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DUC DASTARDLY. A ’65 Ducati 250 Scrambler From MotoRelic

Posted on November 16, 2017 by Andrew in Classic, Scrambler. 44 comments

Written by Marlon Slack

MotoRelic is a little shop run out of Hamilton, Virginia by the very talented Sean Skinner. And despite having over 20 years of experience as a mechanic under his belt he was nearly beaten by this – a cursed 1965 Ducati 250 Scrambler that he dubbed the ‘Dastardly Ducati’. This little Duke ended up being one of those builds that fought him at every turn.

For those of you Ducati obsessives worrying that Sean has chopped up a stock 250 Desmo, put your pitchforks away. ‘The bike came to me in a bit of a chopper-ish form,’ he says. ‘The frame was butchered and hard-tailed with a rod welded to the swingarm’. So he cracked out the grinder and cut everything away, leaving only the swingarm and the frame around the engine. Then it was on to the wheels.

Sean opted to keep the front and rear hubs, fitted with new stainless spokes matched to Excel rims. The forks and triple clamps were taken from a TS250 and machined down to fit, while at the rear MotoRelic opted to go with a monoshock swingarm. ‘I had no idea what I was doing,’ Sean admits, ‘but I did know that the swingarm was way too short to accommodate a single shock.’ So Sean cut and stretched the swingarm, fitted a modified Icon shock and he was done.

“The award for best orange of 2017 goes to…”

Thankfully the tank and seat combination was easier. A T350 tank was spied in the workshop, eyeballed as a good fit and some mounts were adapted – and that was it. The easiest part of the build was completed. Behind that the simple seat was covered by Counter Balance Cycles in a distressed finish known as ‘Smokey Burnout’. Next in his sights was the headlight.

‘I don’t know why I put myself through that torture,’ Sean says. ‘It doesn’t look like much but when you take a light that was meant to be only mounted one way and you try and mount it another way things get difficult. There are many hours in that damn thing but when it was mounted on the bike it was clear that it was worth it.’ When completed, all the metalwork was sent to Homeward Bound Motorcycles for a tasty paint scheme.

With all the components spread around the workshop Sean turned to the engine. It wasn’t in good condition – it had some major leaks and a myriad of issues so it needed to be torn down to the bare cases. Every component was stripped out and the full extent of the neglect revealed itself. ‘Every roller bearing was rusted and all the races were pitted,’ Sean says, ‘The cylinder was scratched and the piston was damaged. Not to mention everything was rusty.’

Work of art, much?

New components were sourced from Lacey Ducati – including a used bearing race that is no longer available. So the bike received all new bearings, seals, gaskets, clutch, had it’s cylinder bored, new valves and tidied up seats, all stainless hardware and a waltz through a vapor honing cabinet. Despite the poor condition of the engine, Sean Skinner was taken by the old engine. ‘Ducati’s level of design, even back in the 60’s is a work of art. There’s something about this engine that has been lost in modern engine design’.

“He kicked again and it started, but it backfired so loudly it sounded like a still night in Chicago”.

Then the time came to fire the scrambler up. ‘In the moment of truth,’ Sean says, ‘I’m thinking – did I follow the poorly translated manual correctly? Is the timing right? Were the shims and bevel drives set up correctly?’ There was only one way to find out. Sean kicked over the engine… and then it died. He kicked again and it started, but it backfired so loudly it sounded like a still night in Chicago. It turned out the new points condenser was useless and the burnt out. A handful of jets were sent out by Desmo Pro and the bike was sorted in no time.

And now he’s smitten with the Dastardly. ‘That Dellorto carb, the strange timing procedure, the very loud valve operation all seem to add to the character of this motorcycle and I would welcome the chance to do another one!’ Sadly, this is off to a happy customer but I think this won’t be the last old Duke we see MotoRelic tackle.

MotoRelic – Facebook – Instagram | Photos by Jonathan Thorpe ]

  • Zundap


  • John in Pollock

    I love it. For some reason, the way it sits, it reminds me of a Hodaka Dirt Squirt I had in the mid 80’s. Now, let it be known that that Hodaka was a clapped out, runs when it wants to, and only after heavy coaxing and tinkering pile of crap- but was the most fun a 12 year old kid could have.- and I loved that shitty little bike, and the whole dusty summer, skinned knees, 2stroke smoke and gas on your hands stinking experience.
    Great little bike. I am really digging this small displacement kick guys. Keep ’em coming.

  • Apollyon

    Very cool, I like the integrated stubby front fender. The finishes and build quality look top notch.

    • MotoRelic

      Thanks! I was on the fence with front fender but seeing it finished, Im glad I did it.

  • rein skugler

    Look, beautiful. Just beautiful!

    • MotoRelic

      Thanks! I appreciate it.

  • AB

    A great build. And I agree, best orange of 2017 hands down.

    • MotoRelic

      Thanks! My friend Craig did a awesome job with the paint!

  • the watcher

    Weird how some bikes make you go “wow!” or “awesome” or whatever this weeks’ ejaculation of choice may be. Other bikes just make you wanna get on and go. This is definitely the latter.

    • MotoRelic

      Thanks Watcher!

  • Guzzto

    Oh boy this is beautiful , stance execution and colour, Love the mini dualsport ‘Beak” cleverly incorporated into the nacell. Love it.

    • MotoRelic

      Thanks for all the kind words. Im glad you love it!

  • Charlie Allnut

    I would appreciate to know the paint code reference for the orange on the tank. Very nice. Proportionately, the exhuast header pipe is too long and meandering. Looks like it is lost. Otherewise great build, except for my eternal gripe about proper mudguards. Yes I know they appear as strategically placed abbreviated peices on this build, but I think that they are useless because they are not aimed at the water throw-off points off the tires. Usually these throw points are identified by looking at the circumferences of the tires, from the side. They are for the rear somewhere around 280 degrees, and about 80 degrees for the front. Tell me if I am mistaken about that. But I know this from watching bikes ridden without mudguards, as well as riding them. You can see and feel the spray. Which is not very nice. Also consider the modern sport nakeds which have those little bikini muguards stuck way out back on the end of skimpy mounts.

    • How would’ve you done the exhaust, you think?

      • Charlie Allnut

        I am glad you asked! I would go with the classic BSA B50 header configuration, which more snugly follows the contours of the timing side cases. Then, instead of the big ugly bulky silencer on the stock B50, I would install a Cone Eng. silencer pointing up about 45 degrees to parallel the same line as the rear subframe strut on the Ducati. So not that different, but bringing the header closer to the cases and more accurately following those lines, then tilting up behind the swingarm pivot to follow the subframe strut line. This tucks it in and shortens it, and adheres it to the existing lines of the bike, instead of it flying out there in space. So, I would bring it down tight and then kick it up, as I am a fan of that look. On this bike it would enhance the suggestion of a frisky colt kicking up heels, And because it is a smaller engine, the noise factor would not be that much of a drawback, as if I care anyway. It is mudguards that rile me up.

        • 10 pages deep into the scrambler archive before you found what you were looking for. I admire your dedication!

          • Charlie Allnut

            I should have added, see the Honda XL600 LM – Matteucci Garage. Any news on that colour code would be great as I am sure many other punters out there want to know too.

          • Craig Rutler

            Hi Charlie, I painted it. It is house of kolor tangerine candy over a silver base with gold pearl on top.

          • Charlie Allnut

            Thanks Craig, so I guess it is kind of a one off, never to be exactly duplicated. Makes it even better. It has legs and nobody will catch it.

          • MotoRelic

            Yeeeah you did!

          • MotoRelic

            You asked 🙂

    • MotoRelic

      Wow you really got on a roll there. Yeah I know the fenders should be placed else where but for some builds they just aren’t necessary. And to each their own on exhaust routing. I went for high and tight haha! Maybe the angles of the pics give a false sense of where it actually is. Or maybe they do. 🙂

      • Charlie Allnut

        Only because I care! I love the bike and it probably looks different in the real too. I want that paint on my 72 Dart. Please.

  • bsa

    Brilliant. Love the name too 🙂

    • MotoRelic

      Thanks! It was necessary since it was such a jerk! Haha

  • guvnor67

    Great little bike, lots of nice touches, and attitude and character by the boat load!

    • MotoRelic

      Thanks! I appreciate it!

  • Beautiful little bike. Great color choice. Makes me miss my little Monza 160.

    • MotoRelic


  • Andy Rappold

    That little thing made my week! Beautiful ….besides the wimpy exhaust support. The colour choice is right on.

    • MotoRelic

      Thanks! Actually theres another mount holding the entire header. The wimpy one is only holding the feather weight muffler so it didnt need a huge mount.

  • I like it.

  • Al

    What a beautiful little engine…and beautiful little bike.

    • MotoRelic

      Thanks Al!

  • martin hodgson

    So much to love about this!!! Cracking little bike, the fenders front and rear are bloody cool, love the detailed engine and really nice exhaust, the metal work is flawless and the paint is some of the best we’ve seen all year! Always seems hard to get a little bike to poll well for the end of year top ten, but this should go damn close and glad to see plenty of people loving it as much as me!

    • MotoRelic

      Wow! Thanks for all the kind words Martin! Im very pleased that its getting all of this love. Craig will love reading what you think of his paint work. Top 10 has a nice ring to it….just sayin 🙂

      • martin hodgson

        Absolute pleasure mate, love the bikes you produce and always get inspiration from your builds for my own bikes. Got my fingers crossed for you on that top ten!

    • Craig Rutler

      Martin, I definitely agree Motorelic’s bike should be a top contender. It’s hard to believe this is some of the best paint you’ve seen all year though. I do thank you for that compliment.

      • MotoRelic

        Buddy I think its also because we are not afraid to have your paint seen under the microscope of a high def DSLR camera. Your stuff is good. Real good.

        • martin hodgson

          Totally agree, no hiding here… high def, close up and the paint is even better!!!

  • AJ

    Looks stunning. That swing-arm is a work of art! Would kill for the chance to throw this around a few trails (though I’d be terrified of chipping that paint)!

    • MotoRelic

      Thanks AJ! And yes im also terrified of chipping it.

  • Steve Bekkers

    nicely done, the muffler bracket does look a bit odd though?