I am constantly amazed at the turns of fate that occasionally result in a bike that in normal circumstances would have been lost to history, instead surviving to be photographed in the present.
Here we have the sole prototype of a “folding” minibike that Ducati developed in 1964. It used the 48cc fan-cooled 2-stroke motor that was to be found in several of the company’s production bikes of the time such as the 48SL.
The two-speed gearbox was operated by the left twist grip and a whole 1.35 or 1.5hp (in the SL – depending on the market) was available.
The prototype used the simple method of a sliding square-section main frame member together with handlebars that slid down into the rigid front forks to achieve its change in dimensions.
Full street equipment included head and tail lights, horn and luggage rack. The seat was fixed to the top of the fuel tank. The handlebar brake lever controlled both front and rear brakes.
The bike was sent to Ducati’s US importer Berliner for evaluation, and in the twist of fate alluded to earlier, years later became the pit bike for well known Ducati tuner and team owner Reno Leoni.
When he retired and moved back to Italy the bike was obtained by one of his riders, Peter Calles, who happens to be a friend of mine…
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