A not-so-brief history of Ducati
Ducati motorcycles have long been known for their excellence in design and performance. From the first post-war bicycle-like low-displacement motorbikes Ducati has grown over the years into a racing giant that is consistently competitive in both the racing arena and the world motorcycle marketplace.
1920's - Birth of a Legend
In 1926 the Ducati family and other Bolognese investors founded the Societa Radio Brevetti Ducati in Bologna. Their aim was the production of industrial components for the growing field of radio transmissions, based on Adriano Ducati's patents. The first product, the Manens condenser for radio equipment, rapidly followed by others, was extremely successful throughout the world, allowing the company to expand by leaps and bounds, and winning it the respect of the international industrial community.
1930's - Creations and Expansions
On June 1, 1935, the cornerstone of the factory in Borgo Panigale was laid. The new complex was an extremely modern and ambitious project, with the objective of establishing an industrial and technological center in Bologna. During this time the Ducati industry further developed abroad, and opened branches and offices in London, Paris, New York, Sydney and Caracas, assuring direct service and assistance to its clientele in all the major world markets.
1940's - From the Ashes, a Puppy is Born
The Second World War was extremely hard on Ducati: the Borgo Panigale factories were razed to the ground in 1944. Fortunately, the Ducati brothers spent the duration of the war studying and planning new products to be introduced to world markets at the end of the conflict.
In 1946, the Cucciolo appeared: the small auxiliary motor for bicycles destined to become the most famous in the world. First sold in an assembly box to be attached to the bicycle, it soon acquired a frame of its own, which was constructed by Caproni in Trento (another famous brand in the aeronautical field) and based on a Capellino patent. In a short time, the Cucciolo became a real miniature motorcycle. Thank to the Cucciolo's success, and that of its descendants, Ducati became an affirmed trademark in the mechanical sector.
1950's - The Arrival of "Doctor T"
1952 saw the birth of the futuristic Cruiser 175 cc, with an electric starter and automatic transmission. In 1953, Ducati unveiled an economic and spartan 98 cc, which was soon increased to 125 cc.
In 1954, a person arrived destined to become a myth in the motorcycle world: engineer Fabio Taglioni. Teacher at the "Tecniche" of Imola, Taglioni had already constructed motorcycles of original technical character and astonishing performance. The Taglioni design, avant-garde and non-conformist, was baptized at the races. From his debut at Ducati, the engineer tried to demonstrate the quality of his solutions, participating in long-distance races such as the Milano-Taranto and Giro d'Italia.
By the end of 1956, Ducati production included a four stroke Tourist 174 and Special and Sport models, capable of considerable performances (110-120-135 km/h). At the 1957 Milan Salon, the above-mentioned models appeared together with an "America" model.
During 1958, Ducati also produced the 200 cc "Elite". 1958 also marked the triumph of the desmodromic system, which engineer Taglioni had been developing since 1955. This project resulted in the famous twin-cylinder 250 cc of 1960, ordered from Ducati by the world famous English racer Mike Hailwood, who specifically requested a machine of "superior" performance.
1960's - The Start of the DESMO Age
In 1964, the 250 cc model was added to the prestigious roster of commercial single cylinders, in the Diana, Monza, Aurea, and, later, GP types, capable of approximately 150 km/h - really exceptional performance for the time. This model directly influenced all subsequent single cylinders until the famous 250, 350 and 450 cc "Scrambler". The 1964 Mach 250, which was able to go over 150 km/h, won the heart of sports fans everywhere.
In 1968, Ducati bewitched bike aficionados with the fabulous performance of the 450 Mark 3D (more than 170 km/h), the first production Ducati with desmodromic distribution.
1970's - Triumphs on the Tracks
In 1972, after the success attained in America in the beginning of the sixties with the Scramblers, Ducati proposed utilizing the same formula on the Italian market, with which it had incredible success, especially with the desmodromic 450. The end of the 1960s coincided with the boom of the maxibikes. Once again, engineer Taglioni provided Ducati with the winning weapon. On April 23, 1972, Ducati returned to racing, participating in the Imola 200 Miles, with a new twin cylinder desmodromic 750, entrusted to Paul Smart and Bruno Spaggiari who finished first and second. The exceptional 750 Supersport was created in response to the spectacular race.
In 1978, Mike Hailwood, who had grown up with the Ducati single cylinders, got back on the bike for the Isle of Man Tourist Trophy, astonishing the public and fans with his win at the Formula 1 TT on the mythic mountain. The bike was a Supersport elevated to 900 cc. In recognition of his exceptional effort, Ducati created the splendid limited edition 900 SS Mike Hailwood Replica.
1980's - Changes and Developments
In 1983, Ducati was purchased by Claudio and Gianfranco Castiglioni and became part of the Cagiva Group. With this change of management the group was in the hands of two great bike and racing fans, who together brought Ducati to the triumphs of the Superbike era.
The adventure began in 1988 with Marco Lucchinelli on his superb 851, constructed by engineer Massimo Bordi. Under the management of the Castiglioni brothers, Ducati expanded its share of the motorcycle market, introducing new models, increasing the supply of large displacement motorcycles, and intensifying the company's commitment to racing.
1990's - The Turnaround Years
In 1993 the Argentine Miguel Galluzzi conceived the idea of the Monster. Before the eyes of enthusiasts appeared a truly singular Ducati. The bike was stripped of all inessentials. It represented a unique interpretation of the fun bike category, and it rapidly became a legend.
The great Ducati sports tradition continued with the birth of the 916 in 1994. It was another Ducati- inspired revolution, this time in the high-performance sports motorcycle category. With the 916, technology and style, performance and symmetry reached maximum levels. Ducati once again managed to create a perfect harmony of form and function, logic and emotion. From the world's most prestigious bike magazines, the 916 received the title "Motorcycle of the Year". The Supermono, one of the most eminent examples of motorcycle design in motorbike history, was also realized at this time.
In 1995, despite product innovation and racing successes, Ducati entered into a deep financial crisis. Its cash was drained by unsuccessful ventures of sister companies within the Castiglioni group.
In 1996 Ducati was taken over by Texas Pacific Group, an American investment firm that brought much needed cash and a new group of international managers. Simultaneously, the launch of the ST family allowed Ducati to enter the Sport Touring segment of the market.
The new management team, together with the old group of engineers responsible for product development, turned the company around posting quarter after quarter of record sales and profits.
The great success of this period was the Monster Dark, which was the best selling motorcycle in Italy in 1998 and 1999.
Ducati started changing from a purely manufacturing company to an entertainment company. It now provides a full motorcycling experience, centered on the technical excellence of its motorcycles but also extending to racing, heritage, accessories and apparel.
The first World Ducati Weekend underlined the newly found sense of the Ducati Community, bringing together in Misano 10,000 Ducatisti from all over the world.
The turnaround era culminated on March 24, 1999 with the listing of Ducati Motor Holding at the New York and Milan Stock Exchanges.
2000's - The Dream goes on
The MH900e was the first motorcycle to be sold exclusively on the Internet. Just a few weeks after the new millennium, 2,000 customers had reserved the new motorcycle designed by Pierre Terblanche. Given the success of the MH900e, Ducati increased its strategic commitment to the Internet with Ducati.com, an independent partner enterprise, which established Ducati as a player on the World Wide Web.
The Ducati Corse season closes with the company's ninth Manufacturers' Title, despite the forced retirement of the great "King Carl Fogarty" after a bad fall during qualifying in the SBK World Championship at Phillip Island at the end of March.
Ducati organised the first rider's school for women. This was a first step in Ducati's new relationship with women, based on a new understanding of their requirements and needs.
This was also the year of the historic re-evocation of the Motogiro d'Italia and yet another great success in selling a product online. After the MH900e and the 996R, the Monster S4 Fogarty met with enormous success in online reservations - confirmation of the validity of Ducati's Internet strategy.
In mid-July the company celebrated the production of 100,000 Monsters since 1993, the year in which this cult bike, a symbol and landmark model for its admirers, was launched.
A new design project is also presented at the Milan Fair: the Multistrada...and Ducati invites input from its customers before developing the design itself!
In the meantime, with a terrific double victory at Assen, Troy Bayliss wins the 2001 World Superbike Championship for Ducati, on the 75th anniversary of the company's founding. Troy Bayliss thus becomes the fifth Ducati rider to win the most prestigious and competitive championship in the world for production bikes. Ducati Corse also announces its intention to take part in the GP World Championships from 2003 onwards with their new Desmosedici engine.
2001 will also be remembered as the year of the death of Bruno Cavalieri Ducati, the last of the three brothers who founded the company, and Fabio Taglioni, known to all as Doctor T, father of the 90° two-cylinder engine, the basis and still the hallmark engine of Ducati motorcycles.
2002's main event is the third WDW, the Ducati meeting which this year, for the first time, lasts for a week.
This year will also go down in history for the launch of the 999, the heir of the immortal 996, the new point of reference for ultra-sports riders for the decade to come. The new bike's success is confirmed by the award of one of the most prestigious prizes in the motorcycling world: it is nominated "Bike of the Year" by the British Motorcycle News magazine.
On the racing front, the development of the Desmosedici forges ahead, the engine on which Ducati is pinning its hopes for the upcoming GP1 Championships, and which is presented to the international press for the first time at the Mugello Italian Grand Prix. In the Superbike World Championships, Ducati wins its eleventh Manufacturers' Title, thanks to the incredible skill and daring of its riders.
Continuing in the spirit of Ducati People, the first worldwide advertising campaign featuring Ducati riders and employees in 1998, Ducati pays homage to its fans and admirers around the world by making them the subjects of its new advertisements.
Finally, after three years of intense development efforts and the long wait of motorcyclists around the world, the Ducati Multistrada is on the road. A new generation of sports motorbikes is born!
But this is also the year of Ducati Corse. 2003 sees the return of Ducati to the Grand Prix starting line with riders Troy Bayliss and Loris Capirossi, along with the Desmosedici V4 engine, the result of a long and fascinating development process. The results in this debut year exceed all expectations: one first place, two second places, six third places, three pole positions and second place overall in the Manufacturers' classification. In the World Superbike Championships, Ducati wins the Riders' Title again with Neil Hodgson, along with the Manufacturers' Title.
In October at the Tokyo Fair, Ducati presents three new concept bikes: the Sportclassic models, which receive an enthusiastic welcome from public and press alike.
Finally, 2003 also sees a wide range of events for Ducati fans, including the Centopassi, Motogiro and Ducati Riding Experience.
After the incredible welcome accorded to the new family of SportClassic bikes by the motorcycling public and press at the Tokyo Motorshow, further important confirmations for the project arrive from around the world.
In the face of so much enthusiasm, Ducati, which is always careful to share its ambitions with its public of fans and riders, decided to put all three SportClassic models into production - once again transforming a dream into reality.
The World Ducati Week international gathering, in its fourth edition, exceeds even the success of all of its previous incarnations. And on the Misano Adriatico stage, Federico Minoli announces the company's next dream project: the Desmosedici RR, a limited-edition road replica of the amazing MotoGP motorcycle.