The Illustrated Ducati Buyer's Guide

By Mick Walker

Many sportbike riders dream of Ducatis because of their reputation for extraordinary handling and their built-in Ferrari-like narrow performance orientation. Likewise, they're Italian, and offer unique engines.

Those engines range from the little singles so popular now in vintage racing to the venerable bevel-drive 900SS to the voluptuous 916 that tops everyone's when-I-win-the-lottery list. Maybe some of us are a little more keyed into the history of Ducati, and lust for a '74 Imola replica round-case Desmo 750SS with the center axle forks, solid Lockheed rear disc, and that silver fiberglass tank with the see-through vertical level stripe. You can lust for the defining sportbike of the seventies, and learn all about one without having to cough up $40,000, just by getting a copy of this book. don't even need to be in the market for a Ducati to appreciate this book. It is a concise history of the bikes, their development, and the key races that shaped the company.

The Illustrated Ducati Buyer's Guide was originally written by Mick Walker in the eighties and became extremely sought after, once it was out of print. Good news, it's back, and it has been revised. Now it covers everything up to the 916. Walker is as close to being a perfect Ducati man without the Italian accent. He raced Ducatis, was at one point the UK Ducati importer, is an accomplished motorjournalist, and has otherwise been as involved with Italian motorcycles as is humanly tolerable.

Walker is an expert on other marques (notably Moto Guzzi), but it's clear that he holds Ducati in a special light, and loves their uncompromising designs. Further, he knows all the models to avoid and is bluntly honest about the faults of every model ever made. The prose is straightforward, with a hint of the dry British sense of humor that makes buying British magazines at seven dollars a copy seem like a bargain when you can get a year's subscription to Motorcyclist World for twelve bucks.

Like all of Motorbooks' Illustrated Buyer's Guides, this one rates bikes simply on the basis of one through five stars. No prices are quoted, which keeps the bikes from being dated, and avoids the ups and downs of the market. The star rating is good enough to be a start, as you begin scanning the classifieds. But you don't even need to be in the market for a Ducati to appreciate this book. It is a concise history of the bikes, their development, and the key races that shaped the company. It imparts sophistication to one's coffee table, and is filled with the kind of information that can make the difference between winning and losing a bench race.

It's a bargain at $17.95, and a must even for grease monkeys that have to move their lips when they read (although most Ducati owners hardly fall into this category, there must be some). I'm the illiterate sort that needs to look at my fingers when I type, and this book filled me with such a sick desire for a five speed narrowcase 250cc single that I searched far and wide until I had three basket cases adorning my living room. So beware. If you buy this book, brush up on your Italian and start looking for someplace to buy a 14 mm Allen wrench.
Motorcycle Online Rating: ***** (Five Stars!)

Illustrated Ducati Buyer's Guide
Softbound, 7 3/8 inches by 9 1/4 inches, 160 pages, 177 black and white illustrations,
ISBN 0-87938-796-3
Suggested price: $17.95
Available from bookstores or Motorbooks International (800) 826-6600

Get in your Inbox