We have a new window bike for Spring. It's a 1979 Ducati Darmah SD900 from our friend Steve Troupe and this classic is the latest bike to join his collection. Here's a little history on the bike, what's unique about it and how it came under his stewardship.
From Steve: Out of the blue I received a text from an old friend. Jody and I rode trials together in the 80s whend he was a teenager and I was 10 years older. It seems I inspired him to build his own Honda 350 cafe racer, and to get his own Italian superbike. Now that he's reached middle age and owns many motorcycles, Jody decided to move some along. He got in touch to say that there was only one person he would sell his Darmah: to me!
While I wasn't particularly looking for another machine, how could I say no?
A bit of history: everybody loved Ducati's first twin, the bevel drive, round case 750 GT. But in 1975 Ducati introduced new styling on the bevel drive, square case 860 GT. However the entire world disliked the 860's angular bodywork. (As an aside, nowadays I think it looks pretty darn good, though at the time I was skeptical.)
Both the 750 and 860 GT used springs to close the valves like most every other manufacturer. They were not desmodromic. Meanwhile Ducati's desmos, first the 750SS and then the 900SS, were sales successes and universally admired.
Eventually, to make up for the resounding 'thud' of the 860 GT, in 1979 Ducati produced the Darmah. Like the 900SS it was a desmo, but it was a bit detuned and used the 860's frame. To the factory's relief, the styling was a success!
This Darmah came from and was maintained by Keith Harte out of his shop in Grimsby. Jody and Keith became great friends. Jody never worried for parts or repairs.
As a result this Darmah has a few special items: an early Laverda 1000 200mm Bosch headlight, Conti mufflers (as used on the 900SS) instead of the stock Lafranconis, the starter has been removed and the previous year's engine case used, and for some reason there's a period Honda CB750 tail light assembly mounted. Jody mentioned that Keith did something to the 32mm PHF DelOrto carbs (the 900SS used 40mm PHFs), to give it more top end - ovalling the bore? I don't really know yet but am looking forward to finding out.
My plans are to restore it mechanically but to leave the bike the way it is. I like the bike's provenance and I like its patina. I'm glad Jody stored it well; the tank and carbs were emptied, the cylinders were fogged with oil and all metal parts were kept clean and oily. Perhaps one day I'll restore it completely, but so far I think that rebuilding the brake calipers and master cylinders and mounting new Avon AM26 Roadriders will do. Oh, and putting on the proper CEV taillight of course... Looking forward to riding it!
• Jody and Steve when he was picking up the Darmah.
• Seems that Jody has kept a copy of the Edelweiss group photo in his garage all these years!
• This is Jody on his TY175 riding section 2 at the fall trial held by the Steel City Riders in Waterdown. Jody finished 2nd Senior that day.
• Edelweiss trial. This was the first ever ATA/ATAQ Ontario-Quebec challenge trial. Ontario did great, winning the Senior, Junior and Novice classes. Quebec won the Expert class. Jody was top Senior rider and I was 5th. Top row of photo: Yves Doyon (organizer), my brother Chris (RIP 2016 - he won the Junior class that day), my brother Tim (he was 8th Junior), and Jody. Bottom row: Me and my buddy Neil Carter (we both rode Fantic 200s then).