Ducati, a name long synonymous with motorcycle racing, actually started out manufacturing electronic components. Based in Bologna, Italy and officially named The Societa Radio Brevetti Ducati, Founded in 1926 by three brothers, Adriano, Marcello and Bruno Ducati, the Ducati family, soon became a world leader in the manufacture of radios, vacuum tubes, electronic components, and even cameras. The company grew larger and larger, employing over 11,000 workers before allied bombing campaigns during the Second World War destroyed the Borgo Panigale factory in 1944.
Post-war life in Italy was extremely tough. The Italian industries that once produced transportation for the Italian people were ravaged by the war, and the economy was at an all time low. The people needed something cheap and reliable to get them around. The bicycle became the main mode of transportation in Italy. But, in 1946 that all changed. At the Milan Fair the Ducati brothers, introduced the Cucciolo, or little pup (so named for its barking exhaust) an auxiliary engine that could be retrofitted to the frame of a bicycle.
The Cucciolo was a smash, and soon Ducati was contracting out frames to be built specifically for the little engine. By 1950, Ducati had produced over 200,000 Cucciolos, and by the end of its run the motor had been increased to a capacity of 65cc and was producing a whopping 2hp. 2hp by todays standard is no faster than a push lawnmower. The production of the Cucciolo continued into the early 50s, and by 1953, Ducatis racing success had made a name for the company.
Ducati was split into two separate operations- Ducati Elettronica S. p. A. and Ducati Meccanica S.p. A. , which took over the Borgo Panigale plant. In 1954 Ducati was introduced to a legend, a young engineer from Lugo di Romagna named Fabio Taglioni. Taglioni was most famous for Ducati innovations, including the now famous Desmodromic valve gear. Powered by a pushrod overhead valve engine displacing 98cc, it was somewhat successful in racing but still indicated Ducatis commitment to producing budget machinery not specifically designed with racing in mind. The 1950s saw motorcycle racing take Italy by storm, with thousands of racers competing for victory.
Ducati soon became synonymous with victory. The desmo valve gear made for an extremely powerful race bike, but it rarely made its way into the hands of the private community, who were still racing helical gear bikes with great success. The 1960s were a somewhat successful time for Ducati in the racing field, but the Japanese bikes were soon dominating the finish line. Single piston bikes were still showing moderate success in racing, but Ducati needed a larger capacity bike, preferably a twin, if it was going to compete.
The 500GP of 1971 showed promise, and although it never won any races it was still valuable engineering wise. 1971 also saw the introduction of the GT 750, Ducatis first l-twin street bike. It produced 60hp and was driven by desmodromic valve gear. 1972 saw great triumph for Ducati when its 750 twin piloted by legendary racer Paul Smart won the 200-mile race at Imola. Things were looking up for Ducati and they established themselves permanently with that win. Just when Ducati enthusiasts were getting used to consistent factory support and distribution, Ducati made it clear they were having financial troubles.
In 1984, control of Ducati was transferred to the Cagiva group, and luckily for enthusiasts and customers Cagiva was interested in motorcycle production. Ducati in exchange for the bailout would devote a large portion of its production to making engines that would power Cagiva motorcycles, and Ducati would continue its racing ventures. So, while Ducati was focusing on the F1 races, they were also spread thin making parts for Cagiva Elefants and Alazurras. Ducati also made a large cruiser aimed at the American market the Ducati Indiana.
Seeming to have gone off track, Ducati continued to devote its time to developing cutting edge sports bikes. Ducati now offers a sophisticated line bikes in various distinct market segments: Superbike, Supersport , Monster, Multistrada, Sport classic and Hypermotard. Each line of bike is derived from years of design and development due to competition. They hold countless championship titles in many racing categories, 17 victories in 1991 on the 888 superbike and 9 victories in 1992. The 1098 superbike dominated the mid 90s by winning 12 championship titles.
In 2007, the 1098 was named the best superbike by Moto-Mag World. Ducati has come a long way from building electrical components, like cameras and radios. Now Ducati is a world leader in the motorcycle racing market. Searching for a cheap reliable mode of transportation The Societa Radio Brevetti Ducati spawned a revolution of great achievement.
Works Cited www. Motorcycle. com www. Best-motorcycle-gear. com/ducati-motorcycle-history. html www. Ducatireview. com www. Europeancycleservices. com http://www. ducati. com/heritage/museo/introduzione. jhtml http://en. wikipedia. org/wiki/Ducati.