One of the great things about doing a full custom makeover is when you’ve finished your build, by definition you’ve already annoyed the Anoraks so much, that they quickly walk past your bike at a show and don’t pass judgement. This is not something you can avoid, however, when you do a full classic restoration, put one single part in the wrong place and they will damn you to hell for eternity. But this beautiful red Italian is going to leave them scratching their heads, it’s both a glorious restoration of a beloved model and yet uses an array of custom touches and improvements to bring the bike into the 21st century. Welcome to Purpose Built Moto’s 1981 Ducati Pantah 500, which is once again as beautiful as the day it left the showroom floor, only better.
A classic resto was not something the Gold Coast outfit had tackled, but there was a good reason for choosing them for the build. “Our client Bryan wanted a different level of restoration for this classic Ducati though so he engaged us for the job. We had spoken in depth about his project while he was waiting to come in, and when it was time to meet up and hand over the bike we were pretty taken aback by the condition. While the bike was complete, it hadn’t been started in over a decade, and when that happens the rest of the bike usually wastes away and seizes up. Between a few interstate relocations and incorrect storage we could hardly roll the bike off Bryan’s ute and into the garage,” Tom explains.
A good 80% of the build would be taken up reviving and refreshing original components, and this can be a daunting prospect, so Tom decided the best path was to literally start at the ground up. The wheels were stripped and blasted, before being refinished in that glorious ’80s Ducati gold, fitted with new seal and bearings and then nicely wrapped up in a set of Avon tyres.
The original suspension was a bit of a letdown on these bikes, it wasn’t bad, it just couldn’t keep up with the incredible trellis frame, so Tom turned to a trusted partner. Joe from Ride Dynamics restored the Marzocchi rear shocks and forks and then rebuilt them to perform even better than they look.
Now with a brilliant rolling chassis as the foundation for the build, Tom turned to the resto-mod side of things to improve the bike where the original had been failed by silly laws that required all sorts of god-awful indicators and a cheap plastic rear guard. “The 3 styling modifications I discussed with Bryan were a smoothed-out tail section, recessed indicators on the front, and a lower profile hi-def yellow windscreen with matching headlight lens. He happily agreed to let us reveal a more streamlined and up-styled Pantah 500, so I got to work.”
The work Tom has performed is simply incredible, from the small blanking plates for the front end with their own pin indicators to the rear PBM Orbit brake light and Omni pin lights for the back end that help do away with the wonky old fender. There is some beautiful fibreglass work to make this all happen and the machined cups to hold the lighting ensure the highest of quality.
Even the original instruments have been refurbished and given the LED light treatment, and the whole lot is run by a PBM black box module using their 3 button switches on the bars for an ultra-clean finish.
You can see throughout the build that this is a resto that seeks to make small changes to deliver an even more incredible result. “The paint on this bike was a custom job completed in the late ’80s, and we wanted to keep that styling. After the fairing repairs and mods Justin from Popbang Classics got to work on painting the fairings in that popping Ducati red with Silver pinstripes, just as our rider remembered it.”
It’s simply gorgeous and in a similar vein, the ultra-popular Aussie made Staintune exhaust system has also been restored and repolished, not an original part, but an improvement over factory and a hugely popular upgrade for a generation of riders.
Now with an in-house engine builder, PBM loves nothing more than creating an incredible driveline package for any classic bike. So, the engine was stripped and sent out to have every last external part polished up to perfection. “The globe was thoroughly searched to find the parts we needed so the rebuild could begin. With new rods, pistons, porting work to the head and all new bearings/seals through the bottom end the Italian 500 twin runs quieter than any other Ducati I’ve ever heard.
Externally some of the most important upgrades happened for reliability. We’ve upgraded the charging system and ignition with an all-new Sachse CDI and coils. Delivering strong and reliable spark to the fresh engine to make sure this Ducati Pantah delivers decades more joy to the owner.”
To ensure the stopping power matches the horsepower, the stock brakes were completely overhauled and rebuilt with modern parts and the levers are the always excellent Accossato items. To finish the build off, the upgraded leather seat was upholstered by Timeless Autotrim mimicking the factory design but adding some nice styling touches and an embroidered Ducati logo on the tailpiece.
Time for the shake-down ride, “the Ducati Pantah didn’t miss a beat, with smooth delivery through the rev range and a lot more power than I expected out of a 500cc twin, I was assured Bryan would have years’ worth of fun on this bike,” Tom smiles. And that’s the reaction this beautiful Bologna bullet elicits, a big smile for the incredible restoration, the brilliant custom touches and a reborn classic to be loved for years to come.
[ Purpose Built Moto | Photography by Ninefivers ]