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Digital Subscriptions > Fast Bikes > Issue 327 > 23 YEARS A 91SEX SLAVE

23 YEARS A 91SEX SLAVE

There’s nearly 23 years between Ducati’s iconic 916 & the closest modern equivalent, the 959. Are they chalk and cheese, or closer than one may think?

DUCATI 916 SP VS 959

So, you’re fortunate enough to have £12,000 in your skyrocket and Ducati is your brand of choice. The ‘modern classics’ revival and a recent surge in popularity have caused prices to escalate, meaning a 1995 Ducati 916SP will cost you the same amount as a two-bed in Margate – or the 91Sex’s modern-day counterpart produced 20 years later, the 959 Panigale.

As a kid, I remember lusting after a 916 like no other. I hated Carl Fogarty at the time after he randomly blanked me at an airport, so its racing connotations mattered little and couldn’t slant opinion. It was the pure beauty – the first bike I’d swap for a girl in bed and, if it weren’t for the children, I’d happily swap the wife for one right now. I’m also sure she’d duly oblige…

The 959 Panigale doesn’t have the same stiffy-inducing effect though. I’ll refrain from subjective exhaust comments but there’s something more everyday, girl next-door associated with the latest baby Poonigale and there wasn’t even a morsel of doubt as to which one I’d ride first. It was like a choice of Rachel Riley or Rachel Robinson, Riley being the 916, of course. Back-to-backing these two and comparing dynamics is pointless. This congregation is all about nostalgia, a Desmo-based celebration and, above all else, a chance to ride a gleaming 916 again.

Originators of homologation specials, Ducati built just a handful of SPs in 1994 – just over 300 to be more precise. Lighter internals, twin injectors, an Öhlins shock and an aluminium subframe set it apart from the Strada, but regardless of model, the 916 is a motorcycle designed to go racing, for racers, and its diminutive stature augments this theory. Anyone over 6ft will have grave difficulty moving around the cockpit and even cornering can become awkward. We can only assume that Ducati’s test riders at the time were rather compact.

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