When Hailwood signed up to ride a specially prepared Ducati 900SS Desmo at the 1978 Isle of Man TT, nobody gave him much of a chance. Although highly decorated from a successful racing career that he’d started as a young child, Hailwood had burned out a decade earlier, and hadn’t been on a bike since.
The Isle of Man TT is of course one of the most deadly and challenging open-road races on the planet, and when “Mike the Bike” won, he didn’t just wow the motorcycle world, he helped bring Ducati back to the front lines of racing.
The 900SS motor with Desmo heads provided plenty of power for a street bike. It made some concessions to civilian duty with a cleverly disguised pillion seat under the cowl, but the high-compression race replica still had to be kick-started.
Even though some of its engine specs differed from the one-off race bike that Hailwood rode to victory, this replica edition was still stunning to behold—and a masterful 70’s swan song for Ducati’s design department and engineering team.
The Ducati Story
Ducati 350 Mark 3-D (1968-1972)
Ducati 350 Desmo (1971-1972)
Ducati 750S (1972-1974)
Ducati 750SS (1973-1974)
Ducati 900SS (1975-1982)
Ducati Darmah (1977-1982)
Ducati MHR (1979-1984)
Bonus: The Benelli 750 Sei