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Viva Italia Ducati

April 1, 2009


Ducati joined other Italian motorcycles, Aprilia and Moto Guzzi, as well as Italian autos manufactured by Ferrari, Maserati, Lamborghini, Fiat and Alfa Romeo to support The Children’s Guild at VIVA ITALIA Concours D’Elegance in Harbor East.

Ducati, an Italian motorcycle manufacturer, is best known for their high performance motorcycles with large capacity four-stroke, 90-degree V-twin engines featuring a Desmodromic valve design.

In the Beginning

Ducati was founded by three brothers, Adriano, Marcello and Bruno Ducati, in 1926.  The company started as Societa Scientifica Radio Brevetti Ducati in Bologna for the production of radio components, tubes and condensers.  During WWII the factory operations maintained production even through repeated targeted bombings by Allied forces.

The Ducati is Born

In 1950 the Ducati firm collaborated with SIATA (Societa Italiana per Applicazioni Tecniche Auto-Aviatorie) to offer their first motorcycle, with a 60cc engine, weighing 98 pounds it could achieve a top speed of 40mph.  The motorcycle featured a 15mm carburetor and could get nearly 200 mpg. 

SIATA, under the direction of Aldo Farinelli began producing small pushrod engines to be mounted on bicycles in 1944, after the liberation of Italy.  The engine was called Cucciolo, an Italian word meaning puppy in reference to the exhaust sound.  The Cucciolo engines were initially offered to the public as just the engine to be mounted to their personal bicycles.  Entrepreneurs soon began to buy the engines in quantities offering complete motorized cycles for sale.

Ducati soon dropped the name Cucciolo from their motorcycles in favor of 55M and 65TL.

Introduction of the Larger Bikes

In response to the shift in the market from the bicycle size motorcycles to larger bikes Ducati made an impressed the public and critics at the 1952 Milan show with the introduction of the 65TS cycle and the Cruiser (a four-stroke motor scooter).  In spite of the promising reception, the Cruiser was not a successful model selling only a few thousand in two years of production, thus they ceased production of the model.

In 1953 Ducati management split the company creating Ducati Meccanica SpA and Ducati Elettronica.  Ducati Meccanica SpA was dedicated to the burgeoning motorcycle business, while Ducati Elletronica (later named Ducati Energia SpA) continued manufacturing electronics. By 1954 Ducati Meccanica SpA was producing 120 bikes a day.

Ducati Mach 1- A Place in History

 

Ducati produced the fastest 250cc road bike available in the 1960’s, the Mach 1.  The 1970’s saw the production of the large-displacement L-Twin (90 degree V-twin) motorcycles. The trademarked Desmodromic valve design was introduced in 1973.

 

Desmodromic Valves

The word “desmodromic” is derived from two Greek roots, desmos (controlled, linked) and dromos(course, track). It refers to the exclusive valve control system used in Ducati engines: both valve movements (opening and closing) are “operated”. For more information on Desmo Valves visit Ducati’s Technical webpages .

Cagiva

In 1985 Cagiva bought Ducati Meccanica SpA.  Cagiva, a lesser known motorcycle manufacturer , initally intended to rebadge the Ducati line of motorcycles with the Cagiva name. After the completion of the acquisition the decision was made to keep the Ducati name.   Cagiva later became MV Agusta through corporate restructuring.

TPG

The Texas Pacific Group (TPG) purchased a 51% stake in Ducati during 1996.  The remaining 49% of the company was purchased in 1998, making TPG the sole owner of the Ducati line.  Restructuring in 1999, TPG issued an IPO of Ducati stock, renaming the company Ducati Motor Holding SpA.  With this IPO, TPG released 65% of the shares for sale.  The remaining 35% left TPG as the majority shareholder.

December 2005 – Back to Italian Ownership

Investindustrial Holdings purchased all but one share of Ducati from TPG, returning controlling ownership of Ducati to Italian investors.

Ducati remains one of the dominant performance motorcycles available in part because of the Desmodromic valve design.  Another major mechanical difference with Ducati is the utilization of multiplate dry clutches, as opposed to wet-clutches where the spinning parts are bathed in oil.  The dry clutch aids in the elimination of power loss from the drag of oil viscosity, although the engagement may not be as smooth as with oil bath versions.  Some riders experience more rapid wear of the clutch plates, with the dry clutch.

 

Mr. Tire presents VIVA ITALIA Concours D’Elegance to benefit The Children’s Guild, September 27, 2009 on the streets of Harbor East.  Join us as Ducati, MV Agusta, Aprilia, Moto Guzzi owners support the important services provided by The Children’s Guild.  Also on display from around the Mid-Atlantic will be Ferrari, Lamborghini, Fiat and Alfa Romeo automobiles.

 

 

 

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