- Motorcycles, Sports Bikes & Riding
1965 Ducati 250cc Mach 1, Classic, Motor Bike, Restoration Tips.
Small Lightweight Rocket.
1965 Ducati 250cc Mach 1:
Way back in 1980 I was visiting my sister in the country, they were painting and had old newspapers on the floor. My eye suddenly focused on an Ad '250cc Ducati, in bits $250.00'. The Ad was two months old but the location was a few miles away on a farm. I picked up the phone and rang the number......the bike was still there, no one had rung the ad. Within half an hour I was the proud owner of a 1965 Mach1 Ducati Sportster. The bike was complete with the top end of the motor disassembled. The owner had purchased the bike new and had completed a staggering 90,000 miles before deciding to rebuild the top end. The bike was still running when he pulled it apart in 1976. He decided to buy a new bike and left the Ducati on the back burner.
A couple of weekends later we rolled the bike out on the verandah and inspected the parts carefully. The previous owner had purchased a head gasket and other bits and bob's . Amazingly the big end had no play and the cylinder bore looked 'fair' as did the piston and rings. We cleaned the head and the valves and put the bike back together. We filled it with oil, stole a 6volt lantern battery from my torch and filled the tank with petrol. (flushing it out first). The tyres were ancient and cracked but pumped up ok. I gave the old girl a bit of choke and kicked her over, she fired up straight away. Sure the motor blew a bit of smoke, but the gears and clutch were fine.
After a bit of fun we parked the bike and stripped the top end down again. That week I had the cylinder re bored and purchased new gaskets, oversized pistons, rings and some new tyres. Ducati singles were still popular back then and parts were easy to come by. A couple of weeks later myself and a good mate of mine took the bike to a Ducati club track day at Winton Racetrack in Victoria. The bike was truly amazing on the track and easily won its 'scratch' races in the 250 class. I have never ridden a bike that handled better and only one or two that handled as well. It was like flying effortlessly around the track steering by thought alone with that delightful single cylinder motor revving willingly through its five gears. Brakes were adequate but almost unnecessary as you could corner at phenomenal speeds. Like other European bikes of this vintage the gearchange was on the right hand side which always took a while to get your head around. It was at this point that my best mate decided that he wanted to seriously race the bike in the Post Classic Race Class. I sold him the bike on the promise that he would race it. I had just finished University and needed the money anyway.
The suspension was rebuilt and when it came to rebuilding the head we ran into a bit of luck. Every year we visited the Box Hill Vintage bike show and this year as in other years the legendary Phil Irving (designer of the Vincent V-Twin, repco Brabham V-8 Race car etc.) was there signing his book 'Tuning for Speed'. He had been involved with the Ducati Racing Team for years and gave us some really great advice on the rebuilding of the head. Basically this involved fitting huge valves and a larger jet in the carby. Unfortunately this meant that the valves had Overlap and would bend if the valves 'bounced' when over revved. The 1965 Mach 1 did not have a Desmo head it was a standard valve spring setup. This meant the rider had to be on the ball and not over rev the motor.
I am happy to say that this bike went on to win the Australian 250cc Post Classic Championship the following year. We had endless hours of fun driving to races and getting to know the other Classic Racing nuts in the pits. Eventually we grew up and had families and the bike like so many others disappeared in the mists of time. I believe that the big end bearing was never replaced! These bikes are worth a fortune now and they deserve the legendary status they have achieved.
These Ducati singles are sought after and pretty rare but if you are lucky enough to find one parts are still available through your Ducati dealer. They are simple to work on and built tough and an absolute joy to ride. Any of these old Ducatis are a solid investment and I can't think of a better way of making money whilst owning a real classic 'treasure'.