Ducati 996 SBK


An excert from Ducati.com

Only a phenomenal bike like the 916 could make the 888 seems like old news.
An excert from Ducati.com

The 996 replaced the 916 in 1998 and quickly became a pride and joy of the Borgo Panigale factory.

The 996 was successful in numerous championship and won the World Superbike Championship three times in a row!

Many features of the 996 are the same as the 916; both had a Desmodromic double camshaft, L-twin cylinder engine and a Trellis frame.
The new features of the 996 included lighter three-spoke wheels, an improved Brembo braking system.
A special model sold in California also included Ohlins rear shock absorber and steering damper as well as Marchesini five-spoke wheels.



1st Austrian Pro Superbike Championship
Andreas Meklau


1st World Superbike Championship
Carl Fogarty


1st World Superbike Championship
Constructors Championship


1st World Superbike Championship
Carl Fogarty

The Ducati 916 was a true milestone in motorcycling history.
All the 748/9XX Ducati SBKs are direct descendants of this historical motorbike: the three 998s, the three 748s and of course all the competition bikes that have been essential in the last few Superbike championships.

1993: the sixth year of the Superbike championship.
Ducati's weapon was the legendary 888 and the Japanese competition started to make itself felt.
Honda announced its new bike, the RC 45, for '94.
Engineer Bordi, at the time Ducati's Technical Director, decided to postpone the presentation of the new Superbike, the 916.
We would have to wait until the following year to see it.
This wise decision enabled the development of the new bike to continue, taking it to full maturity.
Meanwhile the Roche SBK Team with Fogarty and Falappa in the seat continued to reap success on the track with the excellent 888.
The road version of that year's racebike was the 888 SP5 (118 HP at 10,500 RPM for an acceleration of 0÷400 m in 10.6 seconds).

Autumn 1993, Milan Show
Ducati presented the 916 Strada prototype at last - a radically innovative motorcycle.
It was Ducati's first truly large-scale project.
The space-age style, the narrow sides, the daring technical solutions and a previously unseen attention to detail made it a motorbike that was light years away from the 888, the very bike it was derived from.

A thoroughbred track vehicle with licence plate and mirrors...
It was designed by Massimo Tamburini, creator of the Paso, who took stylistic themes of the Supermono of the same year (from Pierre Terblanche's drawing board) as inspiration for the new bike.
The project took inspiration from the 888, every possible weakness was improved and made state of the art: weight distribution, wider chassis pipes, an amazing rear single sided swing arm and an adjustable headstock angle to name but a few changes.

At the Milan Show everyone was taken aback when faced with this eighth wonder of the world.

The first 916 - the "Strada" version was only available in a single seat version and credited with 114 HP at 9,000 RPM, to cover 400m from standstill in only 10.7 seconds.
Naturally a racing version was developed to compete in the 1994 WSBK, the 916 SP: 955cc for 150 HP at 11,000.
Ohlins suspension, a new airbox, and 37 and 31 mm valves.
More than enough to win the world championship with Fogarty, despite a few unexpected hiccups…
The 916 won all the prizes that year, including "Motorbike of the Year".
Motorcyclist put it like this:
"The essence of the new 916 is a heady mix made up of a roar, looks, feel and the way it transforms road riding into an almost magical experience…"

The following year the 916 became a two-seater, replacing the 916 Strada and the racing version went on sale as the 916 SP with double fuel injector and carbon fibre body.
Fogarty won the World SBK championship with the 916.

Production of the 916 Senna began, a special version to commemorate the legendary champion who had died the year before.
Ayrton was a Ducati fanatic and had been able to admire the 916 during a visit to Borgo Panigale.

The bore was increased to reach 98mm, for a total capacity of 996cc: this was the new top version 916 SPS, type-tested sister of the queen of the track in the SBK.

The 916 was completely replaced by the 996 range, that had the two-seater (or "basic"), and the SPS.
A year later the top model (ie the one from which the SBK bike was directly derived) became the 996R, while the SPS remained as the "intermediate" version.
September 2000, at the Munich Show the 2001 Ducati Superbike range was officially presented: 996 basic, 996S (also available in a two-seater version) and 996R.

The 996R was sold exclusively on-line, via the newly set-up Ducati.com website.
It was an astounding success: on September 12th, 2000, all 350 motorcycles were sold in less than 8 hours.

The 996R was equipped with the brand new Testastretta engine, at last a real revolution in power with new top ends, (increased bore, decreased stroke) and a new base.
The winning weapon in the World Superbike championship was revealed: Bayliss beat all his opponents and Ducati retained the manufacturer's title as well.
2001 Milan Show: the Testastretta is fitted on the whole 996 range, which becomes the 998.

The '02 range is made up of the 998, 998S and 998R.
The basic 998 now has 123 HP, the 998S has 136 and the 998R no less than 139.
The streamlining has been improved in terms of aerodynamics and materials, while fully respecting the original 1994 design (still the same after 9 years, it is by now a cult classic!).
The engines "reason" using the brand new compact, light and powerful Marelli 5.9 control unit and are fed by a single fuel injector in a suspended, shower position, Formula 1 style.
The 998 (before leaving the assembly line) has been enthusiastically received the sector press: our engineers have succeeded in renewing a bike without distorting it.

And now, nine years after its birth, what does the future hold for the King of all Superbikes?

This article is copyright Ducati the full version is online at the Ducati Tech Cafe