Ducati Elite 204cc


    As mentioned in some first principles, I'd had a hankering after a Ducati Elite ever since my apprenticeship. In 1990, there was an ad. in Old Bike Mart for an Elite, all there (it said!), engine out of frame, for £200. This was in Birmingham, I was in Southport, and it was hammering down with rain that evening, but Christine and I arranged to go anyway.  When we arrived, there it was, half covered, outside in the passageway between houses. The two small triangular toolboxes were missing, but otherwise it was fairly complete.  I could see why the engine had been removed from the frame - it was seized solid and full of water. The owner said it was like that when he got it!  The head had been removed without damage, but the barrel was another story - there were barely any fins left from the repeated blows to try to shift the barrel from the stuck piston.  Why do people wreck stuff like that?

    I bought it anyway as I still felt that the rest of it was worth most of the money.  I laid it carefully on its side in the trailer I had taken with me, padding and propping whatever I could in the pouring rain, to protect it from any further damage on its return journey.

    When I got it home and into the dry, I surveyed the whole thing;  It had at some time been repainted (well, sort of), the frame was wedgewood blue, and the tank a much darker base red than standard.  The parts missing were the aforementioned toolboxes. the chainguard, the front hub cover/speedo drive and the battery.  A seat came with it but the wrong one! 

Under the paint on the frame with light scratching, the original metallic copper-bronze was still visible. Very little had been removed or modified, but the clip-ons had been moved to below the top fork shrouds, Café Racer style.  The speedo showed under 5000 miles and going on the condition of the footrest rubbers and sprockets, this could well be fairly accurate.  It still had its original Ceat tyres too, although naturally of no use now.

    Careful consideration was needed now to try to salvage as much of the engine as possible.  Parts are still available (at a price!) but I find it really satisfying to see what can be saved.  My first task was to remove the two side cases from the engine, followed by the clutch and any other parts which would prevent me from separating the crankcases.  I made an extractor to remove the rotor from the crank end (and have used that a number of times on other similar sized Ducatis).

The tool for removing the rotor (the small piece is to protect the end of the crank)  

By separating the cases with the piston seized in the barrel, you end up with the crank, rod, piston, barrel assembly.  It is still not really feasible to mount the barrel in the press to force the piston out, as the crank kind of gets in the way.  The easiest way forward is to split the crank from the crank-pin and just push the piston and rod out from the bore.  Only now can the piston be separated from the rod.  If only the Alloy Butcher had left it alone, this would have been quite a good motor.  As it is there is not so much to replace.  One word of caution though, regarding Ducati engines - there are a myriad shims, which must be taken note of when dismantling - or you will have a devil of a job when it comes to re-assembly.


Here are a few more shots of the assembled bike without any restoration - just collecting the missing parts


Just to spur me on, here are a few pictures of other Elites from a variety of sources

The frame colour on this one looks too 'pink' from my memory and I will not be fitting the twin silencers - ground clearance is compromised on right-handers!

This one looks too 'gold'


These pictures look much more like the original


Refurbishing the wheels

Battery Box

Making a few parts



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