Arthur Barrott emailed me this picture of a
bike that he wished he had never sold. I thought what a good idea for a
new regular column. If you have any pictures of bikes that you wished
you still had, send them in. If you can write a little story, great -
if not the picture will do - Bob
The bike was a very late model Ducati 900 GTS
which I bought in 1983 as a barely used but mildly neglected bike that
just needed some spit and polish. The original owner thought I’d had
There’s a Ducati book that points out that only
about 150 of them were made. Brook Henry also told me (after I’d sold
it) that it was sort of rare. It had a Darmah motor with conventional
valve spring heads but all the Darmah mechanical, electrical and gear
box improvements. The factory was using up all sorts of left over bits.
It was made after the Darmah was released and
for a while the GTS and the Darmah were sold together. The GTS was much
cheaper than the Darmah because people thought the GTS was rubbish.
THIS GTS turned out to be a beauty.
I spent many hours mounting the fairing, a rack
that I got from the wreckers and the Krauser panniers and more hours
fitting the Honda Bol d’Or foot-rest hangers so that it was less like
straddling a 44 gallon drum. They ended up being nicely rear-set.
A pair of Konis, lighter fork oil and a Dunlop
K81 on the front eliminated the frightening tank slappers. (Not many
owners of bevel Ducatis and Pantahs will admit that they have less than
perfect handling.) K&N filters and Staintune Conti replicas gave it
the right note and stainless spokes and alloy rims set it off nicely.
A modified Suzuki kick start lever made it
easier to fire up on a cold morning. Brook Henry fitted an oil
temperature gauge that was a totally unnecessary touring precaution and
I fitted a clock that wasn’t. Selling my 1971 Bonneville paid for the
GTS and all the bits and pieces.
Stupidly, I sold the bike in about 1987 or 1988
(or was it 1989 or 1990?) – my brain wasn’t working well at the time. I
saw it later in a bike shop. The paint was faded, the chrome had
rusted, the fairing screen was cracked, one pannier was missing and the
original footrests had been put back on.
It was a very sad sight. As a penance I am now restoring an early Darmah that will appear on club runs in the near future. The Darmah and the GTS could have rolled off the assembly line together. That’s irony for you!