We detail what visitors can see at Ducati’s recently renovated museum, throwing in some sexy pictures of the motorcycles on display for our guide and walkthrough, brought together with the help of the Italian motorcycle manufacturer. Admittedly, this article is on the longer size, 4735 words to be exact, but as with touring museums readers can enjoy whichever parts interest them and read as much as their attention allows. The classic museum move of coming back to an area skipped over should be considered as well.
Whether the next international vacation is around the corner or somewhere down the road, this article should build excitement for those lucky riders heading to Italy or offer an imagined tour for housebound bikers. In other words, if there was ever a motorcycle article to bookmark and share, this is it.
Scheduling a visit to such a notable museum proves not every motorcycle vacation necessarily needs to include the actual motorcycle itself. However, we admit riding the surrounding rustic Italian scenic roads would make such a trip so much better but as every biker knows, sometimes you have to ride the road you’re dealt.
Jewel in a crown
While motorcycle enthusiasts may look to the Ducati museum as the reason to visit Bologna, the city is located in northern Italy nestled in a region which will keep any traveler entertained, regardless if they ride or not. Bologna is the historic capital of the Emilia-Romagna region. Its Piazza Maggiore is a sprawling plaza lined with arched colonnades, cafes and medieval and Renaissance structures such as City Hall, the Fountain of Neptune and the Basilica di San Petronio. Tourist attractions include the city’s many medieval towers such as the Two Towers, leaning Asinelli and Garisenda.
In 2000 Bologna was declared European capital of culture and in 2006 was a UNESCO “city of music”. The city’s richness is enhanced by the surrounding towns, many worth visiting. These would include Brisighella, Ravenna, Comacchio, Ferrara, Dozza and Parma, birth place of the famous Parmesan cheese. For readers who consider themselves gearheads, Modena is located near Bologna, which enjoys a notable place in the automotive history books. The iconic Ferrari supercar was founded in Modena by Modenese car manufacturer Enzo Ferrari with several Italian supercars such as Pagani, De Tomaso, and Maserati also either founded or are currently headquartered or built around Modena.
Now we’ve helped with the vacation itinerary, what about Ducati’s museum?
The Ducati Museum - Reborn
The museum's permanent display, found inside the Bologna factory, was renovated and reopened for the 2016 edition of World Ducati Week which celebrated 90 years of Ducati motorcycles.
‘The Ducati Museum is a journey through the legendary 90-year history of the Company, renowned across the world for its style, performance and the search for perfection,’ states Ducati. ‘To do this, museum’s new concept treats each motorcycle on display like an authentic work of art, telling its story the language of shapes and colors highlighted by the dedicated presentations.’
Many of the motorcycles found in Ducati’s Museum have never been exhibited before with all those featured emphasized by its own artistic display along with technical specifications and what made it unique.
“Ducati is ‘Style, Sophistication and Performance',” points out Andrea Ferraresi, head of the Ducati Design Center, “We use this approach at the Design Center when designing our motorcycles and it's the idea behind the project led by creative director Paola Bosi for the set-up of the new museum.”
The museum's white decor allows its colorful motorcycles to dominate the exhibits - Source Ducati
The new design walks museum-goers through how motorcycles are designed and built, explained from start to finish. The displays and information includes how each project was conceived and developed in precisely defined technological, economic and social contexts.
“Three of the fundamental elements of our brand are to be found within the museum: the Ducati history, races and DNA applied to our most iconic motorcycles,” Ferraresi explains, “We consider every bike to be an item of design, a work of art which, today, we are displaying with pride in this new gallery.”
The term DNA is used to describe the third fundamental element focuses on 'Ducati moments', the facts, people and technological innovations that have made the story of Ducati what it is and also the 'Ducati heroes', the Ducati riders.
The new Ducati Museum is characterized by its very modern concept, with the color white used throughout to ensure the subject of each exhibit takes center stage with no distractions. As mentioned earlier, each motorcycle exhibited is a work of art, telling a story using a language composed of shapes and colors.
Room by room
When visitors first make their way into the museum, a two-wheeled version of Jeff Goldblum’s comment from Jurassic Park may come to mind, ‘There are supposed to be motorcycles on this ride, right?’
The beginning of Ducati’s museum doesn’t feature any motorcycles, instead covers the period of 1926 – 1945 when the company’s first success came with radio. In the early 1900s Giuglielmo Marconi was receiving worldwide praise for having invented radiotelegraphy. It was in this environment Adriano Cavalieri Ducati patented a short-wave transmitter which could connect to the United States. On 4 July 1926, together with his brothers Bruno and Marcello, he founded the Società Scientifica Radio Brevetti Ducati. The company produced the small Manens condenser, assembled in a private residence with two workers and a secretary.
The brothers Adriano, Bruno, and Marcello Cavalieri Ducati - Source Ducati
The success was staggering, and within ten years Ducati was providing thousands of people with work and had opened a large factory in Borgo Panigale. While not about bikes, this look at the founder’s early success speaks volumes to their cleverness and ability to ride in front of the pack.
It would take a war to move the company towards the motorcycles they’ve become known for. During World War 2 the factory became a target in the Allied bombings and was destroyed on 12 October 1944. From the rubble, the company was built back up as a motorcycle manufacturing firm, marking the start of a new era for Ducati.
Tracing an economic boom enjoyed by Italy during the years of post-war reconstruction, the second room tells of Ducati’s years from 1946-1960. With the lifestyles and habits of Italians changing, the need for mobility was answered with Ducati’s first motorcycle product, the Cucciolo, a two-speed four-stroke engine. It could reach speeds of up to 50 km/h and travel 100 km on a liter of fuel whose display is enhanced by an historic film clip from ‘Bread, Love and Dreams’ which shows the Cucciolo being ridden.
1946 Cucciolo engine - Source Ducati
Next, the first complete motorcycle to be built inside the Borgo Panigale factory, the Ducati 60. This light motorcycle included all the traits of the two-wheeled vehicles of the time, in that it was economical, comfortable and at 45 kg, lightweight. It was the first product to be advertised and was aimed at female customers which is highlighted by reproduced posters on the motorcycle display.
The motorcycle manufacturer’s fascination with racing is seen in the 125 Sport, Ducati’s first street bike designed by engineer Fabio Taglioni after his arrival at Ducati. The model included a bevel gear timing system in its engine adopted from the Gran Sport “Marianna” racing bike which made its winning debut at the Motogiro d’Italia. This popular seller was referred to as “the miracle of the Motogiro”.
At the time of writing, seven riders handpicked by Ducati are riding around the world in a globetrotting event celebrating the first 90 years of the Italian motorcycle manufacturer. However, the next motorcycle displayed in the second room took on this incredible journey in 1957. Leopoldo Tartarini and Giorgio Monetti completed a 60,000 km voyage around the world, riding the 175 T, a 14 HP single camshaft bike and descendant of the Marianna.
Speaking of history, hardly surprising considering this is a museum, on November 30, 1956 the Ducati 100 Siluro set 46 world speed records on the oval track in Monza. On display, the motorcycle was based on a Gran Sport Marianna with a 98 cc engine and enjoyed some alterations such as the aluminum alloy fairing taking on greater significance, to guarantee maximum aerodynamic efficiency.
100 Siluro - Source Ducati
Over two decades of motorcycles are featured in the third room which honors 1961-1989, dubbed ‘From the American dream to the superbikes’ and marking the beginning of a colorful era. Computers, the space race, pop art and history making rock music set the tone for motorcycle design and advancements. It also covers a challenging time for motorcycles. The mass production of cars robbed the humble motorcycle of its title of affordable transportation. Instead, Europe followed the lead of American bikers looking to the motorcycle as a form of expression for the young generation.
The years covered also saw the birth of the superbike.
Not surprisingly, the motorcycles on display cover a range of riding styles and two-wheeled technology in this area of the Ducati museum. From the 450 Scrambler launched in 1962, when American importer Joe Berliner requested a dirt track motorcycle for customers in the US to the first superbike, 750 GT.
Competing with Japanese manufacturers in the early seventies, engineer Fabio Taglioni designed a new L-twin cylinder engine with bevel gears, able to excel both on the road and on the racetrack. Coarse and powerful, the 750 GT would become the base for the SuperSport Desmo version in 1973, displayed at the Guggenheim as one of the most beautiful motorcycles of all time.
This road would lead to what’s considered the technical coming of age for Ducati with its 750 F1 in 1985, an extreme super sport bike that would become a pillar in the brand’s history. It would also be Fabio Taglioni’s swan song, as he retired after completing the project.
A page of Ducati’s history was written with the next motorcycle found on display, Paso 750. Enjoying a dynamic and captivating line, not only did it relaunch the concept of touring bikes, it introduced red as the official color of Ducati. Produced almost entirely in red, it became a symbol of 1980s design and represented the brand’s entry into the field of industrial design.
As with many models found on the modern showroom floor, Ducati’s Multistrada Enduro’s inspiration is seen in the Italian motorcycle manufacturer’s museum. From 1984, the Ducati-powered Elefant played a starring role in African raids such as the Paris-Dakar, the Rally Atlas in Morocco and the Pharaons Rally in Egypt.
Prepared by the competition division in Borgo Panigale, the Ducati L-twin cylinder had special pistons, a reinforced clutch and magnesium details. With 904 cc and 85 HP, it could exceed 200 km/h across the long desert trails of the toughest, most famous races in the world. Victory came at Dakar with Italian specialist Edi Orioli in 1990, he then repeated the feat in 1994.
Cagiva Elefant - Source Ducati
It’s at this point, riders will find themselves moving into the next room which remembers the years of 1990-2002 Ducati’s history.
It’s explained the 1990s signaled the beginning of an era marked by the end of political ideologies and significant technological acceleration in the fields of computers and mobile phones.
‘It was the age of internet and globalization, but also of a post-consumerist society in which goods no longer simply satisfied needs but also defined the identity of those who bought them,’ notes Ducati.
These trends were also seen in the motorcycle world, with it becoming a premium product, full of passion as well as a form of identification and a status symbol. Ducati would take this moment to introduce art to the motorcycle leading to the birth of such icons as the Monster and the Ducati 916.
Enjoying the description of a naked bike, Argentinian designer Miguel Galluzzi took the motorcycle back to its fundamental essence for the Monster 900. It wasn’t the first motorcycle without fairings, but it was the first of the simple sport bikes, so simple in fact that the common term used to describe them was ‘naked’.
Visitors may enjoy the Monster 900’s display which features a word cloud, inspired by the key words that represent the Monster and the world in which the bike belongs. Alongside it, a creative arrangement of Monster tanks pays homage to one of the model’s symbolic components and underlines one of the advantages of the product, personalization.
Room 4 of the Ducati Museum - Source Ducati
A lingering look at the Ducati 916 which was called the ‘The most beautiful motorcycle of the last 50 years’ in 2014 and riders will find themselves in front of a 851 Tricolore, the mother of all modern Ducati Superbikes. This model enjoyed many historic features for the Italian manufacturer over its development such as electronic injection as well as first Ducati twin to have a four-valve engine.
Considered 20 years ahead of its time in terms of research into weight reduction, the 900 Superlight would provide the base for the 1199 Superleggera project. This would be one of the models Ducati fans don’t see in-person as often as they would like. The Superlight first appeared in 1992 as a limited edition of the 900 Supersport, one of Ducati’s most fashionable models. It features numerous carbon fiber components and magnesium rims, materials that, at the time, were used exclusively in race bikes.
Suitably, it’s the last motorcycle featured in this particular room with the next display area bringing riders up to the current day and given the headline of ‘Motorcycles at the center of the world’.
‘In today’s increasingly connected world, things are changing quicker than ever,’ explains Ducati, ‘Mobile technology reflects a rapidly moving reality while communication via social networks reflects relationships that are in continuous transformation.’
Calling the Multistrada 1200 four bikes in one, the flexibility of this model’s performance is highlighted by its display which features a topographic map underscoring the different rides Multistrada 1200’s riding modes offers a biker, the sports bike, the touring bike, the city bike and the road-going enduro.
Many of Ducati’s fans are about pure performance and speed. As if some incredible tease, the motorcycles that would excite them are found here, in abundance.
Starting with the Desmosedici RR, the first street bike to replicate a MotoGP model which was derived directly from the Ducati Racing Team’s Desmosedici. Its design and aerodynamics faithfully reflected the racing version. The same applied to the equipment, materials, construction philosophy and technical specifications of the powerful desmodromic 90° V4.
Next, designed for the stopwatch, the design and layout of the 1098 were the result of an association between racing technology, components derived from the racetrack and Ducati tradition. Characteristic Ducati elements such as the high tail guard, compact front end, double under-seat silencers and single-sided swing arm were combined in a project where every detail was studied and pared back to the essentials, increasing lightness and performance to maximum levels.
Racing Room of the Ducati Museum - Source Ducati
Visitors interested in motorcycle history will enjoy the next model on display, the Superleggera 1199 enjoyed lighter and more durable materials such as magnesium, carbon fiber, titanium, lithium and aluminum. This integration of track technology into consumer motorcycles was the beginning of the current, common practice by motorcycle manufacturers giving riders the opportunity to own powerful models similar to those seen in competitive racing.
Regardless of what bikers have in the garage back home, the Superleggera 1199 boasting more than 200 HP of power and a record dry weight of just 155 kg should impress any rider.
Before moving onto the area dedicated to the racing motorcycles from Ducati’s design powerhouse, visitors shouldn’t be surprised to see a special exhibition dedicated to the manufacturer’s incredibly popular Scrambler series.
‘The entire Scrambler family represents an approach to motorcycling that does not only consider performance and technology, but exalts freedom of expression and enjoyment,’ is how Ducati describes this unique line of bikes. ‘It is the perfect blend of tradition and modernity, a step towards the purest essence of motorcycling.’
More than a heart racing
At this point, visitors can enjoy a line-up of motorcycles that earned Ducati its successes on the track. Not wanting to do a disservice to this colorful history, here are the motorcycles and descriptions as detailed by Ducati, free of editing.
1949 – CUCCIOLO RACING
Ducati's earliest sporting successes were thanks to the Cucciolo, competing in micro - engine races on Italian tracks. Mario Recchia claimed the first recorded victory on 15th February 1947 at the Viareggio Grand Prix. In 1950, on the Monza track, Ugo Tamarozzi and Glauco Zitelli broke several 50 cc class world speed records with their Cucciolo.
1956 – GRAN SPORT 125 MARIANNA
The Marianna, the first bike designed by engineer Fabio Taglioni in Ducati, made its debut in endurance road races in 1955. Gianni Degli Antoni from Modena won the Motogiro d’Italia with his Gran Sport in the 100 cc engine version. In 1956, aboard his enhanced 125 cc, Giuliano Maoggi took overall first place in the Motogiro. In these years the Marianna also dominated in the famous Milano-Taranto race.
1958 - 175 F3
The Ducati 175 F3 is considered a predecessor to modern-day Superbikes, a bike born to race amongst production-derived bikes. Developed on the base of the road 175 Sport, the bike won its first race at the Nations Grand Prix in 1957 at Monza. It was ridden by Francesco Villa, a former mechanic in the racing department. The 175 F3 would triumph once again in Monza in both 1959 and 1960.
1959 - 125 GP DESMO
The 125 GP, designed by Fabio Taglioni, was the first Ducati bike to be equipped with the Desmodromic timing system. It made its debut in 1956, with Gianni Degli Antoni’s win in the Swedish Grand Prix in Hedemora. The following year, Ducati came close to the world title after Alberto Gandossi won in Belgium and Sweden, and Bruno Spaggiari in Italy. In 1959, Ducati dominated the Ulster Grand Prix thanks to a young Mike Hailwood who took third place in the 125 cc World Championship.
1960 - 250 GP DESMO
The 250 cc Desmo Twin cylinder bike was one of the first racing bikes developed by Fabio Taglioni after Ducati officially stepped down from racing. It was made especially for Mike Hailwood who had enjoyed his first wins the previous year with the 125 cc GP. Hailwood won several races with the new bike in the English championship, earning him the legendary "Mike the Bike" nickname. He was one of the greatest champions of all time and would end his career in 1979, riding a Ducati.
1971 - 500 GP BICILINDRICA
Only in the ‘70s did Ducati make its official racing comeback after a decade of competing with private racing teams. In order to compete with the best, Taglioni developed the 500 cc Grand Prix, the first Ducati racing bike with a 90 degree "L" type twin cylinder engine. The bike was ridden by Phil Read in the 500 cc class World Championship and became the base for the first Ducati road twin cylinder bike, the 750 GT.
1972 - 750 IMOLA DESMO
1972 saw the first edition of the 200 Miglia, the successful American formula for production-derived bikes, take place at Imola. It was the perfect occasion for Ducati to really show what it was made of. With the 750 GT as a base, Fabio Taglioni mounted a twin cylinder "L" type engine on a race bike equipped with the desmodromic system. The 750 Imola Desmo beat the competition hands down, scoring both first and second place, with Paul Smart and Bruno Spaggiari, in front of 75 thousand spectators.
1975 - 750 SS DESMO
The reach of the 1972 victory at the 200 Miglia in Imola encouraged Ducati to create a road version of the 750 desmodromic bike. In 1973 the 750 Super Sport Desmo was thus introduced, starring in Italian national championships for production-derived bikes. In 1975, Franco Uncini won the 750 cc class Italian title, and in 1977, Cook Neilson triumphed at the Daytona 200 with his legendary 750 SS.
1978 - 900 SS IOM TT
In 1978, on the Isle of Man, Ducati made history in the world of motorcycling.The race in question was the Tourist Trophy, the only World Formula TT title for production-derived bikes. The man to achieve this feat was Mike Hailwood, making a spectacular comeback after ten years of inactivity. He chose Ducati for his comeback, the bike with which he had started his career. Aboard the 900 Super Sport prepared by the NCR team, the British champion dominated the scene at 38 years old, beating all the odds.
1981 - 600 TT2
The 600 TT2 was the first race bike created by the Ducati team to be mounted with the 600 cc Pantah engine with timing belt. Another new feature was the trellis frame, originally developed for the 1979 500 cc production Pantah. From 1981 to 1984, the 600 TT2 would win four consecutive world titles with Englishman Tony Rutter, and two Italian championships with Walter Cussigh and Massimo Broccoli.
1986 - 750 F1
The 750 F1, an evolution of the 600 TT2, was the last bike that Fabio Taglioni would design. This was the bike that would relaunch Ducati in the racing world. With the new twin cylinder, Virginio Ferrari won the European F1 title in 1985. The next year, he dominated in the 24 Horas de Montjuic and, with Marco Lucchinelli, in the Daytona Battle of the Twins, the famous American twin cylinder race.
1990 - 851 F90
The 851 was the Ducati that launched the new water-cooled 4-valve twin cylinder engine designed by Gianluigi Mengoli and Massimo Bordi. Making its debut in the 1988 World Superbike Championship, it proved to be an immediate winner with Marco Lucchinelli at Donington. Confirmation came in 1990, when Frenchman Raymond Roche achieved a first Riders’ Title.
1988 Donington - 1° win SBK, Marco Lucchinelli - 851 - Source Ducati
1991 - 888 F91
The new version of the 851, increased to 888 cc, dominated the 1991 championship, winning 23 out of 26 races. It proved to be American Doug Polen's year, and with 17 race wins he was crowned world champion, also helping Ducati to win the World Manufacturers’ title. This was just the first in a long series of victories, which would see the Ducati team reach the pinnacle of motorcycle racing.
1992 - 888 F92
1992 saw Ducati consolidate its position in the World Superbike Championship. The team, run by Franco Uncini who was assisted by Franco Farnè, chief mechanic since Taglioni had left, won the World title once again. Doug Polen took the title, this time with an updated 888. Italian rider Giancarlo Falappa, known by the Ducati fans as "The Lion from Jesi" also made an impression that year, scoring four race wins.
This elegant and refined four-strong single cylinder was the fruit of designer Claudio Domenicali’s brilliance, which gave shape to an original design by Pierre Terblanche. Created exclusively for the track, only 67 examples of the Supermono were ever produced. The great concentration of technological and aerodynamic elements meant that the bike was among the most competitive in its category, winning numerous trophies as a result. In 1993, Mauro Lucchiari scored the European Supermono title while Ducati won the manufacturers’ title.
1994 - 916 F94
Massimo Tamburini was the genius behind the 916. A bike with a revolutionary design, equipped with innovative technical aspects that made it the most successful Ducati bike of all time. It made its debut in Superbike in 1994 with an English rider, Carl Fogarty, who would tie his name to the Bologna based manufacturer. Foggy won his first of four titles, repeating the feat in 1995, 1998 and 1999 to become "The King", the most successful rider in the history of SBK.
1996 - 916 F96
The 916 was such a technological marvel that it could win regardless of its rider. In 1996, when the reigning SBK champion Carl Fogarty left Ducati, the latter had already lined up a worthy substitute in the shape of Troy Corser. The Australian won the Riders’ title and, together with John Kocinski, added another Manufacturers' title to the wall of fame. This marked the start of an era of talented Australian riders who would make history for Ducati.
2001 - 996 F01
2001 was the last SBK season for the 996 R, part of the family that began with the 916, equipped with the new Testastretta, smaller in size than the illustrious Desmoquattro. Two years after scoring its previous title, Ducati took the Riders’ title once more, this time thanks to the natural talents of another Australian, Troy Bayliss. A rookie who had scored two wins during the previous season, Bayliss snatched his first of three World Superbike titles.
2003 - 999 F03
The 999 had the hard task of substituting the 916/996 after a decade of triumphs. The success of the new project was clear from the very first race, with Ducati occupying the whole podium. The season concluded with incredible victories and Neil Hodgson adding yet another title to the Ducati prize list. In 2004, it was James Toseland who would win the championship, followed by Troy Bayliss in 2006, making the 999 the second most successful Ducati after the 916.
2003 – DESMOSEDICI GP03
In 2003, Ducati debuted in the World Championship’s reigning class. The Desmosedici, the first four-cylinder race bike to be designed by Filippo Preziosi, soon proved to be highly competitive. Loris Capirossi reached the podium in the first race at Suzuka and dominated the Catalunya Grand Prix. Troy Bayliss was named rookie of the year. The season ended with a surprising second place finish in the World Manufacturers' Championship.
2003 MotoGP debut, Loris Capirossi - Desmosedici- Source Ducati
2007 – DESMOSEDICI GP07
The reduction in MotoGP engine capacity, from 1000 to 800 cc, led Ducati to redesign the Desmosedici. The team entrusted this bike to a young rider called Casey Stoner. The combination of a new bike and new Australian talent proves perfect. Stoner won ten Grand Prix, the victory topped off by Capirossi's win in Japan. Just four years since its MotoGP debut, Ducati won both the Riders’ and Manufacturers’ World Championships.
2008 - 1098 F08
2008 saw the 1098 make its Superbike debut. It was also Troy Bayliss' last season, but he would leave Ducati and its fans with one last gift, his third world title a t the age of 39. The Australian, with 52 victories under his belt, is the second most successful SBK rider of all time and won three Riders’ titles with three different Ducati bikes.
2010 – DESMOSEDICI GP10
The Desmosedici GP10 featured a structure with a load-bearing engine and carbon fibre monocoque frame. The carbon frame and swingarm meant that the bike stood out against its rivals. From mid-season, the bike took to the track with a new aerodynamic look in the form of innovative lateral appendages, which were to return in 2015. With the new bike, Casey Stoner won three Grand Prix and achieved six podiums. His experience at Ducati concluded with a fourth place finish in the general standings and a record 23 race wins over four years.
2011 - 1198 F11
The 1198 was the evolution of the 1098 and it was Carlos Checa who would represent the Ducati team and dominate the 2011 World Superbike Championship. During a period dominated by Anglo-Saxon riders, Checa was the first Spaniard to write his name in the Superbike World Championship history books. His 15 wins scored over the season saw Ducati surpass the milestone of 300 SBK victories.
Buy a commemorative t-shirt on the way out?
Just seeing them listed above, the last stretch of racing motorcycles may seem overwhelming but it’s balanced by the production bikes on display. The areas dedicated to production bikes includes 27 bikes, 15 of which have never been on show before. All the motorcycles featured and effort the Italian motorcycle manufacturer has put into showing them echoes the quality seen in everything else it does.
Aside from making admission well worth the ticket price, the Ducati museum rewards the travel efforts from any of its worldwide visitors.
Room 2 of the Ducati Museum - Source Ducati
The Italian motorcycle manufacturer say they are using the new Ducati Museum as a bookends of the company. Not only is it dedicated to the memory of the Bologna factory, it is also a symbol of what Ducati considers ‘the company's indisputable contemporaneity and continuing desire to reach for the future’.
As with every bike it builds, it appears Ducati’s museum acknowledges legacy is as important as anything found on a motorcycle, past or present.