Originally Antonio Cavalieri Ducati and his sons founded the Società Scientifica Radio Brevetti Ducati in Bologna in 1926 to make radio components like vacuum tubes. By 1935 they had a factory in the Borgo Panigale to increase their production. They made it through WWII despite being a bombing target. Meanwhile, in Turin, Italy, the Società Italiana per Applicazioni Tecniche Auto-Aviatorie was developing small push rod engines called the Cucciolo or Puppy. These engines attached to bicycles.
In 1950 Ducati began producing motorcycles that shared the name of the engine. The first Ducati motorcycle, the Cucciolo, was a ninety-eight-pound wonder, with a top speed of 40 mph, and a 15 mm carburetor (0.59-inch) giving just under 200 mpg‑US. It wasn’t long before the name Puppy got traded in for technical names like 65TL. From their incredibly humble, and almost unrelated beginnings making radio gear, Ducati was on its way to becoming one of the most celebrated names in the motorcycle world.
20. 1988 MY Ducati 851 Strada “Kit”
Any Ducati that has “My,” in the name is a special edition. We decided to start the list off with a classic. Marzocchi mono-shock rear break couples with the dual disc (with Brembo calipers) break in the front gives the rider exceptional stopping power. The windshield keeps the mess down, and the liquid-cooled, fuel-injected, four-stroke, 851cc, 90-degree V-Twin desmodromic powerhouse with six-speed manual transmission means you can go fast enough to need those breaks. Every rare 1988 851 Strada Kit left is part of the original 201 homologated for racing.
19. 2009-10 MY Ducati Desmosedici RR G8 Special Edition
From a classic special edition to a more modern one, Ducatis are great bikes. The MY Ducati Desmosedici RR G8 Special Edition is one-of-a-kind. The livery on the side was suggested by the Italian Prime Minister at the time. The bike was made especially for the 35th G8 summit, which had to be moved because of the earthquake at L’Aquila. All the Desmosedici RRs are great bikes, but this one did a good deed as well by helping to bring attention to the affected areas.
18. 2014 Ducati 1199 / 1299 Panigale
This stunning 205 hp Ducati first came out in 2014. Thanks to the amazing Superquadro engine this was the first time Ducati was able to produce a bike that was over 200 hp, thus earning this model its place on the top 20 models of all time. The Panigale 1199 R and 1299 are fitted with size 120/70ZR-17 and 200/55ZR-17 front and rear Pirelli Diablo Supercorsa SP tires to handle all that power.
17. 2009 Ducati 1198S
Motorcycle News called the 2009 1198S, “One of those motorcycles that everybody should be allowed to ride once in their life” The engine in this particular Ducati is one of the best out there (at the time it hit the market). Adjustable height and suspension give the rider a fully customizable and incredibly powerful, yet smooth ride. There’s minimal vibration, which is surprising given the engine.
16. 2007 Ducati Hypermotard 1100
This Hypermotard 1100 was one of the last bikes Federico Minoli approved as CEO of Ducati. It’s an excellent bike, just like its predecessors. One of the main differences between this and models that came before is the dry clutch. It makes a weight difference you can feel. What a great way to go out on a high note.
15. 2011 Ducati Diavel Cruiser
The bike that could take on a Harley in the police market is no small accomplishment. The Diavel Cruiser is that bike. When it premiered in 2010 at a mere 456 lbs, people were stunned. When Diavel put out 162hp, with 94lb/ft of torque, they were breathless, and when it went 0-60 mph in the quickest time ever tested by cycle world, they were sold. Better still, they keep on selling.
14. 2005 Ducati 999
As an award-winning bike, the 2005 Ducati 999 wowed crowds. In the year it debuted it won the Maxisport category for the prestigious international Master-bike and managed to come in second overall. When it comes to leaving the competition in the dust, there’s nothing like a big win to strut your stuff, and this bike has what it takes to win.
13. 1964 Ducati Berliner Apollo 1260 (Prototype)
The 1964 Berliner Apollo was a total trainwreck. It’s not that the bike didn’t run, but this was Ducati’s early effort to take on Harley Davidson and win, something they couldn’t accomplish at the time the 1260 premiered. Though it was arguably one of Ducati’s least successful bikes and it never even made it to the road, the pure visionary spirit and beautiful body of this bike give it a reason to be on this list. Apolo may be the most ambitious project Ducati had yet undertaken, and rather than see it as a failure, we’re choosing to look at it as an essential step on their road to greatness.
12. 1954-55 Ducati Gran Sport Marianna
Marianna was another significant milestone for Ducati. While all their other bikes were getting outraced, this sport bike zipped past the competition and took home the prize with its unbeatable speed and grace. Though they were officially named Gran Sport, the Marianas were the queen of the track, leaving the big boys eating her dust as she waltzed away with the glory. They are rarely seen outside of Italy, but one surfaces now and then at auction.
11. 1958 Ducati 85 Sport Mini Elite
The 1958 85 Sport was called the Mini Elite for good reasons. They were the fondest wish of many an aspiring Italian bike lover. This particular model more than any other before it and many since was the most beloved Ducati. Nowadays it’s a vintage classic, and a rare find, but they are loved just the same.
10. 1974-77 Ducati 900 Supersport Twin
Ducatis 900 Supersport Twin was the first to carry the tower shaft gear driven cams that became so popular later. It featured a double seat for a passenger and tool boxes you could lock, which made it somewhat of a novelty at the time. It was the height of fashionable riding for the ’70’s. Incidentally, the 1970’s were also a popular time for imported Ducatis, which were recent on the market in the United States. This model helped to solidify Ducati’s place in the American market, so it gets the tenth spot on our list.
9. 2007 Ducati 1098S
When these bikes came out, Ducati was fighting for its life to remain on top. Japan was starting to take off as a bike manufacturing country, and they were winning often. Optional add-ons like the Termignoni pipes were a lifesaver for Ducati. Lighter wheels and the gold Öhlins suspension made this model a smooth ride and caught the attention of the motorcycle world. Carbon fiber pieces were durable and light enough to help it reach higher speeds. Also, admirable were the changes to induction and exhaust, which helped the 1098S run like a dream.
8. 2004 Ducati Desmosedici RR: The Firebreather
Only 1500 of these Racing Replica bikes were ever made for sale to the US public, and we ate them up. The Race only exhaust was a fan favorite from the kit, but we like the included sponsor stickers the best. The forged magnesium wheels were nothing to sneeze at either. As collector’s items go the Firebreather is one of the best.
7. 2003 Ducati Multistrada
Multistrada means “many roads,” and while the name is picture perfect, the look of this bike rubbed some brand loyalists the wrong way. Created as an “adventure-supermoto hybrid,” the Multistrada was meant for offroad as well as touring, and while it certainly takes a few adjustments to get you there, still it does both jobs admirably. The sheer adaptability of this ‘ugly’ bike won it a spot in the top ten of our list.
6. 2014 Ducati Scrambler
The Scrambler was a project from way back in the 1960’s as a request from USA’s Berliner Motor Corporation. Obviously, that plan didn’t work out so great, but over fifty years later they pulled it from the vaults, overhauled it with modern equipment and sent it to production. This is our revival pick for the best-reworked concept in Ducati history.
5. 1949 Ducati 60
Arguably the first real Ducati bike , the 60 was a natural extension of the Puppies and the companies initial attempt to sway the market. It worked beautifully. These OHV single cylinder motorcycles were around for almost 20 model years, which was all but unheard of in the relatively new bike world at the time. We’d give it a higher honor than 5th place, but Ducati has made some very fine bikes over the years.
4. 2009 Ducati Street Fighter
Okay, we’ll admit it, the Street Fighter is on the top of the list because it makes us drool. Something about the geometric design elements brings joy to our hearts and the sound of an engine revving to our imagination even when it’s standing completely still. We also love the more ergonomic position of the rider on this one. Of course, it’s also a stellar bike with a ton of power to play around with, but we love it for its body.
3. 1994-98 Ducati 916 SBK
Carl Fogarty and Troy Corser won four Super bike World Championships with the 916 in the mid to late ’90s. With a top speed of 257 km/h (159.7 mph) and nine thousand rpms, this bike was made to race. While we could claim we also love the 916 for its looks, and man fans do, there’s more to it. The connected L-Twin engines are what takes the cake on this model. Sometimes it really is what’s inside that counts, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t look great too.
2. 1971 Ducati 750 GT
Like the previous two bikes, this one is a looker. The 750 GT has beautiful proportions and a low profile we love. However, the real claim to fame on the 1970 750 GT is that it was the first of the Ducati V-twin line. Fabio Taglioni was going for “essential sports machine,” when he first drew the engine, but he ended up with so much more. This bike is a masterpiece and a collector’s item in addition to being an exceptional all-around motorcycle. For all those reasons and more, we are giving it second place.
1. 1993 Ducati Monster 900
Ducati’s Monster 900, 1993 edition was the 90th-anniversary bike. The Monster has been hailed as ‘the bike that saved Ducati’ and ‘made Ducati what it is today,’ by visor down. They’ve got it right. Everything about this streamlined and powerful beauty changed the way Ducati does business and builds bikes. Visionary Miguel Galluzzi brought this beast into being, and began the era of the ‘naked’ or ‘street bikes,’ as they’re known today. For that reason, we’ve ranked it number one on the list. Not many bikes come along in any lifetime that revolutionize the whole industry, but the Monster did, and it’s the crowning achievement in the Ducati line.
Whether you’re in the market for a new Ducati, or just dreamily perusing your biker bucket list, the top 20 Ducatis of all time are worth adding to any collection or riding as standalone bikes. If you dream of racing, a Ducati is probably a big part of that fantasy, and you can get a similar feel (be safe on the roads) with any of their astounding offerings. For our part, we want that ’09 Street Fighter. Which one is your favorite? Leave a comment below.