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October 2010 Club News

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One Of The Bikes I Should Never Had Sold

Arthur's late, lamented Ducati 860 GTS

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 everything re-chromed.

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!

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