Meanwhile, at the small Turinese firm SIATA (Societa Italiana per Applicazioni Tecniche Auto-Aviatorie), Aldo Farinelli began developing a small pushrod engine for mounting on bicycles. Barely a month after the official liberation of Italy in 1944, SIATA announced its intention to sell this engine, nicknamed 'Cucciolo' (Italian for "little puppy", in reference to the distinctive exhaust sound) to the public. The first Cucciolos were available alone, to be mounted on standard bicycles, by the buyer; however, businessmen, soon bought the little engines in quantity, and offered complete motorized-bicycle units for sale.
In 1950 (after more than 200,000 Cucciolos had been sold), in collaboration with SIATA, the Ducati firm finally offered its own Cucciolo-based motorcycle. This first Ducati motorcycle was a 60 cc bike weighing 98 pounds with a top speed of 40 mph (64 km/h) had a 15 mm carburetor giving just under 200 mpg (85 km/L). Ducati soon dropped the "Cucciolo" name in favor of "55M" and "65TL".
When the market moved toward larger motorcycles, Ducati management decided to respond, making an impression at an early-1952 Milan show, introducing their 65TS cycle and Cruiser (a four-stroke motor scooter). Despite being described as the most interesting new machine at the 1952 show, the Cruiser was not a great success, and only a few thousand were made over a two-year period before the model ceased production.
In 1953, management split the company into two separate entities, Ducati Meccanica SpA and Ducati Elettronica, in acknowledgment of its diverging motorcycle and electronics product lines. (Ducati Elettronica became Ducati Energia SpA in the eighties.) Dr. Giuseppe Montano took over as head of Ducati Meccanica SpA and the Borgo Panigale factory was modernized with government assistance. By 1954, Ducati Meccanica SpA had increased production to 120 bikes a day.
The company's offerings have improved and diversified since then.
In the 1960s, Ducati earned its place in motorcycling history by producing the then fastest 250 cc road bike available, the Mach 1. In the 1970s Ducati began producing large-displacement L-twin (i.e. a 90° V-twin) motorcycles and in 1973 released an L-twin with the trademarked desmodromic valve design. In 1985, Cagiva bought Ducati and planned to rebadge Ducati motorcycles with the lesser-known Cagiva name (at least outside of Italy). By the time the purchase was completed, Cagiva kept the "Ducati" name on its motorcycles. In 1996, Texas Pacific Group bought a 51% stake in the company for US$325 million then in 1998, bought most of the remaining 49% to become the sole owner of Ducati. In 1999, TPG issued an IPO of Ducati stock and renamed the company Ducati Motor Holding SpA. TPG sold over 65% of its shares in Ducati, leaving TPG the majority shareholder. In December 2005 Ducati returned to Italian ownership with the sale of Texas Pacific's stake (minus one share) to Investindustrial Holdings, the investment fund of Carlo and Andrea Bonomi.
From the 1960s to the 1990s, the Spanish MotoTrans company licensed Ducati engines and produced motorcycles that, although they incorporated subtle differences, were clearly Ducati-derived. MotoTrans's most notable machine was the 250 cc 24 Horas (Spanish for 24 hours). A 285 cc version of this bike won the Barcelona twenty-four-hour race at the Montjuic circuit for three consecutive years, 1956 to 1958.
Ducati is best known for high performance motorcycles characterized by large capacity four-stroke, 90-degree V-twin engines featuring a desmodromic valve design. Modern Ducatis remain among the dominant performance motorcycles available today partly because of the Desmodromic valve design, which is nearing its 50th year of use. Desmodromic valves are closed with a separate, dedicated cam lobe and lifter instead of the conventional valve springs used in most internal combustion engines. This allows the cams to have a more radical profile, thus opening and closing the valves more quickly without the risk of valve-float which is likely when using a "passive" closing mechanisms under the same conditions.
While most other manufacturers utilize wet-clutches (with the spinning parts bathed in oil) Ducati uses multiplate dry clutches in many of their current motorcycles. The dry clutch eliminates the power loss from oil viscosity drag on the engine even though the engagement may not be as smooth as the oil bath versions, and the clutch plates can wear more rapidly.
In 1973, Ducati commemorated its 1972 win at the Imola 200 with the production model green frame Ducati 750 SuperSport.
(In 2006 the retro-styled Ducati PaulSmart1000LE was released, which shares styling cues with the 1973 750 SuperSport (itself a production replica of Paul Smart's 1972 race winning 750 Imola Desmo), as one of a SportClassic series representing the 750 GT, 750 Sport, and 750 SuperSport Ducati motorcycles.)
In 1995, the company introduced the Ducati 916 model designed by Massimo Tamburini, a water-cooled version that allowed for higher output levels and a striking new bodywork that featured aggressive lines, a underseat exhaust, and a single-sided swingarm. Ducati has since ceased production of what many called the bike of the 1990s, supplanting it (and its progeny, the 748, 996 and 998) with the 749 and 999.
For the 2009 model year, Ducati lineup is as follows: Monster
Ducati (in its various incarnations) has produced several styles of motorcycle engines, including varying the number of cylinders, type of valve actuation and fuel delivery. Ducati is best known for its "V-Twin" motor which is the powerplant in the majority of Ducati-marqued motorcycles. Ducati has also manufactured engines with one, two, three or four cylinders; operated by pull rod valves and push rod valves; single, double and triple overhead camshafts; two stroke and even at one stage manufactured a stationary diesel engine, many of which were used as emergency pumps (eg for fire fighting). They have also produced outboard motors for marine use. Currently, Ducati makes no other engines except for its motorcycles.
On current Ducati motors except for the Desmosedici, the valves are actuated by a standard valve cam shaft which is rotated by a timing belt driven by the motor directly. The teeth on the belt keep the camshaft drive pulleys indexed. On older Ducati motors, prior to 1986, drive was by solid shaft that transferred to the camshaft through bevel-cut gears. This method of valve actuation was used on many of Ducati's older single cylinder motorcycles - the shaft tube is visible on the outside of the cylinder.
Ducati is also famous for using the desmodromic valve system championed by engineer and designer Fabio Taglioni though they have also used engines that use valve springs to close their valves. In the early days, Ducati reserved the desmodromic valve heads for its higher performance bikes and its race bikes. These valves do not suffer from valve float at high engine speeds, thus a desmodromic engine is capable of far higher revolutions than a similarly configured engine with traditional spring-valve heads.
In the 1960s and -70s Ducati produced a wide range of small two-stroke bikes, mainly sub-100 cc capacities. Large quantities of some models were exported to the U.S.
Ducati has produced the following motorcycle engine types:
Currently, there are four Ducati companies: Ducati Motor Holding (the subject of this article), Ducati Corse (which runs the Ducati racing program and is wholly owned by Ducati Motor Holding), Ducati Energia, a designer and manufacturer of electrical and electronic components and systems and Ducati Sistemi, a subsidiary of Ducati Energia. All are located in Borgo Panigale in Bologna, Italy.
Ducati Motor Holding often uses electrical components and subsystems from Ducati Energia.
When Ducati re-joined MotoGP in , MotoGP had changed its rules to allow four-stroke 990 cc engines to race. At the time Ducati was the fastest bike. In , MotoGP reduced the engine size to 800 cc, and Ducati continued to be the fastest bike with a bike that was markedly faster than its rivals as was displayed by Casey Stoner on tracks with long straights.
For the , Ducati Marlboro Team will campaign their Desmosedici GP8 with Casey Stoner and Marco Melandri. Ducati also supplies bikes to Pramac d'Antin which for has been renamed the Alice Team, who are running the Desmosedici GP8.
|Casey Stoner||Ducati Desmosedici GP7|
The company has won thirteen rider's world championships since the championship's inception in 1988. It has been argued that Ducati has amassed more wins than any other manufacturer because the rules are deliberately set to favour their bikes through manufacturer lobbying; this, of course, is a matter of dispute. In 2006, Troy Bayliss' championship winning 999R was quoted to have 10 to 15 HP less than the Japanese four cylinder rivals, despite the fact that the Ducati L-Twin had less limitations imposed for tuning its engine.
|Raymond Roche||Ducati 851|
|Doug Polen||Ducati 888|
|Doug Polen||Ducati 888|
|Carl Fogarty||Ducati 916|
|Carl Fogarty||Ducati 916|
|Troy Corser||Ducati 916|
|Carl Fogarty||Ducati 916|
|Carl Fogarty||Ducati 996|
|Troy Bayliss||Ducati 996|
|Neil Hodgson||Ducati 999|
|James Toseland||Ducati 999|
|Troy Bayliss||Ducati 999|
|Troy Bayliss||Ducati 1098|
Ducati has also won fifteen SBK manufacturer world championships for years 1991–1996, 1998–2004, 2006 and 2008.
|1995||Steve Hislop||Ducati 916|
|1999||Troy Bayliss||Ducati 996|
|2000||Neil Hodgson||Ducati 996|
|2001||John Reynolds||Ducati 996|
|2002||Steve Hislop||Ducati 998|
|2003||Shane Byrne||Ducati 998|
|2005||Gregorio Lavilla||Ducati 999|
|2008||Shane Byrne||Ducati 1098|
|1993||Doug Polen||Ducati 888|
|1994||Troy Corser||Ducati 916|