Ducati fans almost unanimously hail the SportClassic. The retro-styled platform may not rank as Bologna’s best performance model, but its timeless design, trellis frame, and air-cooled L-twin tug at the diehard Ducatista’s heartstrings. The same can’t be said of the Ducati 749. Similar to its bigger brother, the Ducati 999, the supersport featured polarizing bodywork and stacked headlights.
So, when Estonia-based part-time builder Kaspar Ilves got his hands on a wrecked 2005 749S, it presented the perfect opportunity to remake the ugly duckling in the SportClassic’s image. With the exception of the trellis frame, shapely fuel tank, and 748cc Desmodromic L-twin, Ilves binned the stock equipment. In its stead, CNC triple trees harness an Aprilia RSV-donated Ohlins fork at the front while an MV Agusta Brutale’s single-sided swingarm and rear wheel extend the 749’s footprint.
While Ducati boosted the S trim's output to 116 horsepower and 60.8 pound-feet of torque for the 2005 model year, Ilves had drag strip ambitions for the sportbike-turned-café-racer. Ported heads, new rods, 12-point fuel injectors, a flyweight flywheel, and a slipper clutch fortify the L-twin mechanically while a programmable ECU outfits the build with drag-worthy aids like launch control. Ilves adds the cheery on top (or on bottom) with custom-made pipes converging into an Akrapovic end can.
However, the PaulSmart 1000 LE fairing commands much of the limelight. The handsome bodywork prizes both form and function, though, with a specially made bracket that holds the clocks and an expansion tank. Out back, the custom fiberglass tail section complements the 749’s sculpted tank. Ilves’ finishing touches include custom rear sets and an exposed battery tray along with race-style switches and a Speedhut GPS speedometer.
The 749S may remain a black sheep in the Ducati stable, but Kalapea Garage’s Kaspar Ilves proves that some beauties aren’t born, they’re made.