Money is easy to make if it's money you want. But with few exceptions, people don't want money. They and admiration.

 --John Steinbeck

Adriano, Marcello, and Bruno Ducati never expected to get into the motorcycle business. In 1926, the three brothers started a company in Bologna, Italy, to produce vacuum tubes, condensers, and radio parts. It wasn't exactly the most glamorous business, but the Ducatis did well and the company grew quickly. Unfortunately, much of their manufacturing capabilities and their factories were wiped out during World War II.

The Ducatis didn't just rebuild, they reinvented the company as a maker of motorized bicycles—that is, they began selling a small motor attached to a bicycle frame. By the 1950s Ducati was manufacturing full-fledged motorcycles, which continued to evolve in design, speed, and function. Then, as motorcycle racing began to take off in Europe and the United States, the company sought to produce the epitome of high-performance vehicles.

Year after year, Ducati's motorcycles won major races and turned heads. In time, they became the must-have "bikes" for anyone who cared about motorcycles. Celebrities like Billy Joel, Tom Hanks, and Julia Roberts soon became fans of Ducati. For one thing, the $16,000 price tag for a prized bike was small compared to the cost of a fancy sports car. Ducati fans have long had a personal (if not social) connection to their bikes and to fellow ...

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