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My Ducatis

Ducati 350 Desmo Single

I have been reading the DOC Magazine for years without making any contributions or contacting any of the local clubs etc or attending any of the exhibitions. For various reasons I have some free time so I have decided to share my Ducati’s and my experience with them, I have had 17 Ducati’s 14 of which I still have, the 3 I sold where an 851 and a 900 GTS, replica 1970’s 750ss, the 900 I regret selling.

A few months back they were going to be shown at a local exhibition in London so I decided to set up a web site so that I wouldn’t have to be there explaining each bike.

350 Desmo

My acquaintance started in circa 1978, I was studying at a campus university and down by one of the blocks that I was staying with was a battered old Ducati single, it was in a real mess. I kept looking at this bike, my bike at the time was a Honda CB 350. I tracked down the owner the bike wasn’t a runner but it started, as soon as I heard it I knew I had to buy it. We agreed a price, a few hundred pounds I cant remember the exact price. I got the bike home and decided I would be able to get it running as the engine was okay.

Stripped the bike had it powder coated and new swinging arms bearings. Had the tank and bits resprayed into a very bright yellow not a Ducati colour. Bits and pieces were sourced from Rick and Mick Walker and a place 30 ish miles north of London whose name I can’t remember. The bike ran very well and drew a lot of attention, partly due to the noise as I put a conti silencer on it. Starts first or 2nd kick from hot or cold.

Had it rebuilt to original spec by Tony Brancato in 1980’s

900SS

Sometime around 1980 I bought the silver and blue kick start 900ss for 2.5k. The owner had it from new but was finding it difficult to kick start. It was one of the early ones with Borrani alloy spoked wheels and no indicators. Fantastic bike but tricky to ride slowly due its long wheel base and very narrow steering lock. At high speed it holds the road like its on rails plus leaving a booming noise from the twin conti silencers and 40mm dellortos.

851

Bought this almost new from a guy in North London, fastest bike I rode probably 155 mph on the M61. Found the steering a bit slow and heavy particularly compared to the 916 that I bought later.

916 Grey Import

Bought new as a grey import in 1994. Fantastic bike fast, nimble and easy to ride, not the most comfortable ride for a passenger as it is a very small seat and sits high. Nearly everybody used to take a second look when ever I was on it.

900 GTS

Bought as a 2nd hand bike from ebay, a black one with alloy wheels, never ran quite right and rather than getting it sorted I sold it to the sane bloke who bought my 851. I regret selling the 900.

250 Scrambler

Bought as a bit of a wreck (date) and got Brian Silver to restore it to its original spec and colours.

250 Mark 3

I have very rarely used it, my intention is to get it restored or sell it, with a new battery and a bit of fettling it will be a runner.

450 6 Volt Scrambler

Bought from Vagn Jensen in Denmark, in fantastic condition, lovely bike to ride even comes with a cycle pump (fitted to the frame) to repair punctures! Fitted with a valve lifter but it sometimes can be a difficult bike to start. Once started it’s a very easy bike to ride. Never seen one of these bikes on the UK roads. Unusual side stand that you push forward, you don’t use a key but a knob on the headlight that you push down and also use it for the lights. Doesn’t have a dellorto carb but a Mikuni.

450 12 Volt Scrambler

Can’t remember where I bought this, very similar to the above apart from voltage and it doesn’t have the pump holder. Again, tricky to start but runs really well.

Ducati 750ss

Sadly, not an original but one that had been made up from 750 engine, frame made, desmo heads and high comp spec. Fantastic bike but I sold it after several years as it was a bit awkward to ride. Bike was bought from Denmark and sold via The Motorcycle Service Centre in London (more later).

Paul Smart LE 2006

Purchased from new 10k. Lovely bike to own and ride, again rarely seen on the roads, made to look like the original 900ss and the bike the Paul Smart rode to victory at Imola in the early 1970’s. These bikes were interesting because soon after I bought mine you could buy slightly used ones for 7k ish, they are now 16 to 17k!

Ducati 750s

Bought from a guy in North London who buys, sells, stores exotic cars. The bike runs really well, again a bike that is never seen on the UK roads, matches my 350 Desmo really well. I don’t ride it often enough!

MHR e

Bought from a friend of a friend, fantastic looking bike and a pleasure to ride apart from one thing its almost impossible to see through the rear view mirrors, apparently alternatives can be bought but I have never managed to find any, if any knows where I can get anybody please let me know. Apparently, these bikes are really sought after in Japan. Of all my Ducati’s this is the loudest of all of them all, I have heard they are not now legal to ride in Italy!

Baines Imola

Saw this advertised on eBay and looked at it and thought it would add to the collection. Baines Racing hand-built circa 40 bikes looking like the 900ss and the Imola racing bike. Baines built 40 of these bikes with hand-built frames, 906 engine with electric start and indicators etc. Built much lighter so great handling and performance. Fantastic bike.

350 Desmo twin plug head 2018

Saw it advertised in South East London and thought it was cheap so bought it not ridden a great deal.

916 SPS 2019

Heard about this bike by my brother, been in somebody’s kitchen for several years. Only 1,700 miles on the clock, in perfect condition. Silencers have been changed but I have the originals, not ridden much, full service and new belts been put on.

Panigale V2 2017

Bought new from Pro Twins. Bought it to top and tail my collection as I think its going to be the final L Twin from Ducati. Added a protective film to the fairing and paintwork. It is an insane bike with 200 + bhp. The performance is beyond anything I will be able to use also I cant work out all the electronics that are on the bike! Me probably being thick! So far done about 2000 miles on this bike. Don’t ride in town as it would probably get stolen!

GENERAL

I have owned Ducatis for 40 + years, the original 350, Scramblers and 900SS have been fully restored by:
Tony Brancato Brancanto Engineering Chalgrove, Oxfordshire
Brian Silver Pro Twins
Vagn Jensen in Denmark
Robbie Motorcycle Service Centre www.motorcycleservicecentre.co.uk
Detailing by Mauro Lupo Northwest London Lupo_mauro86@yahoo.co.uk

Over the years the above restored the 350, Scramblers and the 900ss this has been done by Tony, Brian and Vagn Jensen in Denmark, all did a fantastic job.

Up until the last 3 years I have had no major issues with any of them.

ISSUES

450’s

450’S difficult to start and run properly asked Brian and Tony to look at but they were reluctant due to the high compression when trying to kick them over. Took them to Motor Cycle Service Centre - MCS, they cleaned tank and carbs, still can sometimes be tricky to start but they run and tick over really nicely.

Original 916

Then the original 916 where the fuse kept blowing in 2017, after being looked at it turned out there was rust in the petrol tank that was causing problems with the fuel injectors that then caused problems with the injectors and electrics. Tank was cleaned and new injectors put in no problem since then.

900 ss

900ss I was riding up to Made in Italy stuck on the motorway in a lane riding at a constant 50 mph for miles, the bike kicked a bit so clutch in and cruised to a stop. Tried to kick the bike over and it was seized. Got it to MSC, they looked and a valve had dropped. The bike had been running on one cylinder that I hadn’t realised because I was not braking or calling for power. The unburnt petrol was washing away the oil and hence the seizure. MSC rebuilt the top end with help from Lacy Ducati and it now runs great.

Paul Smart 2018

I was off on a road trip to Europe with some friends, got the bike round to my house Thursday night for a Friday morning start. Loaded the bike Friday and tried to start it the battery was flat, decided to jump start it thinking it would charge on the way to the tunnel. Got to the tunnel stopped tried to re start but battery was flat. Decided to abandon the trip, ordered battery from MSC and headed back to London. Stopped at Clackett Lane to fill up with petrol, set off again 80/90 mph outside lane of the M25 speedo packed up. Carried on after a couple of miles again at 90 mph the bike cut out completely, managed to get it to the first lane. Looked down and it appeared to be steaming, got off the bike and it was on fire (pictures on the Paul Smart page). I was looking at it thinking this is going to explode, within a few mins 3 guys turned up in a drain cleaning van that had access to high pressure water, they managed to put it out! Police arrived and closed the M25. I called MSC and cancelled battery order, they informed me this was a common problem with Ducatis, when the regulator fails it over charges and blows the electrical circuit. I checked this on the net and there were loads of stories.

On Saturday emailed Ducati uk the picture and a short note. Nothing Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday or Thursday morning. At lunch time decided to ring them, reply was we will get back to you. 2 hours later got an email back – 12-year-old bike out of warranty, basically not interested.

They didn’t ask me if I was okay. My wife found out and found the CEO’s name and emailed him. We had an exchange he denied that there had been problems with these regulators (if anybody wants to know more please contact me directly). He suggested Pro Twins looked at the bike, I took it there and they were very helpful but it was going to cost a lot and take time. The insurance company paid me 9.5k.

Despite Pro Twins being helpful I decided that MSC should do the work, they did it in 2.5 weeks and the bike looks like new. UK offered me 1k worth of vouchers to be spent at Pro Twins.!

Overall, I thought Ducati UK were VERY unhelpful.

I decided to have the bike rebuilt by MSC, who did it in 3 weeks apart from waiting for the ohlins shock absorber, £1,500 ! The bike is better than new. See the pictures.

350 Desmo

Had no issues over 40 years but this year had issues with the clutch so MSC replaced that and it’s easy to ride again.

 

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