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Saturday, 5 July 2014

Friday bike

Another rarity that I thought about buying at one time.
1982 Ducati TL 600
Back in about 1979, Ducati released the SL 500 'Pantah'. This was a major step forward from their old bevel drive twins, and featured the first of their line of belt drive cam engines. A success from the beginning, it gained almost cult status when it was increased to 600cc and received a restyle.
This is actually a 500, but the 600 (and 350 for some markets) were identical

Although the Pantah was very expensive (about the same price as Ducati's 900s), its success as a racer in the TT Formula 2 class made it a very impressive package.
Ducati decided to built a road/touring bike off of the Pantah and the TL was born. Many of these were used by Italian Police, but it never really captured the puplic's imagination. It wasn't officially imported to the UK until Moto Vecchia offered them at a reasonable £1995. Even then they didn't sell very well, (I've never seen one), and I seem to remember that the price eventually came down to £1599. (Although I may be wrong - it was a long time ago!).
At the time (c. 1983/4?) I had my BMW and had done a bit of European touring on it, but I was aware that it was a big clunky and hefty, and thought the Ducati would make a lighter and more modern replacement. The BMW was worth about £800 - 900 at the time, so it wouldn't have taken finding a lot of money to get a new TL.
This is the kind of idea I had - buy the TL, fit a pair of Krauser panniers, and there's my new 'tourer'.
For a number of reasons that I can't quite remember, I never ended up buying a TL, and have never seen one since. It's fair to say that it got 'mixed reviews' in the press, so it's probably for the best that I didn't buy one.
I also remember that you could buy a kit at the time to convert a TL into a TT Formula 2 race bike, and I believe that's what happened to most of them. Looking back, it probably wouldn't have been an ideal choice as a tourer - probably a bit fragile and a number of question marks over reliability. Also, my local Ducati dealer closed leaving the nearest 100 miles (160 km) away, and as the desmodromic valves mean that it pretty well needs to be dealer serviced, it would have been a bit impractical to own.
Here's a video of one: YouTube.
And some details: MCS.

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