Ducati rocked the motorcycle world with the introduction of the 916 in 1994. Here was a machine that revolutionized the idea of how sharp a street-going motorcycle could be; it offered stunning performance with supermodel good looks. From every angle and by every measure, the 916 redefined the top tier of sport bikes. No longer an evolution of the 851/888 line, the 916 was essentially all new and was an instant hit for Ducati, leading to a huge rise in sales and a fine collection of WSBK trophies.
In case you have lived in a cave for the last 20+ and have not kept tabs on any major motorcycling milestones, allow me to fill you in. The vaunted 916 essentially made its way to the top of the "best sport bike of 1995" article from every single motorcycle publication. Maybe it was the allure of the flowing bodywork. Perhaps it was the statement made by the single-sided swingarm, laying the back wheel bare to the world. Maybe it was the under-seat exhaust, tucked away for cornering clearance and aerodynamics. Perhaps it was the 90 degree L-twin, the 4-valve heads, desmo valve actuation, fuel injected and liquid cooling. But most likely it was the total package, tipping the scales at just over 420 lbs, narrow and svelte like a 600, but pushing 114 HP at the rear wheel with enough torque to loft the front end handily. Handling was unmatched, braking was a similar affair. There was no single element that made the 916 revolutionary, but the complete collection of bits was unlike anything the world had seen.
There is an interesting wrinkle to the 916 story, and one that makes this bike even more special. In 1994 Ducati was ramping production of the 916 to meet with unprecedented demand (most 1995 bikes were build in the latter part of 1994) - the rumor is that every first-year 916 in the US was spoken for before it ever left Italy. The factory in Bologna was running at full song. But a tragic fire (which started in the paint shop) shut down the production line at an inopportune time. Scrambling to continue building the most important motorcycle in Ducati's history, manufacturing was relocated to the Cagiva-owned MV Agusta factory in the city of Varese. Here, approximately 2,663 Ducati 916s were assembled (predominantly by hand) to keep the dream alive. The Bologna factory returned online in 1995, and production was reestablished there for the remainder of the builds. In addition to the base 916 model, approximately 310 SP spec bikes were also assembled in Varese.
From the seller:
A beautiful Ducati 916 in fantastic condition and extremely low miles. One of the closest to OE you can find. Comes with lots of extras, including carbon fiber bodywork and exhaust system. Minor imperfections include a vertical scratch on the right side of the tail (pictured) and very small scratches on the front of the lower left fairing.
Already one of the more rare and iconic Ducati motorcycles, this bike is one of the 2,663 916's to be hand built in the Varese factory due to a fire at the assembly line in Bologna. The 916 led Ducati to 4 World Superbike Championship victories in '94, '95, '96 and '98
Although Varese-built machines do not differ from any other 1995 model year 916, they are considered a bit special because of the circumstances involved. Some believe that a Varese 916 is build a bit better, having been more "hand made." The truth is that Varese 916s are indistinguishable from their Bologna counterparts, but for the 11th digit of the VIN; 916s assembled in Varese during this period have a "V" in that position rather than the traditional "B." Otherwise, all other parts and components are completely interchangeable with Bologna 916s of the same model year. Does that make them more collectable?
Putting the Varese complication aside, the 1995 model year 916 is an aspiring classic. This is perhaps one of the most recognizable motorcycles in the world. 20+ years later, this bike still looks fresh and new. Massimo Tamburini's masterpiece was a shot across the bow of all other manufacturers; Ducati was in the game to win. Sure, the Honda RC30 offered a single-sided swing arm years previous, and the oval-piston NR750 sported both that and the under tail exhaust - but neither bike was a mainstream build. The 916 took those elements and owned them for good. And today, these early 916s are gaining popularity - with prices following. This particular US-based Varese 916 has been on eBay for a bit, and is listed with a $18,590 Buy It Now. That is a bit higher than a clean 916 might bring, but the scant 2,265 miles, the claimed originality (although I spy with my little eye a non-OEM Evoluzione clutch slave cylinder), the impressive collection of spares, the FBF exhaust cans, the overall condition and the Varese connection might make this one worth it. Be sure to check it out, as the seller is open to offers. This is your chance to own what many consider to be "the most beautiful motorcycle in the world." Good Luck!!