The 851 was lovely, the 888 was delicioso – but when they rolled the new 916 off the elevator onto the 17th floor of Petersen Publishing it knocked our eyeballs out. I must’ve seen photos of it before then, but this thing was like meeting Cleopatra in person, complete with asp. That body, those underseat exhausts, those headlights… suddenly it became clear that Ducati was no longer content to be an exotic motorcycle boutique. Like the Honda 900RR, it wasn’t the most powerful thing out there, but its lightness and stability (unlike the RR), along with its heavy bass rhythm, stoked the rider’s confidence. It started right in winning the next four out of five World Superbike championships under Carl Fogarty and Troy Bayliss, eventually forcing Honda to build the RC51 to dislodge it. (Full props to John Kocinski for breaking up the Ducati party by winning on a 750cc RC45 in 1997.)