Having joined Ducati in 1954, Ing. Fabio Taglioni’s first project was to design what became the 98cc Grand Sport. This simple pushrod OHC machine was successful in national competition but, with the company seeking success on the world stage, in 1956 Taglioni created a pushrod SOHC 125 racer with rocker arms and valve springs. This engine proved to be less than perfect and so a twin-cam Bialbero version followed. With bevel-drive cams and desmodromic valve operation, this first desmo Ducati was fast, but it didn’t set the world alight. So, Taglioni then came up with the triple-cam Trialbero 125, and with three wins out of seven races these Ducatis finished 2nd, 3rd, 5th, 6th, 8th, 10th and 11th in the 1958 125cc World Championship.
The young, 125cc Trialbero-mounted Mike Hailwood finished 3rd overall the following year.
At the same time, and at Hailwood Snr’s request, Taglioni was developing a twin-cylinder 248cc Trialbero racer. This featured gear-driven triple overhead cams and a 6-speed gearbox, and Hailwood rode it to two 4th places during the 1960 250 World Championship season. But two 4ths weren’t good enough, especially as MV Agusta’s DOHC twins had dominated the 250 class in 1959 and ‘60. Something different was urgently required, and so, with the first production Ducati 250 single road bike due to make its debut in April 1961, Taglioni thought laterally and created a prototype 250 Trialbero single. Using knowledge gleaned from the 125 Trialbero, a bevel-drive 250 Trialbero single with a twin-spark head, a special Dell’Orto carb and a 5-speed gearbox would in theory be lighter, narrower and better handling than a twin, while still producing useable, competitive horsepower.
With America becoming an increasingly important market for Ducati’s single-cylinder road bikes, it’s thought that the 250 Trialbero was tested in some US races, and in Europe with factory riders Spaggiari, Villa and Farné, but without much success. Additionally, by this time Hailwood had switched to Honda and its new RC162 4-cylinder racer for the 1961 250cc World Championship, and he, along with Honda teammates Phillis and Redman swept the board by ending the season in 1st, 2nd and 3rd in that order. For 250-class Grand Prix racing, the day of the 4-stroke single, or twin, had passed.
Just three prototype 250 single-cylinder Trialbero GP racers were built. The example offered here has the special Dell’Orto carb along with Oldani ventilated, magnesium drum brakes (double mechanism at the front). Although it arrived a little late, it’s Fabio Taglioni’s most exotic single, and one of the most interesting, desireable and collectible of all Ducati singles.