5 Of The Most Underrated Ducati Motorcycles Ever Made

Ducati motorcycles have long been a part of track racing and road driving culture. Ducati started in 1926, forming a partnership between three brothers and their father in Bologna, Italy. In this early iteration, named Società Scientifica Radio Brevetti Ducati, run by Adriano, Bruno, Marcello, and their Father Antonio Ducati, the company produced radio parts. 

But during World War II the business was virtually annihilated. After the war, the brothers began building four-stroke engines and rolled out their first motorcycle, the Cucciolo, in 1945, based on a design by Aldo Farinelli. Their journey into performance motorcycle manufacturing had begun.

The bikes entered the world of racing in 1951 and have remained a household name in street vehicle production for generations. Even with a long history in the industry and a wide range of much-acclaimed bikes, like the 916 or the Monster, some underappreciated models have rolled off the production line. One such motorcycle was, in fact, a successor to the 916: The Ducati 999. This model is an excellent example of Ducati craftsmanship and performance that didn't receive the love it deserved. 

The Ducati 999

The Ducati 916, produced from 1994 to 1998, sports a masterful body style, and the 999, introduced to the market in 2003, departs sharply from the previous footprint. The 999 is more aerodynamic than its predecessor, but the design was created from scratch and didn't resemble the much-loved 916. Aesthetics alone can speak to much of the rejection this new model experienced.

In terms of performance, the 999 models opted for a high-speed V-Twin engine, reaching a top speed of 168 miles per hour and weighing just 438 pounds. The 999S variant utilized a new engine build, dubbed the Testasetretta, with a displacement measuring 998cc and producing 136 horsepower alongside a six-speed transmission. The torque rating for the 999 (in a 2005 model, specifically) was 106 Nm and boosted to 111.8 Nm with the racing kit. 

These bikes feature a narrower engine than previous models, meaning the bike is slim and minimally profiled by design. Tom Cruise even owns one (a 999R), which has given the model some notoriety. The 999 performance redesign improved on an iconic Ducati, but the 916 continued overshadowing this new addition to the lineup.

Ducati GT 1000 Sport

The GT 1000 Sport is a classics-inspired design that Bikesales suggests is "a victim of being before its time." The Ducati GT 1000 Sport is powered by a 992cc V-Twin engine with 92 brake horsepower and 67 lb-ft of torque. The bike hit the market for the first time in 2005 and was only built until 2008. 

Motorcycle News calls it "a tribute to [the] 1960s café racer era boasting modern thrills and mechanicals." However, the outlet notes that it's not an actual sport bike and doesn't provide the versatile performance required of a daily rider for "year-round transport." They also suggest that the GT 1000 Sport is the least comfortable of the model's overall range.

The bike is a sight to behold, however. For collectors of classics, this one offers an appealing blend of features. Its modern build is hidden beneath a retro-inspired "Ducati" logo and old-school mirrors that complete the ensemble. The bike is built without any forward fairings, and the whole product is a stripped-down classic that would rest admirably in any garage. Yet, due to poor timing, the bike was released to lower-than-expected sales figures and promptly removed from the market.

Ducati ST4

Ducati's ST4 was a short-lived touring bike sandwiched between the ST2 and ST4S. It was produced in 1997 and 1998, sporting a liquid-cooled, four-stroke, 90-degree L Twin engine. The powerplant had a displacement measuring 916cc, producing 107 horsepower and 65.6 lb-ft of torque, and combined with a six-speed gearbox.

The ST4 was built with a Ducati 916 engine at its core. These motorcycles were a great addition to the lineup, but the ST range enjoyed just a blip of a lifespan before the Multistrada lineup came into being. This makes the ST4 somewhat of a rarity by nature and, as a result, one that's underappreciated due to lack of exposure. 

The ST4 improved the power output over the initial ST2 tourer dramatically, but Motorcycle Specs notes that it still wasn't "as effective [as a sports tourer] as Hondas VFR800." The bike incorporates a 4.6-gallon fuel tank with a roughly 200-mile range and Bembo brakes to handle sharp turns and sudden stopping needs. It's a quality motorcycle through and through and didn't get enough time in the Sun.

The Ducati Scrambler

The Ducati Scrambler is odd; it doesn't particularly fit within any motorcycle category. It's not a streetfighter or naked café racer motorbike, even though it negates the forward fairings. Similarly, it's not a distance cruiser, yet it incorporates elements that make for a smooth, long-distance ride. Ducati lovers can get their hands on the Desert Sled model of the Scrambler for a more off-road focused rider — even as the Desert Sled remains minimally classed as a pure off-road adventurer.

The Scrambler is an all-purpose motorcycle that utilizes a generally upright and comfortable riding position to enhance comfort over long distances, a minimized body design, and an 803cc L-Twin engine (in the Scrambler Icon model) for quality performance. The engine on a Scrambler Icon produces 73 horsepower and provides good control at the low end of the RPM range. 

This makes it a fantastic motorcycle for newer riders to gain experience while providing too much of a journeyman experience for more experienced bike owners looking for specific performance metrics. The Scrambler does many things well but isn't technically superior in any area, leading to a lull in the excitement surrounding the model.

Ducati Multistrada 1000DS

Motorcycle News calls the Multistrada 1000DS "a bold attempt at [a] tourer/town/sportster hybrid motorcycle and mostly hits the mark." It was built between 2004 and 2009 and preceded the Multistrada 1200, which received considerable admiration. Bennetts notes that "sales were never quite what they could have been" due to generally clunky visual aesthetics and basic performance specifics that didn't match the bike's price tag. Much like the Scrambler, Ducati's Multistrada 1000DS matches an upright riding position perfect for journey riding with road sport dynamics that might otherwise pair with a sleeker profile.

However, the 1200 model rollout spelled the death blow for the Multistrada 1000DS. With the enhanced performance statistics of the newer model, this original was relegated to history. The bike is powered by a 992cc V-Twin engine that produces 85 brake horsepower and 68 lb-ft of torque. The motorcycle can reach a top speed of 134 miles per hour and is run on a six-speed transmission. 

While it's often overlooked in favor of the more potent successor generation of Multistrada bikes, the 1000DS is a bargain option for those looking for a used motorcycle that offers a great track record on the roadways and can provide a versatile riding experience without breaking the bank.

[Featured image by Raoufhakam via Wikimedia Commons | Cropped and scaled | CC BY-SA 4.0]