A long time ago (1926), in a country far, far away (Italy), a father and his three sons founded a company. The company was called Società Scientifica Radio Brevetti Ducati in Bologna and it produced vacuum tubes, condensers and other radio components. By 1935 they were so successful that they constructed new factory in the Borgo Panigale area of the city producing amongst other things, radios and an electric razor, the Raselet.
Meanwhile, a small firm with a big name, Societa Italiana per Applicazioni Tecniche Auto-Aviatorie or SIATA, developed a small pushrod engine for mounting on bicycles. In 1950, in collaboration with SIATA, the Ducati firm offered its own Cucciolo (the puppy!) motorcycle. This first Ducati motorcycle was a 48 cc bike with a top speed of 40 mph, and the rest as they say, is history.
Ducati has a heritage and presence that most other bike manufacturers would kill for, even the big three. Part of that has to be down to the fact that they have kept things traditional and human. They still build their bikes in the Borgo Panigale factory and each one is hand built. After each process the mechanic signs their form saying it has been done perfectly and it is handed over to the next man or woman down the line. Thanks to this quality control it is in theory possible to find out who built your Ducati, a special thing that adds to the mystique of this very special brand.
Of course another thing that adds to that aura of desirability is that they have produced some of the most beautiful bikes ever made, and for me probably the most beautiful mass produced bike ever..the 916. Sorry Triumph and Harley, your bikes are wonderful but the 916 has super model looks with porn star abilities! My wife said she thought about buying me one of these back before we were married, all I can ask is “Why the fuck didn’t she? When I think about it I have to go off and cry into my beer, if only she hadn’t told me my life would be even better than it is now.
For years and years Ducati have produced beautiful, desirable machines and as the years have passed not only have they gone like a bomb and handled like a dream, they have also become reliable and almost affordable....and that brings us to today, or rather this weekend to be exact.
Laguna Seca is going to be the place where they launch the final version of their ever so sexy 200+ bhp rocket ship, the Panigale FE. It is going to be lovely, it is going to be sexy and it is going to be the last because it doesn’t conform to Euro emission laws and so they are going to have to replace it....and that raises another much more interesting question, what are they going to replace it with?
A whole new Ducati Superbike flagship is coming, and in this world of immediate news it is already known that it is a V4...oh and the one they are playing about testing on looks like this, which of course is nothing like what it will look like...watch this space and start saving.
.... and because it is Ducati that is possibly not the end of the story. There is also a rumor going around that Lamborghini (Audi) are thinking of selling their 100% stake in the company to Harley Davidson.