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New Ducati to be based on Smart’s Imola winner

Published: 17 June 2001

Updated: 19 November 2014

Ducati has dedicated a production line to building limited edition bikes and the next one will be an MH900E-based bike inspired by Paul Smart’s 1972 Imola 200-winning machine.

Ducati originally intended to farm out the contract to build the MH900e to Bimota, whose facilities were perfect for building small numbers of almost hand-built bikes. When Bimota hit financial trouble last year, Ducati realised it would have to assemble the MH900E itself.

Now the Bologna-based firm has a separate production line dedicated to limited-edition bikes. It’s already making 12 MH900Es every day, and around 600 of the 2000 planned bikes have been completed. When the run ends, Ducati won’t let the new production line lie idle – instead it will be put to good use making more limited-run bikes.

The Imola uses the MH900e’s chassis design clothed in a new, full faring harking back to the 750SS ridden to victory in the Imola 200 by Paul Smart, beating the MV Agusta of Agostini in the process. The original Imola bike is credited with being the forefather of all today’s V-twin Ducatis – so it is perfect fodder for the firm’s plan to build machines focusing on its heritage.

A Ducati insider said: " We will continue to make limited-edition bikes like the MH900e. An Imola-based machine makes sense, but we have an entire museum of significant Ducati’s, any of which could be used for inspiration. "

The limited-edition production line won’t be restricted to building retro bikes – it could also be used for niche-market models built in small numbers.

Ducati is known to be considering an off-road-style machine, which is another candidate for the limited-production line. It isn’t clear which engine would be used in the bike, but if the production volumes are small, one possibility is the single-cylinder motor designed for the exclusive Supermono racer in the early 1990s. Alternatively, the bike could use one of Ducati’s full-production V-twin motors to build a bike to compete with machines like Aprilia’s Capo Nord and Cagiva’s Navigator.

Another limited-edition Ducati, the Monster S4 Fogarty, went on sale on Wednesday on the firm’s website. More than 100 of the 300 planned bikes have already been sold.

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