The Vincati Motorcycle

"Engine by Shakespeare, chassis by Michelangelo"

By Aaron Frank, Photography by Bob Clarke

Big Sid Biberman has been a Vincent man since 1950, when he took his first fateful ride on a Shadow he borrowed from a friend. In the early '70s, after 20 years of die-hard Vincent worship, Big Sid was similarly smitten with the 1972 Ducati 750 GT. This was the first of Ducati's big twins, and Sid found the idea of a more-modern sporting V-twin understandably appealing. Soon Sid's garage housed both a Vincent and a Ducati, and for most of that decade he switched back and forth between the two. Naturally, he often wondered about a bike that combined the best qualities of both. The Vincati answers that once-rhetorical question.

Sid's is one of just seven Vincatis in existence, and the only one in North America (the other six are all in Australia). His started with a 1973 Ducati GT rolling chassis, purchased for $2500 from an aspiring vintage racer. It came complete with all the necessary bodywork and trim, along with brand-new, 18-inch alloy wheels. The Vincent motor acts as a stressed member, and the downtubes from the Ducati frame have been cut off to make room. The motor comes from a 1953 Vincent Rapide. Big Sid is a hot-rodder at heart, so of course the motor has been massaged with high-compression, 10:1 pistons, ported heads and other modifications that increase output to around 80 horsepower at the wheel.

From the saddle, the Vincati is almost indistinguishable from a stock Ducati GT. The factory Ducati instrumentation and switchgear are retained, and the Bibermans have assembled the bike with such careful attention to detail that you would hardly guess this isn't a factory job. Since the Vincent engine is roughly the same size and shape as the 90-degree Ducati V-twin, the bike handles nearly the same as well. It's not until you start the motor, and notice the slight differences in cadence, vibration and sound, that you realize this isn't your average 750 GT.

On the road, the Vincati does bring together the best elements of both bikes. The Ducati is bigger and roomier than the compact Vincent, with a more comfortable riding position and more stable high-speed handling. The Vincent V-twin is uncommonly smooth-running and quick-revving (especially considering its age!), with a robust midrange perfectly suited for the fast, sweeping roads the Ducati chassis prefers. It's no wonder that both the Vincent and the Ducati 750 GT remain in demand by vintage enthusiasts who actually ride their bikes. And as far as Sid's question about mixing the two machines together? The Vincati is a very satisfactory answer indeed.

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