|More Information on the Ducati 916/996/998|
The Ducati 916 is a sport bike made by Ducati from 1994 to 1998. In contrast to Japanese inline four-cylinder competitors of the time, its V-twin engine produced less outright power, but a more even torque spread. The 916 model was replaced by the 996 model in 1999.
Design and development
The first development of the 916 model family can be traced back to the development of the four-valve Ducati engine, the Desmoquattro, through the development and racing of the earlier Pantah models, to the road-going 851 and 888 models.
The chief designer of Ducati motorcycles since the 1970s was Fabio Taglioni (1920–2001). He introduced the Pantah in 1979; its engine was updated in the 1990s in the SuperSport (SS) series and all modern Ducati engines are derivatives of the Pantah, which used its camshafts to both open and close the engine's valves, eliminating the usual valve closing springs, a system called 'desmodromic'. Taglioni, did not, however, have an interest in four-valve head engines, and so this was left to his successor. The eight-valve V-twin was the work of Taglioni's successor, Massimo Bordi.
Designed by Massimo Tamburini and Sergio Robbiano and his team at the Cagiva Research Centre in San Marino, the 916's water-cooled engine was a revision of that of its predecessor, the 888, with larger displacement and a new engine management system. The greater displacement was accomplished by increasing the crankshaft stroke from 64 mm to 66 mm, keeping the same 94 mm bore size as the 888, resulting in a capacity of 916 cc. (By the time the 916 was introduced, the final 851/888 Corse engines had also had their bore sizes increased to 96 mm resulting in 'race only' capacities of 926 cc and 955 cc respectively.)
The 916 was a smaller motorcycle than the 888, with a chrome-moly trellis frame which was shared with the Ducati 748 in 1995 and beyond. This was combined with striking new bodywork that featured aggressive lines.
Design of the Ducati 916 was a balance between function and form:
Journalist Kevin Ash suggests that although the 916 was "one of the most influential machines of the last twenty years", the design is actually derivative of the Honda NR750, with the shared elements of underseat exhaust, narrow waist, similar squared-off dual headlights, and single-sided swingarm holding a large-section rear tire.
Making its debut in 1994, the Ducati 916 was admired because of its new design and outstanding technical features. At the time of introduction, the 916 was recognized by winning "every magazine's Bike of the Year award for 1994", and Ducati sold out its entire first year's production run in the United States before any had actually arrived there.
First presented at the Bologna Motor Show in December 1994, the 916 Senna was a special edition to commemorate Formula 1 World Champion, Ayrton Senna, who was an avid Ducati owner and endorsed its release two months prior to his death in May 1994. At the time, the project was facilitated by the fact that Claudio Castiglioni, Ducati's owner, was a personal friend of the F1 legend. In total, between 1995 and 1998, Ducati released three "Senna" editions and, in every instance, net proceeds were donated to the Instituto Ayrton Senna charity.
Ducati won 4 Superbike World Championships with the 916, in 1994–1996, and in 1998, with riders Carl Fogarty and Troy Corser. Fogarty won again in 1999, with 996 replacing the 916, and again in 2001 with Troy Bayliss on the 996. Ducati won the Manufacturer's Championship in all those years plus 2000.
On March 1 and 2 in 1999, at the AHRMA Classic Days at Daytona International Speedway, Devin Battley rode a 1998 Ducati 916 to two victories. First, in the eight-lap Formula One class, and then in the Battle of the Twins Open class.
Subsequent models and legacy
The 916 was later replaced by the 996 and 998 with similar design but revised engines and more power.
Massimo Tamburini went on to design the MV Agusta F4, the bike which is seen as his replacement for the 916 range, and it shares many similarities with the 916 especially in the tail section. Both of these Tamburini designs were featured in the Guggenheim Museum's 1998 The Art of the Motorcycle exhibit.
Looking back over a decade after its introduction, it is regularly placed on top lists of important designs in motorcycle history by authorities like the Guggenheim Museum, Bennetts, and Design Week; and authors Ian Falloon, Hugo Wilson, and Margaret Henderson. In a retrospective on the 1990s, Motorcyclist magazine simply stated, "1994: Ducati 916 debuts. Did anything else happen that year?"
In addition to the Guggenheim exhibit noted above, an example is also held by the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art.