In the early 90s Ducati had experienced success.
The Bologna based brand had won multiple World Superbike Championships but commercial success in terms of financial stability was elusive. In 1985, Cagiva bought out Ducati to rescue the manufacturer from bankruptcy. As part of the agreed bailout, Ducati were under instruction to modernise its bike range to keep up with the relentless pressures the Japanese were inflicting with their constantly evolving superbikes.
This led to 1987’s Ducati 851, one of the first production bikes with electronic fuel injection. But Cagiva’s owner, Claudio Castiglioni, thought Ducati’s “Halo Bike” bike needed a styling signature. For this, he turned to Massimo Tamburini, who designed bikes for MV Agusta and co-founded another Italian motorcycle company, Bimota (which is recently revitalised with a cash injection from Kawasaki).
The 1994 Ducati 916 would become what many consider Tamburini’s masterpiece. As one of the most important bikes in the brand’s history it has become a style icon and is as “fresh” today in design terms as it was at its launch. I fact the Guggenheim, San Francisco’s Museum of Modern Art, still has one in its collection
Tamburini obsessed over making sure the Ducati 916 had perfect 50:50 weight distribution. That’s why its battery is right beside the engine’s front cylinder. And to aid handling, the 916 got Ducati’s trademark steel trellis frame plus under-seat exhaust silencers – it was no coincidence that they also matched the sleek design brief!
In terms of ownership a 916 does require careful maintenance. For example, the cambelts must be changed regularly and desmodromic valve adjustment is crucial to keep the engine healthy but, all in all, the reliability and longevity are near Japanese standards. When you do your research this iconic Italian masterpiece will bring you loads of joy.
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issued: Tuesday, February 08, 2022
updated: Tuesday, February 08, 2022
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