1977 Ducati 500 GTL Cafe Racer
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1977 Ducati 500 GTL Cafe Racer

This is a discussion on 1977 Ducati 500 GTL Cafe Racer within the Project Builds forums, part of the Caferacer.net Forums category; Hi all, For the last 9 Months I've been working on my 77 Ducati 500GTL. For the longest Time I didn't know the direction I ...

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Thread: 1977 Ducati 500 GTL Cafe Racer

  1. #1
    Member lucky13cycle's Avatar
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    1977 Ducati 500 GTL Cafe Racer

    Hi all, For the last 9 Months I've been working on my 77 Ducati 500GTL. For the longest Time I didn't know the direction I wanted to go
    with it. Restore it to original, just get it running and use it to beat around or make a cafe racer out of it. I finally decided after pulling it apart and polishing some parts that it needed to be a café racer project. The first thing I did was to make sure the engine was solid. After changing the points and some marvel mystery oil the engine came to life. Though the compression was down It was running. No oil leaks and running I was confident we had a winner. After about 30 min of running I check the compression at it was just about up to spec. I was very happy to see that. So Dis assembly began. Starting with the engine and before I knew it she was down to a bare frame. Lots of cleaning and replacing nuts and bolt was ahead of me. The first pictures are how I got her. She was rusty but complete. Ok the first day of working on her most of the day. I got the engine out now it's time to degrease the roller. 36 years of nasty grease and grime. It's like cement won't come off time for the pressure washer! lol. Someone left this poor bike out in the weather for decades. Lots of cleaning and polishing in my near future. Finally got the frame clean and stripped down. Its off to sandblast and paint. The frame will be metallic gold with black tank and seat. I'm not sure what style of tank and seat yet. The engine was the next target. Soda blasting and cleaning is the first thing then panting and polishing. I have about 15 hours into the engine and frame so far including checking all the things that were important (everything looked great inside the engine), paint, new gaskets and polishing all the aluminum. The engine came out very nice and just needs a few more things to be finished. Next all the small parts need to be blasted and prepped for powder coating. I never thought it would end It felt like I was sandblasting for a week lol Every nut and bolt ,brackets, hubs and rotors etc...

  2. #2
    Senior Member goldy's Avatar
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    I've never seen one of those before! Nice purchase! Please keep us posted!
    “And this you can know – fear the time when Manself will not suffer and die for a concept, for this one quality is the foundation of Manself, and this one quality is man, distinctive in the universe.”
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  3. #3
    Senior Member Geeto67's Avatar
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    Um.... Why didn't you just post a pic of the finished bike? Anybody with google already knows the thing is "finished". Actually it's is a little insulting you just cut and pasted you intro from DTT into here.

    The GTL is a shit bike. 35hp stock from a 500 para twin isn't exactly setting the world on fire. Plus you can actually hear the time bomb ticking as you ride it.

    Im curious what you did to the engine to make it less "explode-y". I'm also curious if yours leaks oil anywhere.

    The good news is that since it is Italian you ended up with good brakes and suspension for an old bike.
    Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try Again. Fail again. Fail better.
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    A tool is just an opportunity with a handle
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    Senior Member raven's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Geeto67 View Post

    Im curious what you did to the engine to make it less "explode-y". I'm also curious if yours leaks oil EVERYWHERE
    fixed it for you.
    Bike:
    Buell X1
    Honda S90 (box of parts)
    Honda CB750C (runs)
    The Others (mostly rolling wounded)

    My collar may be a little frayed, and maybe I need a shoeshine. But nobody\'s got a mortgage on my soul. I own it. Free and clear. -Phil Lovecraft

  6. #5
    Senior Member Geeto67's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by raven View Post
    fixed it for you.
    Thank you. I should have said everywhere all the time.


    The worst part about this is despite the GTL being the largest piece of italian crap ever made (and I own a plastic tank ducati so that is a bold statement coming from me), I actually looked at one near me recently. There is a local guy selling one for a few hundred bucks - the chassis is near mint with 3300 miles on it but the engine is exploded both figurativley and literally (someone tried to fix a broken one and took it entirely apart, at least the crank is rebuilt). I saw one years ago with an xs650 engine swap, and I think the XS 500D was actually a copy of the 500 GTL that fixed all the issues like bad design and poor manufacturing, and the thought of stuffing one of those into the frame so I could have a good working motorcycle seems appealing. But then more kid's medical bills came in and I can't afford it again.

    The thing that really surprises me is when the bike was new people actually raced them. Well maybe that shouldn't surprise me as much, all the the problems with the para twin 500 are neatly packaged between the front and rear engine mounts, otherwise the chassis is pretty good. Still I can't imagine paying for an engine rebuild every weekend.


    and just so this post isn't a total waste, here is a pic of a 500 Sport Desmo that someone put a BMW/Rotax 650 single into. I honestly can't think of a better use of a ducati parallel twin chassis and a BMW 650 single, and it is way more impressive than a "manx style" tank and bubble back seat on a stock GTL :


    monkey likes this.
    Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try Again. Fail again. Fail better.
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  7. #6
    Senior Member Geeto67's Avatar
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    this is one of the better sites I have found for para twin ducs:

    PanigaleTwins | Ducati ParallelTwin Racing for Dummies | Ducati ParallelTwin Racing for Dummies

    it's fun.
    Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try Again. Fail again. Fail better.
    - Samuel Beckett
    A tool is just an opportunity with a handle
    - Kevin Kelly

  8. #7
    Senior Member Geeto67's Avatar
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    also I think this is the OP's bike (maybe not totally finshed). It isn't bad at all, I wonder if those are real ohlins.

    Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try Again. Fail again. Fail better.
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  9. #8
    Senior Member ILoveThumpers's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Geeto67 View Post
    ..Im curious what you did to the engine to make it less "explode-y"...
    Explode-y might be my favorite new word. Is that in the Ducati literature for that fine mill?

    -Deek

  10. #9
    Senior Member Geeto67's Avatar
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    no but it should be.

    if you have never read this - it pretty much covers the mess:
    Ducati Disasters ? The Parallel Twins | Ducati News Today

    I had a friend who had a customer with a 500 Sport Desmo. Bike was a constant headache for his shop. Somewhere I have notes of what he did to make the engine function like an engine. There was also a great article in Classic Bike last year about these and all the sorts of machine work you need to improve the top end oiling which really is an issue.

    so yeah, explode-y sums it up.
    Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try Again. Fail again. Fail better.
    - Samuel Beckett
    A tool is just an opportunity with a handle
    - Kevin Kelly

  11. #10
    Member lucky13cycle's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Geeto67 View Post
    Thank you. I should have said everywhere all the time.


    The worst part about this is despite the GTL being the largest piece of italian crap ever made (and I own a plastic tank ducati so that is a bold statement coming from me), I actually looked at one near me recently. There is a local guy selling one for a few hundred bucks - the chassis is near mint with 3300 miles on it but the engine is exploded both figurativley and literally (someone tried to fix a broken one and took it entirely apart, at least the crank is rebuilt). I saw one years ago with an xs650 engine swap, and I think the XS 500D was actually a copy of the 500 GTL that fixed all the issues like bad design and poor manufacturing, and the thought of stuffing one of those into the frame so I could have a good working motorcycle seems appealing. But then more kid's medical bills came in and I can't afford it again.

    The thing that really surprises me is when the bike was new people actually raced them. Well maybe that shouldn't surprise me as much, all the the problems with the para twin 500 are neatly packaged between the front and rear engine mounts, otherwise the chassis is pretty good. Still I can't imagine paying for an engine rebuild every weekend.


    and just so this post isn't a total waste, here is a pic of a 500 Sport Desmo that someone put a BMW/Rotax 650 single into. I honestly can't think of a better use of a ducati parallel twin chassis and a BMW 650 single, and it is way more impressive than a "manx style" tank and bubble back seat on a stock GTL :


    First of all the bike is not finished. I reposted this on this form because I had built a CB750 a few years ago and posted it here and met some nice people one of the guys I met shot me an email and encouraged me to post it here too. Sorry if your offended that I posted it in a couple of forms. Seems like your just a hater. I really don't care if you like my "manx style tank and bubble back seat" I have over 150 Hours into going through this bike, sanding, cleaning, polishing, gold leafing etc... so your comment about a tank and tail on a stock bike is idiotic. Seems like you never restored anything. You don't have to Fabricate a custom frame(which I have done on other projects) or add big carbs and engine parts to make a bike worth working on. My bike has over 10000 mikes it does not leak oil and runs great. It's a fun little bike to run around no one said it was the most high performance motorcycle out there. I put over 500 miles on it prior to tearing it down. When the engine was out of the bike I went through it. If you want to know how to make one of these run read some articles by Chris Bushell. Apparently your a Ducati expert. So I'm sure you know this already in late 1977 and 78 Ducati redesigned this engine. Engines with serial numbers 501656 and later are the ones redesigned. This means that my engine has the later type of cylinder head gasket, improved primary gears and most importantly the later type of conrods and crank. This means that my big-end shells are the same as 620 Monster ones. Maybe you should just take over this thread since you already know how crappy it will turn out.


    Last edited by lucky13cycle; 10-23-2013 at 02:14 PM.

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