Classic Bike Guide

AMERICAN FANCY

“Ducati claimed 9hp at 9000rpm for Taglioni’s masterpiece, and a top speed of over 80mph”

TIMES CHANGE, AND TODAY THE Ducati Americano looks about as kitsch as a pizza ashtray. But when this bike rolled out of the Bologna factory gates in 1958, it turned heads for all the right reasons. With its sweptback cowhorn bars and a saddle festooned with chrome stars, the Americano was taking Ducati Meccanica from the racetrack to the good old US of A.

The story behind Ducati’s exotic overhead cam singles started in 1954 when Fabio Taglioni walked into his new office at No3, Via Antonio Cavaleri, Ducati. His task: to design a motorcycle that would win races. Up to that time the factory used converted road bikes for the classic Italian long distance road races like the Milan-Taranto and Motogiro – and they stood no chance against real racers entered by other Italian marques.

Ducati bosses decided that if they wanted to win the popular 100cc class they needed something a little more exotic than the simple 98cc overhead-valve single used in the 98 Sport that was the flagship of the 1954 range. With

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