Ducati motorcycles are manufactured by Ducati Motor Holding S.p.A. The Italian company has its main headquarters in Bologna, Italy, but is actually owned by the Audi German automotive manufacturer. It’s a bit complicated when tracing who owns the company as this ownership goes through Lamborghini, which is Audi’s Italian subsidiary and the Volkswagen Group owns this company. Regardless of who owns the bottom line, Ducati is a name that stands out because of its past and current performance, speed, and quality in the motorcycle industry. Ducati motorcycles have undergone an evolution similar to that of other big brand names, but the 1950s were a special year for the company. With this in mind, here are the best five 1950s model Ducati’s ever produced.
1952 Ducati 98
The Ducati 98 was first released to the public for sale in 1952. This was significant for the manufacturer because of its simplicity. While the engine was an extremely low performer, it was not meant to be a fast bike, but rather one that was easy for riders to drive. The engine was a 4-stroke single cylinder 98cc, hence the name, 98. This was paired with a 4-speed chain drive transmission. The design was logical and offered durability and versatility rolled into one machine. It was popular because of its high appeal with beginners and its affordability. It was bare bones, but it delivered high in providing reliable and economical transportation.This is the fifth best motorcycle produced by Ducati in the 1950s.
1955 Ducati Mariana
This iconic bike was the first model that the company outfitted with a bevel-gear single cylinder engine. The 4-stroke featured a 10 degree forward angle configuration in the 98cc engine combined with a 4-speed chain drive transmission. Gianni Degli Antoni took the win at the Motogiro d’Italia with a Mariana 125. The Mariana was designed with racing and winning in mind. Ducati captured the vision of mass producing this model to make it available to racers throughout the world. They continued production of this model through the 1960s and gained a place in motorcycle history.
1956 Ducati 125 Desmo
The 125 Desmo goes down in the history of Ducati as the firsts motorcycle that would bear the symbol of the prancing horse. This super-fast racer was named the Desmo because of its use of a desmodromic valve system. It was a breakthrough in automotive technology that nearly eliminated the problem of energy losses and increased performance and reliability. This bike was powered by a single cylinder 4-stroke engine with a displacement of 124.6cc that was paired with a 5 or a 6-speed transmission.
The new innovation marked a turning point for Ducati that would establish the firm foundation for the evolution in the design and engineering of their motorcycles that made them a force to be reckoned with when it came to the competition in the world market.
1956 Ducati Siluro
Ducati announced its new Siluro model in 1956 as it had found its niche in the production of track-worthy motorcycles. This bike reached a top speed of more than 170 mph in testing runs. This iconic bike became a speed record breaker in its day, capturing several rounds and breaking new ground with its new technology. Ducati brought an aeronautical engineer on board with a specialization in working with sheet-aluminum to creating a fairing referred to as a “flat-fish,” that significantly improved the aerodynamics and the speed of the bike. The Siluro was powered by a single-cylinder 4-stroke 98cc engine that was paired with a 4-speed transmission.
1959 Ducati Elite 200
To close out the 1950s era of Ducati motorcycle models, the 1959 Ducati Elite 200 made its appearance on the scene. This model made an impressive six-year run with the final edition produced in 1965. The Elite 200 lived up to its name and then some with its amazing handling and the beautiful sports styling that made it attractive to the eye and enjoyable to ride. It was powered by a single-cylinder 4-stroke 203cc engine paired with a 4-speed transmission. The Elite 200 was Ducati’s answer to a sluggish sales market. It was so successful that the company saw a revitalization in their domestic market. The bike was among the most sophisticated in its era of production that was versatile in its uses. It became a top seller for the brand and remains the number one bike manufactured by Ducati in the 1950s.