In 1990 I was in college at the University of Colorado at Boulder. My personal fleet consisted of two muscle cars and one vintage British motorcycle. At that point I had zero experience with Italian motorcycles, but I’d always been fascinated by Ducatis and MV Agustas. In November of 1990 I had an opportunity to buy a 1987 Ducati Paso from a BMW motorcycle dealer in Fort Collins. I remembered when the bike was new a few years earlier and this Ducati Paso was being offered at what seemed like a low price — $3,200.
I went and looked at it, took it for a short test drive, then bought it and drove it back from Fort Collins to my apartment in Boulder. One issue I spotted immediately was an orange tint to what was supposed to a be deep red paint. The dealer told me the bike was originally from Alabama and was kept outside. He said the paint had faded from the sun exposure. I later discovered rust throughout the clutch system that had to be drained and cleaned to get it to work properly (presumably also from sitting out in humid Alabama). I had the local Suzuki shop in Boulder perform the work, which they completed without issue.
With my Ducati Paso’s clutch repaired and some carburetor fiddling the bike ran well and was a blast on the twisty mountain roads between Estes Park and Canyon City. Those were the furthest distances I rode it, north and south, between November of 1990 and June of 1992. Ducatis were still pretty rare back then, especially in Colorado, and the Paso received lots of attention as I traversed Colorado’s Front Range.
The 750cc 90-degree V-twin offered broad torque and 72 peak horsepower, though the single Weber carburetor could be cantankerous. An upgrade to twin Dell Orto carburetors was common among Paso owners, but I never did it. The Paso’s handling was superior to my Triumph T160 Trident, and the smooth engine plus excellent wind protection made it was even easier to ride for longer distances. At least, it was easy when I was 21 years old…
My interest in Italian motorcycles transformed into genuine enthusiasm after owning that Ducati Paso for 18 months. By the time I graduated college in May of 1992 I was reading all the motorcycle magazines while pondering my next modern bike purchase. That purchase came in July of 1992, about a month after I sold the Paso, and it was yet another bright red Italian beauty.