Ducati Museum

These photos are some I took at the Ducati Museum while attending a training course at the factory in April ’02. Some of them are not too flash, due in no small part I would imagine to the under-lit floor. An intentional inhibitor perhaps? My less than professional camera skills detract also. They were scanned from photos by my uncle Alan, who is very handy in this area, and the scanned images you see here are far better than the prints he scanned them from. Some things I didn’t pay too much attention to – the early singles, etc, but there was certainly more detailed info for these bikes than the later displays – the TT2/TT1/750F1 displays were a little lacking in detail I thought, as were the mid ‘70s NCR bikes apart from Hailwood’s. Still some nice stuff, and I’d probably like to go back with some more time to look at stuff I passed over first time round. A bit too far away to just pop back for a look, however.

Some of the stuff they have is rather surprising, and you’d wonder where they find it all. But, the people involved with the Museum do appear to be a very enthusiastic lot, and I can imagine it would be rather good fun restoring all the old stuff. Wonder what the budget’s like?

If anyone wants more info on some of this stuff, I can heartily recommend the Motociclismo book – many of the comments I’ve put together to go with the photos I took are based on this book. A very good source of ooohs and aaahs.

The first few bikes on display as you walk around the circular exhibit are some singles racers, starting with a Cucciolo and finishing, in this photo, with a 175 F3 I think. I’m not so into old singles, so I didn’t really pay too much attention. Always something you tend to regret later when you’re half way around the world and want another quick look at something. The doorways between the bikes lead off to smaller rooms with other exhibits of the period. The doorway behind the 175 leads to the Hailwood 250 twin from memory.

This engine was designed by Ricardo – an English internal combustion engine consulting firm that’s been around since before the ‘20s I think. When I was studying engineering in the early ‘90s, the book written by Ricardo and another fellow whose name escapes me now was still a relevant text. They are still going strong. Anyway, this engine. A 350 triple with 12 valves, belt driven twin cams, barrel throttle valved fuel injection and water cooling. Apparently, someone (no doubt Taglioni) had no time for triples, so it went no further than this. A very cool looking little piece, although it does look somewhat like a car engine with a gearbox bolted on the back.

Also, if you look in the lower LH corner of the side on photo, you can see a cylinder head casting. This is an un-machined casting for a bevel driven four valve 500GP head. Where they found this stuff laying around is just beyond me sometimes.

The 500 GP bike, ran in 1971 and ‘72. The bike was run with 2 different frames – one fairly similar in style to the production frame of the 750 GT, the other made by Colin Seeley. The Seeley frame is shown on this bike, with the frame rail you can see just above the swing arm pivot running up to the bottom of the steering head, and two tubes from the top of the steering head running back in an expanding triangle under the tank to be full width at the front of the seat (ish). An early application of the steering head/swing arm pivot connection theory that Bimota used to effect with big aluminum sections on many of their models. The engines used ranged from a 2 valve, bevel driven cams to 4 valve, belt driven cams (belts on the left), of which only one example remains. The Ducati framed, bevel driven cam bike could very easily be mistaken for a later 750 at a quick glance. The bike in this photo is a Seeley framed bike with disc rear brake, but low mufflers, so I suspect it may be a bit of a bitsa, so to speak. The later, rear disc bikes, from the photos I have seen, used black, upswept mufflers much like the 750 and 900 race bikes that followed. It was raced or tested in 500 and 750 forms by Reed, Spaggiari and Hailwood, among others. Still very cool. Can you imagine racing a bike at that level with only a single front disc? There are so many things I like about this bike I could just rave on for ever. If I had the time, money and skill I’d like to attempt to replicate it, but I know I’ll never get to that. It has the same silver metal flake/green frame paintwork of the Imola 750, a finish I found very hard to replicate in the photos I took.

The next bike around the circle you can see is Spaggiari’s ’72 Imola bike (number 9).

An NCR 900, this bike is a pre’78 I would expect, given the style of seat base, although I could very well be wrong. Typical NCR bodywork and colour scheme that still looks good today, in my opinion. Although I do like the later upswept tail piece (see the Hailwood bike) better. Obvious where the colour scheme for the MHe came from too – it annoys me a little that bike wasn’t called an NCRe, given its appearance. These bikes usually varied between themselves in small details like front caliper position, exhaust/muffler style, etc. Things like that (typically Italian). They are very different to production 900s. The engine is sort of a round case, with different cases, dry clutches and screw on oil filters under the LH side. The frame was a light weight version of the original, made by a Bologna firm named Daspa.

This bike had no specific information about it displayed, so its history wasn’t clear. It may not have been raced at all – when Duane was in the USA doing his U59 testing in April ’03 he took photos of one of these bikes at Jeff Nash’s in Texas. It was all original and never raced, so was basically “as new”. Except for a lucky few (such as Duane) sitting on it and making lots of racing type “vroom vroom” noises. So this one may also be a newy. Dunno.

The yellow (orangey?) bike just to the left is a “Spaggiari” decaled round case 750 (?) race bike from ‘74/’75 I think. Another NCR bike I would think, from the pre cast wheel era.

Hailwood’s bike. Any more to be said? A ’78 NCR bike, this was supplied to Steve Wynn for Hailwood to race at the IOM TT. The colour scheme is from Castrol’s corporate colours. The silver stuff on the mufflers is duct tape – holding the rear sections of Triumph muffler hack sawed off and riveted/duct taped on after the bike was black flagged for noise during practice.

Two engines from the TT1 bikes. Very cool engines, with lots of “race only” stuff – external ignition in the timing shaft, external alternator, adjustable swing arm pivots, cable clutch operation from the left on one, magnesium covers, etc. All very groovy gear.

A shot ‘back’ around the circle, headed by Roche's ’90 SBK winning bike, with the ’87 851 prototype behind it, 3 750 F1/TT1 racers and a TT2 at the very rear.

The 1987 851 prototype race bike. A similar looking bike was raced as a 748 in ’86. The fuel tank is one of the funkiest I have ever seen – the bike is not pretty to look at, but is so cool it hurts. You sort of wonder who would come up with a design like that, and why. The frame has bits going everywhere, and is quite different to the later 851 frames (although they were quite different in production between ’88, ’89 and ’90 anyway). One of my favorites – a real race bike giving shape to a road bike sort of thing. It must have been a great time to work in the race/development dept.

Roche’s ’90 title winning 851. The start of the domination. I like this one very much, but then I do own the road version, although it is quite a lot different. Probably comes second to the ’87 851 in terms of bikes I’d like to stick up my jumper and sneak out with (I’d need an awful big jumper!). In the background, in the room off to the side (where the F1 engines were) you can see the 600 Pantah ice racer.

The Supermono. The first full Terblanche design, and regarded by most as a beautiful bike. The current SS series carries many of the styling features of this bike. The only dedicated supermono series race bike built by a manufacturer, it did very well in the series until rule changes (oddly enough aimed at negating it’s designed in advantages) negated it’s designed in advantages. The engine featured a dummy second conrod and “piston” link – designed to reduce vibration by making it behave dynamically like a twin. It also has the water pump on the end of the exhaust cam and a dry alternator – things people were saying would become production features, but never did. Ultimately, the 30 or so bikes built have become an oddity of sorts, with no commercial use made of their reputation or success. There is rumored to be a supercharged version “ready to go” as a road bike, but, in true Ducati fashion, it has never appeared. Pity. Whether it would sell in enough volume to justify the exercise is a question that will go unanswered.

Polen’s ’92 888, Fogarty’s ’93 888 and ’94 916. The final bike is I think Kosinksi’s ’96 bike, but I didn’t pay enough attention to it (obviously).

The alleged Bayliss Imola bodywork, on an obviously non-Imola chassis.

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