegs to an appropriate height. However, it won’t make much difference and riders will still be cramped. 

Cycle World ranks the Ducati 749S as one of the best used bikes to purchase. 

Ducati 749 Variations

During the production period the Italians released the 749, 749S, 749R and the Dark models. 

The 749 was the base model, best suited for the street, followed by the second generation in the form of the Ducati 749S which has slightly better performance modifications and a few subtle differences to the base bike such as improved Showa suspension.

Dark models were based solely on the 749 and S models with just different styling, there were no additional performance upgrades or modifications on the 749 Dark range. 

The Ducati 749R however, was a completely different prospect from a performance standpoint. There was a limited run of the R model and the 749R was a purebred race bike.

The R model was built for the purpose of homologation to enter SuperSport racing.

749Rinfo states “The introduction of this bike brought V Twin technology very close in performance, power and high-revving behavior to Inline-4 engines only a few years back: while V Twins are likely to never exceed the power producing characteristics of Inline-4’s,  the 749R is  an amazing accomplishment in mechanical engineering that was previously thought impossible.”

In 2004 the 749R came with carbon fibre fairings, which were later discarded and replaced for performance purposes with a high-grade polymer.

To be able to enter into the racing class, manufacturers had to meet certain standards pro-rata to how many production models they produce. What this means is that Ducati either made a minimum of 500 or 1000 749R models, it is hard to find specific production numbers and how many were used for racing etc. 

Was the Ducati 749 a Good Bike?

The 749 was and is a good bike. It provided a gateway into the Ducati SuperSport lifestyle, affordable and gave you back a lot of bang for the buck. 

Handling, agility, performance and the fact it was an accessible Ducati make it a really good bike in my book, and if you want to avoid the 848 prices, you really can get a bargain in comparison for a decent Ducati 749. 

Visordown ran a survey of 69 owners of Ducati 749 and 999 models and asked the following question:

How reliable has your bike been?

“Over half said their bike had been 100% reliable. 33% reported one minor problem, 15% reported having had a few problems and just 1% said they’d had “loads of problems”.

Those aren’t bad stats to me, especially when Ducati’s get a bad rep for being in the workshop more than they are being used. 

Relay problems were the main issues that cropped up with the headlight and fuel-pump failing, but both are pretty cheap and easy fixes. 

The Ducati 749 requires new belts every 12000 miles or 2 years and valves need to be checked every 6000 miles. Remember these numbers when looking at the service history of a 749 you are considering purchasing.

As I always say and you are probably sick of hearing it at this point, look after the bike and it will look after you. 

The Ducati 749 engine was solid and should be essentially bulletproof, so you should be able to get out and get lots of miles logged on the bike without too many problems. 

Ducati 749 Specs

What follows is a table with the Ducati 749’s specs in the 3 key variants so you can see the differences between the 3 bikes.

All specs here and concerning top speed and 0-60mph are based on the first generation of the 3 variant models of theDucati 749 where applicable.

EngineDesmo V twin, DOHC, 8 Valves, Liquid Cooled
Max Power108 Horsepower at 10,000rpm110 Horsepower at 10,500rpm117.6 Horsepower at 10,250rpm
Max Torque77 Nm at 8,000rpm78 Nm at 8,500rpm81.5Nm at 8,250rpm
Top Speed149mph149mph159mph
Transmission6-Speed, Chain Final Drive
Frame Tubular Steel Trellis
Front Suspension43mm Showa Inverted ForksTiN coating on the Showa forks43mm fully adjustable Inverted Ohlins Forks
Rear SuspensionSachs MonoshockShowa MonoshockOhlins
Front Brake2 x 320mm discs, Brembo Standard four-piston calipers2 x 320mm discs, Brembo Standard four-piston calipersThe same but Brembo Radial calipers
Rear Brake240mm disc, two-piston caliper
Seat Height780mm
Dry Weight188kg186kg193kg

Ducati 749 Top Speed

The top speed of the base Ducati 749 and 749S was estimated to be around 149mph. 

Whereas the top speed of the Ducati 749R was estimated to be 159mph.

Ducati 749 0-60 Time

The Ducati 749, 749 Dark and 749S 0-60 time was 3.6 seconds.

The 749R 0-60 time was 3.1 seconds. 

Engine Specs

Engine748 cc desmodromic 8 valve liquid cooled V twin. (749R was 749.5 cc)
Bore(749, Dark, S) 90 mm v 58.8 mm – (749R) 94 mm x 54 mm
Compression749 11.7:1 – 749S 12.3:1 – 749R 12.7:1
Power749 749S & 749 Dark 108 hp @ 10,000 rpm
Power 749R121 hp @ 10250 rpm

How Much is a Ducati 749 Worth?

In the UK prices start from around £4,000 and go all the way up to £15,000 and beyond for a Ducati 749. 

In the US prices start at close to $5,000 before shooting up from there. 

The price range is largely due to the difference in models, the base 749 and 749S sit at the lower end of the used prices whereas the 749R sky rockets in value depending on the condition of the bike.

Cycle Trader has a 2006 model advertised with under 10,000 miles on the clock for $6,999, it seems to be in pretty good condition. However, it is possible to spend closer to the $5,000 mark as proven by this 2005 model priced at $5,499. 

The key thing to watch out for with the 749 is those that have been used on the track/raced about on the street. It is likely there are many bikes you will come across that have been dropped and have been in a bit of a war with the tarmac. 

To avoid being caught out with a less than ideal bike, ask for any evidence that work has been done, service history, receipts, original parts that have been swapped etc. Do your research and know the differences between models so you know what to look for. 

Lastly, many base Ducati 749 and 749S models will have had some parts upgraded for R model parts. This does not make them an R model and so you should not pay over the odds for these upgrades as underneath it is still just a standard 749. 

If you are insistent on the 749R then make sure you investigate and get a real model that is worth the money. 

Is the 749 a Future Collectable Ducati?

Here is the deal: many people hated the look of the 749 and 999, but they still sold relatively well and made their mark in the sporting world. Is the somewhat ‘ugly’ nature of the design enough to stop the Ducati 749 becoming a collectors bike? I highly doubt it.

 Anyone remember the Triumph ‘Bathtub’ designs? They have quite the following now!

The race spec 749R will likely be the most collectable of the bunch as seen by the raised value even now compared to the base model, however, I think the 749 has its place in Ducati history. 

Ducati has a keen following and if you are a fan then it is almost always a lifelong passion, which means fans may well be keen to add a Ducati 749 into their collection. 

There is some argument that the Ducati 749 was overlooked as people opted for the bigger 999. However, consensus is that the 749 is actually a more usable and enjoyable ride in comparison. So for those looking for an entry into Bologna sporting legend, maybe the Ducati 749 is exactly what they are looking for.

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