Ducati Motorcycles

10 Best Motorcycles Ducati Ever Made

10 Best Motorcycles Ducati Ever Made

Fast, powerful, and Italian, Ducati motorcycles are crafted with the utmost Italian flair. Ducati has been dazzling the global motorcycle community with its striking looks and revolutionary engines. Ducati was a company founded by three brothers who didn’t intend to manufacture motorcycles at the time. Ducati started its journey by making condensers, radios, and vacuum tubes. However, the company ended up creating the world's fastest and most beautiful motorcycles ever made. Ducati’s lineups are primarily associated with high-end racing motorcycles, modern cruisers, scramblers, street bikes, and supersport bikes. With the Desert X, Ducati has also ventured into the adventure touring motorcycle segment. This article brings you a list of ten premium performance-oriented motorcycles that this Italian marque has ever made.

1. The Story of Ducati Motorcycles

Ducati’s story began in 1926 when Antonio Cavalieri Ducati and his three sons, Marcello, Adriano, and Bruno Ducati decided to create a business. The brothers were inspired by the remarkable inventions of Guglielmo Marconi, the man who won the Nobel Prize for inventing the first wireless telegraph for use on ships. However, it was Marconi’s household radio invention that appealed the most to the Ducati brothers. They believed that Marconi’s invention was a profitable object and decided to participate in the new world of electronics through their company. As a result, they opened a small factory to build electrical components. Over a few years, they started selling complete radios, electric shavers, and an electric calculator. In 1935, after nine years, a new Ducati factory designed by Bruno Ducati was constructed. Once the construction concluded, the Ducati’s new factory became one of the most modern electronics factories in the world, attracting other tech companies to come to Bologna, Italy, Ducati’s hometown.

1.1 The Impact of World War II on Ducati Motorcycles

Ducati became the leading electronics company in the world, but the start of World War II drastically changed its course. During the war, several German army troops invaded Bologna, Italy, and forced Ducati to manufacture military radio equipment. In addition, the U.S. Army Corp memo labeled Ducati as a military target, and in October 1944, the operation Pancake was put into action. The American bombers dropped about 750 bombs to destroy the factory. The grand hub of electronics, technology, and business was reduced to debris in less than 15 minutes. World War II wreaked havoc on Italy and survival became the utmost priority of the war affectees, including Ducati. To ensure the company's survival, the Ducati brothers decided to change their business. Since the company had the advantage of engineering genius, owners dropped radio production in favor of producing cheap modes of transportation.

1.2 Cucciolo - Ducati’s First Engine

In 1946, Ducati manufactured its first small engine called the Cucciolo (Italian for puppy) and installed it on an old bicycle. The name Cucciolo was inspired by the puppy-like exhaust sound made by the engine. The Cucciolo could produce 1.5 hp of horsepower. The Cucciolo was the first engine ever made in post-WWII Europe. Ducati sold these solo engines and buyers could just mount them in their bicycle’s frame. The tremendous success of Cucciolo led to the production of Ducati’s first motorcycle.

1.3 The 60 Sport - Ducati’s First Real Motorcycle

In 1950, Ducati introduced the 60-Sport, the first real Ducati motorcycle. Despite weighing 98 lb, the bike had a top speed of 40 mph. The 60 Sport was powered by the Cucciolo engine and produced under 2 hp of horsepower.

1.4 The 125 Grand Prix Desmo - Ducati’s Racing Career

The 60-Sport paved the way for Ducati’s next milestone. In 1954, Ducati hired Fabio Taglioni, a fresh engineering graduate. However, it was Taglioni’s passion for racing that proved to be profitable for Ducati. Taglioni convinced the company to produce its first-ever racing bike in the Grand Park. In 1956, Taglioni developed the concept of the 125 Grand Prix Desmo. The bike was not developed for just road racing but for racers all over the world. Taglioni’s creation provided Ducati an edge in the showroom as well as the race tracks. Ducati made remarkable sales through its production of street bikes. These sales were the result of the fame Ducati achieved through racetrack success.

In 1956, the 125 Grand Prix Desmo won the Swedish Grand Prix racing competition, immortalizing the brand’s image on the race track. The Ducati 125 Grand Sport Desmo, the road-legal version of the Ducati 125 Grand Prix Desmo, was the first Ducati bike with a desmodromic valve system.

1.5 The Story of Mike Hailwood’s 250 cc Desmo

In the 1960s, Ducati manufactured 2,000 racing motorcycles for just one rider, Mike Hailwood. A passionate 19-year-old, Mike Hailwood was officialized as a Ducati racer in 1959. Hailwood’s father, Stanley Hailwood, wanted the company to manufacture a 250 cc twin-cylinder Desmo just for his son. Since he could not convince the company to manufacture only one bike, he ordered 2,000 units. Mike Hailwood proudly rode his 250 cc Desmo and conquered every race track. In addition, his father became the first Ducati motorcycle dealer in Britain.

1.6 The Ducati 750 Imola Desmo Dominating the World’s Superbike Racing

In 1972, Paul Smart, another English racer, won the Second Miles of Imola riding a 750 cc Ducati Imola Desmo race bike designed by Fabio Taglioni. The bike was powered by a 748 cc two-valve per cylinder desmodromic air-cooled 90° V-twin engine. The bike resulted in a remarkable victory as Ducati’s racer and motorcycle managed to outperform Giacomo Agostini riding the powerful MV Agusta race bike. This victory laid the basis of a new Ducati tradition, winning races with customized Ducati street motorcycles. Paul Smart’s race bike produced 80 hp of horsepower at 8,500 rpm.

1.7 L-Twin Engine – Ducati’s Hallmark

Smart’s victory using a 750 cc Ducati motorcycle was a huge achievement for Taglioni as an engineer. This victory reinforced Taglioni’s unique engine layout, the L-Twin. This engine defined the philosophy, future, and development of Ducati as an international brand. Through the L-Twin engine, Ducati dominated the superbike racing segment.

1.8 The Ducati 916 - The Icon of Sports Bikes

In 1995 The Ducati 916 became extremely popular among the masses for its fast performance, striking looks, and remarkable race victories. This fully-faired race bike featured a four-valve fuel-injected liquid-cooled, 90° V-twin 916 cc engine. The bike could produce a horsepower of 112 hp and had a top speed of 159 mph. The Ducati 916 with its low headlights and double mufflers was a stunning motorcycle that instantly captivated the interest of motorcycle enthusiasts. The bike also won the “Motorcycle of the Year” award in 1995.

1.9 The Ducati 999 - A Mistake?

After the success of the Ducati 916 and the Monster, it seemed that the company was incapable of making wrong decisions. However, the company did make a mistake by replacing the 916 with the Ducati 999. Introduced in 2003, the looks and design of this radical model failed to impress the Ducati fans. The Ducati 999R could produce 150 hp of horsepower and had a top speed of 170 mph. Unfortunately, sales declined by 20% after the launch of Ducati 999. After all the criticism, the company offered discounts to boost sales and move the bikes off the showroom.

On the other hand, the Ducati 999 proved to be a tremendous success on the race tracks. It proved that Ducati’s production motorcycles could be used for racing. The bike won three Superbike World Championships. In 2006, the bike became unbeatable. Troy Bayliss, an Australian rider, won 112 races using the Ducati 999.

2. The Best Ducati Motorcycles of All Time

Despite the Ducati 999 not proving to be a successful production model, the company took inspiration from the unprecedented success of the Ducati 916 on the race tracks and in the showroom, and decided to venture into other motorcycle segments. With its engineering genius, modern designs, and high-end technology, the Ducati revolutionizes the motorcycle industry every chance it gets. The company has been successful in manufacturing many motorcycles that broke speed records on the race tracks and sales records on the showrooms. Even after reaching the heights of fame, the company does not rely on its brand name and continues to create high-quality bikes that offer a fulfilling riding experience to riders. The following ten motorcycles are proof of Ducati’s dedication to delivering excellence to the motorcycle community.

2.1 Ducati Mach 1

Ducati Mach 1
Photo Credit: @ducaticlassics

Introduced in 1946, the Ducati Mach 1 was the fastest 250 cc road bike of its time. At the time of its launch, there weren’t many reliable 250 cc motorcycles and Ducati filled this gap with its Mach 1. Ducati had originally designed the Mach 1 as a race bike to win racing competitions. Hence, it was not exactly beginner-friendly. The Ducati Mach 1 engine produced only 28 hp of horsepower. However, it was a fast bike with a top speed of 106 mph. The desmodromic valve system of Mach 1’s four-stroke air-cooled bevel drive SOHN single cylinder engine had the capability to rev higher and produce more power in the upper rpm range. The Ducati Mach 1 served as the base model for many future race models Nowadays, the Ducati Mach 1 is one of the most sought after vintage race bikes due to its stunning looks and rich history.

2.2 Ducati Monster

Ducati Monster
Photo Credit: @ruotedasogno

Introduced in 1993, the company launched a radical naked bike designed by Miguel Angel Galluzi, the Ducati Monster (II Mostro in Italian). The Ducati Monster was a head-turner and took the motorcycle world by storm. At that time, a naked Ducati was unimaginable but it became an instant hit. Without the elaborate fancy bodywork, riders could see the parts of the motorcycle, and that added to the bike’s appeal. In other words, the Monster was a breath of fresh air for motorcycle enthusiasts who were bored of fully-dressed sportsbikes. In 2005, the Ducati Monster accounted for over half of the company’s worldwide sales. The motorcycle was powered by Taglioni’s L-Twin engine with desmodromic valves, and tubular steel frame.

Over the years, the Ducati Monster has evolved from a 400 cc entry-level into high-speed superbikes powered by multi-valved liquid-cooled engines that can produce up to 160 hp of horsepower.

The bike has been in production for almost three decades now and is still going strong. In 2023, Ducati launched a limited edition model to celebrate the 30th Anniversary of this iconic motorcycle.

2.3 Ducati MH900e

Ducati MH900e
Photo Credit: @motorcyclespecs

Powered by an air-cooled 900 cc L-Twin engine, the Ducati MH900e was a limited edition retro sports motorcycle produced in 2001 and 2002. Only 2,000 units of the MH900e were produced during its short production run. The Ducati MH900e is considered one of the most beautiful motorcycles ever made. With the MH900e Ducati managed to strike the perfect balance between nostalgic mystique and modern engineering. Only a few bikes in the history of motorcycling have managed to catch onlookers' eyes and cause goosebumps with its performance and the Ducati MH900e managed to do just that. Designed to pay homage to Mike Hialwood’s victory at the 1978 Isle of Man TT and Ducati’s racing heritage, the MH900e was revealed at the Tokyo Motor Show. The Ducati MH900e became so popular that the buyers bought them directly from the company using their webpage. The bikes were not displayed in the showroom as the Ducatists snatched up the legendary bike as soon as it was released.

2.4 The Ducati ST4

The Ducati ST4
Photo Credit: @ultimatemotorcycling

The Ducati ST series was an exclusive sport touring lineup manufactured between 1997-2007. During the ten year production run, Ducati launched five distinct trims: the ST2, ST4, ST4S, ST3, and ST3S. The ST4 model was added to the lineup in 1999. This ST4 model was powered by a four-valved Desmoquattro engine derived from the legendary Ducati 916. The bike also became popular because of its attractive looks. The bike was a bit on the heavier side at 473 lbs, but its lightweight chassis and over 105 hp of horsepower made the bike extremely fun to ride. The fully-dressed motorcycle came with detachable side cases and a top case, offering maximal storage space. Riders could remove the cases to transform the sport tourer into a race-style bike. In 2004, Ducati replaced the ST4 model with the ST3 model, which was powered by a three-valve Desmotre 992 cc engine.

2.5 Ducati 750F1

Ducati 750F1
Photo Credit: @ducaticlassics

Launched in 1985, the 750F1 was another signature race bike by Ducati and is one of the most coveted vintage bikes. Weighing 341 lbs, the bike had a top speed of 161 mph and could generate 80 hp of horsepower at 10,000 rpm. The bike’s engine was based on Fabio Taglioni’s L-Twin and desmodromic valve system. The 750F1 model used by Marco Lucchinelli in the 1986 Battle of the Twin is exhibited at the Ducati Museum.

2.6 Ducati Panigale 899

Ducati Panigale 899
Photo Credit: @canadamotoguide

The Ducati 899 Panigale was released in 2013 and succeeded the Ducati 848. It was the first mid-sized motorcycle equipped with a Superquadro motor. The motorcycle was powered by a 898 cc engine that could generate 148 hp of horsepower. The Ducati 899 Panigale was inspired by the 1199 Panigale, especially the engine. The bike weighed 373 lbs and could reach a top speed of 170 mph. The Panigale 899 was an instant success due to its road-oriented design, excellent maneuverability, and dependable performance. It was one of the few Ducatis that were not exclusively designed to conquer race tracks.

The 899 featured a conventional two-sided swing arm, electronically adjusted anti-lock brakes, electronic braking control, traction control, and a quickshifter. The 899 Panigale topped the sales charts in the United Kingdom in 2013. In 2016, the 899 Panigale engine displacement was increased to 955 cc.

2.7 Ducati 1299 Panigale

Ducati 1299 Panigale
Photo Credit: @motorcyclistonline

The Ducati 1299 Panigale was revealed at the 2014 Milan Motorcycle Show and manufactured between 2015-2018. The 1299 Panigale was one of the most road-friendly motorcycles despite having a top speed of 187 mph and a horsepower of 205 hp. During its short production run, the 1299 Panigale received several upgrades including a racing ABS, a new Inertial Measurement Unit (IMU), and an anti-wheelie. The 1299 Panigale was available in standard trim and an S trim featuring Ohlins electronic suspension.

2.8 Ducati Paul Smart 1000 LE

Ducati Paul Smart 1000 LE
Photo Credit: @rideapart

The Ducati Paul Smart 1000LE was a classic sport motorcycle introduced in 2006 to commemorate Paul Smart’s 1972 Imola 200 victory. The motorcycle was inspired by Paul Smart’s 750 cc motorcycle and the 1974 750 Supersport model. The bike was equipped with a round half-fairing cafe-racer tail. Wire-spoked rims, green finished chassis, and special Pirelli Phantom tires summed up the aesthetics. The bike was powered by a 992 cc desmodromic, V-Twin engine that could generate 92 hp of horsepower at 8,000 rpm.

2.9 Ducati Multistrada

Ducati Multistrada
Photo Credit: @motorcyclespecs

The Ducati Multistrada is an exclusive lineup of touring motorcycles. These bikes had a combination of sport touring and supermoto features. Just like their names suggested, the Multistrada motorcycles could handle different terrain. Two decades of production and 100,000 sales demonstrate Multistrada’s success and popularity. The Multistrada series dates back to 2003. Ducati launched this new lineup to cater to riders who needed versatile two-wheelers that could be used for touring and sports. Over the years, the bikes have been improved to support off-road riding. The Multistrada motorcycles are one of the best dual-purpose motorcycles on the market.

2.10 Ducati Desert X

Ducati Desert X
Photo Credit: @ducati

For off-road riding enthusiasts, Ducati has launched another high-performance motorcycle, the Desert X. This 937 cc enduro bike was made available in North American dealerships in June 2022. The Desert X is the best adventure motorcycle offering six different riding modes, optimized aerodynamics, comfortable ergonomics, and a powerful desmodromic testastretta engine. The post-heritage design has unique aesthetics that simply add to the bike’s appeal.

3. Last Words

Ducati has proved its engineering prowess time and again. The company has managed to deliver high-end performance through its bikes despite multiple challenges. Through its legendary race bikes, the Ducati has not only ruled the race tracks but all the hearts of the Ducatists. From the 916 to Monster and Panigale, Ducati has introduced iconic sports bikes and has also demonstrated its flair for producing versatile bikes, such as the Multistrada and Desert X, that can handle a range of terrain. Ducati fans can only hope that Ducati will continue to produce stylish bikes that deliver on and off the road.

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