After Harley-Davidson, Ducati might be the most famous motorcycle manufacturer on the planet. But there's a huge difference in style, performance, and audience between the two brands, which aren't true competitors to one another.
Ducati was founded in 1926, though the company didn't start selling engines until 1944. While most people think of Ducati as being just about as Italian as Ferrari, much like so much in the corporate world, all is not as it seems. While still based in Bologna, the company's ownership group actually extends to Germany, under the umbrella of Lamborghini, then Audi, then Volkswagen AG.
Ducati's heritage as a builder of sleek racers can be clearly understood by going back over some of their most beautiful bikes from days gone by. However, just like Harley owners, Ducati owners love to modify their motorcycles with all kinds of performance and aesthetic enhancements.
From today's best aftermarket cafe racers to bone-stock factory monsters, keep scrolling for 17 stunning Ducatis every rider needs to see.
17 Ducati SuperSport
The Ducati SuperSport epitomizes performance sport-bikes. Not only does its clean exterior look perfect, with smooth, futuristic panels that transition straight back into a muscular rear end, but the bike shares its engine with the Hypermotard 939 and is also available in an upgraded "S" trim with better suspension and Ducati's quickshifter transmission system.
16 Ducati XDiavel
Ducati's revival after the introduction of the Monster back in the 1990s has seen the brand branch out into just about every motorcycle class. The gorgeous XDiavel cruiser above combines the external frame that made the Monster so revolutionary with performance that Ducati seems proud of: 93 lb-ft of torque and 152 horsepower out of a 1262cc engine.
15 Diamond Atelier Ducati Scrambler
One of the best parts of motorcycle culture is that so many people can easily gain cheap entry into the world by buying a bike and then modifying it to their heart's content. While Honda's CB lineup tends to attract attention thanks to reliability and ease of work, plenty of builders are bold enough to put out modded Ducatis, such as the Scrambler above, from Diamond Atelier.
14 Ducati 899 Panigale Senna Tribute
This motorcycle from Ducati was designed and produced in tribute to the great Formula 1 driver Ayrton Senna. According to Motorcycle News, these bikes were built as part of a limited run numbering only 1,199 examples, based on the 899 Panigale. The tricky bit, though, is that Ducati only sold the bikes in Brazil, so some people have modded their more standard Panigales to replicate the factory edition.
13 Ducati M1100 Darth Mostro by K-Speed Customs
This bike is totally intimidating in all black with shortened hindquarters that look perfect as paired with radical wheels, tires, and brakes. Obviously named after the Siths from Star Wars, this build comes courtesy of K-Speed Customs, which Pipeburn claims is the biggest star in Thailand's bike customization scene with 12 locations spread throughout the country.
12 Ducati 250 Cafe Racer
The entire motorcycle industry has leaned hard into the recent boom in cafe racer style, with shops such as Deus ex Machina in Los Angeles propagating the fad amongst celebrities and wannabes alike. But few of the productions could live up to this stunning Ducati 250 Cafe Racer, which is simple, clean, and absolutely perfect.
11 Ducati 750S Racer
Ducati's legendary motorcycles continue to climb in value—much like the rest of the bike and car collectible world—though a plateau may be approaching. Collectors will be hard-pressed to find anything much more quintessential and iconic than this 750S Racer, which belongs in a museum just as much as it belongs on the road or on a dirt track.
10 Custom Ducati 750 Sport
Of course, if Ducati makes a perfect bike, there are going to be plenty of owners who think they can perfect it just that little bit more. And it's hard to argue that the builder of this custom Ducati 750 Sport did a bad job—all except that suede detail on the seat, which has a texture that just stands out as not matching the rest of the clean build.
9 Ducati 860 GT by Made in Italy Motorcycles
Once again, a customization shop has produced an absolutely perfect Ducati that has just a few details that go above and beyond the manufacturer's vision. This bike comes courtesy of Made in Italy Motorcycles and pairs the wind fairing with low, slick lines in a cafe racer style that doesn't get too "in your face" about its style.
8 Custom Ducati Ulster
Believe it or not, this aggressive build is still based upon the wildly successful Ducati Monster, which becomes a little more apparent when just focusing on the external frame amidst the wildness of its surroundings. Though it's a Ducati at heart, Return of the Cafe Racers points out that the front fairing is actually a Yamaha piece that harks back to classic endurance-racer style.
7 Ducati 916
There's something perfect about the Ducati 916. It doesn't get too wild, remaining clean and simple on the outside, though many sources cite it as the most beautiful motorcycle ever built. Is it a little heavy looking? Sure, but that 916cc V-twin employs fuel injection, water-cooling, and four valves per cylinder to produce a top speed of over 161 miles per hour.
6 Ducati 848 Evo
It's hard to believe that the futuristic Ducati 848 Evo pictured above came out in 2010. As the predecessor to the 899 Panigale, the 848 Evo was the last iteration of the iconic 848 and included Brembo brakes and steering dampers to go along with a 370-pound curb weight and a 115 horsepower rating at a screaming 10,000 RPM.
5 Ducati Streetfighter V4
Ducati's next release will be the Streetfighter V4, a 2020 model that is set to hit showrooms sometime in the first quarter of the new year. In the meantime, Cycle World reports that a modified version competed at Pikes Peak. The bike features the same engine as the Panigale V4, though likely in a higher state of tune to keep up with the times.
4 Ducati 848 Turbo
In car culture, it doesn't get much better than bolting on a huge turbo and producing some serious power gains. Well, the same might apply to bikes, given this custom Ducati 848, which was turbocharged by two friends named Dylan Johnson and Matt Sarale, according to Bike Bound. Unsurprisingly, the two also had some fun with a Subaru WRX.
3 Ducati SportClassic 1000
One of the earlier responses to the retro craze that's currently still hot in the motorcycle world was Ducati's SportClassic 1000. The Italian company first showed the bike at the 2003 Tokyo Motor Show, though it wouldn't go on sale until 2005. A few more aggressive versions were released over the next few years, though the most basic version above still remains pretty awesome.
2 Custom Ducati 900 Supersport SP by Benjie's Cafe Racers
This wild custom has enough details to attract the most flamboyant fans of cafe racer style, which has clearly gone a few steps beyond and harks back to racers of days gone by. The build is courtesy of Benjie's Cafe Racers, which modified a 1996 Ducati with the goal of combining 90s-era performance with 50s-era style, according to Trussty.
1 Ducati Pantah
This perfect classic Ducati looks just about bone stock, which provides a pretty solid window into why the brand remains one of the most well-known of any motorcycle builder.
Originally revealed in 1979, the Ducati Pantah took the motorcycle world by storm with features such as a trellis frame paired with a motor that was part of the structure, with the swingarm pivoting on the rear of the crankcase. Plus, it just looks good.
Sources: Trussty, Return of the Cafe Racers, Bike Bound, Cycle World, and Wikipedia.