Ducati 916 Biposta

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Ducati 916 Biposta
Production 1995 -
Four stroke, 90° “L” twin cylinder, DOHC, desmodromic 4 valve per cylinder, belt driven
Compression ratio 11.0:1
Ignition Electronic I.A.W
Spark Plug Champion RA59GC
Battery 12V 16Ah
Transmission 6 Speed
Frame Steel, Trellis frame
Suspension Front: 43 mm Adjustable Showa GD051 inverted fork
Rear: Showa GD52-007-02, rising rate progressive linkage adjustable monoshock
Brakes Front: 2 x 320 mm Discs, 4 piston calipers
Rear: Single 220 disc, 2 piston caliper
Front Tire 120/70 ZR17
Rear Tire 190/50 ZR17 or 180/55 ZR17
Wheelbase 1410 mm / 56.6 in
Seat Height 790 mm / 31.1 in
Weight 198 kg / 436 lbs (dry), 204 kg / 450 lbs (wet)
Fuel Capacity 17 Liters / 4.4 US gal / 3.7 Imp gal
Manuals Service Manual


The engine was a Liquid cooled cooled Four stroke, 90° “L” twin cylinder, DOHC, desmodromic 4 valve per cylinder, belt driven. The engine featured a 11.0:1 compression ratio.


Power was moderated via the Dry, multiplate.


It came with a 120/70 ZR17 front tire and a 190/50 ZR17 or 180/55 ZR17 rear tire. Stopping was achieved via 2 x 320 mm Discs, 4 piston calipers in the front and a Single 220 disc, 2 piston caliper in the rear. The front suspension was a 43 mm Adjustable Showa GD051 inverted fork while the rear was equipped with a Showa GD52-007-02, rising rate progressive linkage adjustable monoshock. The 916 Biposta was fitted with a 17 Liters / 4.4 US gal / 3.7 Imp gal fuel tank. The bike weighed just 198 kg / 436 lbs. The wheelbase was 1410 mm / 56.6 in long.


Ducati 916 Biposta Ducati 916 Biposta Ducati 916 Biposta Ducati 916 Biposta


Ducati 916 Biposta

The old lady at the village petrol pump knew what the 916 was, all right. 'My grandson's got a picture of this motorcycle on the wall,' she declared. 'He calls it his Madonna, because he says it has a beautiful face. I serve many motorcycles here, but this one doesn't look like any other, it has its own personality, like a Ferrari. It's magnificent - you're very lucky to have such a nice bike to ride on such a lovely day.' And so I was, because Ducati boss Massimo Bordi had arranged for me to be let loose for a full day's real-world riding on the first road-registered production 91 6 to leave the Bologna factory, a few days before journalists from all round the world assembled at Misano for the official launch. And I had an appointment with its creator, Massimo Tamburini, head of the Centra Ricerche Cagiva design centre, birthplace of the 916 - as denoted by the CRC emblem on its flanks. Add in the ingredient of a dazzlingly bright blue sky, a warm spring day, and a pair of Carabinieri who obligingly parked their Alfa near the corner where Naka-san was taking photos and stopped the traffic each time I made a run past the camera on the most remarkable, refined, responsive road bike it's ever been my privilege to ride, and you might say you had the ingredients for a perfect day. It was.

Tamburini got the brief to design a successor to the first-generation 851/888 'otto valvole' V-twin desmo more than four years ago, and he's been working on it ever since. That means he's had plenty of time to define the overall concept, refine its execution, and pay the minutest attention to detail. With the EVOlutionary 94 x 66mm longer-stroke 916cc version of Bordi's original World Superbike title-winning eight-valve engine developed by Luigi Mengoli's team in Bologna to offer more of everything, Tamburini and his staff have created a bike that not only has such a strong visual identity it seems certain to send two-wheeled styling in a new direction. It also has improved dynamic qualities that can only be fully appreciated in real-world the 916 is from any eight-valve desmo, whether built by the factory, Bimota, or any other chassis manufacturer.

The 916 seems so petite and compact when you're sitting on it, it feels like a 600 compared to any other Superbike-class motorcycle, including the tubby 888 which feels a bit of a boat by comparison. That impression is translated to reality on the street: like the VFR 750 Honda, this is a bike whose qualities shine through the more you ride it on the road, not in the confines of a race track. Sitting off the bike and dragging your knee on the ground may score more street-cred points and look so-cool, but it isn't the way to get the best out of the 916. It seems improbable that a bike imposing such a relaxed riding style can corner so fast and so confidently. Doug Polen shouldn't have left Ducati for Honda, because the 916 was tailor-made for his laid-back riding style, and it changes direction far more easily than the 888 which needs a much more physical approach in tight corners. Given the small stature and svelte, aggressive appearance of the 916, it comes as a surprise that it's so comfortable, even for a taller rider. Tamburini has refined the riding position to perfection, it didn't become at all tiring in a 300-kilometre day. In spite of the slimmer profile and improved aerodynamics compared to the 888, which has seen the 916 yield a 7kph top speed advantage against an 888 fitted with the same engine package, there's more than adequate protection for the rider, even at ultra-high speeds. I saw 255kph on the speedo along the Riccione Autostrada, with an extra 1200rpm to go before the 10,000rpm rev-limiter mark (which it probably wouldn't pull in top gear, with peak power at nine-grand with one tooth less on the rear sprocket compared to the 888). Crouched easily on the tank, there was amazingly little wind noise or buffeting at that speed, which might have been more but for the bloody milk tanker that pulled out in front of me just as I crested the hill coming down into Rimini. Pity - I was looking forward to blasting past the Bimota factory flat out in top...! More to the point, the 916 was unbelievably steady at 250kph-plus round the twisting freeway turns, even when you hit a repair patch or change in the road surface cranked well over. The Showa suspension is extremely compliant, reflecting the huge amount of development and attention to detail both the CRC team and Japanese technicians have invested in making the 916 handle this well. 'Developing the 916 to the level I had established as our objective involved persuading our suppliers to work to tolerances they weren't used to,' says Tamburini. 'Where they were used to working to tenths of a millimetre, we asked for hundredths. Showa especially responded to this challenge superbly. The fact that the suspension on the 916 is, I believe, as satisfactory as it's possible for a production motorcycle to be, is a tribute to their desire to meet our expectations fully. Their engineers deserve a lot of credit.' The way the 43mm forks, which are naturally fully adjustable for preload, compression and rebound, allow the front wheel to glide over normal road surface irregularities and to take even abnormal ones in their stride is uncanny. It's more remarkable for the fact that this is supposed to be a hard-edge you'd expect to be dialled in for smooth race tracks and much less compliant over rough surfaces. Another case of the 916's excellence in real-world riding conditions.

In designing the 916, Tamburini initially projected a twin-spar Deltabox-type chassis which was soon discarded in favor of a chrome-moly spaceframe, Ducati's hallmark. His aim was to produce a stiffer, more compact chassis with improved steering, a more rational detail layout, uprated suspension and better aerodynamics. 'I also wanted it to look beautiful,' says Massimo, 'as well as unlike any other motorcycle ever made. Whether I've succeeded is a subjective judgement, but it's satisfying that the result is aerodynamically so efficient. Apart from the improved top speed — we obtained 257kph at the Fiat test ground at Nardo - the same tests delivered an extra 10bhp from the stock 916 engine with modifications only to the airbox.

This is partly composed by the underside of the fuel tank, partly by the moulding between the upper frame tubes, and is sealed. By locating the air filters in the two airduct mouldings, we have a much cleaner airflow to the throttle bodies as well as better pressurisation, which is critical for performance.' Tamburini's 916 chassis has ten per cent more stiffness than the 888 frame in the base Strada version with a plastic airbox base, but is no less than twice as stiff in limited-production SP form, with a carbon-fibre airbox tray adding substantially to the rigidity. Unlike on the 888, where the swingarm pivots in the crankcases, one of these mounting points incorporates the swingarm, which is thus supported in the chassis as well as in the engine. The swingarm itself is radically different from previous Ducati practice, an RC30-type single-sided aluminum casting produced by Brembo, whose design provoked a royalty-seeking visit from the Honda/ELF patent lawyers. They went away after Cagiva management pointed out the questionable validity of the ELF swingarm patents (others are held to have been there first). 'I admit my principal reason for doing it this way was aesthetic,' he says. 'The 'monobraccia' design is a high-tech, modern element which contrasts nicely with the more traditional theme of the tubular spaceframe chassis, as well as giving a very individual appearance to each side of the bike. But there's a practical reason, too: I could not overlook that I was not only designing a road bike, but also the new-generation Ducati Superbike, which many of our customers will buy to race. To prevent them from being able to change the rear wheel quickly in racing conditions — especially in world Endurance racing, which is now being run to Superbike rules  was unacceptable. That provided practical justification for a styling decision!'

The Showa rear suspension is, like the front, amazingly supple and compliant for a Superbike-class motorcycle, in spite of the meaty torque from the V-twin engine which many chassis designers have found hard to cope with under acceleration, without using a very stiff spring. The 916 shrugs off bumps even cranked well over accelerating hard out of a turn, with outstanding traction and grip from the TX Michelin radials (Pirelli Dragons will also be fitted) and I was frankly amazed at the sort of road surfaces you can ride over without it making any appreciable difference either to ride quality, comfort or handling. It'll be interesting to see if Showa have achieved a similar level of real-world excellence on the RC45 when we get it off the press launch race track and on to proper roads

Brembo have been an equally important partner, responsible not only for the swingarm and the rear wheels, but also of course for the brakes. The 320mm front discs and the latest-type four-pot calipers are the best such components available outside the GP world, and give effortless, progressive stopping power at relatively light lever pressures. Tamburini is experimenting with pad specification in an effort to get more initial bite, but with respect I think this is a mistake. The kind of riders likely to buy a base 916 Strada will prefer the more linear braking action of the present set up, not the more violent response a racer might want. With your attention inevitably drawn to the CRC-developed cycle parts, it's easy to forget that behind that svelte styling beats the latest version of the desmo V-twin. But turn the ignition key, press the starter button, and you're reminded of the purpose of the engineering exercise - to develop the chassis which this, the greatest production twin-cylinder engine ever made, truly merits, and to provide the home that Bordi's baby has been looking for since it was created back in 1986. The EVOlution of the 851 /888 chassis was more accidental than deliberate, and it's a reflection of the talents of Franco Fame and his men that they ever got it handling well enough to win three World Superbike titles. But what the 'otto valvole' has always needed was the undivided attention of a chassis 'progettista,' and the 916 is the result. Bordi and his righthand man Luigi Mengoli opted to lengthen the stroke of the 94 x 64mm motor by 2mm, to increase cubic capacity nearer to the 1 OOOcc Superbike limit for twins, as well as to regain some of the midrange torque they'd been forced to give away to keep pace with their Japanese rivals in Superbike. With piston speeds in Fl car racing now well in excess of the 27m/s that Ducati are looking at, reliability wasn't a problem, and so it's proved in development. Unlike almost any Italian bike built for sale in the past, there are no rough edges to be addressed, no obvious improvements that could have been taken care of in development, but which early customers will have to put up with. Instead, the 916 abounds with evidence of care and thought, from major aspects like suspension and steering, to the host of minor details your eye focuses on as it sweeps this piece of mechanical art. Like the steering damper, placed in the most logical position for adjustment with a secondary boss for you to change the mounting when you alter the Steering Head Angle Like the angled valve stem on the front wheel, so you can get an airline to it in spite of the big discs. Like the clean appearance to the instruments, with all the wiring and cables hidden from view. Like the trapezoidal headlamps, one for dip, the other for full beam, together comprising the most distinctive pair of eyes on two wheels. Like the ultra-rational layout of every component, however minor, when you see the bike without bodywork. Like the clean symmetry of the tubular frame, weighing a mere 8kg, yet offering such increased stiffness. Like the differentially curved gear lever, specially shaped for optimum shifting. Like...well, go to your Ducati dealer and see for yourself. You don't even need to ride the 916 to appreciate it, but you'll admire it all the more if you do. And if you're one of the mere 3000 people Ducati will build 916s for this year, at a price so ridiculously low (£11,800 compared to an RC45 costing 50 per cent more) that the speculators have moved in and are buying confirmed orders to sell at a premium, then you have both good fortune and taste. And if you're one of the 200 in line for one of the faster, lighter, tricker and much costlier 916SPs, good luck in the Sport Production class Ducati intended you to race the bike in. But how many of you will do that, I wonder? Six years ago, I went to Italy to ride the first-ever 851 street bike — the (in)famous 'tricolore' model. As a self-confessed Ducatista, for whom the arrival of Bordi's fuel-injected engine was a milestone, I found myself faced with an agonising decision after riding the bike in a pre-launch test: pretend everything was great when that was far from being the case, or tell the truth, warts and all. No choice, really: and to his credit, Massimo Bordi accepted all my criticisms, and completely revamped the bike to address them one by one. The result was the 888, and its record speaks for itself. But with the 916, there's no such problem. This is the finest street bike I have ever ridden, from any manufacturer, in any country. Try it, and judge for yourself.

Source: Alan Carthcart 1994

Make Model Ducati 916 Biposta
Year 1995 -
Engine Type Four stroke, 90° “L” twin cylinder, DOHC, desmodromic 4 valve per cylinder, belt driven
Displacement 916 cc / 55.9 cu in
Bore X Stroke 94 x 66 mm
Cooling System Liquid cooled
Compression 11.0:1
Induction Weber I.A.W. CPU P8 electronic indirect injection
Spark Plug Champion RA59GC
Lubrication Wet sump
Engine Oil Synthetic, 15w-50
Ignition Electronic I.A.W
Battery 12V 16Ah
Starting Electric
Max Power 83.8 kW / 114 hp @ 9000 rpm
Max Torque 90 Nm / 9 kgf-m / 66.3 lb-ft @ 7000 rpm
Clutch Dry, multiplate
Transmission 6 Speed
Primary Drive Ratio 2:1 (31/62)
Gear Ratios 1st 2.466 / 2nd 1.765 / 3rd 1.350 / 4th 1.091 / 5th 0.958 / 6th 0.857
Final Drive Ratio 2.4:1 (15/36)
Final Drive Chain
Frame Steel, Trellis frame
Front Suspension 43 mm Adjustable Showa GD051 inverted fork
Front Wheel Travel 127 mm / 5.0 in
Rear Suspension Showa GD52-007-02, rising rate progressive linkage adjustable monoshock
Rear Wheel Travel 130 mm / 5.1 in
Front Brakes 2 x 320 mm Discs, 4 piston calipers
Rear Brakes Single 220 disc, 2 piston caliper
Front Wheel 3.50 x 17
Rearwheel 5.50 x 17
Front Tire 120/70 ZR17
Rear Tire 190/50 ZR17 or 180/55 ZR17
Rake Adjustable 24o - 25o
Trail 94 - 100 mm / 3.7 - 3.9 in
Dimensions Length 2050 mm / 80.7 in Width 685 mm / 27.0 in Height 1090 mm / 42.9 in
Wheelbase 1410 mm / 56.6 in
Seat Height 790 mm / 31.1 in
Dry Weight 198 kg / 436 lbs
Wet Weight 204 kg / 450 lbs
Fuel Capacity 17 Liters / 4.4 US gal / 3.7 Imp gal
Road Test Ducati 916 Biposta Tuttomotto