Taglioni's Ducati singles are about the most perfect single-cylinder motorcycles you can get. Arguably some others may be faster, and quicker off the mark. But Ducati are without doubt the sexiest motorcycles; this isn't even open to discussion. Less is definitely more; there's nothing on that cycle that isn't needed - you've got engine, frame, brakes, lights (sometimes) - what more do you need?
Why so many of them spend so long packed away in a variety of cardboard boxes was therefore a mystery until the following fate befell mine.
I was given the bike as a present in around 1979 when I was living in St.Lawrence Terrace in Ladbroke Grove. It was a birthday present from my then partner Ingrid Herscher, who will be remembered by anyone who was involved with the Ducati Owners' Club GB or Dead Rabbits at the time. We had a garage but it was a distance away by shopping trolley so all the subsequent work had to take place in the kitchen or on the street.
I think the bike came with a dodgy fibreglass tank, because I replaced it pretty quick with an ali one originally for some British bike or other - it was rather big. I cut it down to size by the simple expedient of sawing the front off, bashing the sides in together at the front edges, and applying lots of Devcon (aluminium-filled epoxy) to hold it all together. And LOTS of sanding. And this was an improvement! Devcon came in handy to refinish the inlet tract with later on as well, which worked a treat. Which was nice.
It wasn't until after I'd had the frame stoved (red - what was I thinking?) that I realised it had a slightly bent frame, not helped by the knackered old Girling shocks. I still rode it though, as it wasn't that badly bent. There was loads else to sort out like the mashed points and other stuff. It came from John Wittman by the way, hi John. Still, it was a Ducati 450 Desmo and I was overjoyed.
I replaced the hopeless carburettor with a 34mm Amal which helped matters, and threw the old Silentium away, preferring a short reverse-cone mega. This was surprisingly quiet until the baffles blew out en route to Seaford one day, and I had to ride up Brighton main drag one blazing hot Sunday with my foot up the exhaust pipe to quell the racket. Made changing gear tricky.
Later on, to resurrect it more completely I bought a 250 Desmo frame, forks (Marzocchis) tank and saddle and rebuilt the good bits into this, with my own electrics as a bonus. I went with the original shrouded forks though as the marzocchis needed some attention. The Girlings were replaced with some new Marzocchis. The Desmo tank was a huge improvment.
At some point I did a complete rebuild of the engine on the kitchen table. I ended up giving it the finishing touches, putting it in the frame and riding straight off to some wierd rally miles away somewhere with the Paramilitary Wing of the Royal Enfield Owners' Club. The only problem was that the chain was hacking somewhere and we had to chop a bit of chainguard or something.
Here she is with a 250 Desmo frame, tank and saddle with the original 450 Desmo (earlier model) side tins, both wheels with steel rims and the "roadholder"-ish forks with shiny ali shrouds at the top.
The saddle's plastic was gone but the foam survived so Ingrid made a cover out of some leather my father found for me at work. I'm restoring that too. The original headlight while maybe (and it's a big maybe) is today worthy of restoration, at the time was definitely junk. I still have the clock which sat in the middle of this weedy little tin shell with a puny yellow glowing thing called a headlight in it. I fitted a 7" Cibie in a Lucas shell with a Smith's Chronometric in a bit of ali over the bars.
The stainless mudguards came with the original heap I think, and the silencer looks like a Dunstall Decibel, which I've still got. Quite the bitza.
One hot summer's day I was returning from a Ducati Owners Club meeting at the other end of the M40. The engine was the one I had built on the kitchen table a year previously to go to a Dead Rabbit Rally with a load of yahoos from the "Paramilitary Wing" of the Royal Enfield Owner's Club (and, as it turned out, some Boy Scouts). It had a secondhand big end, 3rd gear was kind of jumpy and some of the engineering was by Bernie. After 8,000 miles and a few laps of Snetterton Circuit it was getting a bit loose. Combined with poor ignition timing and temperatures in the 90's, the endless full-throttle run down the M40 did for the big end.
The engine spent years under the kitchen table, and then in the spare room when we moved in 1983; no way was it living outside! Even though we now had a garage, the engine lived indoors; years passed; things happened. I had a succession of wierd bikes. In 1999 the flat was finally sold and my 450 DESMO spent two years living in 6 plastic boxes (I've gone hi-tech) in someone else's garage. The garage leaked, so did the boxes...urgh. I think I moved on to the next stage just in time.
This is the current state of the bike - shiny bits are stacking up in the hall at a rate of knots. The rebuilding has begun! Thanks to the sale of my old flat (and sad loss of the garage) there's nothing for it but to turn it back into one piece again.
There's a lot that has now been done:
This lot cost about £1500.00:
And for another £1000.00 or thereabouts:
Then there was stage 2, costing about £160.00:
Stage 3: More cycle parts: about £750.00:
There's still plenty to do - electrics, cables, brake shoes, bolt everything on - and stuff to buy - tyres, chain & sprockets. Ho hum...
I've been accumulating Ducati bits for years and have quite a few bits for sale that I don't really need for myself. go HERE and check them out, you may find something you need.