1948 Ducati Cucciolo T2 Oscar Egg
Oscar Egg was a famous Swiss racing cyclist who went on to build bicycles. He was very innovative and his machines were well-respected.
The French company Rocher did not start manufacturing Cucciolo engines under license in France until 1950, with the T50 model. The Italians were first off the block after the war with cyclemotor engines (they had been developing them with Government assistance before the war ended). So when Oscar Egg wanted to attach an engine to his uprated bicycle frame it was logical for him to choose the best unit available – an Italian Cucciolo.
These days we think of a ‘moped’ as a cheap alternative to a motorcycle. But in the 1940s and 1950s – before the name mo-ped had been coined – not all cyclemotors were cheaper than motorcycles. Cucciolo-powered small motorcycles such as this were exclusive, upmarket machines, typically used by rich folks to potter around their local area. When Rocher started making the Cucciolo in France under license from Ducati in 1950, dozens of France’s top bicycle manufacturers adapted their frames to fit Cucciolo engines to cater for this market.
I found this delightful machine in France in 2009. After bringing it to the UK, I advertised it on ebay and it sold straight away.
The Ducati Cucciolo is the Rolls Royce of cycle-attachment engines. And as Ducati only started making their own motorcycles in 1948, this rare example is one of the first.
The engine and pedal crank bear the Siata-Ducati insignia (close up photos further down the page).
It has been totally restored, with new pistons, rings etc. The paint is good epoxy and the chrome parts are new.
It has been road-tested, and it starts easily and runs well.
CUCCIOLO T2 DUCATI
The first prototype Cucciolo, the T1, is a wonderful ‘collectors item’ but the design was flawed and it’s not very usable. The T2 – the 1948 model used here by Oscar Egg – was the revised version manufactured by Ducati themselves and is a machine that can be ridden to its full potential. To quote the Ducati Museum:
In the middle of WWII a designer named Aldo Farinelli developed the prototype of an auxiliary motor to be mounted on a bicycle. Farinelli’s design had a number of major advantages over the competition, above all its four-stroke cycle and two-speed gearing, which used the engine’s power to its fullest potential. [This was later known as the T1]. Ducati, which up until that time had produced radios and electrical components, partnered with another Italian firm, SIATA, to produce the Cucciolo, or ‘Puppy.’ By 1946, the rights to Cucciolo production had become exclusively Ducati’s.
In 1948 Ducati came up with its first original design, the T2. It was heavily influenced by the T1 design, but made improvements in the engine’s efficiency, robustness, and, above all, logic of construction. The cylinder, for example, was redesigned and made removable and the drive mechanism made more accessible, the cylinder head was modified, and the rating was raised. [http://www.ducati.com/heritage/anni40/cucciolo/cucciolo.jhtml]
One side of the petrol tank shows Cucciolo, and the other side Oscar Egg.
All Cucciolos are magnificent, but this is the best I’ve seen.
The Siata-Ducati engine number is 200193.
On these early 2-speed Cucciolos you change gear with the pedals. If you’re only familiar with later Cucciolos with hand gear-change, this takes a few miles of riding before you get used to it.
I’ve not come across the Siata-Ducati insignia on a T2 Cucciolo before – I assumed this was only to be found on the earliest T1 engines.
Though I’m loathe to describe any machine as concours – and this one has been used since its restoration so has a few little nicks in the paint here and there – it is nevertheless superb.
The combination of rarity and practicality give this vintage motorcycle an excellent investment potential. If you don’t fancy entrusting your savings to a bank or fluctuating stock market – and prefer an investment you can use and enjoy – one of the first Ducati motorcycles would make a viable alternative.
At the Online Cyclemaster Museum you can read more of the HISTORY OF CUCCIOLO. And I’ve also reproduced downloadable versions for you of the Cucciolo T2 Engine Illustration & Parts List (in French) and Cucciolo T50 handbook (in English).