Ducati Meccanica S.p.A. developed a motorcycle in 1949 which would earn a place in the history of the brand. The bike would also earn recognition among motorcycle enthusiasts in the years to come as a fine collectible, and one that is highly prized among collectors of rare vintage bikes. The 1949 Ducati 60 is a bike which is distinct and tells a story for those who follow the history of Ducati, and it' the stuff that shows us how far we've come in motorcycle technology and innovation. This bike is deserving of a closer look, and it's requisite to fully appreciate its value in the history of Ducati engineering.
What makes the 1949 Ducati 60 so special?
In 1949, Ducati decided that it was time to move on to a make a new generation of motorized bike that would be set apart from the Cucciolo. The Cucciolo was one of their collaborative efforts but it was not the first Ducati motorcycle to be manufactured by the company. They only made the engine for the bike, and although the work that they contributed to the bike was an important event in their history, they were not yet considered to be a motorcycle manufacturer. The Cucciolo would be succeeded by a new design with an engine that would become Ducati's first four stroke, air cooled in a 59.57cc OHV single cylinder. The 1949 version kicked off what would become a 19 year tradition of the model, which would run though the final variant as the 125 Cadet/4 in 1967. It's important to understand that the 60, or 60cc was comprised of the Cucciolo T3 moped engine, along with a Caprioni frame and it wasn't given a Ducati frame until the 1950-52 year, which is what made it their first complete motorcycle just a few years later. The 60 Sport was a 65 cc variant with a little more power. The Ducati 60 was manufactured and released from 1949 through 1953. Having accomplished this task, they were officially a full-fledged motorcycle manufacturing company, and just three years later, they would have their own frame design to more fully round their operation.
A link in the evolution of the modern motorcycle
In continuing forward with the things that make the 1949 Ducati 60 such an important motorcycle, we consider the fact that visually, this model still had the features of a motorized bicycle. It didn't resemble what the modern motorcycle looks like today, and it's a vital piece of history that allows us all to see the evolutionary process. The Ducati brothers Marcello and Adriano founded the company in 1926. They brought with them the traditions of their father Antonio Ducati who was an industrial engineer. They started out making capacitors,film projectors, lenses and cameras as well as radios and other similar electronics, but frequent bombing of the site during World War II put their business on hold because the factory was destroyed. There was a need for military supplies so Ducati becan work on the Cucciolo clip on motor for a 48 cc four stroke bike for military use. They produced a few of them. This would be the beginning of the Ducati motorcycle company. The motor for the Cucciolo was first produced in 1946 with 25,000 produced. In 1949, Ducati produced their first complete motorcycle and this was the 1949 Ducati 60, and the this was their first official Ducati motorcycle, which is the single factor that makes this bike such an important part of their history, although the frame was outsourced. Today, you can find a few of these bikes maintained by collectors and museums
1949 Ducati 60 Sport
There were two versions of the 1949 Ducati 60 made during the 1949-1950 model years. These were the original bike and the Sport edition. The major difference between the two was the fact that the 60 standard was rated at 60cc of power. The Sport edition was beefed up to 65cc. For the time, this was a powerful bike and Ducati was getting in on the cutting edge of motorcycle manufacturing in Italy. This was a pivotal time in the history of motorcycle development. Many of the bikes that were made were little more than a standard bicycle which had a beefed up frame and a clip on motor that would serve as the power source. They bore little resemblance to the Ducati motorcycles of today. Their rarity and significance in the motorcycle industry as one of the first more modern versions as evolved from the moped, stand as an important link in the chain of innovation. The 1949 Ducati 60 is arguably, one of the most important developments in the brand's history.
Although Ducati has been in business since 1926, hey didn't start out making motorcycles, or even anything which resembled one. As the old saying goes, necessity is the mother of invention. Ducati started out making radios and other electronics for the military, then they developed the engine for the Cucciolo, which was the predecessor of the Ducati 60, which happens to be the very first motorcycle that Ducati eveer made. This was the beginning of a tradition in fine Italian engineering which has continued to this day. The Ducati 60 enjoyed a 19 model year run in the evolution of its line, ending in 1967 with the 125 Cadet, which shows us all how far they came with their innovations in engineering and design. Today, Ducati is still manufacturing some of the finest motorcycles in the world. They build everything from cruising street bikes to fast racing bikes that tear up the track in competition. Ducati has come a long way since they made radios and capacitors, then evolved into making motorcycle engines, and it all started with this one special bike that is now considered to be a rare collectible, and a valuable piece of motorcycle history.
Written by Benjamin Smith
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