Just like the movie, the hero motorcycle was a victim of timing…
Many people watch Tron: Legacy and are absolutely captivated by the opening sequence where Sam Flynn is riding his black Ducati Sport 1000 Biposto through traffic and even switches off his lights to ditch a cop pursuing on a BMW R1200RT-P. The internet is littered with forums where people ask just what kind of bike the character is riding since so many apparently are interested in riding just from that one brief chase scene. However, just like the movie it stars in, the retro-style café racer was the victim of timing.
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Like its predecessor, Tron: Legacy wasn’t a box office smash hit. Even though Disney poured some serious money into marketing the sequel, and the movie boasted an ultra-cool soundtrack composed by Daft Punk, audiences didn’t flock to see it. Supposedly, Disney rushed to get the film out, which has been blamed for the underdeveloped plot line. Still, that plot featured an artificial intelligence wanting to breach into the material world for domination, a theme which we’ve seen play out in other films and TV shows since. The strength of the cutting-edge visuals combined with captivating music helped make up for the storyline, which honestly needed to be put back into the oven until it was thoroughly cooked. In other words, the movie was doomed because of poor timing on the part of Disney as it rushed it through the pre-production phase, never allowing the story to be fleshed out properly.
The funny thing is the Ducati Sport 1000 Biposto was a victim of poor timing as it was ahead of the market trend of café racers. Yes, those minimalist bikes from Britain certainly had their following after WWII, but there was to be a revival of the trend in the 21st Century. To its credit, Ducati kicked off the neo-classic revival with its limited-edition mH900e back in 1998, 2 years before the Bonneville was introduced by Triumph. A follow-up in Ducati’s SportClassic line was its café racer, the Sport 1000, which was shown off in 2003.
Inspired by the Ducati 750 Imola Desmo from the 1970s, the Sport 1000 was pushing the café racer throwback aesthetic before it came roaring back. Although it had throwback looks, the new motorcycle used modern technology to push the envelope. An air-cooled, fuel-injected, desmodromic valve 992cc L-twin produces 92-horsepower, a nice bump over the classic predecessor. It also comes with a wet clutch starting with the 2007 model year, plus that was paired with a 6-speed transmission versus the 750’s 5-speed. As aptly shown off in the movie, the Sport 1000 handles incredibly well, tanks to the 3-way adjustable Sachs shocks in the rear, plus upside-down Marzocchi front forks, combined with Ducati’s trellis frame. In other words, it’s a legitimately good bike.
It’s quite possible the Ducati Sport 1000 was selected for Tron: Legacy because of its aesthetics. Most filmmakers aren’t enthusiasts and they don’t really care about performance. This is the case in countless motorcycles and cars selected for movies and TV shows simply because they have the right look. If you study the Light Cycles, there is a similar look and feel to café racers, especially this one. Plus, the retro styling played into the plot point that the Ducati had belonged to the senior Flynn first and Sam had restored it. The fact that in the real world it performs beautifully was probably of little concern to those involved in the selection process.
Part of the irony of the Ducati Sport 1000 Biposto being used as the hero motorcycle in Tron: Legacy was the fact the Italians canceled the bike just before the movie released. We’ll never know how many motorcycles could have been sold because of that iconic moment on the big screen. What we do know is that today you’ll pay for the privilege of owning one. They can go for about what a Sport 1000 cost when it was brand new, if not a little more, showing the appeal of the bike remains strong today.