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Short test and archive pictures of the Ducati 916 PLC

1997 superbike replica

In the Superbike World Championship, Ducati fully exhausted the capacity limit for twins with 996 cc in 1997. With the Ducati 916 SPS, the Italians then also brought a corresponding series counterpart. The short test from MOTORRAD 10/1997 and the most beautiful pictures of the Ducati 916 PLC from the slide archive.

Even if it says 916, there is a full 996 cm³ displacement, with which the Desmo-Twin has finally exhausted its proportions since its first appearance in the 851 in 1988, without announcing this with ostentatious features. Those who know the scene will come D.ucati 916 SPS quickly on the stealth. Cast discs on the front wheel, solo bumpers and finely laminated carbon parts adorn the 45,000 mark expensive Superbike replica, and a distinctive label on the fork bridge identifies the SPS as a Nobel 916. The chassis technology upgrade of the SPS is, however, within sobering limits. In addition to an Ohlins central spring strut, the cleverly constructed tubular frame with variable steering head angle corresponds exactly to that of the Ducati 916 Biposto, which is around 15,000 marks cheaper.

This can be accepted with the proven 43 mm Showa fork, but there is only one word for the use of the Brembo brake ensemble with the too small 16-millimeter hand pump: scandal. Squeaky pressure point, lousy effect and difficult to dose. A nuisance of particular quality because the excellent chassis qualities of the Ducati 916 SPS promise maximum driving pleasure on the country road, but especially on the race track, to which the super powerful 996 engine puts the icing on the cake. For the test on the race track, the SPS roared from the Termignoni racing pots included in the price, together with the matching electronics – acoustically a great pleasure, but only a minimal improvement in terms of performance.

Nothing twitches, nothing wobbles, just fine

The V-Twin reacts aggressively and viciously to every throttle command without jerking. Feels like a hell of a lot of inertia. Torque conjured up loosely from the lower rev range gently lifts the front wheel out of the lean position and pushes the Ducati 916 SPS away in no time at all and with unrestrained agility. Short, crisp, pedaled in a flash without a clutch, the tightly stepped gear wheels line up perfectly and, in conjunction with the broad performance range, guarantee power in all situations. If the previous 916 engine is not a child of sadness, the big one can do it even better. The 1000 twin presses a whopping 106 Newton meters via stable Pankl connecting rods onto the crankshaft with slide bearings and also increases the maximum output by nine hp and the maneuverability compared to the 916 Biposto.

The steering and driving stability of the Ducati 916 SPS are unimpressed by this show of strength. Nothing twitches, nothing wobbles, just fine. Turning in quickly requires a little force, but is transformed into finely circled arcs with the greatest precision. The standard-mounted Michelin TX 11 and TX 23 harmonize surprisingly well with the stiff Ducati chassis, which confidently keeps the wheels on track even on rough slopes and in undulating bends. Now the brakes are snappy and the fun becomes a game without limits.

Only 20 pieces in Germany

To get hold of one of the 20 Ducati 916 PLCs planned for Germany, however, a considerable bundle of thousands must be left at Ducati dealers. Actually too much money for the fact that, in addition to the few optical retouches, the engine now finally takes up the liter with 98 millimeter cylinders and corresponding modifications to the engine block.

Adapted to the enormous mechanical loads in sports use, the distances between the cylinder studs on the reinforced engine housing of the Ducati 916 PLC increased by two millimeters. In addition, three further cross screw connections in the crankshaft area should provide more stability and fatigue strength at speeds above 11,000 rpm. Hopefully the Ducati 916 Biposto will also get the 996 engine next season to counter the Japanese V2 invasion not only in terms of chassis and design, but also in terms of performance.

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