Brothers Joseph and Michael Berliner played a highly influential role in the motorcycle industry for several decades starting in the 1950s. Their company, the Berliner Motor Corporation, was the US distributor for a number of European marques such as Norton, Moto Guzzi, Zundapp, and Ducati. With the American moto market being one of the world’s biggest purchasers of bikes, the Berliner bros acted as something of a gatekeeper to the US market, giving them unique leverage when it came to making suggestions and demands (sometimes these were the same) about what Americans wanted/expected in a two-wheeler.
Another key player that carried out a pivotal role in shaping Ducati’s offerings was Fabio Taglioni. The legendary designer was responsible for creating a number of awesome little OHC singles (among many other things) starting with a 98cc mill before expanding it to 125cc. Many motorcycle manufacturers of the era, especially in Europe and Japan, subscribed to the philosophy that the majority of the market was more interested in a means of transportation than they were a recreational sporting machine. Outfits like Honda had found a recipe for success with its range of affordable, lightweight, utilitarian scooters and small displacement motorcycles, though these bikes weren’t selling anywhere near as well in the US.
Taglioni’s 125 proved itself a decent seller in its home market, however Joseph Berliner believed Americans would be more open to purchasing a bike with a displacement of 160cc’s than they would a 125. So the eighth-liter single was bored out from 55.2mm (and 52mm stroke) to 61mm, resulting in 156cc engine reportedly capable of putting down a mean 11 horsepower at the 8,000rpm mark. The chassis of the 160 wasn’t reworked to better accommodate the slightly larger power plant, and instead Ducati just stuffed the 160 into the 125’s steel tubular frame (which used the engine as a stressed member).
With a low seat height and advertised dry weight of 234 lbs, the Monza 160 was a particularly easy machine to control. The 160’s easy-going-nature was very much an intentional design, engineered to appeal to commuters and young riders, the Monza very clearly took aim squarely at Honda’s similar offerings. Ducati also priced the 160 at $529 (in ’68), $116 cheaper than Honda’s 175cc street-scrambler. There was even a full-page Berliner Ducati ad from ’66 that depicts a blatantly Japanese man standing next to a 160, with the ad reading “I’d rather have a Ducati”.
This particular Ducati 160 Monza Junior example is a 1965 model year, has matching numbers, and is simply a stellar little bevel gear driven single. The example originally came into the current seller’s possession in May of ’74 when it was purchased for $2,695 ($13,973 in 2018) with around 3,500 miles on the odo. While the details are scant, the seller believes this example was previously raced, based on its optional tank and monoposto seat. The Duck’s registration sticker appears to have expired in 1971, but the bike reportedly ran “several years ago”, and the owner is “certain that it can be made to run quite easily”.
The sale of the bike includes its original title, as well as its stock tank and two-person seat, side-covers, and headlight shell. Since being purchased in 74, the milage on this single has nearly doubled. You can click here to see a video of a different Monza Jr. example being fired up and revved. Based on how much clean 1965 160 Monza Jr examples sell for (like this one at a 2017 Bonhams auction that sold for just shy of $10K), the seller’s asking price seems reasonable, especially considering the additional parts included in the price.
You can find this 1965 Ducati 160 Monza Junior (VIN: 18504) here on Craigslist in Westchester, New York with a price of $2,950.