Ducati 500 GTL - Left Side

Paralzyed Twin – 1977 Ducati 500 GTL

Post-Sale Update: This Ducati 500 GTL was pulled off eBay. Final sale price is unknown.

In the early 70’s, Ducati’s management felt that the future of their mid-sized bikes was going to be with parallel twin engines. Despite the fact that Ducati had previous unsuccessful experience with such an engine type, the Italians decided to go for it, their first new engine design in over a decade. The result was the Ducati 500 GTL, a bike known for lunching crankcases and being the textbook example of the word ‘unreliable’. I can’t in good faith recommend that any of you actually buy this bike, I just had to feature it as it’s a miracle that one of these bikes has lasted this long!

Ducati 500 GTL - Tank

Ok, so I’m slightly exaggerating. But don’t take my word for it – check out this article from Ducati News Today which better explains why the 500 GTl went over so poorly. The 500cc engine pushed out just 35 horsepower, and it was not a light bike. Performance was meager, and so were sales – just 7,000 were produced over 8 years. Ducati fans typically try to ignore this bike in the firm’s history, and it might just be one of the worst bikes to ever have Ducati on the tank. One could argue that this was actually a good thing, as the awful sales led to the company developing the Pantah V-Twin engine which has become part of Ducati’s lore.

Ducati 500 GTL - Gauges

This specific Ducati 500 GTL is in fantastic cosmetic condition, thanks to a brand new coat of silver paint. It’s claimed to be garage kept, and while with most bikes I’d say it’s “only” covered 4,500 miles, in this case I’m just going to be impressed that it’s gone this far. I can’t stress it enough – don’t buy this bike. Just be amazed that someone has kept one in such good shape.

Ducati 500 GTL - Left Side

Find this Ducati 500 GTL for sale in Cocoa, Florida for $5,995

Ducati 500 GTL - Right Side

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  • iabuoy

    I owned a 500 GTL a few years ago. While it was heavy and underpowered, it was reliable and pleasant to ride. The previous owner told me not to go by the dipstick markings when checking the engine oil, as that would result in too little oil in the crankcase. Perhaps that is why the GTLs developed a reputation for engine failures.
    While I was not terribly sad to sell the GTL in order to purchase a 900SD Darmah, the GTL introduced my son and me to the pleasures and challenges of riding classic Ducatis on the street. For that, I am very grateful.

  • Roger Allon

    I often read the same story line with these bikes, the authors are rehashing an line, idea or concept of these bikes written years ago, most likely made up from imagination, without reference to an author or source of information and statistical references.
    The design of this bike did not take place in a vacuum, various factors would have influenced its design, costing and marketing. The political climate in Italy at the time was in transition through a socialistic / communism industrial model. Strikes, industrial dis-harmony in the work force, political murders, mafia influences, corruption, unionism, changing technology, design influences etc.
    To put bad design down to one person is a naive concept, There would have been a team of people working on this design.
    Any outcome is usually determined by the inputs (read management) budget etc.
    This model bike is often misjudged and maligned without proper evidence or justification.

    • http://bike-urious.com/ Abhi Eswarappa

      Roger,

      Thanks for the thoughtful comment! I have to say that I’m a little surprised by a couple of points, though, unless you’re referring to the article I referred to?

      There was no claim about one person being responsible for the design, and while aesthetics are subjective I assume you’d agree that this bike was generally unreliable due to the crankshaft issue? Or maybe that’s not a good assumption on my part. Would love to hear more of your thoughts, I’d be glad to update the post.

    • DJ

      I own two of these bikes, one has almost 30k miles on it the other has half that amount. I’d say the title of this read is little over the top. Yes they got a bad rap for a lot of reasons, but considering I have another Ducati that’s not running because the left side case bearing has expired, repairing Ducati’s is not new or cheap. Retaining value in the future, that remains to be seen, when they are all gone, they are gone. For the moment I’ll keep on riding, and modifying bikes to make them more reliable than when they left the factory. The 500SD and 500GTV sport are the desirable of the three. For the most part, parts for early bikes are really drying up, parallel twin or bevel drive, expect to pay top dollar for bevel parts. Where there are no parts, you make them. There are quite a few suppliers for singles as the market for those bikes is common, pick your Ducati poison, just make sure you fill the crank cases with the proper amount of oil, apparently this was a problem with the parallel twins.

  • DJ

    I own two of these bikes, one has almost 30k miles on it the other has half that amount. I’d say the title of this read is little over the top. Yes they got a bad rap for a lot of reasons, but considering I have another Ducati that’s not running because the left side case bearing has expired, repairing Ducati’s is not new or cheap. Retaining value in the future, that remains to be seen, when they are all gone, they are gone. For the moment I’ll keep on riding, and modifying bikes to make them more reliable than when they left the factory. The 500SD and 500GTV sport are the desirable of the three. For the most part, parts for early bikes are really drying up, parallel twin or bevel drive, expect to pay top dollar for bevel parts. Where there are no parts, you make them. There are quite a few suppliers for singles as the market for those bikes is common, pick your Ducati poison, just make sure you fill the crank cases with the proper amount of oil, apparently this was a problem with the parallel twins.