The Ducati Paso was introduced in 1986 with
the slogan "Il nostro passato ha un grande
futuro" (Our past has a great future).
The name was in honour of racer Renzo Pasolini,
nicknamed "Paso", who died on 20 May
1973 in an accident at the Monza race track
during the Grand Prix of Italy.
The Cagiva (from CAstiglioni GIovanni
VArese) company, founded by the Castiglioni
brothers, needed an engine - while Ducati, who
had just been released from a difficult past
of statutory public management (IRI), needed
Over a series of Italian style
meetings/lunches in 1984, they agreed a deal
for Ducati to supply engines to Cagiva - and
then go out of the business of producing motorcycles.
However, the Castiglioni brothers of Cagiva
were eventually offered a deal to buy Ducati,
subject to the Ducati name living on as an actual
motorcycle product. On closure of the deal,
Ducati engines were instantly installed in a
number of Cagiva bikes, which included the Alazzurra
and the Elephant enduro bike.
At the time of the takeover, due
to its financial difficulties Ducati was in
a state of animation with regards to engineering
development. By that time, the classic bevel
drive V-twin, which was old and expensive to
produce, had been replaced by the belt-drive
Pantah, designed by Fabio Taglioni. The Pantah
was already known to be a strong and capable
engine, and known to deliver in the Ducati 750
The Pantah engine has been constantly
developed up to the present day, and remains
the only production motorcycle equipped with
desmodromic valves. And around it they wanted
a Ducati motorcycle unlike any other, that showed
the world both Ducati's capabilities, and where
it would go in the future.
The design challenge
The challenge consisted in constructing
a bike with innovative technical characteristics
and image to fight the intense Japanese competition.
To undertake the ambitious objective Ducati
hired Massimo Tamburini, brilliant co-founder
of Bimota and to-be legendary designer of bikes
like the Ducati 916, MV Agusta F4 and Brutale.
Tamburini decided to streamline
the bike and its motor in a close-fitting integral
fairing that hid all mechanical parts. The bike
was equipped with latest-generation technical
features: square frame tubes made in chromoly
steel, rear aluminium swingarm with progressive
suspension, 16-inch wheels with radial tires,
air-and-oil cooled engine, electronic ignition
and a complete dashboard. All realising a bike
that was an innovation in the history of Ducati:
the first sports tourer in the world.
Sales and development
Unfortunately, commercial success
didn't come. The Paso was more expensive and
had lower performance (72.5 hp and 210 km/h
top speed) than its competitors, and had some
reliability problems with the electrical and
fuel systems, due to the use of an automotive
Weber carburetor (substantially inadequate for
In 1989 the Paso 906 was introduced,
with a six-speed gearbox, a 904 cc engine which
provided 88 hp and a 220 km/h top speed. The
bike still had the same automotive carburetor
and unreliable electrical system, but its greatest
development was the incorporation of liquid
After much development, the maturity
of the design came in 1991 with the 907 I.E.
(Iniezione Elettronica) that lost the name "Paso".
The engine remained liquid-cooled and the carburetor
was replaced by the most modern Weber-Marelli
IAW 043 system that integrated ignition and
electronic fuel injection. Power increased to
90 hp and top speed to 230 km/h. The wheels
were changed to 17 inches, giving the bike more
stability. Production ceased in 1992.