Good bike – bad vibes

Old Bike Australasia - - BLOW YOUR OWN -

I walked into the newsagent and you could have knocked me over with a feather. There on the front cover of OBA was a Du­cati 500 GTL of the type I rode for a while in the late ‘70s. It brought back some good me­mories. I had met my fu­ture wife and

de­cided to pur­chase a car, which did noth­ing for me so I sold the car and pro­ceeded to Fraser mo­tor­cy­cles on Par­ra­matta Road. It was my in­ten­sion to pur­chase a Yamaha TX650, but there on a stand was a Du­cati 500GTL in green ex­actly the same colour on the cover OBA 59. When I got the bike home didn’t I cop some flak from my mates! Ac­cord­ing to ev­ery one of them I was not rid­ing a true Du­cati.

While I en­joyed your ar­ti­cle it lacked some­one’s im­pres­sions of what it was like to ride. Firstly, my bike came fit­ted with Conti pipes, Veglia in­stru­ments, Mar­zoc­chi forks, from what I re­mem­ber the rear shocks were Mar­zoc­chi with twin cast iron discs and Brembo brakes at the front with a drum brake on the rear. To me the bike felt like a 250cc as it was so light and easy to throw around. The cast iron twin discs at the front were amaz­ing in that I could squeal the front tyre with­out lock­ing up the front end, but if you left the bike out in the rain the cal­lipers would seize to the discs un­til you got it mov­ing.

The throt­tle cable also was af­fected by the rain. The cable ran from the throt­tle to a small tube and then it split to a cable for each car­bu­ret­tor. The mois­ture would cause the tube to stick with ox­i­da­tion caus­ing the bike to run very rough un­til the mat­ter was rec­ti­fied. Both the forks and rear shocks were ab­so­lutely per­fect for the bike and they worked ex­actly how they were de­signed to do. Not once would they pogo or make you feel un­safe as you cor­nered on a rough sur­face. To me this was a real eye opener. The in­stru­ments on my bike were Veglia and were ex­cel­lent, but the id­iot lights were use­less dur­ing the day. Be­ing one of the first LED pan­els there was still a long way to go in re­gard to qual­ity. We used to go on week­end rides to Gos­ford, Foster, Tun­curry, over the Clyde moun­tain to Ul­ladulla. Many are the times that my mates and my­self used to race up the moun­tain roads or along the old road to Gos­ford, or even out to Wise­man’s Ferry for a counter lunch. One cri­te­ria the mo­tor­cy­cle jour­nal­ists used to de­ter­mine the han­dling char­ac­ter­is­tics of a bike was the bike’s abil­ity to change lines through a cor­ner. On the Du­cati 500GTL you could do this with­out even think­ing about it. The big­gest prob­lem with the bike is it vi­brated like you wouldn’t be­lieve. My girl­friend at the time could take about 30 min­utes on the back be­fore she would thump me in the kid­neys and ask to be put in the chuck wagon (ac­com­pa­ny­ing car). The vi­bra­tion was just plain ter­ri­ble. The bike wasn’t all bad but the vibes nearly cost me my girl­friend. Any­way about 9 months later I was again in Frasers and low and be­hold a Du­cati GT750 on the same stand as the 500. I bought that bike but that is an­other story.

Greg King Mil­ton, NSW

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