Mike Hailwood Replica: 1985 Ducati MHR Mille — Classic Italian Motorcycles…

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Ducati 900 SS Hailwood-Replica

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1985 Ducati MHR Mille

power:   76hp @ 6,700rpm

Top 138mph

Engine: 973cc OHC 90-degree L-twin, 88mm x bore and …, 9.3:1 ratio

Weight (dry): (198kg)

Fuel Capactiy/MPG: (23.8ltr)/35-50mpg

In 1984, motorcycle at Ducati was in steep decline. The 900SS and Darmah had ended in 1982, the Pantah engine-based 600 and 650SL street bikes had run course, and the parallel twin and 500cc range had limped oblivion. After producing 7,000 motorcycles in 1981, production in 1984 reached than 2,000 bikes.

The were many. A state-supported since 1975, Ducati’s ownership had switched in 1978 one government-controlled company — EFIM — to the VM Group, part of Italian Finmeccanica and maker of, among things, industrial diesel Ducati’s Borgo Panigale seemed well suited to manufacturing, and motorcycles became a pursuit.

Poor results in the U.S. market and a general in motorcycle sales in Europe, with the increasing impact of imports, meant Ducati was squeezed on all sides.

VM had pretty much pulled the on Ducati’s racing efforts, though engineer Fabio and his small team continued on developing the potential of the Pantah The iconic NCR bevel-drive racers no longer allowed in the production-based class, and pretty much the bevel Ducatis left on the were privateer entries in endurance racing and in the U.S. of the Twins series.

The result was Ducati’s principal marketing — racing prowess — was seriously

Hovering in the wings were the brothers, Claudio and Gianfranco, their startup motorcycle Cagiva. Ducati had begun the Varese factory with in the early 1980s, allowing entry into the big bike This relationship morphed an agreement for Cagiva to take Ducati from VM in 1985.

planned to move all motorcycle to Varese by the end of 1984, using Borgo Panigale factory to manufacture the belt-drive Pantah-based Expensive and time-consuming to assemble, the motor would be axed.

live the bevel-drive

But Cagiva the enduring legacy of Mike remarkable comeback win in the 1978 of Man Formula 1 TT. Of the 1,965 motorcycles Ducati produced in 1984, — 88 percent! — were bevel-drive Hailwood Replicas. Between and 1986, more than MHRs were built, it the most numerous of all the bevel-drive models — including the 900SS, and Sport, the 860GT range and the

So unexpectedly successful was the MHR that allowed motorcycle production to at Borgo Panigale into though only an additional 549 were produced. And by February Taglioni and his team were with a new street bike on the belt-drive 750TT1 endurance Recognizing its potential, Cagiva it into production at Borgo alongside the Mike Hailwood

There seems little that it was the aura created by the racing successes, writ in the MHR, that made such an attractive purchase for the Group and helped persuade to maintain motorcycle production in Panigale, Bologna. The Castiglionis intended to capitalize on Ducati’s heritage and did so, following the F1 with the 888 — and the all-conquering 916.

The Mike Replica

Though passionate may demur, the MHR’s beauty is just skin deep, as the all-enclosing bodywork resides is for all intents and purposes a 900 Super

It was more than a year Mike the Bike’s famous TT win (and at the end of his dismal 1979 that Ducati first its tribute bike at the London Show. Intended mainly for the market, the first year model year) MHR’s fitted with a steel gas under a fiberglass cover Ducati lettering made to like the original endurance (Fiberglass tanks had been in the U.K.)

Beneath the one-piece was a 900SS frame (painted and engine. The engine was an 864cc 90-degree L-twin with gear-driven single overhead operating two valves per cylinder via followers.

Ignition was by Ducati Helical primary gears through a wet multiplate clutch to a transmission and chain final The engine was kickstart only, and was required when using the to avoid damaging the MHR’s

Wheels were gold-painted FPS or alloy with triple Goldline disc brakes.

The MHR through 40mm Dell’Orto PHM with open bellmouths and Conti mufflers. As most were by 1980 wearing carbs and Silentium mufflers, the MHR much of the engine’s potential a claimed 63 horsepower. The only functional difference from the was a tighter run for the left exhaust which also meant it had to be — along with the one-piece — to check the oil level!

The first MHR wore a monoposto seat and no side panels, the rear Dell’Orto and the battery. The was finished in Hailwood’s red and green a white stripe, but there was no logo. Each of the 200 machines in the “limited” production run came a certificate of authenticity.

During the fiberglass tank cover was in favor of a new 6.35-gallon steel and the fairing was now made in two pieces to maintenance. The seat became a biposto with a removable The 1981 model saw the introduction of covers, which featured a Hailwood Replica” decal, and a logo on the fairing.

Ducati 900 SS Hailwood-Replica
Ducati 900 SS Hailwood-Replica

The next change arrived in late with the introduction of electric Rather than simply use the from the SD Darmah, Taglioni redesigned the engine cases to a Nippon Denso starter a dry clutch, a revised Bosch ignition, a spin-on oil filter and an oil sight glass. Iron were ditched in favor of a coating, though the bore the same.

The 40mm Dell’Ortos now air filters and were fed via vacuum-operated

A new frame for the MHR came from the new-for-1984 900S2, a revival of the but with the electric-start engine. The frame allowed for a narrower and fairing; Silentium mufflers stock, with Contis as an

Other changes included Marzocchi forks at the front adjustable Marzocchi rear and Oscam wheels with tires. Power was quoted at 72 The kickstart MHR was also listed for presumably because the factory had inventory of the older model.

From 900 to 1000

But the MHR900ES was replaced during the 1985 year by the final iteration of bike, the MHR Mille. The Mille a further redesign of the bevel now with a plain bearing replacing the pressed-up roller item previously used, and a 2mm in bore to 88mm gave a of 973cc. Valve diameters increased by 2mm to 42mm intake and exhaust, though carburetors at 40mm.

Output was now given as 76 with torque up 10 percent at at 5,500rpm instead of 57lb-ft at To accommodate this, the primary ratio was reduced, which, with other gear changes, gave a top speed of — the same as quoted for the 900. of the Mille ran into 1986 for a of around 1,100 units.

But had finally run out for the big bevel twins. was now firmly in charge, and focused on a new of Massimo Tamburini-designed sport, cruiser and sport-touring motorcycles a Pantah-based 650/750cc Ducati Contrary to Cagiva’s original production of complete motorcycles at Borgo Panigale with new TT1 racer-based 750 F1 Sport — and continues to day.

Gary Heinitz’s MHR

Henitz, a precision woodworker in Wis. bought his Mike Replica from a collector in Nev. complete with an back story. “I found guy, and he was willing to part it. He had lived part of his life in from his college days Gary recalls. “He had bought a over there, and that was the he rode.” But that wasn’t the Gary ended up owning.

“When it was time for him to come to the U.S. he didn’t want to his bike back here I’m assuming he had a lot of miles on it. Back in day, Ducati was a little you could just walk in and to people. He supposedly knew at the factory who allowed him to purchase a new Euro-spec model, this and he had it shipped back to the United Gary says.

“This have been around or 1987. That was when were starting to get on the ropes money,” Gary says. was one of the last of the bevels that had, and he convinced them to it to him. He moved back to Reno and I guess this was in his bedroom for quite a few years. It sat there at the foot of his bed.”

The MHR out to be a Mille from the 1985 run. It had never run. always looked for as close to motorcycles as physically possible,” says. “I didn’t have the from new, but I didn’t to buy a bike that someone had the exhaust out or made the bike from what it was at the factory. very tough to find.

Hailwood had zero miles I bought it from him,” continues, “and it still has miles. It’s 100 percent Nothing was changed and nothing was The only thing I did to the bike was work. It’s a time

Somebody else will own it Hopefully it’ll end up in a museum.”

Gary started collecting in 1981, but like many of us, had to on family for a few years. “I got back it again in the early 1990s. I realized how much stuff I had during my time out, so I buying backwards after I’d all the latest, greatest Ducati

For Gary, the greatest was a 916. He now three of them, including the of his collection, a rare SPS model.

in the small Ducati world that it is, I would put feelers out all the and from time to time I get feedback like ‘why you call this guy up, he might somebody,’ and he’d say ‘I don’t one of those, but I know a guy who has three.’ how it usually went,” Gary His collection kept growing 2011, when he realized accumulated 36 bikes! After some of his less-favorite machines, he now 31, the lion’s share of which are

So what is it about Ducatis? probably their racing Gary says, explaining his for the brand. “I’ve been on bandwagon a long time, and of it was, like, the little guy who give up. Plus it’s and I love everything Italian. It of goes together.” MC

Ducati 900 SS Hailwood-Replica
Ducati 900 SS Hailwood-Replica
Ducati 900 SS Hailwood-Replica


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