Red Baron’s Ultimate Ducati Desmo Manual Review: Rider’s Library

Ducati Desmo Manual

The Red Baron’s Book on the Ducati Desmo

The vast majority of model or make-specific shop manuals I have—and I have a shelf-load of them—do a pretty fair job of describing and illustrating how to do most common maintenance and repair operations.

But, they generally seem to assume the reader/user has a fairly high mechanical competence level in both the basics of most vehicle systems and specialized tools required for the job.

Speaking for myself, that is a dangerous assumption.

Ducati Desmo Manual Indeed, as I write this, no shop manual I have springs to mind that not only goes the extra mile in providing detailed steps to perform the work, but provides excellent education in how to use any specialized tools that may be required.

That is, until I got a copy of Eduardo Cabrera Choclan’s superb new book, The Red Baron’s Ultimate Ducati Desmo Manual—Belt-driven Camshafts L-twins 1979 to 2017.

To those familiar with his expertise in and love for Ducati motorcycles, he is known as Baron Rojo or “The Red Baron.” His first motorcycle was a Ducati SS750 and he has never owned any other brand. His focus on the Ducati as the motorcycle worth owning led to his pursuit of mastery of the fine art of repair and maintenance of them, as well.

So much so that he now owns his own Ducati specialist workshop in San Sebastian, Spain ( ). Over the past twenty years, Cabrera has developed an intimate knowledge of the inner-most workings of the Ducati machines and now, he has transferred that knowledge to an extraordinary shop manual.

While he points out that his work is not a replacement for an official Ducati service manual, it quickly becomes clear that having his manual is a huge advantage for back-yard mechanics who lack the professional training that a Ducati service technician would have. He explains it like this:

“The purpose of this book is to describe how the different procedures that appear in the Official Workshop Manual can be performed by people without specific training in this field. A professional mechanic knows the different procedures, tools, work methods, etc. that are involved in maintaining and repairing a motorcycle.

“This may not be the case for the amateur mechanic depending on his or her level of knowledge and self-confidence. The idea is that this manual can act as an interpretation of the procedures in the Official Ducati Workshop Manual, so that you, the amateur mechanic, can use good mechanical practices and procedures to resolve issues that might arise the first time you use a specific or unusual tool, or the first time you carry out a repair job.”

The truth of the matter is, even if you don’t own a Ducati and probably never will, there is so much excellent technical background content on how to do a lot of the basics such as using a micrometer, dial indicator, bore gauges, on lapping valves, essentials of four-stroke engine operations, and much more that this book is an excellent investment no matter what you ride.

At the other end of the spectrum, it clearly and concisely explains the somewhat mysterious processes of acoustic cam belt tension adjustment, ignition timing, throttle body adjustment and much more that is specific to the Ducati models covered.

For the visual learner who feels that a picture is probably worth more than a thousand words, Cabrera has created a visual feast in this book with 1,220 images and diagrams! In its 39 chapters covering 278 pages, the Red Baron’s manual on Ducati L-twins with belt-driven camshafts for model years 1979 to 2017 provides details to help the DIY Ducatista wrench-spinner perform most any routine maintenance or repair that may be necessary. The book includes great tips on how to avoid common mistakes. It even includes a difficulty scale to allow the reader to consider the complexity of the procedure before taking it on.

The writing style is conversational, the content expansive, the images and illustrations clear and helpful. If you have one of the Ducati models this book focuses on, or if you plan to have one, having this resource in your shop could save money, hassle and time. And even if you don’t have one of those Ducatis, chances you will find the broader technical insights it offers helpful on a wide variety of makes and models.

Title: The Red Baron’s Ultimate Ducati Desmo Manual

  • Author: Eduardo Cabrera Choclan
  • Published: 2019 Paperback. 278 pages. Measures 8.25” x 10.75.” 1220 images & diagrams.
  • Publisher: Veloce Publishing, Parkway Farm Business Park, Middle Farm Way, Poundbury, Dorchester, DT1 3AR, England (
  • Distributed in North America by Quarto Publishing Group, USA. Contact Quarto via e-mail at:, by phone: 1-612-344-8100 and online at:
  • ISBN: 978-1-845848-78-1
  • MSRP: U.S. $90.00 U.K. £65 CAN $117.00