1968 Ducati Monza 250 Widecase

Here are some pictures of my beloved 250 Ducati.  I started the restoration in
fall 2001, completed substantially in fall 2002.  Finishing touches complete in
spring 2003.  I bought the bike in 1987 for $600 from school teacher.  He had
a Triumph in his living room.

The bike is interesting in that it has the infamous "square styling" that almost killed
Ducati in the late sixties.  Ducati introduced the peanut shaped gas tank and square
fenders with boxy Aprilia headlamp for the US market in 1967.  The first shipment
of about 1600 bikes was not well received by (then powerful) Berliner Brothers, NY.
In fact, they turned back the shipment.  These US bikes even had ape-hanger handle
bars, which was quite bizarre as the Ducati singles were hot little bikes, of race-bread
lineage and renowned performance.  The 250 cc Mach I for example, was the first
and only 250 cc motorcycle of  the day to deliver top a speed in excess of 100 mph
right off the showroom floor.

In 1968, Ducati was developing the refined version of their single - the widecase.  The
earlier narrowcase bottom ends with shorter cranks had some problems.  The kick
starter spindle was poorly supported, wich lead to crankcase cracking under the spindle
support.  Also, the frames were slightly flexible.  The wider crankcase bikes had
tougher kick starter internals, stiffer frame (due to wider swing arm spindle) and hugely
improved electricals.  The new alternator put out 70W as opposed the earlier, useless
40W power plant.

Alas, Ducati had not learned their lesson in 1968.  This was a transition year in that
the older models were upgraded to widecase engines (same old  bodywork etc.).
For the US market, they again attempted to provide the square styling bikes.  In
1968 they added the improved widecase engine (and frame) and added chrome
fenders.  My bike is exactly one of these Monzas.  I think the bike is quite rare because
the shipment was small, and was not repeated.  In fact, most Duc fans do not even
realize that the some square styling bikes were produced with chrome fenders.
Mine is the only one I have seen, and my chrome supplier claims that the fenders
on my bike have factory chrome.

When I started the restoration, I discovered the cylinder head is not original.  I found
a 30 mm polished intake port, and a racing camshaft.  Quite a surprise as the carb was
the original 24 mm Dellorto.  Also, the valves were the "tulip" shaped version fitted in
in the high performance models.  The rocker arms had the shim adjustment system instead
of threaded tappets - also a feature of the high performance models.  I figure the head was
taken off a Mark III.  My approach to deal with this mess was to get a new Dellorto
VHB30 carburetor to fit the port.  I had new valves made to match the racing ones.  I
replaced the rocker arms with ones fitted with threaded tappet adjusters - to make for
easier maintenance (I won't be revving the bike over 8,000 rpm anyway).  I replaced
the rings, and used a spare cylinder liner I had so I could keep my piston, which is
stock but has a pretty high crown.

That was the easy part.  The rest of the project addressed the frame and suspension.
I had the frame powder-coated.  The I put new bushings in the swingarm before
the powdercoat.  I also got the tank and side covers painted with epoxy urethane
by the same supplier as the powdercoat (much cheaper than a professional painter).
I had a painter spray clear over the decals I applied myself.  I replaced my rusted
Radaelli rims with SanRemo aluminum rims, new stainless spokes.  At least the rims
are italian!  Bearings are all new.  The shocks were replaced with new Cerianis
(correct period at least).  I threw the ape-hanger bars in the garbage a long time ago.
Also, I replaced the clumsy looking rusted Silentium pipe with an imitation Conti.

I made a new wiring harness with 16 ga. wire inside large diameter heat-shrink tubing.

The bike started up on the second kick and ran pretty bad.  The plug was black so I
dropped the needle one position, and that did the trick!  After about 100 miles of break-in, I
had her up to 90 mph (crouching), and she still had a bit to give.   The handling is simply
phenomenal.  I owned  bikes of various descriptions, sizes, and origins, but I think this one
is one of the most fun.  The sound of this bike is truly addictive.

Click on the thumbnails below to see a larger versions of the picture.
Engine after re-build.  Not too much work - just a thorough top-end re-build and a really good clean-up.  That's the newer (seventies vintage) square slide 30mm Dellorto carburetor.


Frame with wheels on!  This shot shows the nice Ceriani's I got.  Much prettier than the original Marzzochis - which I kept.

At this point the bike is so clean - I tend to wipe off even my greasy finger prints.  Ridiculous, I know....

These are the best shots I have.  Poor lighting - but I have yet to get out for a proper photo shoot.


The cap and tank are a work of art.  The tank was considered truly ugly in it's day - but I believe this is only a result of comparison to the more round version retained for the European market. 


The levers are Tomasellis - quite rare, but incorrect.  Good enough for me though.  Original ones are expensive - I'll pass on them thanks very much...


Check back later this winter.  I will get proper pictures together.  Thanks for stopping by!