On the Fast Track: 8 Best Ducati Bikes for Thrill Seekers

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Best Ducati Bikes: renowned Italian brand During its nearly 100-year history, Best Ducati Bikes has created some of the most ambitious motorcycles ever constructed. Its red livery and presence in professional motorsports are well-known features that have led to comparisons to its fellow Italian sportscar maker, Ferrari. Aside from their remarkable build quality, their machines are known for their high prices and, of course, their speed.

The Bologna-based company is well known for producing motorcycles in remarkably short production runs. These became well-known when a desmodromic valve system was implemented in the middle of the 20th century. This was a mechanical advancement that did away with valve springs and allowed for more accurate valve control, which in turn led to engines with greater power. In the years that have passed, Best Ducati Bikes has continued to produce motorcycles using an inventive strategy, making it one of the industry’s most innovative manufacturers.

With more than 80 wins in MotoGP and more than 400 in the World Superbike Championship, Best Ducati Bikes has long been a strong competitor. Its vast collection of high-performance road bikes, which span a range of markets from fully-fared racing models to naked bikes, supermotards, cruisers, and adventure bikes, keeps impressing off the track.

The peak speeds of the Best Ducati Bikes models are listed here, ranked by independent sources such as Fastest Laps, Motorcycle Specs, and, when available, Ducati itself. For top speeds, manufacturer data is rarely available outside of testing-related movies, so we’ve gathered information from the most reliable sources below. It’s important to note that major motorcycle manufacturers have agreed to cap the peak speeds of their production bikes at 186 mph since the year 2000. Thus, the only models at the top of this ranking that surpass this speed are limited-edition or race replica models.

1975 Ducati 900SS — 135 mph

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By today’s standards, a top speed of 135 mph and a standing quarter-mile time of 12.6 seconds seem pedestrian, considering that many mid-capacity current bikes can reach even higher speeds. It did, however, rate the Best Ducati Bikes 900SS as the fastest production motorbike of 1975; the Laverda Jota overtook it in that regard after a year.

The “SS” designation denoted Super Sport, an appropriate designation for a motorcycle that originated from competitive racing in the 1972 Imola 200. Drawing inspiration from its race-winning 750 Super Sport model, Best Ducati Bikes wanted to create a road racer that was legal to drive on public roads and could easily outperform anything else. It increased the engine’s displacement to 860cc and reduced it to the bare minimum needed for optimal performance. It appeared ready for the track with its clip-on handlebars, racing seat, and half-faring, and it performed with plenty of raw power and agility.

One of the first race replicas to appear on the scene, the Best Ducati Bikes 900SS was a fully-fared racing bike that was affordable for the average rider. The next ten years saw the introduction of some litre-class motorcycles that were remarkably speedy, particularly from the “big four” Japanese manufacturers: the Yamaha FZR1000, Suzuki GSX-R, Kawasaki GPZ900R, and Honda VF1000R. These bikes were all faster than the previous one. However, the Italian company Ducati was instrumental in starting the shift that made way for the road-going sports bikes that are so commonplace these days.

2020 Ducati Panigale V2 — 168 mph

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In the new millennium, Best Ducati Bikes has solidified its position as the world’s top producer of sports bikes and race teams. Twenty years later, the brand introduced the 168-mile-per-hour Ducati Panigale V2, further solidifying its position. Many features of contemporary Ducati sport bikes, including the machine’s massive air intake, single-sided swingarm, and sophisticated aerodynamics, are shared by this fully faired vehicle.

While it might not be as fast as many of its brand’s competitors, the Panigale V2 is nonetheless quite sophisticated. It has state-of-the-art electronics and a precisely calibrated Superquadro twin-cylinder engine, which is smaller than the Desmodedici Stradale engine, which produced 210 horsepower and was later used in the Panigale V4R. In contrast, the 955cc Pandale V2 produces 153 brake horsepower but is lighter, more agile, and has better cornering than its larger siblings.

When competing against far more potent vehicles on a racecourse, the Panigale V2 shouldn’t have any trouble keeping up, even with straight-line acceleration. To further improve lap times, the brakes are also tuned for the track. There are multiple ABS settings and an anti-rear-wheel-lift function that make sure the bike stays securely grounded as it approaches a turn. Even though it can reach a high speed of 168 miles per hour, this unexpectedly fast bike has better handling and performance.

2007 Ducati 1098 — 171 mph

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Occasionally a motorbike that is hailed as a game-changer makes its appearance. Among these are the Best Ducati Bikes 1098, which was introduced in 2007 to much fanfare, the Monster 900 naked bike, the Hypermotard supermotard model, and the 916 sport bike. Ducati is known for being an inventive brand.

Many of the most desirable aspects of the Best Ducati Bikes 916, which Motorcycle News called the most beautiful bike of the past 50 years, were included in the 1098. Among these were the single-sided swingarm, twin under-seat exhausts, clean, fully-faired aerodynamics, and—possibly most importantly—a completely pleasurable, immersive riding experience. The 1,099cc Testastretta Evoluzione engine, Best Ducati Bikes most powerful V-twin to date, produced a staggering 160 brake horsepower and allowed the bike to reach a maximum speed of 171 miles per hour, adding even more beauty to this.

Although the 1098R was a limited-edition homologation special that featured additional improvements for the racecourse, the stock model was more than sufficient for even the most eager riders. When you take into account the 1098’s exceptional dependability, high-end amenities for the period, and performance, there wasn’t much to complain about. However, its existence was brief as it was discontinued less than two years after its launch, to be succeeded by the more capacious Ducati 1198.

2011 Ducati 1198SP — 175 mph

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In 2010, Best Ducati Bikes seemed eager to explore the boundaries of its product lineup. After producing its successor, the 1198, it was determined not to rest on its previous success, having previously produced the superb 1098. According to motorcycle authority Motorcycle News, this had one of the best V-twin engines ever produced, and it was generally regarded as an improvement over its predecessor. The 1198SP is the outcome of the Ducati development team’s never-ending pursuit of perfection, even if they felt there was still space for improvement in Bologna.

The 1198’s “SP” version was an advance over the previous production model in several ways. These managed to lose a kilo of weight and included a larger fuel tank, a slipper clutch, a quick-shifter, and an upgraded suspension. Together, these additions made for a more enjoyable ride that was more by a machine meant for racing. But the 1,198cc eight-valve desmodromic engine didn’t change because it was a powerful enough engine to reach a top speed of 175 mph (170 brake horsepower).

By 2011, Best Ducati Bikes had continuously improved performance while resolving reliability difficulties with earlier versions. But in the litre-class market, it faced fierce competition from vehicles like the Aprilia RSV4 and the BMW S1000RR, which frequently offered better features and higher specs. The 1199 Panigale, which denoted a new generation in the high-performance Best Ducati Bikes sport bike lineage, would succeed the 1198.

2017 Ducati 1299 Panigale R Final Edition — 186 mph

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The Best Ducati Bikes 1299 Panigale R Final Edition is more sophisticated than the standard Best Ducati Bikes 1299 Panigale, which is why it sounds so mouthwatering. The Final Edition costs little less than $40,000, which makes it nearly twice as expensive as its brother. However, it quickly becomes evident that this represents a significant advancement in the series’ evolutionary ladder.

The Final Edition, as its name implies, is the last model in the 1299 Panigale series. With its 1285cc, 209 brake horsepower V-twin engine and high-end accessories, it is a worthy tribute. These include Brembo brakes that deliver precise stopping power, fully adjustable Ohlins shocks at the front and rear and an Akrapovic exhaust system of the highest calibre. With a weight of only 168 kg, the Ducati 1299 Panigale R Final Edition boasted the highest power-to-weight ratio of any of its modern production models when it was first released. However, unlike the ultralight carbon fibre frames found on Ducati’s Superleggera models, the bike has an aluminium monocoque chassis.

When compared to more modern vehicles, it’s not surprising that the Best Ducati Bikes 1299 Panigale R Final Edition is still in production years after it was first released. Thanks to a comprehensive suite of electronic rider aids, including numerous riding modes, cornering ABS, traction, and engine brake control, it still feels new and contemporary. With a top speed of 186 miles per hour, it is still one of the most admired and fastest Ducatis ever produced, despite its high price tag perhaps being beyond of reach for many.

2023 Ducati Panigale V4R — 186 mph

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A little town outside of Bologna, Italy, that is well-known for its skill in automobile manufacture is the inspiration behind the naming of the Panigale line of sport bikes. Like Formula One vehicles, they are distinguished by their monocoque frames, which use the engine as a stressed element to reinforce the chassis. Because of this, the Best Ducati Bikes Panigale V4R—a motorbike designed to withstand the rigours of events like the World Superbike championship—can be constructed in a sturdy and lightweight manner.

One may argue that the Panigale V4R is overqualified for everyday riding because it is a sports bike that is suitable for the road. With an improved exhaust system, the 998cc engine produces 231 brake horsepower, making it Ducati’s most potent production bike to date. Similar to the 1299 Panigale R Final Edition, it has an artificial top speed limit of 186 mph, but when it is not restricted, top speeds are said to be well over 200 mph. In 2023, the bike’s aerodynamics were altered to reduce drag and include a carbon-fibre mudguard. It also received a larger fuel tank to further optimize speed.

A racing thoroughbred with these kinds of characteristics costs about $45,000, which is quite expected. For this, you get plenty of track-friendly features and high-quality equipment throughout, such as dual lap clocks, an electronic suspension, and sophisticated traction and slide control systems. All of this, however, is meaningless if you lack the necessary abilities to test-drive the Panigale V4R—a privilege that has to be won.

2007 Ducati Desmosedici RR — 188 mph

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In the Best Ducati Bikes pedigree, the Desmosedici RR feels like an anomaly. There was a race replica of the Desmosedici GP6 bike that Ducati entered for the 2006 MotoGP championship when the 1098 model was still in the design stage. For many, this was the closest they would ever get to seeing the genuine thing—nothing more than a street-ready motorbike dressed up for competition.

As a limited-edition model, the Desmosedici RR was permitted to exceed the speed limit of 186 miles per hour, which was set by the leading superbike manufacturers. With a 0–60 acceleration time of less than three seconds, it is among the fastest roadgoing bikes ever made. Most sources place it at about 188 mph for those with the nerve to push the bike to its extremes.

A MotoGP motorcycle differs greatly from a standard superbike. With the Desmosedici RR’s dry weight of 171 kg and 200 brake horsepower at your disposal, they are noticeably lighter and more potent. To support more aggressive riding, they are also constructed considerably differently, with a stiffer frame and an engine optimized for racing. For the ordinary rider, these features are useless since they don’t allow them to maximize the machine’s potential. Nevertheless, the Desmosedici RR continues to be among the most coveted Ducati models.

2020 Ducati Superleggera V4 — 190 mph

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With a 500-unit limited manufacturing run, the Best Ducati Bikes Superleggera V4 is the most unique motorcycle the company has ever produced. Its $100,000 price tag indicates that this is the Holy Grail of Ducati ownership, as we covered in a previous article. With a power-to-weight ratio of 1.54 horsepower per kilogramme and a peak speed that surpasses all of the high-performance marque’s prior production motorcycles, it is regarded as the culmination of the brand’s 100 years of research and development.

Although there are no official records of the Best Ducati Bikes Superleggera V4’s top speed, it appears to be a closely kept secret, Ducati has published a video of the bike in testing. Alessandro Valia, the official test rider for Ducati, is seen here reaching 190 mph on a track in Portimao, Portugal. 

The Superleggera V4 uses a titanium rear spring and fittings, along with carbon fibre wheel rims, swing arm, and chassis (with aluminium forks) as weight-saving methods to reach its amazing top speed. Superleggera, which translates to “super light,” describes the bike’s weight, which comes in at 159 kg. Its two carbon fibre wings on either side generate the 50 kg of downforce required to maintain the bike’s connection to the road at high speeds, and its braking and traction capabilities are of course the best.

When taken to the maximum, the Superleggera V4 contributes to the explanation of the inherent allure of Best Ducati Bikes motorcycles. Due to their extensive racing history, they provide a compelling and emotional experience. The result is some of the quickest motorcycles ever produced as if Ducati asks itself if it can while ignoring if it should.

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