1975 Ducati 860 GT

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1975 Ducati 860 GT.
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When introduced, the The Ducati 860 GT’s design polarized buyers, earning the nickname “The Ugly Duc.” Still controversial, it’s mellowed with age.
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The weird but wonderful 1975 Ducati 860 GT.
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When introduced, the 860GT’s design polarized buyers, earning the nickname “The Ugly Duc.” Still controversial, it’s mellowed with age.
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1975 Ducati 860 GT.
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Front brake is a single-disc Brembo. A dual-disc was adopted for the 1976 Ducati GTS.
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The Ducati 860 GT introduced the “square case” Ducati twin. Ducati didn’t quote actual output, but it was probably in the 55 to 65 horsepower range.
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The Ducati 860 GT introduced the “square case” Ducati twin. Ducati didn’t quote actual output, but it was probably in the 55 to 65 horsepower range.
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Like all Seventies Ducatis, the Ducati 860 GT excels on the open road, where its long wheelbase gives it excellent high-speed stability.

1975 Ducati 860 GT
Claimed power:
60hp @ 6,900rpm (approx.)
Top speed: 109mph (period test)
Engine: 864cc air-cooled SOHC 90-degree V-twin
Weight (wet): 504lbs
Price then: $2,549
Price now: $2,500-$5,500
MPG: 35-45mpg

This should not have been happening. There I was, banking through a gentle right-hand curve with the 1975 Ducati 860 GT speedometer reading about 85mph, when a slight twitch of the handlebars announced the start of a gentle weave.

The bike settled down again when I slowed slightly, and it was certainly nothing worrying — but even so! Back in the mid-Seventies, when this bike was built, Ducati’s reputation for high-speed handling and stability was second to none.

My first thought was that the GT’s tendency to get slightly light-headed at speed was due to this particular bike’s age and condition. But a look through some old magazine tests revealed that the 860 GT was criticized for exactly the same thing when it was new in 1975. Words like “weave” and “wobble” had not been necessary when testing previous Ducatis such as the 450 Desmo single or the 750GT, but they were used to describe the 860 by testers who were even more surprised than I was all these years later. At least the problem could easily be solved, because it was eventually traced to the high, wide handlebars that helped give this bike a very different look than previous Ducatis.

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