Good bike – bad vibes
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