This picture was taken in the fall of 1969. The bike is a 1966 Ducati Monza 250, and it was my first “real” motorcycle. I bought it brand new in early 1966 for $695 cash — no tax, no dealer prep or any of the other fees we pay today.
I lived on that bike. Day and night, sun or rain, I was on my Duke. I live in Ontario, Canada, so many snowy, icy winter days I rode my Monza to high school with my legs spread like outriggers to keep the bike upright — dumb maybe, but I was in love with my bike. After the first year, I modified the engine to meet Mark 1 standards and raced it at Mosport in Ontario. I wasn’t competitive, but I had a blast.
This was also the time of the great biker movies, with Peter Fonda and many others. Boys with bikes tried to mimic that genre, and I was no different. With lots of time and effort, a bit of money and accompanied by the frowns of my father, I proceeded to strip my beloved Ducati again, and this time I transformed it into my version of a Hell’s Angels chopper. You can clearly see the 250cc bevel-gear-driven overhead-cam, but everything else is changed. The high seat and the long pipe were rather amateurishly handmade. The lights are made from two tractor lamps. The handlebars are stock Monza, the front fender is bobbed and the tank was an old peanut-style from an early British bike. I eventually sold it to another bike lover with stars in his eyes, too.
Hopefully, old Ducati lovers will smile at this photo, while current Ducati collectors will probably cringe. Older bikers might grin at the amateur efforts of a young man “customizing” his ride, and any Hell’s Angels seeing it will probably laugh out loud. MC
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