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Scene: Ducati 350 M3 Desmo reader conversion

Rejuvenated for retirement

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Somebody had to do it. Iron out or improve the Italian’s small imperfections or constructive errors. Bernard Zuber put his hand on his Ducati 350 M3 Desmo and perfected it with meticulous precision.

Reader conversion: Ducati 350 M3 Desmo

Retire with just 3447 kilometers on the clock. A curse or a blessing for an Italo bike that, with its lively 340 cm³ single cylinder, could still provide so much riding fun given its weight of just over 130 kilograms. Instead, according to owner Bernard Zuber, it stands D.ucati 350 M3 Desmo is now in an unused living room and is "kicked through" about every three years and is given a little oil in the candle hole. But first of all, the Italo bike was thoroughly optimized by its French owner.

He bought the Ducati 350 M3 Desmo new in June 1972 for 5500 francs, as the invoice attached to the numerous lists, receipts and technical sketches shows. And just over a year later, the trained technical draftsman and mechanical engineer dismantled it almost completely after only 2,740 kilometers (the engine remained unopened) in order to “paint the frame and carry out extensive optimizations”. Finally, he knew about the tendency to high-frequency vibrations (140 Hz at 8500 rpm) of the single cylinder and happily vibrating parts, and in order to prevent this and to save some weight, he began to lend a hand. The meticulous listing of all changed items (180 in total) includes no less than 116 points, clearly distinguishing between purchased and self-milled or turned parts. Although Zuber tends to do it yourself rather than buy it, because after all, it should be perfect.

All steel components replaced by aluminum and titanium


The complete in-house construction made of aluminum and titanium for footrests, brackets, shift linkages …

Regardless of all modifications, the outside of the Ducati 350 M3 Desmo remained 95 percent original, as Zuber emphasizes. High-quality tools and know-how were not an issue – after all, the proud owner, now 75 and retired, had worked for a world-famous manufacturer of lathes for many years. Equipped in this way, the tinkerer was also able to cope with problem cases such as the correct attachment of the footrests. Because the standard pitches of screw and thread did not match (Zuber’s conclusion: "The footpegs of the Ducati 350 M3 Desmo were not made in Italy, but are a purchased part that Ducati obtained in England! "), The screw could not be screwed in completely tighten properly. 

So Zuber made a new catch made of high-strength aluminum alloy (from aviation technology), a titanium screw with a thread that was elaborately milled on the lathe and a custom-made mounting plate for the catch and rear silencer at the same time. Hardly recognizable at first glance, but the conversion to the freshly spoked 19-inch instead of the 18-inch front wheel has proven to be very effective, especially in view of the use of the new 230 millimeter Oldani duplex racing brake made of sand- cast electron instead of the 180 millimeter Grimeca double simplex brake (die cast aluminum).


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Necessary intermediate pieces, spacer sleeves and the brake anchor strut, like dozens of other newly required or simply replaced small parts, were made anew, from lighter aluminum or even titanium. Wheel axles? Now made of titanium instead of steel. Shift linkage made of steel like the original Ducati 350 M3 Desmo? Replaced by an aluminum component.

Even with the standard 35-millimeter Marzocchi fork, the Alsatian replaced almost all steel components with lighter ones made of aluminum or titanium. The instrument holder plate in the cockpit and the oil thermometer from VDO are completely new. The resourceful engineer donated a new oil filler neck, also made of aluminum, to the associated VDO temperature sensor on the engine. At around 130 kilos, the 350 still weighs a handful less kilos than the already light series Duc. It’s not for nothing that Zuber raves about his bike ("lively, ultra-agile, really depends on the gas").

The engine remains unopened


The Dellorto VHB 29 AD carburetor is allowed to breathe freely but through the long intake funnel.

In view of the 173 km / h that Zuber himself drove at a displayed 8100 rpm (taking into account the three percent advance calculated by the Veglia Competizione rev counter), the once specified 35 hp should be completely at the start. At least. Without tuning, because one of the few changes to the engine of the Ducati 350 M3 Desmo itself is only the long intake funnel in addition to the modified carburetor equipment.

Then there is the Lafranconi silencer, the “toooon” of which the 75-year-old says he will never forget when he drove at full throttle. After 250 hours of manual work with files, saws, center punch, compasses and the like with the help of high-precision machine tools, the silver Ducati 350 M3 Desmo was finally not only beautiful, but also perfect in October 1976. And most importantly , finished. After the optimization, the Alsatian drove the Ducati around 700 kilometers until it can finally enjoy its retirement with the current mileage of 3447, now in better condition than new. Gold must.

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