Retrospective: Ducati Sport Desmo 500: 1977-1982 | Ductalk: What's Up In The World Of Ducati |

The moral of this story is simple: Do not let non-motorcycling bureaucrats run a motorcycle company.

Ducati had a pretty successful run from its inception in 1946, especially after it introduced the Diana 250 single to the American market in 1961. However, financial problems cropped up in the early ’70s and, in the typical Italian way, the government stepped in to save the company. The new board, a governing body made up of gentlemen in Brioni suits, knew little about the realities of motorized two wheelers.

1977 Ducati Sport Desmo 500.

Although Ducati had made its reputation on singles, the board decided to phase them out after 1974…and replace them with 350 and 500 parallel twins. The idea of a 350cc bike was sensible, as the government provided a huge tax break for motorcycles under that size. And building a 500 version would be inexpensive, as all the hard work would have gone into the 350.