World’s Fastest 250: 1964 Ducati 250 Mach 1

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In 1964, if you wanted to be able to go 100 mph on what was the world’s fastest production road bike of the era, this 1964 Ducati 250 Mach 1 was the motorcycle for you. 60 mph is fast enough for me on a motorcycle unless I was on a freeway, but I don’t ride motorcycles on the freeway. The seller has this bella macchina listed here on eBay in Valley Center, California, there is a $7,200 bid price, and the reserve isn’t met. They have a $10,000 buy-it-now price listed if you can’t wait.

Disclaimer: just to clear up the motorcycles-on-the-freeway line. It’s not that I don’t trust motorcycles to go that fast, it’s that, sadly, freeways have devolved into being havens for texting drivers who are absolutely not paying attention to anyone around them, in general. I know that most Barn Finds readers are hardcore vehicle fanatics and are good, aware, and careful drivers, but that’s not the case on most freeways. Not to mention that this Ducati is more suited to a curvy two-lane road anyway.

Disclaimer II: yes, there are bad drivers on two-lane roads, just not the volume as are on freeways where we’ve been lulled into thinking that our smooth, wide roads and safe new vehicles make us oblivious to injuries even if we hit someone else or go off the road while texting your BFF about the great extra-skinny caramel oat milk latte that you just paid $9 for. Back to this beautiful machine! (bella macchina)

The cafe racer-style seat and ultra-low handlebars make this 250 Mach 1 look like a custom, but it’s not, this is really how it looked between 1963 (for the 1964 model year) and 1966 when they were made. Show up on this bike at a vintage motorcycle show or cars/bikes-and-coffee event and watch a crowd gather. This was, as I mentioned, the fastest 250-cc bike at the time, and it’s a single-cylinder.

Despite being blind in his life eye, a gentleman named Mike Rogers added another trophy for Ducati when he won the TT (Isle of Man TT/Tourist Trophy) race with a Ducati in the 250-cc Production TT race of 1969, on a 1964 Ducati 250 Mach 1 just like this one. That was only a decade after he began racing. He was a self-financed racer, so in order to compete with the big boys, he chose a production Ducati. As a proponent of driving a slow bike fast (rather than a fast bike slow), he preferred small-cc bikes and was an expert at the art form of wringing the last bit of power and finesse out of these smaller motorcycles. This Ducati 250 Mach 1 is one incredible motorcycle, I would love to own it.

The beautiful engine is Ducati’s 248.6-cc four-stroke SOHC bevel gear-drive single-cylinder, which would have been factory-rated at 27 horsepower. It’s backed up by a rare-at-the-time five-speed manual transmission. Sadly, this one is not currently in running condition. The seller has owned it since 2013, before that it was owned by his father, who had it since 2000. A similar Mach 1 in almost perfect condition sold at a Mecum auction for $16,500 in 2021, and Hagerty is at $11,500 for a #2 excellent condition bike. Have any of you heard of this model?

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Comments

  1. HoA Howard A ( since 2014)Member

    ,,,:), it continues, after those 1st couple disclaimers to clear the air, and all spot on, I must add. It’s like anything, you can’t have zero risk. You want to play, you MIGHT have to pay. I think in this non-consequential world we live in today, that seems to go unnoticed. Give ‘er heck, and deal with the consequences later.
    We, in the US, call them “Ducks”, but more accurately, they are “Dukes”. Again, very limited in Harleytown, like none. I don’t think anyone had the grapes to have an import motorcycle dealer in Beer City, with like one exception. Competition Cycle on National Ave. He handled all the European oddballs, but I don’t recall anyone else, until mid 60s, when Honda hit the scene. They were too big for even Milwaukee to ignore.
    The motor on this, a masterpiece in itself, the gear driven cam was a novel invention, and went on to power many more. Ducati, I read, was the 1st and only bike maker to offer a “Desmodromic” valve setup for the street. Again, no air filter, and no, a velocity stack with a screen isn’t the same, duh,,maybe low compression, caused by grit down the intake, is why it doesn’t run, and 250 a bit lean for me, just starting it requires some thought, and probably as unpredictable and finicky as an Italian supermodel, but a heck of a ride! Great find.

    Like 6
    • PeterfromOz

      A friend of mine owned the 450cc Desmo model and apart from the racing touches mentioned above, the muffler was designed so that the rear cone could be easily removed along with the centre baffel to increase power (and noise).

      Like 0
  2. Harvey HarveyMember

    Good looking bike with a big price tag. Not the kind of thing to take on the freeway, I would be hanging on for dear life. This would be more at home on the Blue Ridge Parkway.

    Like 4
  3. Nevada1/2rack NevadahalfrackMember

    You can sure pick’em too, Scotty. Svelte Italian design, amazing engineering that went on for many successful years as I recall. Interestingly, my 2000 W650 had a shaft drive overhead cam system that was rumored to have been copied from Ducati. Apocryphal perhaps?
    Regardless, a beautiful bike, and a similar one that my neighbor found at a garage sale in Virginia City some many years ago as a basket case. He put it together (between working on his collection of “hit and miss” engines) and painted it with the color scheme of a renowned Ducati rider that piloted one to victory though I don’t recall who or where..

    Like 4
  4. Big C

    A tiny bike for tiny guys. I’d look like the Jolly Green Giant on this.

    Like 6
  5. Steve

    Fact Check
    My 1958 HD 74 did 109 mph clocked in Tucson in 1970. Stock motor, carb etc. Accomplished with a suicide clutch and jockey shift.

    Like 1
  6. Rick H

    I bought and restored a 67 Ducati 250 Monza a few years ago.
    While I love the beautiful design, it turned out to be just too small and light for me. Like a really fast bicycle.
    In my garage now it’s more a piece of art than a mode of transport.

    Like 0
  7. Glenn SchwassMember

    I used to ride dirt on a 73 MT 250 Elsinore. I jumped on my buddy’s 650 Shadow for a “ride around the block”. Had it doing 70mph on 25 mph roads and having a blast. It was such an easy bike to ride. I knew right then I couldn’t ride a street bike. I’d be dead in a month….Now I’ve lost the feel 35 years later and would have to start all over. I do miss that rush, but enjoy living for the most part…ha-ha

    Like 3
  8. Somer

    Mach I is rarer of the single’s. They would indeed do 100+. A friend’s was clocked at 124 at Daytona. Mind you it was heavily breathed upon. Ignition on these is mighty finicky ET system.

    Like 0
  9. Frank Barrett

    When I got my first full-time job after college in 1966, I wanted one of these, but they were scarce, so instead I bought a 250 Monza, more of a street bike but still fun. These really are special bikes, and you don’t find them often, so I wouldn’t hesitate to buy this one, even non-running.

    Like 0
  10. Kim

    Correct me if I’m wrong but wasn’t the Suzuki 250cc X6 of that era capable of 110mph? That was the claim and I think I saw a Leno video reaffirming it but not on the track.

    Like 0
    • Slomoogee

      I think you’re right Kim I rode a new X6 Hustler in 64 and it was so quick I rethought my definition of fast. Coming from a Ducati 160 it was a eye opener.

      Like 0
  11. jwaltb

    What a beautiful bike!

    Like 1
  12. P.de G.

    This was my bike as a motorcycle messenger in NYC back in 60’s. A upgrade from being a bicycle messenger and expanded my pickup area quite a bit . Nothing could get around faster than a bunch of young guys on bikes who weren’t to concerned about traffic laws . Seems like a waste of a great motorcycle till you consider that I later delivered Chicken Delight in a real Shelby GT350.

    Like 1
  13. nick

    This would be wasted on a modern highway. This is the best handling street bike I have ever ridden. It handling is nearly as light as a bicycle. It loves curves and can be leaned to amazing angles.

    Like 2
  14. skibum2

    Had a DUCATI Diana in ’65.. rode it home to Oregon from the San Juan Islands in Washington. Sat in the parents garage after I went into the Navy.. I have no idea where it is today. Hahahahaha

    Like 0
  15. Lyle Veach

    The 250 Ducati Diana Mark 3 was faster then the 250 Mach 1. The Diana was 29 hp stock from factory, the Mach 1 27 hp. My Diana would top 110 mph easily…and yes still own and race flat track with it.
    But then again Ducati made a 250 Desmo Mark 3 in 1970 …it is faster them my Diana Mark 3 (1967)…this engine pushes the valve open and pulls it shut…( float the valves…no way )…. Which ever Ducati you choose, single or twin you will experience something different…they are sneaky fast so watch that speedometer !!!

    Like 0
  16. Norman Stevenson

    I remember advertising of the time mentioned it had 28.5 bhp! And top speed of 106 mph!

    Like 0
  17. ross merrick

    i had a 1964 Mach 1 fibre tank and borrani rims single seat it did 110 at least a fantastic bike next a 750 v twin and i still own a 1977 900ss since 1979

    Like 0

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