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 Ducati - GTV
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Ducati D2-492-43-08
Photo ou archives : F-M. Dumas

Capacity : 500
Model : GTV
Production : 1978 - 1981
Category : (R) Street Bike


500 GTV / Sport Desmo - 1978

Blind alley

Ducati's enviable reputation is based on its singles, its V-twins, and – above all – on its desmodromic valve gear, which positively opens and closes the valves. Nevertheless, the marque has attempted to branch out in different directions, as it did with the four-cylinder Apollo and with two-stroke singles.

A Project from 1965

In 1965, Ducati built an advanced 500cc vertical twin with 180-degree firing intervals (later popularized by Honda). Highly over-square at 74x58mm, with two 27mm carburetors, five speeds and a power output of 40 hp at 6000 rpm, it never made production. Later, however, the idea began to gel with the even more over-square (78x52mm) 500 GTL.

Starting All Over Again

In 1976, Ducati once more dusted off the project, replaced the simple-cradle frame with a double-cradle construction, fitted-alloy wheels and three disc brakes and modernized the styling. The GTL became the GTV, and there was even a Desmo version that developed over 12 hp more. The specification was also upgraded, with Japanese-style instrumentation, storage lockers and finish. But despite all these efforts, the vertical-twin Ducatis were a resounding flop. Too costly and incapable of competing with the more sophisticated Japanese bikes, they had lost the distinctive personality of the marque. Ducati did a smart about-face and, in 1977, launched its first Pantah 500 V-twin, starting a line that would culminate fifteen years later in the World Championship-winning Ducati.


Engine: 497cc (78x52mm) air-cooled 180-degree parallel-twin four-stroke

Power Rating: 33.6 hp @ 6500 rpm (Desmo 46 hp)

Valves: overhead-camshaft

Fuel System: two 30mm carburetors

Transmission: 5-speed, chain final drive

Suspension: telescopic forks (front); swing arm (rear)

Brakes: twin disc (front); disc (rear)

Wheels: 18 inch light-alloy (front & rear)

Weight: 419 lb

Maximum Speed: 103 mph (Desmo 116 mph)

Despite their advanced specification, the GTV and Desmo Sport shown were disappointing to customers and were soon withdrawn.

Motorcycle encyclopedia Moto Passion, realised by François-Marie Dumas, include almost 2000 photos presented with an exhaustive history of the motorcycles exhibited.

This unique collection has been realised with the participation of many specialists. With many thanks in particular to Yves Campion, Michael Dregni, Didier Ganneau, Jean Goyard, Helmut Krackowizer, Michel Montange, Christian Rey, Bernard Salvat, Mick Woollett, etc

One can order here

  • Original cards on paper (in french)
  • High resolution scans or original documents presented and signed with my name.

Please contact me at for conditions and copyright.

© Tous droits réservés
François-Marie Dumas

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