Name: Jim Gianatsis
Home: Woodland Hills, CA
Occupation: Owner of Gianatsis Design Associates
"I never thought much of the quirky, temperamental and underpowered Ducati sportbikes of the '80s and early '90s. I had a chance to ride the first-generation 851/888, but wasn't impressed with their slow steering and underwhelming power. Then on one Sunday morning in '93, my buddy Scott Reif-who worked at Honda and had competitive brands for testing-let me ride the new 916 Superbike. The first corner I leaned into, the bike took control and did everything for me-it was so much better handling than anything I'd ridden before! And with the broad, torquey power, I was a converted Ducati believer for life.
"Within a few months I had purchased my own 916, but still felt it was in need of a little more power. After a call to my friend Eraldo Ferracci, who then ran Ducati's AMA Superbike team, my 916 soon had a 955cc big-bore kit, full Termignoni race exhaust, cams, reprogrammed ECU and Jerry Branch-ported heads. The 916 was definitely the best sportbike of its era.
"In subsequent years, my Ducati Superbike collection grew with the new Testastretta-engined 998R in '01, a 999R in '05, and now the current-generation 1198R model. Finally, to complete my collection with all four generations of Ducati Superbikes, I found on eBay an immaculate, like-new, limited-edition '94 888SPO.
"Which Ducati Superbike is best? The second-generation 916/955/998 of 1993-2002 were the best-handling bikes in their time and won more World Superbike Championships than any other brand or model combined. With the advancement of the new 998cc Testastretta engine in '01, the Bologna V-twin also had the power to go cc to cc with the higher-revving Japanese 1000cc fours. The introduction of the Pierre Terblanche-designed 999 in '04 made the bike bigger and more comfortable, but also heavier and less nimble. It was sheer embarrassment to Ducati Corse when privateer Pier-Francisco Chili on an older but better-handling 998R beat the factory team's new 999s at Monza, Italy.
"The latest-generation 1098/1198 are the best yet, and make more power than one could ever use on the street. With the full-race Termignoni exhaust and CPU, the 1198R makes around 200 bhp-close to what the intake-restricted World Superbikes currently put out.
"My professional duties these days include producing the Fast Dates calendars and website. I shoot the calendar at a World Superbike round each year, and since 1990 they've featured every World Championship-winning Ducati Superbike from Doug Polen's 888 to Troy Bayliss' 1198."