10 Things Every Enthusiast Should Know About Ducati

Radio and Electronic Components

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Brothers Adriano, Bruno, and Marcello Ducati started Società Scientifica Radio Brevetti Ducati in 1926, manufacturing radio and other electronic components, which was a particular interest of Adriano. The company was very successful throughout the 1930s but the factory was almost completely destroyed by Allied bombing raids during the Second World War, after the Germans had occupied the factory.

With the loss of the factory and the majority of their machinery, the brothers needed a new direction if they were to salvage anything from the ruins and keep the workforce employed.

The Cucciolo

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In 1945, the brothers designed a 50cc, four-stroke engine, intended to be attached to bicycles for a small Turinese firm, SIATA (Societa Italiana per Applicazioni Tecniche Auto-Aviatorie). SIATA couldn’t cope with demand so Ducati decided to produce their own version. They named it the Cucciolo, Italian for ‘puppy’.

In 1949, the first unique Ducati motorcycle was launched – the Ducati 60 -however, the brothers had been forced to sell the company to the Italian government in 1948 due to financial hardship, although they continued to run the company.

The Dawn of a Racing Dynasty

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The diminutive Cucciolo was pressed into racing action by enthusiasts and then, in 1955, engineer and designer Fabio Taglioni shook the motorcycling world with his first design for Ducati. The engine featured bevel-gear drive for the overhead camshaft of a new 125cc, single-cylinder engine.

The resulting Ducati Gran Sport was intended to take advantage of a huge interest in motorcycle racing and it was extremely successful on the race track which translated into booming sales in the showroom. The design was significant due to the fact that it incorporated sophisticated engineering but could be produced on an industrial scale.


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Long before the 90° V-twin engine configuration became the defining element of all Ducatis, designer Taglioni adopted desmodromic valve actuation for the single-cylinder engines.

In a desmodromic cylinder head, there are three camshafts that mechanically open and close the valves, doing away with the traditional valve spring and meaning that it would never be possible to over-rev the engine, leading to valves hitting the piston.

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It wasn’t the first application of the technology – Mercedes Benz used desmodromic valve actuation for its 1954 and ’55 automobile racing straight-eight engines. Mercedes withdrew from racing at the end of 1955, at which point, Ducati was just getting into its stride with the technology, and the Ducati 125 Gran Premio Sport model could rev safely to 12,500 rpm.

Birth of the V-Twin

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Throughout the 1960s, Ducati produced 250cc, 350cc, and 450cc desmo single-cylinder engines for use in a variety of road and off-road motorcycles but the factory realized that the motorcycling world was moving towards multi-cylinder sport bikes, such as the Honda CB750 and Triumph Trident 750. Motorcycling itself was moving from being everyday transport to being a status symbol: an object of desire, not simply practicality.

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Taglioni created the 90° V-twin engine by grafting another, near-horizontal cylinder onto the crankcase of one of his singles. The wide spacing of the cylinders might not have been the most compact solution, but it aided cooling, often a problem with V-twins, especially for the rear cylinder. The engine did not feature desmodromic cylinder heads but did have bevel drive to the valve gear.

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The new engine was first seen in the 750GT model which caused a sensation when it was launched in 1971. The new engine’s success was cemented when, in 1972, Paul Smart and Bruno Spaggiari won the 200 Miglia di Imola race on a racing version of the 750GT. The race engines did have demo valve actuation and, in 1972, the iconic 750 Supersport Desmo model was launched which has since become one of the most valuable Ducatis ever.

Rubber Belts and the Pantah 500

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Ducati might have been known for utilizing bevel drive to the cylinder heads but, by the end of the 1970s, Taglioni had designed a new system, using rubber timing belts to drive the demo valve gear in the cylinder heads. This system has been used in every Ducati engine since.

The engine of the new Pantah model was fitted into a new type of frame, the trellis frame, which has also become a signature Ducati feature from that time onwards. The Pantah might have had a displacement of only 500cc but it should be regarded as the father of every modern Ducati.

The Glory That Is The Ducati 916

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Throughout the 1980s and into the 1990s, the concept of the Ducati sports bike was constantly refined, with such models as the 851 and 888 becoming ever more sophisticated and performance-oriented.

Then, in 1994, head designer Massimo Tamburini revealed what is still widely regarded today as the most iconic motorcycle of all time, the 916.

The 916 represented the pinnacle of Ducati design for decades to come and perfected the three values ​​that characterize Ducati: style, sophistication, and performance.

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It is a work of art, one that also happens to be one of the best sports bikes of its time. Almost without exception, every motorcycle magazine in the world voted it their bike of the year when it was launched and it still tops lists of the most influential motorcycles today.

The 916 and the subsequent developments of the model, the 996 and 998 were hugely successful in the World Superbike Championship, taking the title in 1994, ’95, ’96, ’98, ’99, and 2001.

MotoGP Racing Glory

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Unlike its Italian rival, MV Agusta, Ducati never really had much involvement with Grand Prix motorcycle racing. All that was to change in the early 2000s, when the newly formed Ducati Corse racing team entered MotoGP in 2003 with the Desmosedici, spurred into action by the decision to allow 1000cc four-stroke engines to compete, in place of the 500cc two-strokes that had been dominant since the early 1970s.

The team was immediately a front runner, winning the title in 2007 with Australian rider Casey Stoner on board. While that remains the team’s only championship title, they are constantly a front-running team and have won over 60 races to date.

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Ducati’s MotoGP bikes have always been known for their devastating top speed and the team has also been instrumental in bringing new technology to MotoGP, including aerodynamic winglets on the fairing and ride-height lowering devices, which prevents front wheel lift under acceleration, making the bikes even faster.

The Ducati Monster

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Largely known for fair sports bikes, Ducati again shocked the world when it announced the naked Monster model in 1992. This was a hugely important model for the company, bringing the brand within reach of a much wider section of the motorcycling fraternity.

Miguel Galluzzi, the designer of the Monster, said, ‘all you need is a seat, tank, engine, two wheels, and a handlebar,’ and, by exposing the engine and frame, created a whole new design language for naked sports bikes , one that has been copied by every motorcycle manufacturer.

There have been dozens of variations on the original Monster, with a variety of engine capacities being adopted and over 250,000 have been built. It is still a mainstay of the Ducati line-up today.

V4 Future

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After decades of loyalty to the V-twin, Ducati decided that the development of the engine was reaching its limit, even if that limit was a peak that no one could have predicted a couple of decades earlier.

Ducati had flirted with a V4 engine in the early 1960s, when it built the V4-engined Apollo model in an attempt to bid for American police custom and challenge Harley Davidson in the large-displacement touring category.

All the MotoGP racing bikes have been powered by V4 engines but no move was ever made by Ducati to build a road-going version.

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However, in 2018, Ducati once again shocked the world with the announcement of a new V4 engine that would be initially fitted to the Panigale sports bike, creating the Panigale V4.

Displacing 1,103cc, the engine was remarkably only marginally wider than the V-twin engine it replaced, as well as being only 10 pounds heavier. Power output was 211 horsepower and the torque figure was 91 foot-pounds. A homologation engine with a displacement of just under 1000cc was also developed to allow Ducati to continue its participation in the World Superbike Championship, which limits four-cylinder engines to 1000cc, while V-twins can be up to 1,200cc.

Ducati then put the V4 engine in the Multistrada adventure-sports bike and the Streetfighter V4.

However, don’t expect Ducati to abandon the V-twin engine any time soon. The vast majority of the bikes it sells are still powered by the V-Twin engine, and, in reality, it would be difficult for Ducati to leave the design behind, so inexplicably intertwined, are they.


Who founded Ducati?

Ducati was founded by three brothers, Adriano, Bruno, and Marcello Ducati. The company made radios and electronic components before the second world war and motorcycles afterward.

Are all Ducatis made in Italy?

yes Unlike many manufacturers, Ducati doesn’t have satellite factories in other countries.

What was the first Ducati?

The first Ducati was called the Cucciolo, which is Italian for ‘puppy.’ It had a 50cc single cylinder engine.

Is Ducati high maintenance?

Due to the complexity of their desmodromic valve actuation, Ducatis are generally more expensive to maintain than rival bikes from Japan.

What is the fastest Ducati ever made?

The fastest Ducati is the current V4 Panigale, with a top speed in excess of 200mph.