Ducati 916 — kilometer magazine

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Ducati 916 SP

23 April 2010

If you asked in 1994 motorcyclist or otherwise if the 916 held any significance, they’d probably shrugged. At the time, it mean anything to anyone of the Sacramento area code. But that year, Ducati its new superbike, and since then the 916 has been synonymous with Italian perfection.

Following the six seasons of racing in World a series in which Ducati holds 16 out of 22 championships the tiny manufacturer needed a new superbike could fully realize its The 851 and 888 were successful on the race but each bike’s styling decidedly Italian was hard to from its Japanese contemporaries.

would come from an of the Massimo Bordi-engineered four-valve-per-cylinder 90-degree twin, which had already proven could win in the 851 and 888 superbikes. The engine was so advanced it would be years before any manufacturer would offer found on the 916-cc desmoquattro It was the most powerful twin-cylinder in production with 108 hp at an astonishing rpm.

It featured liquid with ram-air induction and electronic fuel injection that would take another six years and Kawasaki decade to implement. The fully suspension included USD forks, were from Brembo, and a steering damper was fitted as An updated version of the 851/888 tubular steel trellis-style was produced, using fewer braces and a shorter wheelbase.

The steering head angle was adjustable a Ducati-exclusive feature the rider a choice of 23.5-24.5 of rake. By far, the 916 was the most sophisticated motorcycle you could buy in

While performance alone may win (see Ducati 999), a balance of engineering and design is to win fans. For that, Ducati, the ownership of Cagiva, went to the Ricerche Cagiva (CRC) house in San Marino. Like to Ferrari, CRC has been responsible for of the best-looking and most memorable exotics to date.

Most of the destined to make CRC famous be credited to Massimo Tamburini, of the company and the man behind the 916. You may know he’s also the behind the Ducati Paso in and then later the Cagiva (a nearly identical 8/10ths 125-cc version of the 916) and the first-generation MV Agusta F4. Quite the no?

The Ducati 916, like F4 that Tamburini would five years later, no concessions for ergonomics. The clip-ons so low that if one were to draw an horizontal line across the point of the rider’s seat, fall below that. And the is just as firm as the race-ready most 916 owners likened it to a park bench.

The underseat mufflers absolutely any rider’s nether regions at slower than 45 mph, and the were only functional at race tuck something achieved on the street. Practicality was non-existent. While other offered ample storage and helmet hangers, Ducati riders barely enough for paperwork and their wrap-around

The 916 also introduced the self-retracting stand. Known colloquially as the stand,” it allowed new riders who believed it to be down when in they had accidentally retracted it by the bike to keep many a parts department busy orders for left-hand fairings and

Despite its larger-than-life reputation, the 916 was small. The narrowness of the L-twin allowed the total package to dimensions similar to a 250 Grand bike. With a tall height, but rearsets that both up and back, it was a bike for tall nor short riders.

The two years of the 916 were offered as one-seaters (monoposto), which was a blessing since passengers later find their worse than the riders’.

Thankfully, it was so beautiful that cared. From the sleek, tail section to the steeply nose fairing, the 916 exuded …. For the first year, reviews of the motorcycle contained as much praise for the beauty of the 916 as to its engineering.

Photographs of the bold new graced the covers of everything bike magazines to technical and always in Ducati red the only color from 1995 to

Arguably the most copied design in history, the 916 still modern today. After a few years, the single-sided swingarm become almost synonymous Ducati, as would the twin mufflers. Side-by-side headlights, one of was an industry-first projector assembly, mere slits in the bodywork to the huge single rectangular on the Yamahas and twin round of the Hondas.

Beyond the pretty the devil was in the Ducati’s details. like quarter-turn Dzus mirrors that required one small bolt to remove, and a suspension with independent adjustment hinted at the racebike beneath street plastics.

To be the 916 and its descendents certainly dominated the From 1994 to 2002, a 916 variant won all but one Superbike Manufacturer’s and had a rider on the podium over 90 of the time. Carl Fogarty’s record of 59 race wins and world titles all came on a 916.

But if all it takes is race wins and advancement to achieve historical it was certainly the cultural impact of the 916 elevates it to icon status.

Ducati 916 SP
Ducati 916 SP

A glance at the evolution of sportbike over the past decade-and-a-half hints of the 916’s design in from Aprilia to Yamaha. bike builders the world would graft single-sided on their projects, and exhaust clamored to produce an underseat kit to supply the growing consumer for that “Ducati-look.”

From to The Italian Job -remake, the Ducati epitomized performance and style. By the of the millennium, Ducati superbikes more common in P-Diddy than Biggie Smalls. And at one Kilometer Magazine staffer had a of a 916 on his wall in high school.

Not to say Ducati rested on its laurels, but years is an eternity for a motorcycle Through the years, subtle would make the 916 seem a bit pedestrian as the Japanese finally to catch up. The frames would go a beautiful matte gold to a sterile grey in 2000. The Brembo wheels, with Racing” embossed around the were eventually replaced by five-spoke Marchesinis.

Worst of all, the stunning fairing decals, noting the displacement as well as the desmoquattro were axed for generic block lettering, noting the of ownership to Texas Pacific in 1998.

While a handful of models were built, the year of standard production for the 916 was Special models such as the Production (SP) would be unveiled before ultimately SPS and R models built solely for the of race homologation. There even “privateer specials” RS suffixes that gave the opportunity to ride race-prepped with (almost) all the goodies reserved factory race

In 1997 Ducati offered a version called the 748. It was to the 916 in every way save for a few millimeters of and …. For 1999, Ducati the bike more compliant SBK regulations by bumping the displacement to 996 cc and the 916 was replaced in kind.

In 2002, design would have its with the one-off 998 superbike, Ducati’s new testastretta engine This lead to the less but technologically superior 999 design, the way for more practical and user-friendly Ultimately Ducati would that it had perhaps strayed the company’s roots a bit, on that heritage with the of the 1098 superbike in the fall of

Though it was surely an homage to the we were at once disappointed and delighted to see that Tamburini’s design, even when cannot really be improved

When it comes to sportbikes, the 916 is the epitome of the breed and a true Whether it’s Troy winning back-to-back superbike at Imola or sorry to get dorky Trinity racing between in The Matrix Reloaded, the Ducati steals the show and proves it’s just as important as riding it. It has transcended the ranks of sportbikes to become almost the equivalent of Porsche’s 911 instantly simply by its silhouette, or by just digits.

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Ducati 916 SP


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