miércoles, 8 de abril de 2020


Text and Pictures : José Manuel Serrano Esparza

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January 10, 2020. Five days away from the end of the static exhibition of one of the three Ducati 916 prototypes created by the legendary Italian designer Massimo Tamburini (a unique genius known as the Michelangelo of Motorcycles) and which after his demise in 2014 was inherited by his daughter Simona Tamburini, who has kindly lent the bike to the Ducati Museum at Borgo Panigale, very near the Ducati Factory of Dreams in Bologna (Italy), in order that enthusiasts of bikes can revel in watching live throughout 2019 and until January 15, 2020 this real myth of design and motorcycling technology at its best and celebrate the 25th Anniversary of this timeless icon that from the very instant of its introduction (during the Milan Motorcycling Fair in November of 1993 and at the Misano Circuit for specialized magazines) turned into the international aesthetic and technological benchmark of Superbikes, winning nothing less than four SBK World Championships (three with Carl Fogarty in 1994, 1995 and 1998, along with another one with Troy Corser in 1996).

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A full-fledged work of art, in addition to being the technological and aerodynamic world pinnacle between 1994 and 1998, deemed by many as the most beautiful racing bike ever made and the most important one in the history of Ducati, since it meant a true revolution, and whose state-of-the-art technology was also the qualitative and evolutive apex when it appeared, anticipating roughly ten years concepts which would be subsequently developed by a number of brands in the SBK scope.

Feelings are unutterable and the heart rate does speed up while we go up the access stairs to this shrine of motorcycling and good taste, full of history and holding every Ducati bike that became a landmark in the upgrowth of the Italian motorcycling firm, whose key diachronic vital epicenter has been above all the highly efficient desmodromic system of distribution of its V-Twin 90º engine, a genuine wonder of traditional mechanics boasting fabulous performance regarding instant acceleration, top speed and specially sensational torque spreading, a side in which V-Twin Ducati motorcycles have traditionally been superior to Japanese four cylinder bikes.

We advance some meters through the inner area of this sancta sanctorum of two wheels sports and suddenly arrive at a room in which there are three bikes : A Ducati 900SS Superlight, a Ducati 851 Tricolore

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and the Ducati 916 Massimo Tamburini, whose personality and unforgettable beauty of lines all over its surface spawn an everlasting love, appreciation to spare and hairs standing out like hooks.


Left lateral view of the Ducati 916 Massimo Tamburini Prototype inside the Ducati Museum at Borgo Panigale, Bologna (Italy), in which you can see the unmatched beauty of contours of this dream bike, its highly advanced and futuristic design for its time and the gorgeous golden single-sided swingarm beside the back wheel. The motorcycle was almost utterly manufactured in glass fiber, except the air conveyors, front mudguard, airbox, tailpipes and number plate holder made of carbon. © jmse

The creation of the first three prototypes of the Ducati 916, jewel of the crown in the history of Ducati, in 1994, meant a pivotal step forward for the Borgo Panigale firm, which after winning three back-to-back WorldSBK Championships in 1990 (Raymond Roche with Ducati 851), 1991 (Doug Polen with Ducati 888) and 1992 (Doug Polen with Ducati 888), had been beaten in the 1993 WorldSBK Championship by the synergy between the great American rider Scott Russell and the formidable preparation of his four cylinder Kawasaki ZXR-750 made by the mechanics and tuning wizard Rob Muzzy.

Ducati needed to hold again sway over the Superbike World Championship as a substantial factor not only to build up its international prestige in competitions, but also to catalyze its expansion as a motorcycling firm all over the world.

And to get that aim was necessary keeping on beating Honda, Kawasaki and Yamaha, something that after the two consecutive WorldSBK titles nailed down by Fred Merkel with its superb Honda RC30 in the two first editions of the competition in 1988 and 1989, had been attained by the Italian company winning the three aforementioned consecutive WorldSBK Championships.

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The spectacular halcyon days of Ducati in the WorldSBK Championship since 1990 (it would win a total of 14 Superbike World titles in riders category between that year and 2011, with Raymond Roche, Doug Polen, Carl Fogarty, Troy Corser, Troy Bayliss, Neil Hodgson, James Toseland and Carlos Checa, together with 17 as a constructor) were an evolutive consequence of the creation in 1986 by the genius Massimo Bordi (Technical Director at Ducati) of the liquid cooled ottovalvole L 90º V-Twin desmodromic engine, id est, featuring four valves per cylinder and also known as desmoquattro, after Claudio Castiglioni (CEO of Cagiva, who had just bought Ducati in 1985, and was likewise a hugely passionate lover of bikes) asked him to place the Borgo Panigale brand as the reference-class technological and sporting motorcycle manufacturer on earth.

This extraordinary Italian engineer, gifted with a boundless talent, deep knowledge, tons of intuition and irrepressible fervour for bikes, clearly grasped that traditional V-Twin Ducati Desmodue engines featuring two valves per cylinder, though being a mechanic wonder, were falling behind regarding performance and power in comparison to the four cylinder powerplants of Japanese Superbikes, which were making great strides.

In the same way, Massimo Bordi had been fully aware since late seventies that the Pantah 500 from 1979 boasting desmodromic distribution (and that meant a turning point in Ducati racing bikes, because the overhead camshaft driven by level gears was replaced for the first time by a toothed distribution belt made with neoprene) was the cornerstone from which every Borgo Panigale competition motorcycle would evolve.

But however incredible it may seem, the genius from Bevagna had already presented at Bologna University in 1973 an amazing doctoral thesis in which he showed the drawing of an air cooled desmodromic cylinder head featuring four valves, with desmodromic distribution boasting a double system of rocker arms, the spark plug centered in the cylinder head and driven by bevel gears as a basic technological platform.

This revolutionary design of desmodromic V-Twin engine featuring four valves per cylinder was based on Cosworth Formula 2 FVA 1600 cc powerplants and some Cosworth DFV V8 Formula 1 ones sporting eight cylinders and very compact dimensions but yielding great efficiency and performance, with which the British firm had defeated Ferrari and its V12 engines.

Engine of the Ducati 916 held by engineer Massimo Bordi. It was pretty tractable and greatly optimized to get maximum performance at the highest rpm, because the most important goal on creating this motorcycle was to further consolidate the Borgo Panigale firm dominance in the Superbike World Championship with Carl Fogarty and Giancarlo Falappa as riders, so the performance of the powerplant at low and mid rpm was acceptable but very improved in 1997 with the arrival of the Ducati SPS, boasting a new 996 cc engine, thanks to the increase in capacity, the new individual exhaust pipes enabling a faster exit of gases and in higher quantities, with the resulting boost of power and a better fuel efficiency, enhanced by means of a new electronic injection system with two injectors per cylinder, it all being complemented by an upsurge of the compression ratio up to 11.5:1. © Ducati

Twelve years later, in September of 1986, Bordi created the first prototype of Ducati 748 cc with liquid cooled V-Twin desmodromic engine featuring four valves per cylinder, toothed distribution belt and bore x stroke of 88 x 31,5 mm, which competed in the Bol d´Or at Paul Ricard Circuit in France.

And in March of 1987, the Ducati V-Twin 90º desmodromic engine displayed its huge potential to the world when Marco Lucchinelli won the Battle of the Twins at Daytona with a Ducati 851 prototype featuring bore x stroke of 92 x 64 mm, proving that Ducati two cylinder L90º four valves per cylinder Italian bikes could beat the best Japanese four cylinder 750 cc motorcycles.

This definitely convinced Claudio Castiglioni to finance the Ducati WorldSBK Project, whose first motorcycle was the Ducati 851 ridden by Marco Lucchinelli during the 1988 WorldSBK Championship, while in the 1989 WorldSBK Raymond Roche achieved a very praiseworthy third position behind Fred Merkel and Stéphane Mertens, who rode on Hondas RC30.

But in 1990, Ducati made a strenuous effort, developing a Ducati 888 prototype with a desmoquattro V-Twin engine created by Masimo Bordi, with bore x stroke of 94 x 54 mm and superb combustion chamber made by Gianluigi Mengoli (Ducati Technical Assistant Manager and at the moment the greatest expert in the world on thermodynamics, gases fluids and metallurgy applied to bikes, who turned into metal all the blueprints of desmodromic engines incepted by Massimo Bordi), with which Raymond Roche won the first Superbike World Championship for Ducati, beating the Japanese four cylinder 750 cc bikes from Honda, Yamaha, Kawasaki and Suzuki.

A year later, in 1991, Ducati achieved an overwhelming victory in the WorldSBK Championship, with a dizzying Doug Polen, who won with his Ducati 888 nothing less than 17 of the 26 races, with enormous authority, as well as obtaining four 2nd places, with Eraldo Ferracci (then the best tuner of ottovalvole desmodromic Ducati bikes in the world) being the architect of those triumphs to a great extent as boss of the Fast by Ferracci Team.

In 1992, Doug Polen racked up again the Superbike World Championship for Ducati, with 9 victories, while his teammate Raymond Roche got 6, so the Borgo Panigale firm won its third consecutive title.

But in the WorldSBK 1993 Championship, the symbiosis between Scott Russell (who became champion) and the extraordinary tuning of his Kawasaki ZXR-750 four cylinder bike made by the mechanics and preparation wizard Rob Muzzy, cut Ducati´s winning streak.

This brought about some meetings at the highest level in Borg Panigale, with presence of Claudio Castiglioni, Massimo Bordi, Gianluigi Mengoli and others, in which the Supervisory Board of the Italian motorcycling firm decided to make a supreme effort and try to dominate the WorldSBK Championship again, for which they´d have within its ranks an outstanding English pilot : Carl Fogarty, who had put in a great performance in the 1993 WorldSBK Championship and was about to win it, with eleven races nailed, being finally overcome by the huge regularity of Scott Russell, winner of four races but having managed to obtain twelve runners-up.

Claudio Castiglioni is enraptured and emboldening everybody with wholehearted pep talks and unbridled enthusiasm, being cognizant that Ducati desmoquattro two cylinder engines created by Massimo Bordi manage their air/fuel mixture more efficiently than the Japanese four cylinder motorcycles, as well as leveraging their circuit friendliness making trackside engine changes very fast and easy, since the powerplant, cooling system and single-side swingarm can be removed as a unit.

He is a zealot of bikes, their technology and the beauty of lines of Italian designs, and now, in addition to Massimo Bordi and Gianluigi Mengoli (world yardsticks in their spheres), he has also at his service the best motorcycle designer in existence : Massimo Tamburini, who has already created some machines oozing remarkable aesthetic charm and efficiency, like the Bimota Tesi 1D from 1990 (whose front wheel assembly is a masterpiece of engineering at the highest level), the Bimota KB2 from 1981 (with a complex frame, along with abundant tubes and massive use of welding enabling this kind of designs only for very limited series), the Bimota DB1 from 1985 (using the same 500 cc engine as the Ducati Pantah, though with cylinders diameter increased to 88 mm, as well as being manufactured with top-notch light alloys, among them the aeronautical variant Avional 14, and boasting a great labour in chassis and swingarm) and the Ducati Paso 750 from 1988 (with glass fiber fairing and excellent aluminium swingarm).

Cagiva CEO knows that it is a once in a lifetime chance for Ducati to go beyond itself, and decides to build a new bike for the 1994 WorldSBK Championship,

Claudio Castiglioni´s uncommon psychological shrewdness, entrepreneurial flair and unflinching passion for motorcycles were decisive for the birth and development of the Ducati 916, since right off the bat he realized that letting Massimo Tamburini, Massimo Bordi and Guanluigi Mengoli give vent to their immense talent and ingenuitity would be fundamental and all of them would rise to the challenge. © jmse                                                                                                                                          
the Ducati 916, setting an aesthetic and technological stratospheric standard, with the following unprecedented overall specifications :

- It has to be the most beautiful Superbike ever made, with style and contours making a difference with respect to the Japanese Superbikes.

- It must be a state-of-the-art bike and by far the technologically most advanced of all time.

- It isn´t enough for the Borgo Panigale firm to prevail again in the WorldSBK Championship.

It is necessary to beat the whole Japanese motorcycling industry (embodied by extraordinary 4 cylinder bikes like the Honda RC45, Kawasaki ZXR750, Yamaha YZF and Suzuki GSX-R 750) fair and square, by the widest possible margin.

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- It has to be smaller and more compact than the superb Ducati 888, sharing with it the 33 mm inlet and 29 mm exhaust valves, camshafts, the piston gudgeon pin, the gear ratios for the six speed gearbox and the dry clutch, but delivering far superior performance, with an increase in capacity up to 916 cc and a surge in power reaching 115 hp at 9000 rpm, which in Carl Fogarty´s bike for the WorldSBK 1994 will achieve 955 cc and 150 hp.

To get that reduction in size (2,30 m length / 68.5 cm width / 1.08 m height) until yielding it practically with the dimensions of the Cagiva GP V594 2T 500 cc featuring 4 cylinders in V at 80º from 1994, some metal plates would have to be redesigned in the engine housing, the fuel injection box and some components of the liquid cooling system.

Scheme of the Ducati 916 designed by the genius Massimo Tamburini, who unabatedly worked throughout thousands of hours between 1988 (year in which he made the first sketches) and 1994 until finishing the three prototypes of this masterpiece motorcycle. In addition to its great top speed of 260 km/h for its time, exceptional instant acceleration and extraordinary performance at the highest rpm thanks to its V-Twin 90º engine featuring four valves per cylinder, six-speed manual transmission, a power of 115 hp at 9000 rpm and torque of 90 Nm at 7000 rpm, its capabilities on cornering were sensational, with great accuracy in bike trajectories and barely being affected by any kind of bumps, thanks to its superb suspension remaining tense at every moment and the stunning stability of its stainless-steel multitubular trellis frame. The geometry of shapes of this flagship in the history of Ducati is impressive and clearly streamlined for racings, particularly the WorldSBK Championship, an aim for which Tamburini improved the balance of weight distribution reducing the wheelbase 20 mm with respect to the Ducati 888 and moving the battery forward. © Ducati

- The engine should be a highly optimized evolution of the Ducati 888 powerplant, keeping the bore of 94 mm, but increasing the stroke 2 mm to achieve a staggering performance.

- The chrome molidbene stainless-steel trellis chassis has to be sturdier than the one featured by the Ducati 888, with an additional reinforcing support in the lower area of the engine.

This way, Massimo Tamburini will develop a totally integrated chassis/engine combination able to accomodate not only a 916 cc engine, but also future powerplants up to 1000 cc.

- Its ease of handling and beauty of lines must greatly improve the extraordinary Cagiva V594 500 cc 2T, a real work of art and engineering prodigy.

- It has to be equipped with a new Weber system of fuel injection and a larger radiator.

- It must outperform the four cylinder Japanese bikes on taking curves.

- It has to convey huge excitement and unmatched feelings to the rider, so strengthening the tremendously exotic appearance of this bike.

In this regard, the stratospheric trio Massimo Bordi, Gianluigi Mengoli and Massimo Tamburini make a huge endeavour until getting another of the most relevant traits of the Ducati 916 : its incredible sensitivity, since even the slightiest change on revving up generates a distribution of weights that the rider can feel in a tactile way with the handlebars, using it to make limited adjustments of traction.

That´s how the Ducati 916 is born, being presented at the 1993 EICMA, meaning to all intents and purposes a quantum leap in the evolution of Ducati as a motorcycling brand, in addition to powerfully helping to define what the Borgo Panigale firm is nowadays.


But the key figure in the design and manufacture of this really milestone bike was Massimo Tamburini, a top artist, creator of its 1410 mm chassis (with a 20 mm shorter wheelbase than the Ducati 888), its fabulous aerodynamics developed in the motorways of Rímini and the circuits of Misano and Mugello, and also of its spectacular lightweight single-sided swingarm.

Exceedingly nice right fairing, beside which can be seen the typical multitubular chrome-molibdene stainless-steel Trellis frame (invented by Fabio Taglioni and featuring a basic structure dating back to the desmodromic Ducati Pantah 500 presented at the 1979 Milan EICMA), whose stiffness was increased a 105% by Massimo Tamburini in comparison to the one featured by the Ducati 888. On the right of its lower area and protected by a carbon fiber cover is the dry clutch generating a distinctive clatter. © jmse

of its sublime fairing (perhaps the most beautiful in the whole history of motorcycling), of the commendable balance in weights distribution distinctly optimized for races,

Massimo Tamburini worked extensively with different designs of headlights until finding the adequate trapezoidal shape, very eye-catching and sporting smaller dimensions than usual during nineties. © jmse

                                                                      Moreover, those headlights are integrated in the fairing. © jmse

of the two little sharp headlights featuring a more reduced size than average then,

Close-up of the Termignoni exhausts located under the tail to consolidate the great pureness of lines and a better aerodynamic penetration. Above them are located the rear headlights with the Ducati logo visible on the square back area of the motorcycle. © jmse

of the elevated exhaust pipes under the tail,   

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of its futuristic forward triangular air entrances and many more things.

On the other hand, Tamburini had been doing little by little, with remarkable thoroughness, innovation ability, huge creativity and paying heed to the very last detail, three prototypes of the Ducati 916 for the WorldSBK Championship since 1988, that he finished in early 1994, and the one displayed until January 15, 2020 inside the Ducati Museum at Borgo Panigale was a treat to behold.

The visionary insight of this genius of geniuses enabled him to greatly anticipate to his time and design this unrivalled motorcycle in terms of elegance and technological sophistication at that time, boasting astounding lightness, laudable amplitude of robust torque from medium rpm and an impressive chassis.

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This Ducati 916 Massimo Tamburini Prototype from 1994, Italian art on wheels at its best, gave rise to waves of enthusiasm among the visitors of Ducati Museum during 2019 and January 2020 once and again, on revealing class and stateliness all over its anatomy, fraught with sensual shapes and peculiar aspects resembling the Ducati 916 SP2 from 1995, SP3 from 1996 and SPS from 1997 (its versions yielding best performance) like :

Ravishing single-sided swingarm, handcraftedly manufactured in magnesium (and making possible a pretty fast change of tyres during competitions) of the Ducati 916 Massimo Tamburini Prototype shown at the Ducati Museum in Borgo Panigale. The CRC letters engraved in its middle area refer to the mythical Cagiva Research Center in San Marino, where the genius of motorcycling design had steadily been creating the prototypes of this landmark bike since late 1988. © jmse

- The light single-sided swingarm made in magnesium (instead of stainless-steel).

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- The five-spoke magnesium wheels (only used in racing versions, instead of the three-spoke tyres of the later series models introduced from 1995).

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- The round Termignoni tailpipes manufactured in carbon (instead of the aluminium oval ones).

- The front shock absorber with 43 mm Showa GD051 adjustable inverted front forks.

Back Öhlins DU 3420 shock absorber of the Ducati 916 Massimo Tamburini Prototype. On its left can be seen some welding zones of the multitubular chrome molibdene stainless-steel trellis frame. © jmse

- The rear Öhlins DU 3420 shock absorber.

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- The front Brembo 2 x 320 mm braking discs with four piston calipers.

- The rear individual Brembo 220 braking single disc with two piston calipers.


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The three prototypes of the Ducati 916 designed by Massimo Tamburini meant in practice the full reassurance of the Borgo Panigale firm superiority in the WorldSBK Championship, started with the three in a row consecutive titles conquered in 1990, 1991 and 1992, which would have to last nothing less than twenty-one years, until 2011 (season in which Carlos Checa won the competition with his Ducati 1098R), with the nineties decade being the most glorious period in the whole history of the Italian motorcycling brand, since it won eight of the ten World SBK (1990, 1991, 1992, 1994, 1995, 1996, 1998 and 1999), and the four ones achieved by Carl Fogarty on his Ducati 916 were decisive for the international outreach of the Bologna firm.

Front view revealing the spectacular forward area of the bike, highlighting the mudguard made in carbon fiber, the fairing air entrances, the Showa inverted forks, the small rectangular upper intakes and the headlights featuring more reduced dimensions than usual during nineties. © jmse

Also fundamental in the multinational prestige attained by this revolutionary V-Twin Italian bike were the in-depth articles written on the Ducati 916 from the very instant of its introduction by world-class experts like Ian Falloon, Bruno de Prato, Vicki Smith, Alan Cathcart, Phil Schilling, Cook Neilson, Livio Lodi (Curator of the Ducati Museum, probably the greatest expert in the world on Ducati History and its huge cultural and technological significance), Jon Urry, Brian Catterson, Brenda Buttner, Jim Calandro, Clyde Romero, Bob Lattanzi, Terry Wyse, John M. Rossi, Pepe Burgaleta, Ken Wootton, Jeremy Bowdler, Don Canet, Ian Gowanloch, Ángel de la Maza and others, along with the exhaustive tests carried out by specialized magazines like Cycle World, Motociclismo, Motorrad, Motorcycle Sport, On Two Wheels, Desmo LeaningsMotorcycle Mechanics, etc, without forgetting the excellent pictures made of it by recognized motorcycling photographers like James Mann, Phil Aynsley, Mark Wernham, Chris Wimpey, Guy Spangenberg, Kirk Willis and others.

On the other hand, there were some major factors boosting both Ducati 916´s success and the worldwide expansion of the Borgo Panigale firm, particularly in United States and Europe :

a) Eraldo Ferracci´s decision to abandon the WorldSBK Championship in 1992, in spite of having clear options to win some more titles with his fabulous tunings of Ducati desmoquattro bikes.

The Italian wizard of mechanics and top authority in the world at the time being on motorcycling components, special alloys and preparation of Ducati racing bikes, does perceive the huge potential of Massimo Bordi´s desmoquattro V-Twin keynote and the immense possibilities for the spreading of the brand in United States, as pivotal market for the future of the Italian firm, so he makes up his mind to take part in the North American AMA Superbike Championship, winning two consecutive titles with Doug Polen in 1993 (Ducati 888 nº 23) and Troy Corser in 1994 (with a Ducati 888 nº 1), whose capacity was increased by Il Capo di Capi up to 955 cc).

Furthermore, Eraldo Ferracci has made a huge effort since 1993, answering by himself throughout many daily hours the phone calls of Ducati customers from all over United States, solving their doubts, with an unmatched level of personalized attention at the moment, because his tremendous knowledge enables him to accurately and instantly advise on any subject arising in the conversations and adapt to the needs of very different users of desmodromic V-Twin Ducati motorcycles featuring ottovalvole L 90º engine.

Original king size poster promoting the Ducati 916 in November of 1993 (when it was presented during the EICMA Milan that year) located inside the Ducati Museum in Borgo Panigale, Bologna (Italy) on the adjacent wall to the Ducati 916 Massimo Tamburini Prototype exhibited until January 15, 2020. Thanks to his previous experience in Bimota (he had been one of his founders in 1973 together with Valerio Bianchi and Giuseppe Morri), it dawned on the eminent Italian designer that it was possible to defeat the very powerful Japanese motorcycling firms through craftsmanship manufacturing parameters, optimization of the power/weight ratio, chassis built in a completely manual way and a very advanced system of fuel electronic injection, such as had happened with the Bimota YB4 created by Federico Martini (Head of Design at Bimota after Tamburini´s march to Cagiva in 1983) that won the 1987 TT Formula 1, ridden by Virginio Ferrari (putting an end to five consecutive years of preponderance by Honda in the most important 4T competition at the time) and it was about to win the first WorldSBK Championship in 1988 with Davide Tardozzi in great condition, riding a Bimota YB4 that pioneered the use of aluminium perimetral frame and boasting a Yamaha FZ750 engine placed by means of large bars of that metal with huge castings supporting the most critical areas around the steering head and the rear swingarm pivot. © jmse

This breathes a huge level of optimism within Borgo Panigale top brass, fully aware that Massimo Tamburini with the Ducati 916 and Eraldo Ferracci achieving resounding success in the United States AMA Superbikes Championship (as well as having risen above himself in 1994, providing the users of Ducati 900 SS cafe racer V-Twin featuring two valves per cylinder Desmodue engine with far superior performance with his Ducati 944 SS handcraftedly built by him, with 40 cc more of capacity, higher compression and cylinder liners sheathed with Nikasil special alloy of nickel and silicon), are substantially reinforcing Ducati as a reference-class international motorcycling brand.

b) The design and manufacture of new V-Twin desmoquattro Ducati bikes for the WorldSBK Championship, particularly the 851 and 888 ones, has had huge costs of research, development and production since late eighties, which have soared further with the Ducati 916 Project.

But a further genius designer has appeared : Miguel Ángel Galluzzi, who has created an utterly new motorcycle: the air-cooled Ducati Monster 900, a likewise revolutionary model, optimized for street riding, featuring a naked and minimalist philosophy, desmodromic L90º engine with two valves per cylinder but delivering excellent sporting qualities and performance, in addition to a highly competitive price.

The Ducati Monster amazing sales success all over the world, along with the wherewithal of his own invested by Claudio Castiglioni, will greatly be the seminal factors economically enabling the development of the Ducati 916 and its awesome triumphs in the WorldSBK Championship.

Carl Fogarty´s leather jacket and helmet inside Ducati Museum at Borgo Panigale, Bologna (Italy). The symbiosis between the Ducati 916 and the great British pilot did consolidate the rule of the Italian motorcycling firm in the WorldSBK. © jmse

c) The four Superbike World Championships won by Carl Fogarty (1995, 1998 and 1999) and Troy Corser (1996) on V-Twin Ducatis 916, with a crushing superiority over the four cylinder Japanese bikes.

d) The victory of Mario Innamorati in the 1995 European SBK Championship, riding on a Ducati 916.

e) The abundant successes of Ducatis 916 in a number of very important motorcycle international competitions like :

- The victory of Steve Hislop (twice champion of the British SBK and eleven times of the Isle of Man TT) on a Ducati 916 featuring 955 cc in the Bristish Superbike Championship of 1955.

- The victory of Shawn Giles in the 1995 Australia Shell Master Series Championship.

- The victory of Christer Lindholm in the 1996 German Speed Championship.

f) The triumphs of Ducati 916 bikes in the most important races of Italy, with Luca Pasini in the 1994 Italian Sport Production 750 Championship, Mario Innamorati in the 1994 Italian Open Championship, Michele Gallina in the 1994 Trofeo Inverno Open Italian Championship, Roberto Teneggi in the 1995 Sport Production 750 Italian Championship, Paolo Casoli in the 1996 Italian Superbike Championship, Andrea Mazzali in the 1996 Sport Production 750 Italian Championship, Franco Brugnara in the 1997 Italian Open Championship, Michele Gallina in the 1997 Sport Production Italian Championship, Serafino Foti in the 1997 Superbike Italian Championship and Paolo Blora in the 1998 Italian Superbike Championship.

Portrait of Massimo Tamburini, the greatest genius in the History of Motorcycling Design and great friend of Claudio Castiglioni and Bruno dePrato. His fundamental tenets were a mainstay in the professional careers of the best tuners in the world of Ducati 916 and other desmodromic bikes, who have devoted their lives to up the ante regarding the performance of Borgo Panigale dream machines on two wheels, working in facilities with first-string equipment and special tools to help maintain the bikes in their best condition, many of them having honed their skills with expertise and factory training in Bologna, offering a top class bespoke service to customers, with painstaking care and attention to each and every part of their clients motorcycles. © Cagiva

g) The commendable diachronic work fulfilled by some legendary world-class tuners of Ducati 916 like :

- Bruce Meyers (Inducted into the Ducati Hall of Fame), founder of BCM Motorsports Inc in New Hampshire. A man featuring tremendous technical knowledge and passion for races. He and Eraldo Ferracci were the Ducati gurus that pioneered the spreading of Borgo Panigale bikes in United States since the tough years during eighties, until building Ducati´s modern prestige in United States.

His parts and service department were the best in North America.

He developed a second to none customer service, with highly personalized attention, always having time for everybody and giving very valuable advice.

A teacher of technical training for Ducati North America, Bruce Meyers became famous on increasing the performance of the bikes he tuned up to incredible levels, known as " Bruce Meyers Performance ", boasting a great skill in the reduction of weight of flywheels and pistons, along with the optimization of cams and cylinder heads, without forgetting the creation of custom made intake manifolds, his mastery in the polishing of engines (a sphere in which he is a reference-class international authority) and his prowess increasing the speed of air intakes and the development of power in the highest rpm zone in synergy with an adequate cam.

He has created a number of Ducati powerplants specially tuned by him for Walt Siegel Motorcycles, where the Austrian genius handcraftedly makes exquisite custom Ducati street bikes with classic look and the best available components and upgrades.

The fabulous performance of Ducati desmodromic bikes featuring distribution with toothed belt began in 1979 with the Desmodue V-Twin 90º and two valves per cylinder Pantah 500 designed by Fabio Taglioni and his great team made up by Gianluigi Mengoli, Giuseppe Bochi and Federico Martini, being subsequently replaced from 1987 onwards by new Desmoquattro V-Twin 90º Ducati bikes featuring four valves per cylinder like the 851, 888 and 916 created by the squad made up by Massimo Bordi, Massimo Tamburini and Gianluigi Mengoli. And from early XXI Century, Ducati would reach new heights of performance with V-Twin 90º powerplants created by Gennaro Cugnetto (Manager of Ducati´s Engine Testing Department since 1996, in addition to being an authority determining cam timing, valve lift, intake and exhaust flow, etc, and the man who during the presentation organized by Ducati North America in November of 2001 of the Ducati 998 for 2002 explained to the specialized press in Southern California´s Buttonwillow Raceway the most important traits of the new Ducati 998 V-Twin Testastretta engine, including a great reduction of the valve angle between intake en exhaust valves, 25º instead of the 40º of the 996 cylinder head design, making way for larger valves, to such an extent that the intake valves diameter increased from 36 to 40 mm and the exhaust valves one grew from 30 to 33 mm) in 2001 like the Testastretta (featuring more compact and efficient cylinder heads with a reduced included valve angle of 25º instead of 40º, along with bigger valves, larger pistons, more aggressive cams and shower type fuel injectors, a powerplant which Troy Bayliss used in his Ducati 996R 998 cc with bore x stroke of 100 x 63,5 mm delivering 136 hp to win his first WorldSBK championship that year), Marco Sairu (Head of Engine Project Management) and Vincenzo De Silvio (Engine Design Manager) like the SuperQuadro from 2009 (the first all new mass produced Ducati engine in thirty years since the Pantah of 1979, and in which only 20 of its roughly 500 parts are shared with the Testastretta Evoluzione and the cam belts were replaced by a combination of chains and gears) strongly based on lightweight and torque even more. © Ducati 

- Mark Sutton, the other great Ducati Master Technician in the United States along with Il Capo di Capi and Bruce Meyers. His also famous Ducshop has always been a shrine for Ducati enthusiasts, because of his uncommon grasp on mechanics, great jobs and fast turnarounds, with a likewise excellent customer service and support, in symbiosis with counselling of the highest level.

His racing knowledge is awesome, in the same way as his experience with dyno and configuration of Microtec ECUS.

- Kyle Thompson, a great Ducati Master Technician and mechanic at Seacoast Sport Cycle.

- Jeff Nash, President and Founder of AMS (Advanced Motosports Ducati Dallas) and six times National Road Racing Champion in United States. An unwavering Ducati passionate who has directed through decades operations for road racing teams of Ducati North America, his impressive technological and circuit experience have enabled him to engage in R & D and product development for the Ducati Factory, as well as being a member of the AMA Board and Ama Pro Racing Boards of Directors.

His technical knowledge regarding every conceivable aspect of Ducati bikes is amazing, being an authority in upgrades to crank bearings, engine rebuilds, refurbishing of top areas of vertical pistons and many other things, to such an extent that he is instantly able to answer on the phone any question from a Ducati customer, providing a top-notch service which has reached new heights thanks to the commendable labour and comprehensive product knowledge of sales manager Marty Scribner since August 2008.

He has been awarded " Technician of the Year " many times by Ducati North America, AMS (founded in 1995) is also a benchmark firm regarding software to do custom mapping and a certified Öhlins service and retail center.

Moreover, he has within its ranks the fabulous mechanics and Ducati Master Technicians Stuart Rust and Jordan Rhodes.

- Eric Colbath, who was for many years a great mechanic at BCM Motor Sports and subsequently created his own firm Club House Motorsports, being a great specialist in rebuilding Ducati desmodromic engines, some of them for Walt Siegel.

Original racing crankshaft (machined out of a billet steel making it lighter and stronger) and titanium connecting rods of the Ducati 916. Titanium has often been used by Ducati in components of its competition bikes, since it is less than half the weight of steel, features similar strength and has a higher melting point. In addition, its iredescent gleam is very beautiful and more brilliant than the calm luster of stainless-steel or nickel steel. This was a scope greatly mastered by Jeff Green (Carl Fogarty´s engine builder during nineties) who was a magician fitting titanium conrods for the WorldSBK races in which the British rider would win four Superbike World Championships : the first one in 1994 with a Ducati 916 whose capacity and power was increased to 955 cc and 150 hp at 11000 rpm reaching a top speed near 300 km/h; the second one in 1995 with a Ducati 916 955 cc and 154 hp at 12000 rpm; the third one in 1998 with a Ducati 916 in which was inserted a 996 cc engine of 163 hp and 12000 rpm; and the fourth one in 1999 with a Ducati 996 faturing 998 cc and 168 hp at 11500 rpm (evolution of the Fogarty´s Ducati 955, but with an increase in capacity of 43 cc, lighter three-spoke wheels and an improved Brembo braking system). Nineties were a time in which the World SBK Championship was the 4T equivalent of MotoGP (where they used to race with 2T motorcycles), with bikes that fans could really buy, and WorldSBK contests were frequently even more spectacular than MotoGP ones. © Ducati

- Ray Eggleton, a factory trained Ducati Senior Technician and Engine Builder at Ducati Rapido, Winchester, Hampshire (United Kingdom), whose career began during the heyday of Ducati 888 bikes, many of which he tuned, in early nineties.

- Evelio Tejero, a Spanish mechanic and great tuner of desmoquattro V-Twin Ducati motorcycles, known as The Surgeon of Ducatis, a self-made man through love for Borgo Panigale bikes, tenacity and strenuous effort during many decades from early eighties.

In 1995 he made a masterful tuning of the Ducati 916 SP (whose capacity he increased up to 955 cc) with which the rider David Vázquez, ssponsored by Seguros Reale, won the Spanish Super Sport Production Championship of that year, clearly beating all the four cylinder Japanese bikes from different brands, and he was about to do the same thing in the 1996 European Superbike Championship, in which he was runner-up.

He was also instrumental in the victory of Herri Torrontegui in the 1997 Spanish Super Sport Championship with a Ducati 748 SP prepared by him.

- Justin Klashorst, a highly knowledgeable and experienced Australian Ducati technician and tuner from Pro Twin Ducati Specialists.

His professional activity began in mid nineties, during the halcyon days of Ducati 888 and Ducati 916 and is currently one of the foremost experts in the world as to dyno tunings of both bevel and belt driven Ducati bikes.

- Jeff Green, a great British mechanic and enthusiast of Ducati bikes for almost thirty years, owner of GTEC Performance, official Ducati service and performance center in Stoke Albany, Leicester (England) and a remarkable tuner of every desmoquattro Borgo Panigale bike produced since the Ducati 851, 888 and 916.

- Christophe Fouquereau, a highly experienced and passionate mechanic specialized on the tuning of classic and modern desmodromic Ducati bikes at his Atelier Twin Passion firm in Chartres (France).


The selection of best available components by Massimo Tamburini for every area of the bike is apparent here in the top-notch original aluminium Öhlins steering damper, located beside the engine on/off switch. Thanks to its superb pressurized design and praiseworthy accuracy of construction, it offers exceptional performance and agility, and the rider can easily find the perfect feeling with the motorcycle front. Tamburini´s painstaking attention to detail made him redesign the mount of this steering damper to furtherly improve the bike´s performance. © jmse

Another of the most relevant aspects of the Ducati 916 is its exceedingly beautiful analog dashboard based on a minimalist raison d´être but simultaneously classical and avantgarde, with the tachometer and water temperature indicator as only devices and whose metallic components and areas evoke replicas of other later legendary bikes like the Ducati Sports Classic Paul Smart 1000 Limited Edition, inspired by the Ducati 750 Imola Desmo from 1972,

                                                                                                                                            © jmse

wholly verifying the good taste and elegance traditionally exhibited by the Borgo Panigale firm,

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enhanced by a state-of-the-art precision in the machining of metallic components, whose appearance is certainly spellbinding.


As you would expect in this fabled motorcycle created by Massimo Tamburini with extraordinary brilliance, creativity and sumptuousness, but also with strenuous effort, suffering and many nights barely sleeping during six years,

                                                                                                                                             © jmse

the rear cycle and transmission area of this prototype of Ducati 916 is also first-rate, underlining the aforementioned single-sided magnesium swingarm,

                                                                                                                                              © jmse

the pretty efficient transmission chain,

Aside from being a genius designer of motorcycles, Massimo Tamburini was a very good tuner and test pilot of bikes. Here we can see the worn teeth of the Ducati 916 Prototype crown because of the rubbing with the transmission chain, after this work of art on two wheels was extensively ridden for six years mainly in a road near his native city of Rimini. © jmse

a crown manufactured with great accuracy (particularly in its toothed zone),

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a very sturdy footrest made in aluminium alloy

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and a very elongated carbon fiber piece protecting the transmission chain, without forgetting the previously mentioned five-spoke magnesium tyres and the Öhlins rear shock absorbers.


                                                                               © jmse

In spite of the quarter of a century elapsed since 1994, year in which it was launched into market and started to compete, the Ducati 916, Massimo Tamburini´s masterpiece, has stood the test of time very well and incredibly keeps on being a bike boasting futuristic lines, beauty to spare and excellent performance, with a technology that at the moment of its appearance was the world yardstick and still currently enabling the riders mounting it to relish unique feelings related to its performance on track, its stout torque from medium rpm and the roaring sound of its engine.

The steady perfectionism, search for beauty and practicality in everything done by Massimo Tamburini are straightforwardly apparent in the plush fuel tank, carved like a sculpture, in the same way as the tail section of the bike. © jmse

Close-up of the fuel tank. Once more, you can clearly perceive the superb mechanizing precision of the motorcycle metallic components, stemming from Ducati huge expertise in metallurgic field and a greatly handcrafted and painstaking labour. Massimo Bordi, Gianluigi Mengoli and Massimo Tamburini decided to provide the Ducati 916 with a fabulous electronic system of fuel injection Weber I.A.W with CPU P8 significantly helping to get the extraordinary performance of the bike in races, managing to obtain the optimum mixture of fuel and air according to the rpm at every moment, increasing the power in the whole range of revolutions, a concept that had been pioneered by the Bimota YB4 from 1988, also sharing with the Ducati 916 an indescribable conveyance of sensations to the rider, who constantly and accurately discerned the tyres behaviour. © jmse

On the other hand, The Michelangelo of Motorcycles was also a living computer having every detail in mind, and after a lot of conversations with Massimo Bordi and Gianluigi Mengoli,

Detail of the head of one of the two cylinders of the V-Twin powerplant, made with special aluminium alloy. It features a great thickness, because each one of the two cylinders of the Ducati 916 V-Twin engine endures much higher pressures, stress and makes much more effort than each one of the four cylinders of the 750 cc V4 Japanese bikes, so the metallic components of the Italian powerplant are much more massive and robust than in the four cylinder Japanese motorcycles, since they are dimensioned according to the task to do by the connecting rod, the piston pin, the piston itself, etc, to be able to wisthstand the power they are bound to develop. The two golden plugs visible on the left of the image have the aim of avoiding the freezing of the water cooled engine under very low temperature conditions. On top left is one of the four nuts fastening the cylinder head to the cylinder and the engine block inside which are the crankshaft and the gear box. On the right is part of one of the exhaust pipes and two reinforcing golden nuts. To all of that should be added the huge difficulty of design and manufacture of the highly efficient combustion chamber for such an exceedingly V-Twin 90º engine, and it was here where the interaction between Massimo Bordi and Gianluigi Mengoli (who turned into metal every powerplant scheme created by Bordi) was a further key factor in the great international success of this bike. © jmse

decided to endow the desmodromic V-Twin engine of the Ducati 916 with a very special character,

Detail of the cover of one of the engine cylinders with the letters Desmo 4V DOHC referring to the type of Desmoquattro V-Twin powerplant featuring four valves per cylinder and double overhead camshaft, designed by Massimo Bordi and whose combustion chambers were created by Gianluigi Mengoli. Needless to say that the knowledge on mechanics, thermodynamics, gases fluid, features of the used materials, cinematics, etc, displayed by Ducati are impressive and have traditionally had as origin the mythical Technical University of Bologna, which continues to currently be the world benchmark in these scopes, as well as developing a praiseworthy educational activity with its Física in Moto program and teachings imparted by figures of the standing of Gianfranco Zappoli, Tommaso Ruggeri and others. © jmse

not only grounded on capacity and power, but also on the best feasible balance between the valves size, the optimization of exhaust pipes, the adequate size of bore x stroke, the injection system, the profile of the camshafts, the air intakes, the gearbox ratios and so on.

                                                        Upper left area of the fork, with inscriptions made by Massimo Tamburini. © jmse

As a matter of fact, evidence clearly suggests that Massimo Tamburini had perfectly known since 1993 the huge potential of the Ducati 916 breed, which could reach up to roughly 155 hp at 11000 rpm with subsequent improvements and specific tunings of its formidable desmoquattro L90º engine featuring four valves per cylinder, as happened for instance with the Ducati 916 SPS from 1997, in which capacity was increased up to 996 cc, with a bore x stroke of 98 x 66 mm, the heads of both cylinders were redesigned, a new injection system with two injectors per cylinder was introduced and a power of 134 hp at 10500 rpm was reached, putting the cap on a trend that had started with the Ducati SP from 1994 (featuring larger valves than the standard model, alongside a more radical synchronization of the camshaft and a bigger diameter in both exhaust pipes) and whose qualitative pinnacle was the Ducati 916 with 955 cc and a power of 150 hp at 11000 rpm with which Carl Fogarty won the Superbike World Championship in 1998.

                          Massimo Tamburini next to his masterpiece : the Ducati 916, a timeless icon in the History of Motorcycling. © Ducati

It all proves that really, as was often stated by Massimo Tamburini, the Ducati 916 was too good for the WorldSBK Championship, far superior to the four cylinder 750 cc Japanese bikes taking part in it, and had been created to be able to compete one on one nothing less than with the Honda CBR900RR V4 in line appeared in 1992.

Besides, the Ducati 916 appeared in the nick of time to substantially enhance the WorldSBK Championship in a period when, however incredible it may seem today, the amazingly burgeoning Superbike World Championship had a level of interest, television coverage and quantity of spectators in the circuits comparable to the 500 cc and MotoGP races, which paid off in soaring sales for different European and Japanese manufacturers of bikes.

On the other hand, the beauty of a bike is something that obeys subjective criteria to greater or lesser extent.

The History of Motorcycling has been full of very beautiful bikes like the Honda RC30 from 1988, the Yamaha RD350LC from 1980, the Suzuki GSX-R750G from 1985, the MV Agusta F4 750 cc from 1999 (sharing a lot of similarities with the Ducati 916, specially the rear area), the Cagiva V589 from 1989, the Harley-Davidson Duo Glide from 1961, the Ducati Desmosedici RR from 2008, the Honda NR750 from 1992, the Kawasaki Z900A1 from 1973, the Honda CB77 from 1961, the Triumph Bonneville T120 from 1959, the Honda CB750 from 1968, the Harley-Davidson XR750 from 1972, the Ducati 900SS, the Norton Manx from 1950, the Ducati Paul Smart 1000 cc from 2003, the Royal Enfield Bullet 500 cc from 1967, the Honda Africa Twin from 1988, the Honda CBR600F from 1987, the Suzuki RG500 Gamma from 1985, the Suzuki Hayabusa from 1999 and many others.

Nevertheless, the Ducati 916 is highly probably the most beautiful motorcycle ever made, designed by an unforgettable and landmark genius, imbued with remarkable elegance and love for things made with uncompromising quality, in addition to being a great person, who was very appreciated for those one who met him, a tremendous enthusiast of bikes and an artist of the highest level in his scope, who knew how to convey to millions of fans of the two wheels sport around the globe the value of the genuine handcrafted product, of the sumptuous contours to the utmost, of the most advanced technology in symbiosis with dream chasis and fairing, of the emorions skyrocketing and many more things.

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An accomplished Saint Laurent of motorcycles, to such an extent that highly frequently, as well as the Ducati 916 (a bike that goes on without getting old), some of his creations throughout his stages in Bimota and MV Agusta also appear presently in the first places of the most beautiful bikes ever lists.

                                                                                                           FORZA ITALIA