Top 10s

Top 10 limited-edition Ducatis

Why can't they just make more?

THIS weekend sees the release of the Ducati 1299 R Final Edition – a limited edition-machine to mark the end of the Panigale line. And in anticipation of it, it struck us that few companies have embraced the cult of the limited-edition quite like Ducati.

Over the years there have been dozens of short-run Ducati models, usually top-level superbikes and often used as a way to homologate minor modifications intended for racing. We’ve racked our brains to come up with 10 of our favourites.

Here's the coundown, starting with...

10: 998 Matrix

The 2004 998 Matrix was sold, alongside a similarly-painted Monster 620, to mark the release of the movie The Matrix Reloaded, which featured a chase on a similar bike (actually it was a 996 in the movie, but you need to be quick to spot the difference.) The dark green paintwork is the only change from stock, and splits opinions when it comes to its appeal, but it will certainly stand out from the hordes of red ones.

There’s an added poignancy to the 848 Hayden Edition in light of Nicky Hayden’s tragic death this year. Revealed in 2009, the bike was only sold in America and brought in changes that would later be adopted across the 848 range including extended mirrors and a new dash. But it’s the OTT paint scheme that really marks it out.

Ducati’s then-boss Claudio Castiglioni was a close friend of Ayton Senna, and while the 916 Senna didn’t appear until 1995, a year after the driver’s death, he’s said to have signed off on the idea himself, and profits went to the Senna Foundation, a charity for kids in Brazil. Based on the 916SP, the initial run of bikes were grey with red accents. There followed a Senna 2 in 1997 and eventually a third-generation Senna in 1998, this time in black.

We’ll roll two into one here since they appeared simultaneously. The Bayliss rep (above) is the more familiar, with period InfoStrada WSB graphics, while the Bostrom bike is a bit more OTT. Confusingly, American Bostrom reps (below) got carbon panels but just 123bhp, while European bikes were plastic-clad but made 136bhp. Only 155 Bostrums were made for Europe (on top of the American allocation) while there were 300 of the Bayliss replicas.

While marketed as a paint-and-bolt-ons limited edition, the 996 Foggy Replica is actually a full-on homologation bike. The initial run of 202 (200 for sale in the UK only, one for the factory and one for Carl) was used to homologate a redesigned trellis frame that made space for a larger airbox. Made in 1998 it also got Marchesini wheels on top of the normal SPS kit. A second run (150 bikes) was made in 1999 and a third (another 147) for 2000, this time being sold throughout Europe.

Any Ducati superbike with an ‘R’ suffix tends to be good, but the multiple championship-winning 999 got two special edition versions beyond that. The 2004 999R Fila (above) and the 2006 999R Xerox (below) were each made in runs of 200. The 146bhp Fila edition was a celebration of Ducati’s 200th win in WSB. The Xerox version, two years later, was better still with 150bhp and improved suspension.

While most of the bikes on this list are race-replicas, the MH900e represents a rather different sort of limited edition. Originally shown as a concept bike in 1998 as a celebration of Mike Hailwood’s TT win 20 years earlier, the response to the Pierre Terblanche-styled bike was so strong that it was accelerated to production. In total, 2000 were made during 2000-2001, and it was the first bike ever to be sold directly over the internet. The €15,000 price seemed steep, but doesn’t look so bad now given what’s being asked on the used market.

The MH900e’s success led directly to the development of the Ducati SportClassic range, and the Paul Smart-inspired PS1000LE is the best of them. Again limited to 2000, it evokes the 1972 Imola-winning 750 that Smart famously rode. In retrospect the whole SportClassic line was ahead of its time, hitting showrooms just before the retro bike boom of recent years. Now Ducati’s Scrambler range is cashing in on that, but the SportClassics are rare and increasingly expensive, none more so than the PS1000LE.

Until the appearance later this year of Ducati’s new V4 superbike, the Desmosedici RR remains the closest you can get to a MotoGP Ducati for the road. Already a limited edition – initially 1,250 were to be made, but that was upped to 1500 to cope with demand – the ‘Team Version’ was a graphics option to replicate the GP bike’s livery. Exactly what proportion of the 1,500 bikes came in this scheme isn’t clear, but you’re not likely to run into many others.

We’re cheating and putting two bikes into the top spot. While this year’s 1299 Superleggera (above) is covering itself with glory thanks to its all-carbon construction (frame, wheels, swingarm, bodywork) and 215bhp engine, it’s worth pointing out that the previous, magnesium-framed, magnesium-wheeled 1199 Superleggera (below) was actually 1kg lighter (155kg dry vs 156kg, or 166kg wet vs 167kg). Of course, it ‘only’ made 200bhp, but even so… Of course, there’s a good chance that buyers of the 1299 Superleggera already have the 1199 version, so they get the best of both worlds.

WHAT NEXT?

Try this: The evolution of a legend and a motorcycling icon: 916 > 996 > 998 > 999 > 1098.

Join the conversation!

Let us know what you think, just sign up for a free account, leave a comment and get involved!
Register Now

Latest Reviews

Review
Review
Review
Review

Latest Videos

Feature
Article
Article