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Ducati 125/4

In the last installment Phil Aynsley looked at the Ducati DU4, a two-seater sedan that never took off, and the Ducati Apollo, a machine designed for the US Police force, but a real tyre tearer when it came to getting power to the ground. Now let’s look at the intricate Ducati 125/4 fomr the mid 1960s.

Find Part 1 here (link.)


The next four-cylinder machine in Ducati’s history was a very different motorcycle than the Apollo, the Ducati 125/4 was designed by Fabio Taglioni at the request of Ducati’s Spanish long term partner, Mototrans.

Giancarlo Morbidelli tracked down the engine and chassis components for the rebuild
Giancarlo Morbidelli tracked down the engine and chassis components for the rebuild

They had been successfully campaigning Ducati 125 singles and then the 125 twin domestically in the late ‘50s and early ‘60s but by the mid ‘60s they were becoming outclassed by the new water-cooled TTS Bultacos. The idea was for a bike that could be raced in the Spanish championships. Ducati never seriously considered going up against Honda, Suzuki etc for the World 125cc title.

The Ducati 125/4 was developed to compete with new water-cooled TTS Bultacos domestically
The Ducati 125/4 was developed to compete with new water-cooled TTS Bultacos domestically

Taglioni had designed a 125/4 back in 1958 but it had never seen the light of day so he dusted off the plans and reworked the design, now incorporating four-valve heads for the first time (publicly at least). Conventional coil valve springs were used, not a Desmo system.

Taglioni was in charge of development, having previously designed a 125/4
Taglioni was in charge of development, having previously designed a 125/4

The bike was first shown in early 1965 but despite considerable effort over the next twelve months power never rose above 24hp at 16,000rpm. This was not enough over the twin’s 22.5hp to justify the four cylinder’s complexity so work was stopped during 1966 and the bike disappeared from view.

Ducati's 125/4 only produced an additional 1.5hp over their previous twin
Ducati’s 125/4 only produced an additional 1.5hp over their previous twin

 

Somehow during the following decades the motor found its way into a technical museum in Russia and parts of the chassis to somewhere in Yugoslavia. By 2000 however, Giancarlo Morbidelli had tracked down and obtained as many of the parts as he could and began the reconstruction of the bike.

The motor would find its way to a museum in Russia
The motor would find its way to a museum in Russia

The Ducati 125/4 disappeared after failing to perform to expectations but would be later rebuilt
The Ducati 125/4 disappeared after failing to perform to expectations but would be later rebuilt

I was able to take some shots of it in his workshop that year and then again, now completed, in 2007 and 2011. It never ceases to amaze me how compact the motor is, only around 320mm across the cylinders.

Ducati's 125/4
Ducati’s 125/4

Back To Part One – Ducati Apollo

Part One