Transformation: 1975 Ducati 860 GTE

Marty Dickerson has owned several Ducati 860s over the years; now his last one lives again.

| May/June 2016

1975 Ducati 860 GTE
864cc air-cooled OHC 90-degree V-twin, 86mm x 74.4mm bore and stroke, 9:1 compression ratio, 60hp @ 6,900rpm (est.)
Top speed:
109mph (period test)
Two 32mm Dell’Orto
5-speed, chain final drive
12v, electronic ignition
Dual-downtube w/engine as stressed member/60.5in (1,537mm)
Ceriani telescopic forks w/Race Tech internals front, dual Race Tech shocks w/adjustable preload and damping rear (Marzocchi stock)
Dual 11in (280mm) discs front (single disc stock), 8in (203mm) drum rear
100/90 x 18in front, 120/90 x 18in rear
Weight (wet):
504lb (229kg)
Seat height:
32.5in (825mm)
Fuel capacity/MPG:
4.5gal (17ltr)/35-45mpg
Price then/now:

Forty-odd years ago, Ducati’s financial health was not all that good, so the Italian government, still suffering the aftermath of Benito Mussolini’s stato corporativo — or corporative state, in which the government oversaw all major businesses — sent in a fellow to fix the problem.

That was in 1972. Unfortunately the new general manager, Cristiano de Eccher, knew absolutely nothing about the motorcycle world, having no attachment to the sport, nor any sense of two-wheeled aesthetics. Rather simplistically, he immediately decided that the solutions were to cut costs and sell more motorcycles. So he curtailed the very popular racing program and planned to double production, building 15,000 machines, with half a dozen different models including an enlarged version of the popular 750 twin that should appeal to Americans.

In 1973 Marty Dickerson was getting his first ride on a Ducati twin. The Dickerson name is quite well known in motorcycle circles, especially by people who follow the goings-on at the Bonneville Salt Flats. In 1951, when he was a mere lad of 26, Marty set a record at Bonneville going 129mph-plus on a Vincent Series B Rapide, and he has been doing that on Vincents for years and years, his most recent being a 155mph-plus run in 2009. For those who are not quick at doing math, that means he was 83 years old at the time. So there is hope for all of us who still wish to make our marks on the salt.

Back in the day

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