Ducati Suite- History

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Ducati 125 Scrambler

1920’s-1940’s: Humble Beginnings

a name long synonymous motorcycle racing, actually out manufacturing electronic components.

in 1926 by the Ducati family, and named The Societa Radio Ducati, they soon a world leader in the

manufacture of electronic components, and even

The company grew by leaps and employing over 11,000 before allied bombing during the Second

World War the Borgo Panigale factory in

Post-war life in Italy was tough. The industries once transportation for the Italian people gutted by

the war, and the economy was The people needed something and reliable to get them around. The

became the main mode of But, in 1946 that all At the Milan Fair the Ducati ever the

capitalists, introduced the . or ‘little pup’ (so named for its exhaust)- an auxiliary engine could be retrofitted

to the frame of a The Cucciolo was a smash, and soon was contracting out frames to be built for

the little engine. By 1950, had produced over 200,000 and by the end of its run the motor had been increased

to a of 65cc and was producing a whopping

The 1950’s: Burgeoning Success

The of the Cucciolo continued into the 50’s, and by 1953, Ducati’s success had mane a name for the

Ducati was split into two operations- Ducati Elettronica and Ducati Meccanica S.p.A. took

over the Borgo plant. 1954 saw the introduction of a a young engineer from di Romagna named Fabio

Taglioni was the man responsible for the most of Ducati innovations, including the now Desmodromic

valve gear.

to Taglioni’s arrival, Ducati had into the realm of higher engines, introducing the ’98’. by a

pushrod overhead valve displacing 98cc, it was somewhat in racing but still indicated commitment to

producing ‘budget’ not specifically designed with in mind. The Gran Sport that. Taglioni’s single

racer (later referred to as the ) incorporated Dell’Orto racing high compression pistons, and a

overhead camshaft with valve gear. Power was 9bhp, and it showed on the track, the competition.

The 1950’s saw motorcycle take Italy by storm, thousands of privateers competing for Ducati soon

became with victory.

In 1956, significantly revised the 125 Gran engine to include dual camshafts with helical gear, and

in 1957 the triple desmo debuted. It featured camshafts and desmodromic valve for precise, positive

action and no valve float.

The valve gear made for an powerful race bike, but it made its way into the hands of who

were still racing gear bikes with success.

The 1960’s: The Sound of

In the 60’s, Ducati became for its successful singles, usually racing machines available to the public.

Many other emerged, but the singles still It wouldn’t be until the 1970’s Ducati would develop a

twin and stick with it.

pumped out numerous models of cylinder sporting bikes, the Diana . the Spor t, the Mach 1 . the .

and the Cade t all in varying capacities and output. 1968, however, saw the of the first production desmodromic

bike, the Mark 3 D . 1968 saw a from the old narrow engine to the new wide case. The wide became

the most successful and of all the Ducati singles, eventually a capacity of 450cc and a power of 50hp.

1968 also saw the of the Scrambler . a wide-bar sort of bike not considered by purists to be a

Ducati (much like the They feared it was too Americanized and from Ducati’s racing but

nonetheless it went on to become one of the selling Ducatis of all time like the Monster).

The 1970’s: Progress

The 1960’s were a successful time for Ducati in the field, but the Japanese bikes soon dominating the

finish Singles were still moderate success in racing, but needed a larger capacity preferably a twin, if

it was going to The 500GP of 1971 showed and although it never won any races it was valuable

engineering wise. also saw the introduction of the GT 750 . Ducati’s l-twin street bike. It 60hp and was

driven by desmodromic gear. 1972 saw great for Ducati when its 750 twin resembling the production

version) by legendary racer Paul won the 200-mile race at Imola. were looking up for Ducati and

established themselves permanently that win.

1972 saw the of the Sport 750, a sporting with a somewhat questioned valve gear rather

desmodromic. It still proved to be popular with boy racers.

The of one of the most legendary Ducati was seen in the Super Sport 75 0 in It was immediately praised

by critics not for its immense power, but also for its handling and docile road Triple disc brakes,

fairing and bodywork, 10:1 dual 40mm Dell’Orto and a desmo driven 750cc engine all indicated that

was a pure-bred racing motorcycle, no about it.

During this Ducati attempted to capture a of the touring market with its 860 GT and parallel twin GTL’s.

were wildly popular By 1977 customers demanded capacity, higher horsepower motorcycles, and

the Super Sport 900 was A legend for good reason, the was the pinnacle of sports bikes in Don’t

underestimate its performance by today’s standards, though, as it was and is a very competent racer.

horsepower ratings were available, but a 9.5:1 compression desmodromic valve gear and a of only 196kg

were to propel the 900SS to over

1978 was the year the world one of the most triumphant comebacks of all the kind of story legends are

of. Mike Hailwood, a former racer turned F1 driver, for one last hurrah and won the 1978 of Man

endurance race. Mike was a shot to win but his NCR (initials of specialized Nepoti, Carachi, and Rizzi)

900 beat up the competition, and even on to win a week later at Mallory to really embarrass the Japanese.

also marked the introduction of Taglioni’s finest design and lasting legacy- the belt Pantah (or

‘panther’) engine, a of which still powers two Ducatis today. These are known as the rubberband Ducs,

due to the timing belts). Introduced in form, it later increased to 600 cc and was successful in the TT2 600 .

the first Pantah-engined

The 1980’s: Dark Times

The TT2 its success into the early when Ducati took the big and punched out the Pantah engine to to

compete in the TT1 class. The bike of course, was the TT1 750 F1 and today street and variants both are highly

by collectors. Although built in the 80’s, the F1 combined world-class with modern amenities,

a rising rate linkage suspension, into a beautiful that is regarded as one of the best sports bikes of all


when Ducati enthusiasts getting used to consistent support and distribution, Ducati known its financial

troubles. In control of Ducati was transferred to the group, and luckily for enthusiasts was interested in

motorcycle production. would dedicate a large of its production to making engines would power Cagiva

motorcycles, and Ducati would its racing ventures. So, while was focusing on the F1, they were spread

thin making for Cagiva Elefants and Alazurras . And let us not forget the Ducati Indiana . a cruiser aimed at the

American Nonetheless, mired in a sea of bikes seemed to have gone off Ducati continued to devote its

to developing cutting edge bikes. 1986 saw the introduction of the . a truly revolutionary and unique Never

before had a Ducati with a completely enclosed or a box section bolted-cradle frame. It was an

competent sports bike, and the line eventually included a per cylinder, liquid cooled engine, essentially a

distant of the 851. While only out 72hp, it was still capable of

The late 80’s saw the introduction of two Ducati milestones- the first four-valve-per-cylinder

(desmoquattro) engine would power the superbike, and the 750 Sport, whose style later lead to the fantastic

of the 1990’s.

The 851 was actually introduced in at Bol D’Or, and won at Daytona in 1987. it first raced in the new World

Championship in 1988, where it fifth. Soon after, got their hands on the amazing It displaced

851cc, was liquid sported a new Weber Marelli injection system and sported valves per cylinder and pumped

out a 90hp in street trim. It was no the bike was a huge success.

At Island in 1990, Ducati home its first of many superbike titles after Roche raced an incredible

As they say, the rest is

The 1990’s and Beyond: Rebirth

A World Superbike victory that the 888 was now a legend. Doug won an unprecedented 17 times on

the 888 in 1991, and 9 in 1992, bringing home the for the third time. But, by now the had reached

its capacity- the motor was to the limit and the chassis was no longer to contain the power. 1993 saw the

head back home to with the Kawasaki team, Ducati to make perhaps one of the decisions ever- 1994 saw the

of the all-new 916 superbike. Completely by Massimo Tamburini (who penned the Paso and Cagiva

it was instantly recognized as one of the best in all of motorcycling’s history. Powered by a new and

955cc race motor out 150hp, the 916 Superbike won its debut much to the amazement of team and went

on take home the title in the hands of Carl Foggy 1995 saw Fogarty on the 916 win for the second

time. 1996 saw Troy bump Foggy from the top and take the title home for for the sixth time in seven

1998 was another unforgettable with Carl Fogarty again from Honda) by a nose, during the last

against the Honda on its own turf. also saw Fogarty keep the in Italy. The 916 was replaced by the 996 in

1999, and numerous improvements. By 2001, the new (narrow head) motor its debut. Displacing

998cc, the new had a larger bore and shorter combined with less valve angle and redesigned for

less stress at high It developed 174hp at 12,000 more than enough to the title back home the belt of

Troy Bayliss. even after a great by the Italian camp, 2002 saw Edwards aboard the Honda the

title back. The 998 was replaced by the 999 in and the championship was again brought to Italy by Neil Hodgson.

Ten Superbike titles in 13 years is a feat, considering the basic for the bikes (tubular space v-twin

engine) remained These Italians must be on to with their twins?

Ducati 125 Scrambler

After the 888 was retired, Ducati a bike that would the world and establish Ducati as a name. They

did that the 916 (and 996 and 998). One of the sexiest ever made, it is instantly as a Ducati. But, looks

the only thing going for it- not forget that properly this is perhaps the best motorcycle in the world,

and power (namely smoothness and torque) are by any Japanese four. A superb with few

shortcomings (maintenance and cost), no other sporting in the world has been the subject of as wet

dreams. If you want proof of bike’s winning nature, a look at the starting lineup of a Superbike race and you’ll

how many 9**’s there are to trounce the fours. The arrival of the generation superbike, the 999, a mix

reaction among Ducatista. new innovations make the 999 a more and potentially faster motorcycle, but

are those who just cannot get the god-awful styling, myself Only time will whether this is the next


The 1990?s weren’t all superbikes. In 1993, a designer by the of Miguelangel Galluzzi put together a bike

with the chassis of an 888 and the 900cc 2 motor and called it ‘Il or Monster. It was an immediate success,

by critics worldwide and went on to one of the best selling Ducatis of all Numerous modifications

abound, the Monster the most popular for customizing. Don’t let its upright position or standard styling

you- the Monster is a very racing machine, with a chassis, light weight, and the engine as the

Supersport, except for torque rather than 2001 even saw the introduction a new of Monster, the S4.

This new beast was not by the venerable two-valve Pantah, but the 916cc four-valve liquid motor of the

Superbike. The chassis, that of the ST4, was wider to the new engine, and of course weight was up

50 pounds, but that didn’t The new Monster was a screamer. Changes for upgrade the 750 to an 800 and

the 900 to an all-new dual 1000cc, and the S4 to the S4R, which the 996 motor rather than the 916 Should

be very interesting.

Based heavily on the 750 Sport used the old style Pantah the all-new for 1990 900 Supersport was the of

another legend. Light excellent handling, beautiful, styling, and an affordable price tag that if you couldn’t

afford the 851 you could at least have a slice of heaven. The beauty of the lay in its simplicity, and

these bikes are bulletproof. A well-tuned Supersport is a match for a small capacity inline four any

day of the week. introduced in 900cc form, it was expanded to include 750, and even 350cc form! The

Supersport to this day remains a competent and coveted Ducati

1999 brought out an all-new Terblanche styled Supersport. heavily on Terblanche’s own Supermono, the new

SS was aggressively styled and also with it a more aggressive experience. It was a tad heavier, but

performance was up, components were upgraded, and the position was geared more to racing than

street A new model was introduced as a ‘budget’ the 750 Sport. A lower price tag that Ducati was

reaching out to the challenged and the bike was very As with the Monster, 2003 include the

all-new SS1000 Spark and a new 800 and 620 Sport.


As if an Supersport and the new Monster lineup enough, Ducati decided to the market with a new

sport-touring bike. The ST2, introduced in 1997 (Europe), a new fuel-injected, liquid cooled two-valve

motor. While in ground clearance, the new sport was well capable of handling mountain roads with a

degree steering head, rate rear suspension, and wheelbase. The ST2 was later joined by the powered by a

916cc desmoquattro cooled superbike motor, and the ST4s, powered by a 996cc Superbike desmoquattro

engine. be fooled into thinking a big, heavy tourer compete on the track, as a recent magazine test

proved a Ducati ST4s was capable of 996 lap times.

The MH900e

Last but not in the barrage of 1990’s Ducatis is the or ‘Mike Hailwood 900 Evoluzione’. the running gear of

a 900 Supersport and bodywork by Pierre Terblanche to the style of Mike Hailwood’s TT Pantah, the

MH900e was a very collectible available to only a hundred lucky souls. not much has been written

the performance of the MH, as not many people actually ridden them. have achieved cult without

actually achieving Perhaps sometime when the bike bubble bursts, will realize what were

meant to do- ride.

This article is meant to be a touchstone on the highlights of Ducati’s existence, and is by no means complete. I

you surround yourself with a of Ducati books for the most history, including Ducati: 50 Years

Through the Pages of Magazine by Bianchi Masetti, The Official Racing History by and the

Ducati Museum, Ducati by Ducati 2-Valve Belt Twins and Ducati Desmoquattro by Ian

Falloon, Ducati by Thompson and and Ducati by Walker.

This is in no way associated with Ducati.com, nor is it an of Ducati Motor Holding, All content, information, and views herein

S.p.A. all other on this website is copyright Monster Man Productions. If you would to link to my page, feel to do so.

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