The Ugliest Ducati 916 in the World

Ducati916Oz1 The Ugliest Ducati 916 in the World

When Ducati introduced the Ducati 916 in 1994, the motorcycling world was awestruck.  After the functional styling of the 851 / 888 range the feminine swoops of the diminutive 916 instantly made  every other motorcycle ugly.  The Ducati 916 was simply gorgeous.  Except for every single one they sold in Australia.

The new Ducati combined some features which went on to become signature elements of the brand, most notably the single sided swing arm, under-seat mounted mufflers and twin, side by side headlights that looked like the 916 had eyes.

Which was a problem for the Australians.  The Australian market has its own Australian Design Rules that regulate cars and motorcycles and one of them stipulated symmetrical beams in bikes that had two headlights.

In English this means that both of the lights had to have both a high and a low beam.  The problem was that the Ducati 916 (and the 748 too) had the low beam in one light with the high beam in the other.  To be legally sold, the local importer had to convert the bikes to a single, square, butt ugly light that pretty much perfectly ruined the looks of the entire bike.

Ducati 916 in Oz 2 The Ugliest Ducati 916 in the World

New owners could also purchase the original light assembly and refit it at their own risk.  Almost everyone did.  When I lived in Australia, I never saw one of these eyesores.  The problem persisted for years and was resolved only when for the 996 model, Ducati deigned to fit symmetrical beams as standard.  That looked so much better as you can see below.

Ducati 916 front The Ugliest Ducati 916 in the World

Photographer Phil Aynsley shot these photos back in the day when the bikes were new.  We wouldn’t be surprised if he cracked a lens or three.  You can check out the full damage over at his site.

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5 Responses to “The Ugliest Ducati 916 in the World”

  1. Bruce Pritchard on April 26th, 2012 at 3:12 am

    As the owner of a 916, I think it’s one of the most beautiful bikes ever made. Thanks for the history lesson, and I am relieved that it came to the USA with the 2 headlights!

  2. I bought a 1995 916, sold with twin headlights. Apparently the importer (Frasers) originally got Australian Design Rules compliance and the ‘problem’ was only discovered when some joker got tired of waiting in the queue and tried to import his own.

    I almost threw up when I got the recall notice saying my headlight assembly had to be replaced. I couldn’t bring myself to butcher it, but was terrified my insurance would be invalidated because the bike was ‘unroadworthy’ – so I sold it in 1997.

    These days I see bikes with OEM asymmetrical headlight setups, so I guess the ADRs have changed.

  3. Heck, this makes a Honda Express look sexy. For shame. I still love my ’01 Monster Metallic to death.

  4. I worked for a dealer at the time the 916 was released and we had a “loaner” fairing and headlight to aid our customers with any registration issues they faced.

  5. Oh man, revolting.
    the responsable person of Ducati who made the lights asymetrical should be shot, together with the auzie government person that came up with this rule. The light have a fuction in road safety and sofar all original ducati lights are crap! My SS900 has double round Symetrical headlighs coming from an aprila? same as the rear, double bulbs means 100% more survival chance when 1 goes down and a 50 ton cement truck is in your lane behind you!