A few weeks ago I was lucky enough to spend 9 days travelling around Italy. I hired a Ducati Hypermotard 1100s from Joe at Ducati Tours in Lucca and headed north towards the Italian and Swiss Alps. The riding was incredible to say the least but there were a few other highlights along the way – one of these being a visit to the Ducati Museum in Bologna. To visit the museum you first have to apply on the Ducati website, I selected a day and time that would suit and a few days later I had an email welcoming me to come and visit the Museum. The Museum is at the Ducati Factory and normally it is possible to take a tour of the factory as well but unfortunately the factory is not accepting visitors at the moment due to some areas of damage caused by the recent earthquakes in Italy. I was a little disappointed as it would have been amazing to see the Ducati production line but the Museum Tour was still a fantastic experience and made the visit to the factory well worth it. I arrived at the factory security gate and was made welcome to ride in and park in the staff motorcycle parking area – only Ducati’s are allowed inside the factory walls so if you go on any other type of bike you can expect to park on the street.
The Museum focusses on Ducati’s racing history and starts right at the beginning with the Cucciolo motor, first produced in March 1946. This motor marked the beginning of the Ducati Motorcycle, prior to this Ducati manufactured radios and electronics components. Ducati was actually founded in 1929 and has a rich history prior to becoming involved in the world of motorcycles, you can read a bit more about this history in the Ducati website if you are interested.
The Cucciolo motor was first fitted to bicycles, the motor was underslung below the bottom bracket of the frame and the tank was mounted to the top tube.
Before long Ducati had turned their attention to racing motorcycles, the Cucciolo motor continued to be the heart of the Ducati brand and was tuned up and fitted to purpose built racing frames. Ducati continue to develop small capacity machines (up to 125cc) through the 50′s and during that time much success was had on the race track. These early years of Ducati’s history really make it clear that racing has been and still is an incredibly important part of the brand.
Before long the motors started to get bigger and the bikes got faster, in the 60′s Ducati started to experiment with the Desmo valve system.
Many of he walls in the Museum are covered in amazing 1:1 scale drawings of complete motorcycles and engines, I see these technical drawings as beautiful pieces of art that I would love to hang on a wall at home!
No 3D CAD models back in the 60′s and 70′s. Being an engineer that has grown up in the digital generation I always find it humbling to think of what has been created without the help the modern tools and technology we take for granted today.
It easy to forget how much history Ducati has prior to the V-twin engine configuration that the brand is so well known for today.
One of the very few non-racing pieces in the whole museum, the Apollo V4 project. We were told that Ducati had to cancel this project as the engine created too much power and the tyre technology of the day was not good enough to cope with power of this revolutionary engine.
I was fascinated by these cutaway engines
Slowly but surely we moved through Ducati’s racing history, the TT was one of the first bikes to feature the trellis style frame that we all associate with Ducati today.
The Dakar winning Cagiva Elephant is the only off road machine featured in the museum, whist its branded as a Cagiva it is powered by a Ducati engine and for that reason it takes it place in the museum. The bike is a monster and I really can’t imagine racing it through the sand dunes, picking it up after a crash must require a superhuman amount of effort!
Ducati Supermono, this bike is a zero mile example of the rare supermono – I want one…
There is some serious winning history displayed in this line of superbikes.
And the best bit is the fact that most of the winning has been done by Australian riders.
I am a big fan of the 916 but I must admit that the 999 bikes are growing on me…
Tucked away in a temperature controlled room in the centre of the museum are all of the Ducati MotoGP bikes.
Stoner’s championship winning bikes take pride of place in the centre of the exhibit.
The Museum Tour is a fantastic experience and something I would recommend to anyone who happens to find themselves in the vicinity of Bologna. The tour guides are incredibly knowledgeable and are able to deliver a great story about the history of Ducati (all in perfect English). Cant recommend this enough.