Ducati Trials Bikes.




                Ducati Trials.

















Photo Courtesy Barry Robinson@ Offroad Archives.

This is the second built Ducati 350 desmodromic trials, built by Peter Gaunt, and sold to Deryk Wylde.


We will start with a bit of background information as how we got flooded in the UK in the late sixties early seventies, with more Lightweight Ducati’s than we knew what to do with.

The GB importer Vic Camp had been helping the sales of these lightweight "Dukes" by sponsoring several up and coming road racers on specially converted machines, and supplying the parts to individuals that wanted to build their own 250cc Mach/ 1 and later 2 race bikes, and even a couple of three fifties.

But then came the flood.

The Berliner Brothers in the USA were the importers of that brand into their country. And had asked Ducati to try and jazz the model up to help the slumping sales for the machines, in the USA.

A shipload of bikes appeared at the docks and the Berliner Brothers boarded to take a look at the precious cargo.

One look was enough, the Ducati stylists had Gone over the top with their interpretation of how a modern early seventies motorcycle should look.

Every thing had been squared off, even the headlight.

No way we want these ugly ducklings the brothers said to each other, they were fuming.

And told the Captain of the vessel to leave port with the cargo and sail off into the sunset.

After frantic phone calls to Italy bouncing one way and another, the Italian company basically said they are your bikes and we are not having them back.

( And to be honest both the Ducati concern and the Berliner brothers were both vertially bankrupt at the time).

The Berliner brothers were in big trouble.

A shipload of their bikes was now on the high seas with nowhere to go.

You know what it is like in big business sometimes you have to make sacrifices, but try not to make them yourselves.

So they needed a screw to turn, and that screw was going to be Bill Hannah, a shall we say a wheeler-dealer from Liverpool.

Bill had made his money selling cars and motorcycles and had a motorcycle race team using Ducati’s and Patton machines to some success.

The connection with the Berliner Brothers was that he was their agent to them importing AMC machines into the USA.

So a phone call from them to Bill made the picture very clear, either he Bill, took the shipload of Ducati bikes off of their hands, (at the right price), or they would cancel all orders for the AMC bikes.

Bill being the entrepreneur that he was, had to agree, and just hope that he could sell the vast quantity of lightweight Ducati’s now on his hands.

It was probably Vic Camp that lost out the most because Bill could sell a Ducati Monza far cheaper than Vic could.


So where does the trials bike come into this equation?

Well a chance conversation with top trials rider and innovator Peter Gaunt, who was at a loose end at that time, after walking away from several makes because of inconsistency with the treatment he had been getting by these so called motorcycle Moguls.

He needs a bike to build for someone.

Bill Hannah had a warehouse full of Ducati’s and parts, so Peter had the pick of this lot, to try and develop a trials bike.

A 160’s frame was chosen, but some how because the chance of larger capacity trials awards and cups were easier to get, Peter needed to shoehorn a 350cc lump into the bike, and make it as light as possible.

The one big drawback with this engine is that it is deep, with the engine oil being carried in a sump under the engine.

It would also be a bit of a handful with the power available with the desmodromic valves fitted.

These were basically built as race engines.

But Peter has he always did, and could, got the bike to handle, which only he can do, and also used parts to try and quieten the motor down.

First bike built, and he entered it into the Scottish Six Days. So used that week as development for the bike.

And also came out with a result. But it was Peter.

A second bike was built, as a predecessor to a production version.

But with more and more two stroke trials bikes now dominating the scene it was never going to be a commercial proposition, and the enterprise was shelved.

Peter sold the second machine to electronics expert and motorcycle photographer and journalist Deryk Wylde, who enjoyed the bike and its different characteristics for the following two years, and had fun riding it for that period.



We now get to the present day and the Classic trials scene, as we will call it.

Several Ducati based trials bikes have sprung up and we take a look at a couple.


 Photo Courtesy Classictrial.

This is the latest creation of a Ducati trials bike by Ian Perberdy.

 Ian built this machine ready to ride twelve months ago, and since that time it has further modifications, and these are still in progress.

Ian has kept the bike as original as possible by using a modified

160 Monza Junior frame, 

 Wheel hubs are also original Grimeca as fitted to the machine. the engine is a 160 unit too, rebuilt by Ducati engine expert

 Brian Silver.

It has a pair of NEW REH front forks fitted along with OZO rear alloy  shocks,

Holts alloy fuel tank,,

 The smart red seat pad is removable leaving just a GF plate when a seat is not needed. mudguards are also fabricated with glass-fibre.

It has a Bartram exhaust currently fitted but this is due for development too.

Other developments are the manufacture of an air box and carburration modification (fitting New Carb) along with what could be a change to the current Electrex World ignition fitted.

Gearing is problematic because there is no real way to reduce the primary ratios, but this is being looked into.


Photo Courtesy Classictrial.

The other side of the little bike showing the Bartram exhaust.


Photo Classictrial.

The new air-box under construction.



Photo Courtesy Sliders photography and ORR-e

Mark Whatmore gives the little bike a run out in the

2017 Talmag trial, in January.


Photo Courtesy Classictrial.

A recent outing for the bike and Ian Baker, rode so well that he won the

Pre 65 class.

Yes this machine can be classed as Pre65 because the model was built before then.


Photo Courtesy Classictrial.

Ian is going to give us his account of the little bike and the ride he had later.

 We look forward to that Ian.







Paul's 160 Monza trials bike...



The Wassell tank suites the little bike Paul...



Paul Farley has built this Ducati Monza 160 trials bike from a doner bike bought  from eBay, and used the Honda forks that he already had in the workshop...


Here is Paul's story of the build...

I’ve always liked Ducati singles and have owned several Ducati road bikes but the cost of a donor motor for a trials bike build always seemed prohibitive. Having spotted a cheap 160 Monza Junior on ebay the decision was made to build a bike without spending a fortune. Supposedly a winter project but it’s now ready in November.


I used the standard frame, extending the swinging arm and moving the shock mounts down and forward on the  main frame. I took the position of the footrests from my Beta Rev 4, and welded on suitable mounting plates which met up with the original pillion footrest hangers, suitably shortened. Don’t look at the welding, MIG isn’t my best skill!


As I wanted to keep the cost down I used Honda XT 125 31mm forks and front hub which I already had. I used the original rear hub, suitably adapted for a 53 tooth Honda CRF item, for 520 chain. I modified the gearbox sprocket by welding an 11 tooth Bultaco item onto the original boss. Both wheels were rebuilt with alloy rims and stainless spokes.


The original motor was missing it’s piston and had water damage to the bore so I bought another donor motor which provided all the replacement parts I required. I rebuilt the top end of the motor and removed the side casings to clean and remove loads of prairie grass, other than that all looked good. I made an inlet manifold for the auto jumble purchased Concentric carb which after fitting the correct needle seems to work fine.


I fabricated a silencer, hiding under the side panel and modified a used B40 stainless exhaust with two cuts and welds in order to get a good fit.


I’m using the original flywheel magneto ignition energising a Honda coil, this is now working well once I’d discovered the original wires were rotted and shorting out behind the flywheel. A very expensive puller was required to remove the flywheel which was extremely tight on it’s taper.


The tank was purchased from a mate, complete with a few dents. After leaving it with a local paint shop for 6 weeks and getting fed up with their excuses, I decided to fill and spray it myself and I’m quite pleased with the result.


So far I’ve only ridden the bike up and down the banks in our garden but I’m really impressed with the motor which is a powerful little beast and pulls quite well low down for a revy road motor, the heavy brass flywheel probably helps?

The bike steers well and moving the shock mounts and fitting the Honda forks and yokes seems to have provided reasonable geometry for trials although I’m sure the Honda forks will upset the purists!


Total cost of the build including the initial purchase of the bike and the spare engine is about £2,800. All the small parts required certainly adds up, but I still think this was a good build and I look forward to riding it competitively.


It will certainly be lighter and easier than either of the AJS’s I normally ride!



The bike from eBay for the start of the project.

A little Ducati that now has a new life has a competitive trials bike...

Well done Paul we wait for the photos from the first trial...


Ducati build. I hope it's of interest, incidentally there's now three Ducati singles being ridden in the Cotswold area, two 250's and another 160. It's such a pretty little motor and makes a Tiger Cub/ C15 look mechanically prehistoric, and it was around in 1964, although not as a trials bike.


Paul riding at Chedworth January 2022...



I’ve ridden the Little Ducati a couple of times now and I’m pretty impressed with it. I lowered the gearing a bit more, another 3 teeth on the rear sprocket, and made a valve lifter as it was surprisingly hard to get over compression.

Handling is spot on, good on tight turn nadgery and engine is plenty powerful enough although with a big jump to second it’s a first gear every section machine.


More on this story and more Ducati's Later...