Thursday, December 15, 2011
Motorcycle Throwback - The 1950 Ducati Cucciolo
Ducati is a well known name these days in the motorcycle industry. With the new 1199 Panigale officially released and the famous Valentino Rossi racing the MotoGP on one, it's hard to imagine the sport bike and racing industry without them. But Ducati wasn't always what it is today. The Italian empire started out in 1926 just making mere parts for radios.
Elsewhere, another company was designing a small pushrod engine that could be mounted on ordinary bicycles. The company was known as SIATA and by 1944 they were selling their engines to the public. Called the "Cucciolo" (Italian for "pup" because of the barking exhaust), these engines were sold individually so that anyone could mount it to a bike. However, it wasn't long before some entrepreneurs were buying the engines in bulk and mounting them on bicycle frames to resell as complete motorized-bikes.
Six years later over 200,000 of these engines had been sold and Ducati wanted in. Leaving behind the radio industry, Ducati joined up with SIATA to release its own Cucciolo-based motorcycle that same year. This 1950 Ducati Cucciolo was a small 60cc motorcycle with a tiny weight of just under a hundred pounds. And while it's a drop in the bucket compared to the speeds that Ducati's bikes now produce, this first one could reach 40 mph but got a whopping 200 mpg with its 15 mm carburetor.
Throughout the 1950's these motorcycles were everywhere on the streets of Italy and would be a great success. Many versions were developed and produced over the years and the actual Cucciolo name was dropped. The 60cc version that started the series was discontinued in 1954 but these Ducati motorized bicycles were made until 1958.
Though the first Ducati was a mere 60cc engine clipped on to a bicycle frame and could only reach 40 mph, it was the entrance of the company into the world of motorcycles. And while we're glad they moved on from 48cc engines, it'd be nice if they could get that 200 mpg efficiency back.