Ducati Disasters – The Parallel Twins Ducati News Today

24 Apr 2015 | Author: | Comments Off on Ducati Disasters – The Parallel Twins Ducati News Today
Ducati 350 Mark 3
Ducati 350 Mark 3

Ducati News Today

Ducati Disasters – The Parallel Twins

Ducati make some of the most evocative motorcycles in the world. With the introduction of the 1198 Superbike, Hypermotard. and Streetfighter. Ducati has perhaps its strongest product lineup in its entire history.

As we wait for the new Multistrada 1200 to hit dealerships around the world I thought it would be interesting to look at some of the bikes that didn’t quite hit the mark. Sometimes the bike was ahead of its time, sometimes it was just plain bad. Whatever the reason, the Ducati Disasters series will tell the story. We recently covered the Ducati Indiana Custom.

Now it’s the turn of the Ducati 500 Sport Desmo Twin.

In 1973 Ducati management had decided that the future for middleweight motorcycles lay in parallel twins. This was a strange decision given that Ducati had produced parallel twins in the past that had not been successful. Another portent was that famed engineer Fabio Taglioni refused to become involved (although he later did design the Desmo head for the Sport Desmo).

The engine was a big deal, being Ducatis first entirely new design in more than 15 years. The design was compromised from the start with a need to control costs. The cylinders were canted forward 10 degrees atop vertically split aluminum crankcases with the crankpins spaced at 180 degrees.

The 500GTL (a 350 was also made for the Italian domestic market) was a valve spring engine with the single overhead camshaft acting on screw and locknut type adjusters.

The styling was based on the 860 GT (translation ugly) and was not well received. Even worse was the propensity for crankshaft failure. Performance from the meager 35bhp was pretty tame.

In an effort to spur sales, Italjet was commissioned to create a sporting version which resulted in the much prettier Sport Desmo 500. Finally Taglioni was convinced to become involved and he designed a Desmo head for the twin which helped boost power to 50bhp.

Ducati 350 Mark 3
Ducati 350 Mark 3

The 500GTL became the 500GTV when the odd 860 based styling was dropped in 1977. The 500GTV was essentially a Sport Desmo with a valve spring head and was reminiscent of the Darmah in styling.

Around 7,000 parallel twins were produced between 1975 and 1983 but they were never a commercial success. With sales so poor Taglioni was finally allowed to build the belt drive V-twin he had envisioned since 1971. That engine, the Pantah. went on to great success and is still the basis for all the air-cooled Ducati models today.


Want More?

Read the Review of ‘The Ducati Story ‘ by Ian Falloon

Read More Posts on Ducati 2-Valve Motorcycles

Ducati 350 Mark 3
Ducati 350 Mark 3

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