Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Daffy Duc: 1971 Ducati 450RT

In the late 1960's and early 1970's, the sport of motocross and the off-road motorcycle market was on fire.  The big four plus the nuts at Hodaka from Japan along with niche Europeans Bultaco and Husqvarna were selling dirt bikes like gang busters.  The American importer of Ducati convinced the Italians back in The Old Country to build a purpose-built MX-er.  They came up with the 450 RT Desmo.  Find this 1971 Ducati 450RT for sale in Spokane, WA for $7,900 via craigslist.

The 450 RT Desmo was powered by a 436cc air cooled thumper pounding out 38 hp and mountains of torque.  It's most notable feature is that it employed the Desmodromic valve system that Ducati's are famous for.  It was (and still is) the only motocross bike ever to use the Desmodromic system.

For some reason. probably due to the fact that the Italian engineers had no experience designing an off-road bike, the 450R/T weighed in at almost 300lbs.  The chassis was said to be willowy and the engine was set too far back in the frame.  Adding to this, the front forks were too soft and the rear shocks were crap.  You can see that the frame offered four positions for mounting the rear shocks, none of which were said to be any good.  Because of the chassis, engine layout, poor suspension and torque-y motor, riders spent most of their time doing wheelies while trying to accelerate and then wrestling the heavy bike around the turns.

Did I mention that the fenders and tank were fiberglass and tended to crack under the stress of ill-suspended frame?  But that was then, this is now.  This bike has undergone an extensive renovation and comes with a Washington title, a big plus to have a title with a dirt bike and the original bill of sale from long out of business Pat's Top Hat Motorcycles of Burien, WA.

See a better way to wheelie into a hay bale? email us here: tips@dailyturismo.com

Gianni is Daily Turismo's Pacific Northwest correspondent.  He asks that you show a little love to DT when you tip this bike to other sites.


  1. Yeah, the only reason this bike is worth anything is the Ducati name, I'm guessing.

  2. Thanks for making me aware of this one. This looks like someone's original back of the napkin drawing of a moto-bike was taken directly to engineering where they were told to build it. Perfect example of why its sometimes best for a company to stick to what its doing rather than trying to enter a new market before they're ready. At least a BSA 441 Victor could be stripped down and turned into a reasonable bobber.

  3. The Desmo engine is worth something. Not $7500, but if you had a clean Ducati street bike from the era with the non-Desmo 250 or 350, it might be a cool swap.

    Those bikes were fine handlers, and even with the lo-po single would blow anything else off at a stop light match up.

    Of course the massive jump ahead ended at about 75', but I can still spot a Japanese vintage bike from the rear view at a good distance. Good ol' leg breaking single thumpers. You only forget the compression release once.

    Good old flexible 20 year old body! LOL.


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