Ducati 749S studio side view

YEARS SOLD: 2003–2006

MSRP NEW: $14,795 ('03) to $14,995 ('06)Blue Book Retail VALUE: $4,810 ('03) to $6,370 ('06)

BASIC SPECS: Introduced alongside the 999 superbike, the 749S is essentially a 999 with downsized bore and stroke dimensions that yield 748cc of displacement. The 90-degree V-twin, a belt-drive DOHC design with four valves per cylinder, has Ducati's signature desmodromic valve actuation. The 749S shares many parts with the 999, including a fully adjustable Showa 43mm inverted fork with TiN-coated stanchions and shock with progressive linkage. The tubular steel-trellis frame has an adjustable steering head, which allows a choice of 24.5 or 23.5 degrees of rake, a three-position tank/seat/tail adjust-ment, and five footrest locations.

WHY IT'S DESIRABLE: Ducati's 749 was produced in a trio of flavors. The Dark version, priced most affordably, had lower-spec suspension and none of the S's added chassis adjustability. The 749R homologation special featured race-quality Öhlins suspension along with a race engine tune that featured a shorter stroke, a larger bore, and bigger valves for improved high-rpm output. The S hits the sweet spot for sporting street use and club racing, thanks to its broader spread of power and superb chassis stability.

THE COMPETITION: Ducati held the upper hand for mid-displacement V-twin performance over the Buell XB9R, but the usual cast of 600cc Japanese inline-four supersports offered near equivalent perfor-mances at an enticing price. Triumph introduced its Daytona 675 in 2006, giving buyers and race fans yet another alternative in this increasingly crowded category.