The Bluffers Guide to… Ducati – Some Facts About Ducatis

The name Ducati conjures up images of sexy red sports bikes and Carl Fogarty’s dominance of the World Superbike Championship in the 1990s, but it wasn’t always like that. He’s some knowledge on the Bologna company that’s gone from making radios to creating some of the most desirable and iconic motorcycles on the road today.

  • Ducati was founded in 1925 by the Cavalieri Ducati brothers, making mainly electro-mechanical parts for radios
  • The first foray into motorcycle manufacturing came in 1946 with the Cucciolo (puppy), a modest 48cc engine designed to be mounted on bicycles
  • Ducati introduced its first scooter (called the Cruiser) in 1952. Designed by famed car styling house Ghia, the 175cc four-stroke was not a success
  • 1971 saw the first production Ducati with the 90 degree L-twin engine layout for which the company has become synonymous, the 750GT
  • Ducati’s traditional racing colour was silver
  • Ducati has become famous for its unique desmodromic valve system, which uses cams rather than springs to close valves. The system gives more accurate control over valve timing and was first used on the 1956 125cc Grand Prix racers. The system was first used in early Formula One cars.
  • Ducati attempted to launch a V4 engined bike, called the Apollo, in 1964. The 270kg project was dropped after test riders described it as being like ‘driving a truck’
  • The first production ‘Desmo’ was the 750SS of 1973
  • British rider Paul Smart, brother in law of Barry Sheene, and father of modern day racer Scott Smart won the prestigious Imola 200 race in 1972 on a 750 Ducati, the first win for the L-twin
  • The new generation of Desmoquattro eight-valve machines were launched to compete in world superbikes in the late 80s. The first bike, the 851, won the first ever round of the championship, at Donington Park in 1988, ridden by Marco Lucchinelli
  • The 851 was succeeded by the similarly styled 888. Its replacement, the 916, is commonly regarded as one of the most beautiful and iconic motorcycles of all time
  • Ducati has won a total of 313 world superbike races. The next closest is Honda on 113
  • Ducati riders have won 14 out of 25 world superbike titles. Riders include Carl Fogarty (4), Troy Bayliss (3), Doug Polen (2), Carlos Checa, Neil Hodgson, James Toseland, Troy Corser and Raymond Roche.
  • Ducati returned to MotoGP in 2003 with the V4 Desmosedici
  • Three riders have won races for Ducati in MotoGP: Bayliss, Loris Capirossi and Casey Stoner, who also won the world title in 2007
  • A road going replica of the MotoGP bike, the Desmosedici RR, was launched in 2006. Just 1500 were built, at a retail cost of £40,000..
  • Ducati’s Monster, originally an entry level unfaired model, was introduced in 1993. It is the company’s biggest selling line and remains part of the range today.
  • The company opened a factory in Thailand in 2011. The facility currently assembles bikes for the Asian markets.
  • Today the company is owned by car giants Audi and has diversified its range to include the Hypermotard, Multistrada, 848 and Panigale superbike.

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