Black Cycles Australia builds a 250cc Ducati café racer…
Starting in 1950s, brothers Joseph and Michael Berliner of the Berliner Motor Corporation were the US importers for Ducati and many other European marquees. As the story goes, Michael converted a 250cc Ducati Diana into a flat tracker, which brother Joseph liked so much he asked Ducati to produce something similar — and street-legal — for the American market.
“Berliner…implored the factory to build something similar but with lights, so that Ducati would have something for the street-scrambler trend just getting started in America in the early 1960s.” –Bonhams
The result was the Ducati Scrambler series, which debuted in 1962, helping to solidify Ducati’s place in the US market. The 250cc version has often been regarded as the smoothest of the bunch, with the later wide case models offering around 19 bhp from their single-cylinder engines.
Recently we heard from our friend Noel Muller of Black Cycles Australia, who’s turned out some of 2023’s highest profile builds here at BikeBound and beyond, including his 1950 Triumph pre-unit bobber, Ducati 916 turbo, and Yamaha XT500 restomod — just to name a few! Actually, the build you see here was done for the owner of that 1950 Triumph. Says Noel:
“A good client of mine (Ben) asked me to build a small capacity Ducati cafe racer for him this year.”
When Noel discovered it was nearly impossible to scare up a standalone Ducati 175 or 250 engine, the only option looked to be starting with a complete 250 Scrambler. After much consideration, the client decided he wanted to move ahead with the build, preserving as much of the original vintage parts as possible.
The frame is nearly untouched except for detabbing and gloss-black paint, and the tank is a modified Benelli Mojave unit. The forks were lowered and now include external springs to prevent bottoming out, while the tail was hand-shaped from 1mm steel with a custom saddle trimmed by Subarashii Seats. The addition of the fairing was a major part of the design and fabrication:
“The top of the fairing and the original headlight is mounted with a handmade 8mm stainless steel frame, which bolts to a 10mm thick bracket I’ve made on the neck tube (as I really wanted this to be a true fixed fairing bike).”
Other highlights include the 18″ custom-laced rims, custom-built stainless exhaust, minimalist LED lighting, simplified wiring thanks to Popbang Classics, and the “patina” paint treatment, using Audi’s Mocha Latte color. Below, we talk to Noel for more details on the build.
Ducati 250 Scrambler / Café Racer: In the Builder’s Words…
A good client of mine (Ben) asked me to build a small capacity Ducati cafe racer for him this year. He particularly requested a Ducati 175 or 250 single to start with, and after some inquiries I found an engine alone is near impossible to find! A business friend later informed me of a 1971 Ducati 250 Scrambler that was for sale from an importer in Brisbane, so Ben agreed we’d start with this for the build.
While waiting for parts and finishing other builds I said to Ben, “Are you absolutely sure you want to change this mint condition scrambler into a caferacer?” After a bit more thought, he said, “Yes, definitely, let’s proceed!”
So I guess the nickname for this bike is obviously “the cafe-scrambler.” The build began — I really wanted to keep as much of the original bike’s vintage parts as possible!
The frame is almost untouched except for removing all now unused brackets, mounts, and battery tray, and adding a new seat, tank, fairing mount, and a flush electrical tray (under the seat).
Also, later, we shortened and reshaped the side stand and centre stand to suit the much lower forks — now with only 25mm travel and some outer springs to ensure no bottoming out!
The fuel tank is a Benelli Mojave and has been extended forward to support the lower part of the fairing.
The top of the fairing and the original headlight is mounted with a handmade 8mm stainless steel frame, which bolts to a 10mm thick bracket I’ve made on the neck tube (as I really wanted this to be a true fixed fairing bike).
The tail was hand-shaped from 1mm steel, and a handmade seat was then attached.
The seat was trimmed in a vintage style by Andrew Morehouse (Subarashii Seats) and includes a small Ducati shield badge.
Chrome clip-on bars and new levers were added. We also added some 18″ valanced vintage style rims with stainless steel spokes to the vapor-blasted hubs. 4.00 x 18″ Shinko tyres were used.
Kellerman micro all-in-ones were used on the rear and motogadget bar-end indicators used on the front.
The engine is all original (just cleaned up) — all stainless steel fasteners were used throughout!
The exhaust is made in-house from 316 stainless with a 25cm baffle permanently inside.
The rear shocks are the originals and even the rubber factory gaiters.
We went with gloss black 2k paint on frame, stands, etc., and with the tins I decided to go with the “patina” look over Audi “mocha latte” color.
It was then off to Justin at Popbang Classics for some wiring and all new clutch, brake, and choke cables to be made.
At this stage the bike has not been ridden and not even seen by the owner Ben in Sydney (who by the way owns the 1950 Triumph pre-unit 500 that was featured here before).