Ducati Cucciolo

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1952 Cyclotandem Camille Daudon powered by Ducati Cucciolo 48cc

1952 Cyclotandem Camille Daudon powered by Ducati Cucciolo 48cc

This machine is powered by a top-of-the-range Cucciolo 48cc engine. In Italian cucciolo means ‘Little Puppy’ and this early 4-stroke bicycle auxiliary engine is one of the earliest Ducati models …from the days before Ducati made complete motorcycles!

By 1952 the Cucciolo engine had already proven itself in the gruelling Paris-Nice road races and, fitted to various cyclemotor configurations, was the most popular choice for competitors.

This one was factory-fitted to this top-of-the-range cyclotandem built by the company Camille Daudon . This cyclotandem is essentially a bicycle tandem that has been uprated by the constructeur to stand the extra stresses resulting from motorization.

Whereas, in Great Britain, bicycles and cyclemotors (or mopeds) were manufactured for the masses and sold on the basis of their competitive prices, in France, since the twenties, there had also been a market for extremely upmarket ‘fashionable’ cyclemotors. Their selling point? – Exclusivity and their high prices.

In its day, this machine would have been one of the most expensive cyclemotors you could buy. It was a bespoke creation …and the manufacturer’s shop was in the Champs Elysees! This was the equivalent of the ‘Brough Superior’ of the cyclemotor world.

Above is a 1952 illustration of the set-up.

The speedometer (above) is in good working order, but I need to replace the glass. It has drum brakes front and rear (see below). The exhaust silencer box needs to be re-fitted; this will be done in France in the next few weeks, along with a general service so it’s ready for the road.

Just look at those front forks…



Constructeur (Fr) “Different from a framebuilder, a constructeur actually builds the entire bike, including proprietary components and others that are modified for the purpose. Randonneur and camping bikes are the specialty of constructeurs. Few constructeurs exist outside France.”

There’s only a Channel physically separating us, but there’s more than language that differentiates the French and Brits. The national psyche is very different.

The top bicycle builders had a high status in French society. They considered their work to be a branch of French art and, therefore, were an integral part of the national culture.

It’s interesting to note that although Great Britain was a leading manufacturer of bicycles, British marques have never achieved a similar status within our own national consciousness. In France, everyone appreciated the top bike makers; the only comparison that comes to mind is the way that, here, we may revere film, music and football personalities.

The top French fashion houses had a similar perspective; to the Haute Couturiers, their own creations were on a par with the great French artistic tradition.

The top bike builders not only saw themselves in the same way, but they also considered themselves equal to the fashion houses. Indeed, both genres created their products from scratch: a constructeur such as Camille Daudon would manufacture any component in-house to guarantee quality control, and each bicycle built was a bespoke service. No wonder that Camille Daudon set up shop near the Avenue des Champs Elysees boutiques of Chanel and Dior.

Ducati Cucciolo

Below you can see a rare illustration of a Daudon cyclemotor. Bear in mind that their bicycles were made to order, and no doubt the customer could ask for an engine of their choice. The one pictured is fitted with a 48cc Kid engine, which would have been considerably cheaper than a Cucciolo.

Top photo shows M. Camille Daudon on the left. He is with his brother in law G.Luez, who rode for the club sponsiored by Daudon. Photo courtesy S. Rebour.

With thanks to the excellent book  The Golden Age of the Handbuilt Bicycles by Jan Heine Jean-Pierre Praderes (Pub Rizolli NY / Vintage Bicycle Press Seattle).




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]

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).

Ducati Cucciolo
Ducati Cucciolo
Ducati Cucciolo
Ducati Cucciolo
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