Classic bike: Ducati 450 Desmo – Motorbikes Reviews, News & Advice – bi

17 Jun 2015 | Author: | Comments Pa on Classic bike: Ducati 450 Desmo – Motorbikes Reviews, News & Advice – bi
Ducati 350 S Desmo

Classic bike: Ducati 450 Desmo

With its loud exhaust and open carburetor, the ‘Silver Shotgun’ represented the end of an era for sporting Italian motorcycles, with production coming to a halt in 1974

Single-cylinder motorcycles were once the mainstay of the British motorcycle industry, but Edward Turner’s Triumph Speed Twin ended that reign. By the 1960s most British singles were consigned to the scrap heap, but in Italy the single-cylinder still dominated. The reason for this was the Italian motorcycle industry grew out of small capacity motorcycles initially created to provide mass transportation in a country devastated by war.

Ducati began in 1946 with the 50cc Cucciolo and over the next decade its single gradually expanded to 100, 125, 175, 200, and then 250cc. By the mid-1960s it was at its limit at 350cc, and a new wide-case Ducati single was displayed at the Cologne Show in September 1967.

This revised engine allowed for the capacity to be eventually increased to 436cc, also allowing Ing Fabio Taglioni to make his dream a reality: to create the first production engine with desmodromic valve gear.

ni 1969 awọn 450 (actually 435.7cc) became available and featured a new crankcase, cylinder, and cylinder-head castings to accommodate the 86mm x 75mm dimensions. Shortly afterwards a desmo 450 appeared, at the time the spearhead of Ducati’s line-up alongside the cosmetically identical 250 ati 350. To aid starting the 450 desmo had a slightly lower 9.3:1 compression ratio and a new Dell’Orto VHB 29 square-slide carburetor and, while it was more powerful than the 250, there wasn’t much difference between it and the 350 in outright performance.

Until 1970 the desmo and regular-valve-spring Mark 3 were virtually indistinguishable, but in 1971 the desmo single was given a makeover to become one of the first factory café racers. A gaudy metalflake silver paint scheme was provided for the fibreglass petrol tank, side covers and solo seat, while rear-set footpegs complemented the clip-on handlebars. Later the little desmo acquired the nickname ‘The Silver Shotgun’, the term actually coined by an Aussie bike magazine in a 1974 owner’s report.

More improvement was evident with the running gear. Borrani 18-inch alloy rims replaced the previous steel type and the front brake became a Grimeca double-sided leading shoe instead of the rather weak single leading shoe that had been fitted from 1957.

The fork was considerably uprated from the previous spindly 31.5mm units, being a new type of 35mm Marzocchi fork with exposed staunchions. Only the barest concession was made for street legality, with a large white Veglia tachometer dominating the instrument layout.

But the 450 desmo was still a single. Although at around 130kg it was incredibly light, it was no powerhouse. On a good day you might see 160km/h, but the vibration ensured you didn’t hold it for long.

And this was not a bike to be riding after dark, as the 6V headlight provided illumination similar to that of a candle.

But get one on a smooth twisty road and these can be one of the most satisfying vintage sports motorcycles to ride. With their long wheelbase and slow steering, the 750s and 900s are renowned for their stability and heavy handling, especially on tighter roads, but not so a desmo single. Compared to a Ducati bevel twin, the singles were light, short and agile.

They were not particularly stable on bumpy roads, as I found out to my detriment 25 years ago.

So what is the appeal of the Ducati single? For years they lived in the shadow of the 750 ati 900 but now a good desmo single is worth significantly more than some of the lesser twins. The desmo single, particularly the 1971-72 ‘Silver Shotgun’, represented the end of an era for sporting Italian motorcycles.

These bikes were expensive to manufacture so they were not built after 1974.

With their loud exhaust and open carburetor they made no concession to noise, emission controls or civility, and they were pared down to the essentials. This was minimalist motorcycling: awọn 450 desmo represents the end of a never-to-return era.

THE VALUE PROPOSITION

If you fancy sticking a Silver Shotgun in your own shed, these are the numbers you’ll need to run past your bank manager…

Original price for a new 1971 Ducati 450 Desmo Silver Shotgun: $995

Current valuation for one in mint condition: $25,000

Ducati 350 S Desmo

Current valuation for one in average condition: $15,000

FAST FACTS

Ing Fabio Taglioni built his first desmodromic single in 1956, Gianni Degli Antoni riding the 125 to victory in its debut appearance at the Swedish Grand Prix at Hedemora

Alberto Gandossi finished second in the 1958 125cc World Championship on the desmodromic single

fun 1959 Ducati provided Mike Hailwood a desmo single. Hailwood’s first Grand Prix victory, the Ulster 125, was achieved on the little desmo.

After 1959 Ducati retired from racing, but loaned desmo singles to Hailwood and Ken Kavanagh during 1960 ati 1961.

The racing desmo single was resurrected in 1966 and raced by Bruno Spaggiari, Gilberto Parlotti and Roberto Gallina until 1970

WANT TO KNOW MORE?

Get this book:

The Ducati Story, available from www.pitstop.net.au/view/bikes-ducati-mc/page/query/plu/17912/

Have a look at this forum:

Ducati 350 S Desmo


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