In the late 1960’s and early 1970’s, the sport of motocross and the off-road motorcycle market was on fire. The big four plus the nuts at Hodaka from Japan along with niche Europeans Bultaco and Husqvarna were selling dirt bikes like gang busters. The American importer of Ducati convinced the Italians back in The Old Country to build a purpose-built MX-er. They came up with the 450 RT Desmo. Find this 1971 Ducati 450RT for sale in Spokane, WA for $7,900 via craigslist.
The 450 RT Desmo was powered by a 436cc air cooled thumper pounding out 38 hp and mountains of torque. It’s most notable feature is that it employed the Desmodromic valve system that Ducati’s are famous for. It was (and still is) the only motocross bike ever to use the Desmodromic system.
For some reason. probably due to the fact that the Italian engineers had no experience designing an off-road bike, the 450R/T weighed in at almost 300lbs. The chassis was said to be willowy and the engine was set too far back in the frame. Adding to this, the front forks were too soft and the rear shocks were crap. You can see that the frame offered four positions for mounting the rear shocks, none of which were said to be any good. Because of the chassis, engine layout, poor suspension and torque-y motor, riders spent most of their time doing wheelies while trying to accelerate and then wrestling the heavy bike around the turns.
Did I mention that the fenders and tank were fiberglass and tended to crack under the stress of ill-suspended frame? But that was then, this is now. This bike has undergone an extensive renovation and comes with a Washington title, a big plus to have a title with a dirt bike and the original bill of sale from long out of business Pat’s Top Hat Motorcycles of Burien, WA.
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Gianni is Daily Turismo’s Pacific Northwest correspondent. He asks that you show a little love to DT when you tip this bike to other sites.