Icon | Ducati Paso

Icon | Ducati Paso

PHOTOS Matthew Jones  WORDS Gregory George Moore

The Ducati Paso is one of the more odd machines to have rolled out of the Bologna manufacturer’s factories. Released in 1986 with the tagline "Il nostro passato ha un grande futuro" (Our past has a great future), the Paso was meant to be a foot firmly planted in the future — a statement of vitality. But once it landed on the showroom floor, it was less than a hit. The Paso, however, was a curiosity and most certainly an appropriate byproduct of its moment in history. The ‘80s were a time of hubris and grand promise and the shell-like silhouette of the Paso is the perfect metaphor.

The ‘80s were a time of hubris and grand promise and the
shell-like silhouette of 
the Paso is the perfect metaphor.

By the mid-‘80’s, Ducati was in financial dire straights due in large part to the onslaught of reliable, high-performance Japanese motorcycles flooding the market. After a few meetings and what were likely many bottles of Barbera, Cagiva bought the floundering company. Initially Ducati was to simply to supply the Cagiva brand with motors, but that tune soon changed as they turned their attention to reviving and rebuilding the Ducati brand. One of the first orders of business was the Ducati Paso 750.

The Paso was named after Renzo Pasolini, an Italian motorcycle racer who died in an accident at Monza racetrack during the 1973 Italian Motorcycle Grand Prix. Renzo “Paso” Pasolini was a crowd favorite and though he never won a world title, his “pin it and hold on” style of racing alongside his off-track playboy antics and abnormal approach toward athleticism (he was an avid smoker and drinker) earned him a place on the podium in the eyes of fans.


Produced from 1986 to 1988, the Paso was designed by the co-founder of Bimota, Massimo Tamburini. Having not invested much in engineering development at that time due to their volatile financial circumstances, Tamburini opted to build the bike around the tried and true 750 Pantah powerplant. The first of the belt-driven camshaft motors with desmodromic valves — versions of which are still being produced today.

Consumers never quite accepted Ducati’s vision of the future. Looking at it now, it’s easy to see that the forward-thinking design and uniquely Italian take on the future was not unlike the Lamborghini Countach or the Ferrari Testarossa. Although the Paso was never the “hit song” that captured the imagination of riders, Ducati and Cagiva pressed hard into racing to reclaim much of the once heralded prestige of the Ducati brand. Though the Paso wasn’t the silver bullet solution they may have been looking for, Cagiva continued their careful guidance of the brand. Were it not for their passion for motorcycles and racing, Ducati might have been lost to the pages of history.


Behind The Lens | Matthew Jones

“Reset” is a personal series produced solely on the premise of challenging myself, getting out of my comfort zone and creating a small body of work that is entirely different from my norm - while still remaining relatable to my current audience and provoking my current influences. From the incredible illustrations of SignalNoise to the cinematic vibes of BladeRunner, sprinkled with a bit of Drive and The Place Beyond the Pines. I wanted neon. I wanted to go as '80s as possible and I can’t think of a better candidate for the subject then the Ducati Paso

As much as possible I wanted to shoot everything in camera, rather than relying on photoshop for special effects. For the lighting, I chose to use two Arri Sky Panels (LED panels with a fully adjustable RGB spectrum) allowing me to authentically provide the complementary hues. To kick in a little extra drama, a Rosco Fogger was set in the back of the scene while placing a small piece of crumpled cellophane in front of the lens for a natural diffraction and foreground element.

Acknowledging my strengths and weaknesses, I also decided the best outcome for this project would be to collaborate and team up with my dear friend and incredible retoucher, Webb Bland.

matthewjonesphoto.com | @matthewjonesphoto





5 Responses

Mike Mele
Mike Mele

August 08, 2017

I had a 750 Paso and loved that bike, it handled great and was still comfortable. I could ride it to work or to tear around back-roads. I miss that bike.

Tony Phillips
Tony Phillips

August 07, 2017

Excuse the double post, but I just noticed I was thinking faster than I was typing above: I meant to say that "I would argue against the assertion that the Paso as a whole is dated.

Tony Phillips
Tony Phillips

August 07, 2017

I grew up in the 80s and I can see what you were trying to do, but I would argue the Paso as a whole is dated. The devil is in the details, of course; you can see its age in the minuscule, solid brake rotors, the lanky, right-side-up forks, and of course in the weedy, unbraced swingarm. The simple, rectangular headlight is a sign of its time, as well. The NSR250 and the original Katana were the only bikes to get a single, monolithic, rectangular headlight to work, stylistically speaking, the NSR by making it a narrow slit and the Katana by way of recessing it into the “beak” formed by the fairing. But take it as a whole: Are we seeing more and more turn signals faired into bodywork and rearview mirrors? Yes. Are fairings and bodywork becoming more enclosing and working to eliminate visible seams again today? Yes. Recess a couple projector beams into the hole where the headlight was, ala the RC390, put modern forks and a braced swingarm on, raise the tail angle slightly, and rework that old school banana seat into a separated one and you would have a bike that would look thoroughly modern to most. I don’t know what other economic and psychological factors were at work regarding consumers’ choice to avoid the Paso for the most part, but I don’t think it being an erroneous vision of the future… or one that was too far ahead of its time, its silhouette is not at all unlike the 1986 Honda V4 750 Interceptor… is to blame.
All that said, as a child of the ’80s, I love those photos and their aesthetic. Thumbs up.

Mark
Mark

August 06, 2017

I owned a 750 Paso and I thought it eases great bike.
It was my first Ducati after a string of Japanese bikes.
I now have a 748 and a Monza 160 Jr.
Fantastic bikes for their intended purpose

Bob Minor
Bob Minor

August 06, 2017

Certainly nor your standard M/C photo spread but I think I understand what he was trying to do. I also caught the Blade Runner connection as there certainly is some of that in several of the pictures. It made me think of some sort of dream sequence which perhaps speaks to what Cagiva and Ducati envisioned their product to be, but that’s just me.

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