We're happy to have another build by our friend Paul Hewitt in our window this month! It's certainly one of a kind. Using a Caviga Allazura engine and cradled by a extremely rare frame and body kit based on the design of Domenico Moretti who built it back in 1982 for an Italian domestic racing series. An article on Cycle Canada by Neil Graham already did a great write up which I thought I would share instead of trying to paraphrase. Read on to learn more about this really cool motorcycle and see more photos. Paul also has this bike for sale if your stable is in need of an Italian race bike with some great pedigree!
Cycle Canada: Hewitt was on his way to building a Pantah-based streetbike when he stumbled across a post on a TT1- and TT2-focused forum. (The Internet: the single best and worst invention to the motorcycle obsessed. So many distractions just a Google search away.) On the forum was a note from a man named Carlo Leoncini, who runs a motorcycle shop in Italy. Leoncini was embarking on a run of 10 frame and body kits in honour of a machine built in 1982 by a man named Domenico Moretti for the Italian domestic racing series. The machine used a TT2 engine supplied by Ducati. (After Tony Rutter’s success, there was demand for complete bikes as well as for engines. As Hewitt notes, “there wasn’t anything wrong with the frame that came with the bike from Ducati, but, just like Moto2 today, everyone has their idea of what works.”)
Soon, the package arrived in the mail, with a tig-welded, chrome-moly frame, a swingarm, footpegs and bodywork. Ducati Pantahs are rare and becoming valuable, but, fortunately for Hewitt, the Cagiva Alazzurra (built by Ducati’s then-parent company) is mechanically identical to the Pantah. Hewitt’s donor 1985 Alazzurra was increased from its original 650 cc to 750 cc, and J Precision in Montreal performed extensive headwork.
Hewitt could have built a conservative engine befitting a man of his years, but that’s not the way he rolls. Big enough to suck a cat off the sidewalk, the 41 mm Dell’Orto carburetors have been modified by Italian company Malossi, who have done so since the TTs inception. What’s the difference between a Malossi and a stock Dell’Orto? “They become more expensive,” quipped Hewitt, though machine work involves reshaping the carb’s bellmouth for increased airflow.
The engine also received new bearings, Carillo connecting rods, and had its external flywheel removed for snappier throttle response (by old Ducati standards, that is). Just about everything in the engine that spins was lightened and balanced, and a pair of 900SS camshafts were tasked with opening and closing the valves.
The build took six months, and though the bike was a kit, it required a multitude of brackets and additional machining to make it whole. Of the run of 10 replicas, Hewitt’s was the first to be completed, which, he says, “Gave me licence to complete it however I wanted.” He had considered painting it celeste green — Bianchi’s signature colour — to match his beloved bicycle. Hewitt’s painter suggested that a colour so intense, given the Moretti’s vast expanse of bodywork, would be unwise. Hewitt heeded his advice. Good thing. In lieu of celeste, Hewitt settled on a subdued metallic white, reminiscent of what Ducati employs today.
Hewitt, when it comes to the details, doesn’t spare the chequebook, and the Marvic magnesium wheels are built to resemble period Campagnolos. Keeping the front wheel from straying is a fork from an early (1989) 851. Out back is an Öhlins TTX shock that would, if you required it to, slot perfectly into a Honda CBR600RR.
And then it was on to the track. But not for long. On the first day out in the third session the timing belt skipped a tooth and the valves hit the piston, with disastrous results. (The head of the exhaust valve — once it was torn from its stem — was spit out the exhaust pipe and never found.) But Hewitt had learned enough in a short time riding to be smitten. “It felt sorted from the beginning,” he says. “You point it anywhere and it’ll go there. And considering how small it is, you get on it and it isn’t that bad.” A downside is that it makes Hewitt’s other bike, a magnesium-everything Ducati 748SP, feel like a bit of a pig. As of this writing the engine has been rebuilt and the Moretti is again ready to go. But what happened to the engine? “Builder error,” says Hewitt. “I squeezed it a little too tight. But I didn’t crash, I stayed upright.”