Ducati Darmah ‘Bobcati’

Ducati Darmah
We’ve had some pretty rich fare on Bike EXIF of late. So here’s something a little lighter—the sort of bike that’s within the reach of most pockets and a reasonably proficient backyard mechanic. ‘Bobcati’ is a 1981 Ducati Darmah owned by the motorcycle writer Tod Rafferty. “You don’t see many Ducati bobbers,” he told us, “which seemed a good reason to do one.” The Darmah 900SD was an aircooled twin with the famous desmodromic valve system; it was a slightly detuned ‘touring’ version of Ducati’s range-topping 900SS. Thirty years on, the looks of the standard Darmah haven’t aged as well as many other motorcycles designed in the 70s, but Tod’s cosmetic changes have made a big difference. The front fender is from a Ducati Indiana, the rear fender is from a Suzuki motocross bike, the headlight hangers are from a Ducati 750 GT, and the turn signals are from J.C. Whitney. The pigskin-covered seat is “from a guy in Maryland who has them made in China.” The Darmah always had great handling, but Tod has upped the ante even further with new shocks and fork springs from Progressive. “Of all the Ducatis I’ve owned (8) or ridden (many) over the years as a motojournalist, ole Bob remains my favorite,” says Tod. “I do get a few sneers and head-shakes from the posers and purists … always good for a chuckle.”

Ducati Darmah

  • kim scholer

    Nice idea, nice execution, wish more people out there tried the unbeaten paths.

    As for not building something what everybody else have already built dozens of times, who will be the first to turn a XS650 into something that is not a bobber, chopper, moto-cross bike, dirttracker or café racer?

  • Emmet

    As trick as the front half of the bike is, the rear looks hasty. I feel like an ass making criticism on what must have been a blood and sweat project, but if you cover either half of the bike, the other half looks like a totally different bike.

  • D

    I’m the other way around, Emmet – I think the back half looks like they did work on it and they left the front the way it was. Either way, it’s mismatched.

  • Tin Man 2

    The Bike looks better than most new Ducks. Very tastefull with a good choice of color.

  • heavy-duty

    Bobber? Yuk – It looks like someone beat it with an ‘Ugly Stick’. I personally don’t see anything attractive about the symmetry or modifications. It doesn’t look proportionally balanced – it just looks hacked-up. BikeExif has showcased some beautiful bobbers over the years – this isn’t one of them. BTW, I believe this stock Darmah is a beautiful piece of Italian rolling art and disagree that the bike hasn’t aged well over the years.

  • DucatiDew

    Oh my….. what a travesty, cutting up a beautiful Ducati in such a horrible way……… damn, I love it……

  • Peter

    Oh dear what a shocker – Ole Frankenstein more like……

    Let’s turn the question around – if you’d set out to make the already mediocre looking stock Darmah worse, what would you have done? I think this is about as good a job as you could do to answer that question; tack on a few cheap and mis-matched parts…

    This is the first time since I’ve been following this wonderful website that I’ve seen something that simply has no place here, or anywhere in fact.

    Carry on chuckling Bob, the joke’s on you…..

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Damien-Blake/677294107 Damien Blake

    I’m not usually the “Bike Nazi” type but it was my impression that the idea behind “Bobbers” was to get rid of non essential extras.
    The windscreen, mirrors and frond mud guard could use dropping as a minimum.
    I like the model and have a soft spot for old Dukes but minimalist this aint.

  • Andrew Schuler

    Maybe, Bobber it’s not, but there were thousands of this form of bike out there in the late Seventies and early Eighties, in fact enough to be a ubiquitous fashion. Great eye to do it to this mediocre looking Italian bike. The purists got their shorts in a bunch over it and it was meant to stir the reaction. If it pulled into the local bike night completely stock no one would look, still to this day. There were tons of Japanese models that were just Plain Jane so much so to take the on moniker UJM. This makeover is on a UIM! Gosh, look what the Me-Too Italians did in ’79 with the Duc GTS or any of the Laverda models! Yikes! The tailight assembly mounted to the chromed fender and that little aluminum lawnchair treatment on the edge of the seat and then the seamed pipes, flip down footpegs and those gages… talk about a collective production bin nightmare. Guys either went one of two ways with them; either they mounted a rack on back, maybe with a little sisybar and a plexiglass bar-mounted windshield, leaving the wide buckhorn bars on it or they chopped it up cafe style. This is both! In this case, the seat just puts it over the top. Thanks for the smile.

  • http://motojones.com Uncle Tod

    Interesting comments. Re front/rear imbalance, correct. A real bobber would lack the windscreen and front fender, but this is a rider not a fashion statement. The nearly upright riding position dictates a shield for highway comfort, and fender/mirrors for practicality. The primary reason for the front bias is simply mass; the Darmah tank is too large for the bobber style. I tried to fit a Benelli
    Mojave tank, which would move the seat forward and down a bit, but ran out of
    enthusiasm. Maybe in in it’s next iteration, though that may be a street scrambler or Imola SS.

  • teo

    Uhm… that saddle could go only with some stupid chopper, not here….

  • DucatiDew

    Tod, the main reason that this bike is desirable to me is that it is, like you said, a usable bike. I like the classic styling of this era Ducati and apparently I am not the only person who is appreciative of Leo Tartarini’s styling as these bikes are appreciating in value faster than Enron stock took a nose dive a few years ago. Still, I like the small personal touches like the rubber ducky and the covered fender. These touches and the others really make this bike stand out for me. It is different, and that is what I like……. nice work.

  • mingh

    on the plus
    detailing, rider bike
    on the minus
    I like the original better
    The darmah is gorgeous in original trim. you might argue that there were more bikes with those ducktail rearends: Well some just do it better than others. The Darmah is one of the most balanced designs from the eighties.

  • PeteP

    Umm. No. Sorry, not a fan.

  • johnny

    give the bike to me, so I can save it while there’s still time!

  • Adrian

    Get rid of the screen , put a flatter bar in it and it would look fine.

    Otherwise ugly as hell and no improvement on the Darmah.

  • dr death

    loose the gold n the rear fender. add inverts ( cheap on e-bay ), n a set of clip-ons or a non rising bar. thats a bobber. or just keep it like it is, @&*# everyone elses opinion, as yours is the one that counts…