Ducati 350 Mark 3 Desmo

Desmodromic valve actuation came to the street in 1967 with the Ducati 350 Mark 3 Desmo.

| May/June 2013

  • Ducati Desmo
    Only the “D” on the side cover gives a clue to what resides within this second year Ducati Desmo.
    Photo By Jeff Barger
  • Ducati 350 shifter
    Like the rest of the little Ducati, even the heel/toe shifter is slender and graceful, a promise of pleasure.
    Photo By Jeff Barger
  • Ducati 350
    In 1967, Ducati launched a redesigned frame featuring twin tubes running from the back of the gas tank down to the swingarm pivot.
    Photo By Jeff Barger
  • Front of Ducati
    Although the desmo was successful at the track, Ducati’s road-going singles used bevel drive overhead camshafts and rockers, with enclosed hairpin valve springs.
    Photo By Jeff Barger
  • Right side Ducati
    With desmo actuation, Taglioniís single could cleanly rev to 12,500rpm, and in 1956 the 125cc works racer took the win in its debut at the Swedish GP.
    Photo By Jeff Barger
  • Left of Ducati
    "The Ducatis feel as though they had been built just for you, and that they weren’t something that came out of a crate,” Cycle said of the bike.
    Photo By Jeff Barger
  • Ducati Engine
    The desmo singles are all based on the “wide case” block.
    Photo By Jeff Barger
  • Restored Ducati
    Don restored his Ducati using original components and materials that were available when the machine left the factory as much as possible.
    Photo By Jeff Barger
  • Back of Ducati
    “It was scary to fire it up for the first time,” Don says. “You’ve got to kick it deliberately, because it’s got great compression and will kick back."
    Photo By Jeff Barger
  • Don and Ducati
    Owner and restorer Don Smith with the Ducati, one of a growing collection.
    Photo By Jeff Barger

  • Ducati Desmo
  • Ducati 350 shifter
  • Ducati 350
  • Front of Ducati
  • Right side Ducati
  • Left of Ducati
  • Ducati Engine
  • Restored Ducati
  • Back of Ducati
  • Don and Ducati

1969 Ducati Mark 3 Desmo
Claimed power:
22hp @ 7,500rpm
Top speed: 112mph (with megaphone)
Engine: 340cc OHC, desmodromic drive, air-cooled single, 76mm x 75mm bore and stroke, 10:1 compression ratio
Weight (dry): 282lb (128kg)
Fuel capacity/MPG: 4gal (15ltr)
Price then/now: $839/$4,500-$8,000

It’s a long transition from a Doodlebug scooter to a 1969 Ducati 350 Mark 3 Desmo. In fact, it would be difficult to find a better example of two-wheeled evolution — from antiquated to advanced.  

In the early 1950s, Don Smith rode a Doodlebug scooter with a Briggs & Stratton 1-1/2 horsepower engine and diminutive tires. His Doodlebug was direct drive, missing the fluid clutch it would have had when delivered new from the Beam Manufacturing Co. of Webster City, Iowa. At stop signs and red lights he would lift the rear wheel, then, with the intersection clear, he’d drop the back of the scooter and open the throttle. Don wasn’t going anywhere fast.

He was just 13, and the Doodlebug scooter, his first ride, was freedom. Don’s never been without a motorcycle since. Over the years he’s owned different makes including Harley-Davidson, Honda, Moto Guzzi and Triumph, but he has a soft spot for Italian products.



A retired ironworker, Don worked building bridges and towers in his home state of Wisconsin. Some 13 years ago, he turned his attention to motorcycle restoration. “My son, Scott, found a 1966 Ducati Monza Jr. 160 and said he’d like to restore it,” Don says. “But he didn’t have time and I’d just retired, so I took over the job — that was my introduction to complete restorations.”

Don’s motorcycling history is quite interesting. His first “big” bike was a Harley-Davidson K model. But his friends were all riding British, so he bought a brand new 1960 Triumph TR6, which he then traded in 1965 for a Bonneville. When he heard about the Honda CB750 Four in 1969 his name was second on the list at the local dealer. He bought another CB750 in 1971, followed by two Suzuki GT750s — one 1972 and the other a 1973 — before buying a Kawasaki 900 in 1974.

Curmudgeon44
6/5/2014 9:50:02 AM

Great article on a great and rare bike. But where did you get the "22 HP" rating? The Honda CB350 of the day claimed 36 HP and was not as quick in the 1/4 mile according to Cycle Magazine. Ducati in earlier years claimed 27 HP from a 250cc Monza which was *not* a fast bike, almost certainly a lie. I have heard of some inconsistent ratings for other Italian bikes of the 60's. For example a Benelli 200 was said to have 20 HP in the US market, yet claimed 14 HP at home. Could this be another instance of two different rating systems?




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