The Ducati Museum is centered within a round rotunda located on the top floor of the front office building of the Ducati factory complex. Together with a factory store, and a factory tour, it is open to visitors year 'round except for the holiday closure all the month of August. Here is the modern Superbike exhibit with all the World Championship winning bike's from the 1990's.

A Visit to the Ducati Museum
Story and Photos by Jim Gianatsis

The Ducati factory is located in the city Bolognain the suburb of Borgo Pamigale just off the main A-14 Autostrada (not too far from the Ferrari factory at Modena) and is open to pubic tours throughout the week. There are no set times for factory tours as visitors may vary at different times of the year, so tour guides may be pulled away from their other office duties at the factory as needed. Also know that most European companies like Ducati close in August for summer vacation. Visitors do need to check in with the security guard at the front gate of the factory, and it probably is a good idea to phone ahead just to make sure you are coming at a good time.The Ducati factory with its guided public tour of the motorcycle production line, the Ducati Musuem, and the opportunity to dine in the Employee Cafeteria and shop in the DucatiStore and Close-Out Apparel Shop are open to all visitors free of charge. Only my visit to the Corse Race Shop was a private by invitation only to, which you can see and read about HERE.

A very compact and modern Ducati table radio from 1948. Ducati was a world leader in radio technology from before Word War II. Note the plastic knobs and face panel.

Ducati was origionally founded by the 3 Ducati brothers, Marcello, Adriano and Bruno back in 1926 in Bologna, Italy, who were pioneers in radio design. The began by manufacturing condensors and other radio components sold around the world, expanding into lenses and cameras up until 1943 amid World War II when Italy signed an Armistice with the allies. However the Germans looted the factory of much of its machinery at that point, and a year later the factory was destroyed by allied bombing. The bothers tied to rebuild after the war, but went bannkrupt in 1947. Because of the company's importance of the company to Italy's economy the company was rescured financially by the Italian government, and for the next 40 year's in would be affected by good and bad political control.

During the 1980's Ducati was under the control of the private inustrial VM Group, but was run poorly and never proved to be profitable. In 1984 the VM Group entered into a joint venture with Cagiva motorcycles in an attempt to increase profitability. In 1985 Cagiva, owned by the Castigolioni brothers Claudio and Gianfranco, took over Ducati altogther and tried to produce both brands of bikes sharing some components.

Things ran well for about 10 years, but in the mid 1990's suppliers were not being paid and bike production dripped from 21,000 in 1995 to 12,500 in 1996. In 1996 a joint venture between the Texas pacific group and other investers created the publicly traded company Ducati Motor S.p.A. which is what runs the company very successfully today. Bike production has increased in 2004 to an all time historial high of 40,000 units a year.

Ducati's first engine was the 48cc 4-stroke Cucciolo with exposed vales, origionally produced in 1946 as a bolt-on bicycle kitengine to provide affordable and fuel efficient motorized transportation after World War II. This museum example of the T2 model in 1948 has it installed from the factory in a complete bicycle with working rear suspension and drum brakes.

Ducati's motorcycle history began with the 'Cuucciolo' (puppy) an inexpensice 4-stroke engine designed for Siata of Turnin during World war II by a layer named Aldo Farieello. the end of the war in 1945 proved to be a very opportune time to produce such a montor which could be installed in a bicycle frame to provide very inexpensive transportation to the population who were recovering from the war without much money or work. Somehow the Ducati factory picked up the contract to produce these engines. The engines and resulting bikes became so successful as to become the cornerstrone of Ducati's revival.

The Ducati Museum cronicals the company's history from just after World War II from the very beginning of it's motorcycle histroy with the little 48cc Cucciolo engine right up to the presnet day World Championship winning 999F Superbikes. Ducati's involvement with racing began almost immediately in 1950 with a Cucciolo powered motorcycle which is on display in the Museum, and racing has always been the focal point of the company for self promotion and new production bike developemnt. The Ducati Museum reflects this in that the majority of bikes on display are factory racing bikes from 1950 until today.

The tiney Cucciolo bicycle moped evolved into a full racing motorcycle in 1948 with its own frame featuring a sprung girder front forks, racing seat, and a real motorcycle fuel tank. The engine head now had enclosed valves.

Our tour guide for the factory and museum was a lovey young girl with an easy going personality who loved to answer questions, knew almost everything about everything from engine assembly to production numbers, and loved to joke and kid around with us.

The 125cc Gran Sport introduced in 1955 was a very successful racing bike producing 14hp and winning the Giro d'Italia roadrace in 1956. It was a development of the first overhead cam bevel drive engine developed in 1955 by a newly hired company engineer named Fabio Taglioni. It was Taglionoi who wouldlater introduce desmodronics to Ducati and motorcycling some 10 years later.

Ducati's first overhead cam bevel drive production bike was this 175cc Sport of 1975.

Our tour this day included a special private tour of the Ducati Corse Race Shop hosted by Superbike Press officer and freind Jullian Thomas. Access to the Race Shop is not a regular part of the Factory Tour, and is off limits to the public, visiting Ducati dealers, and even other Ducati employees. It's not because the Race Shop has many secrets to hide, but more for all the expensive parts and equipment lying around in the open and the mechanics' needing to be able to concentrate on the important prepartion of the race bikes without distraction. The special relationship that shares with Ducati Corse in featuring their bikes in the Calendar, the fact Pit Lane News offers the web's best coverage of motorcycle roadracing, and loaning them our beautiful Calendar girls to be the official Ducati Corse umbrella girls at Laguna Seca each year was what allowed me and my group into the race shop. You can follow our Ducati Corse race shop visit HERE.

Marco Lucchinelli's 1988 World Superbike, the 851cc Desmo motor stuffed into a 750F1 style chassis saw 200 examples built to homologate it for the new World Superbike Championship that year. The initial protype to this bike won the Daytona battle of the twins race in 1987. Power was 120hp.

The beginning of the 916 generation of World Championship winning Ducati Superbikes from Carl Fogarty's World Championship winning #9 of 1994 (actually 955cc) to Troy Corser'sWorld Championship winning #2 of 1966 (actual 996cc).

The current end of the line of Ducati's World Championship winning Superbikes runs from Carl Fogarty's runner-up bike in 1997 to the new generation 999F03 of Neil Hodgson in 2003. By now, James Toseland's 2004 winning 999F04 has also been added at the far end. No doubt, the mueum will need to be expandedvery soon.

The Ducati Museum offered a few new suprises like this prototype 3-cylinder DOHC superbike motor from the early 90's.Note the quick change cassette transmission cover to the rear of the engine. And the very compact cylinder head / engine combining the heads and cylinders in one casting.

Our morning tour of the factory ended just in time to join many of the factory employees and management in the Ducati factory cafeteria for lunch. The cafeteria is a beautiful new modern facility with a hi-tech theme and Ducati racing murals around the ceiling. The menu included fresh cooked pasta dishes, salad, and a beverage choice of just bottled Italian water, wine or beer. Which made us think the best time to plan for our next new Ducati motorcycle to get built is in late spring when production is slower, and in the morning before lunch...

Joining us for lunch at our cafeteria bench table was none other than Ducati company president Carlo Biaggio and chief motorcycle designer Pierre Tremblance. We felt like an important part of the Ducati extended family, a tradition here and thoughout Italy. Later in the week back at Misano, Carlo and Pierre and much of Ducati management would be serving dinner to thousands of enthusiastsfrom around the world at World Ducati Week.

On our way out of the cafeteria after lunch, just across the hallway is the Ducati clearance store where yuou can by close out Ducati apparel at low discount prices. This is where most of the Ducati factory employees shop Ihink, becausealmost all the factory workers wear Ducati ed T-shirts and jeans. Where as all Ducati management and office employs ware plain white dress shirts with black slacks.

The Ducati factory cafeteria: "Let's see... I'll take the pasta with a beer, or maybe a wine? " It doesn't take a program to spot visitors in blue, factory workers in red, and office workers or management in white shirts.

If you are a hard core Ducati collector primarily interested in the company's history of street production bikes, the Museum will not satisy you as it does not have room for a big collection of stock production bikes. Instead it does do a good job of focusing on the company's most historically significant racing bikes, which is what any hard core sportbike fan would want.

Go To More...
WDW page 1  •  WDW page 2  •  WDW page 3  

Ducati Factory VisitDucati Museum •  Ducati Corse Race ShopDRE Riding School

The Ducati Story
The complete histrory of Ducati, the people and bikes are featured in this excellent book by Ian Fallon. It is more focused on the racing histroy history of the company than the street street bikes, but it does show the streetybikes as well.

Above: The Ducati factory complex at Borgo Panigale,a suburb of Bologna, Italy. Click to enlarge.

It was a part a lifetime adventure for any Ducati enthusiast, and possibly for any series sportbike fan. Our 10-day trip to Italy for World Ducati Week 2004 started off when my plane touched down in Milan, Italy, to attend the nearby Monza World Superbike round at the legendary and beautiful 101 year old Monza circuit. Then Sunday night after the Monza WSB race I drove my rental car some 150 miles down the Autostrada past Ducati's factory in Bologna to the Adriatic seaside town of Rimini to attend the exciting Ducati Racing Experience (DRE) riding school on Monday at the Misano Grand Prix circuit where WDW2004 was taking place all week through the coming week. On Tuesday I drove back up the Autostrada to Bologna for a tour of the Ducati factory, the Ducati Corse Race Shop,and the Ducati Museum.

Inside the Ducati Museum
Click to Enlarge Photos

Inside thefactory front gate

Ducati mechanical calculator

Ducati radio 1948.

Ducati 35mm cameras and fmovie projector 1950.

Ducati Cucciolo motorized bicycle 1946

Ducati Cucciolo racer 1948

Ducati 125 Gran Sport 1955

Ducati 175 Sport 1958

Ducati prototype 3-cylinder Supetbike motor late 1980s.

Ducati 851 Superbike 1988

World Champs 1994-1996

World Champs 1997-2003

Museum Rotunda


Fabio Taglioni and
Much of Ducati's motorcycle heritage is owed to one man, Fabio Taglioni. who was hired at Ducati in 1952 when he was 32 years old, a graduate of bologna university. Taglioni's first motorcycle design for Ducati was the 98cc Gran Sport of 1955, Ducati's first Overhead Cam sportbike which won the 100cc class of the 9-day Giro d'Italia race that year.

Taglioni's race winning sportbike designs for Ducati quickly evolved, and in 1956 he successfully adopted to Ducati's motorcycles the desmodromic valve system which Mercedes had been using successfully in their W196 Grand Prix and 300 SLR Sports Racing cars the 2 years previous.

Desmodromic valve gear eliminated valve springs which would float at high RPM in racing engines and cause engine damage., instead opening and closing the engine valves with dual cam actuated push and pull rocker arms.

The first Ducati Desmo 125cc won the Swedish Motorcycle GP that year. Desmodromic's would become aunique and exclusive trademark for Ducati motorcycles that remains today.

More Ducati
history books!





The History
of Ducati

In 1926 the Ducati family and other Bolognese investors founded the Società Radio Brevetti Ducati in Bologna. Their aim was the production of industrial components for the growing field of radio transmissions, based on Adriano Ducati's patents. The first product, the Manens condenser for radio equipment, rapidly followed by others, was extremely successful throughout the world, allowing the company to expand by leaps and bounds, and winning it the respect of the international industrial community.

On June 1st 1935, the cornerstone of the factory in Borgo Panigale was laid. The new complex was an extremely modern and ambitious project, with the objective of establishing an industrial and technological center in Bologna. During this time the Ducati industry further developed abroad, and opened branches and offices in London, Paris, New York, Sydney and Caracas, assuring direct service and assistance to its clientele in all the major world markets.

The Second World War was extremely hard on Ducati: the Borgo Panigale factories were razed to the ground in 1944. Fortunately, the Ducati brothers spent the duration of the war studying and planning new products to be introduced to world markets at the end of the conflict.

At the Milan Fair of September 1946, the Cucciolo appeared: the small auxiliary motor for bicycles destined to become the most famous in the world. First sold in an assembly box to be attached to the bicycle, it soon acquired a frame of its own, which was constructed by Caproni in Trento (another famous brand in the aeronautical field) and based on a Capellino patent. In a short time, the Cucciolo became a real miniature motorcycle. Thank to the Cucciolo's success, and that of its descendants, Ducati became an affirmed trademark in the mechanical sector.

1952 saw the birth of the futuristic Cruiser 175cc, with electric starter and automatic transmission.

In 1953, Ducati unveiled a 98 cc., economic and spartan, which was soon increased to 125 cc.

In 1954, a person arrived destined to become a myth in the motorcycle world: engineer Fabio Taglioni. Teacher at the "Tecniche" of Imola, Taglioni had already constructed motorcycles of original technical character and astonishing performance. The Taglioni design, avant-garde and non conformist, was baptized at the races. From his debut at Ducati, the engineer tried to demonstrate the quality of his solutions, participating in long-distance races such as the Milano-Taranto and Giro d'Italia.

By the end of 1956, Ducati production included a four stroke Tourist 174 and Special and Sport models, capable of considerable performances (110-120-135 km/h).

At the 1957 Milan Salon, the above mentioned models appeared together with an "America" model. 1958
During 1958, Ducati also produced the 200 cc. "Elite".1958 also marked the triumph of the desmodromic system, which engineer Taglioni had been developing since 1955. This project resulted in the famous twin-cylinder 250 cc. of 1960, ordered from Ducati by the world famous English racer Mike Hailwood, who specifically requested a machine of "superior" performance.

In the meantime, the 250 cc. model was added to the prestigious roster of commercial single cylinders, in the Diana, Monza, Aurea, and, later, G.P. types, capable of approximately 150 km/h - really exceptional performance for the time. This model directly influenced all subsequent single cylinders until the famous 250, 350 and 450 cc. "Scrambler".The 1964 Mach 250, which was able to go over 150 km/h, won the heart of sports fans everywhere.

In 1968, Ducati bewitched bike-aficionados with the fabulous performance (more than 170 km/h) of the 450 Mark 3D, the first production Ducati with desmodromic distribution.

In 1972, after the success attained in America in the beginning of the Sixties with the Scramblers, Ducati proposed utilizing the same formula on the Italian market, with which it had incredible success, especially with the desmodromic 450. The end of the 1960s coincided with the boom of the maxibikes. Once again engineer Taglioni provided Ducati with the winning weapon. On 23rd April 1972, Ducati returned to racing, participating in the Imola 200 Miglia, with a new twin cylinder desmodromic 750, entrusted to Paul Smart and Bruno Spaggiari who finished first and second. The exceptional 750 Super Sport was created in response to the spectacular race.

In 1978, Mike Hailwood, who had grown up with the Ducati single cylinders, got back on the bike for the Isle of Man Tourist Trophy, astonishing the public and fans with his win at the Formula 1 TT on the mythic Mountain. The bike was a Super Sport elevated to 900 cc. In recognition of his exceptional effort, Ducati created the splendid limited edition 900 SS Mike Hailwood Replica.

In 1983, Ducati was purchased by Claudio and Gianfranco Castiglioni, and became part of the Cagiva Group. With this change of management, the group was in the hands of two great bike and racing fans, who together brought Ducati to the triumphs of the Superbike era.

The adventure began in 1988 with Marco Lucchinelli on his superb 851, constructed by engineer Massimo Bordi. Under the management of the Castiglioni brothers, Ducati expanded its share of the motorcycle market, introducing new models, increasing the supply of large displacement motorcycles, and intensifying the company’s commitment to racing.

In 1993 the Argentine Miguel Galluzzi conceived the idea of the Monster. Before the eyes of enthusiasts appeared a truly singular Ducati. The bike was stripped of all inessentials. It represented a unique interpretation of the fun bike category, and it rapidly became a legend.

The great Ducati sports tradition continued with the birth of the 916 in 1994 .It was another Ducati inspired revolution, this time in the high-performance sports motorcycle category. With the 916, technology and style, performance and symmetry reached maximum levels. Ducati, once again, managed to create a perfect harmony of form and function, logic and emotion. From the world’s most prestigious bike magazines, the 916 received the title "Motorcycle of the year".The Supermono, one of the most eminent examples of motorcycle design in motorbike history, was also realized at this time.

Despite product innovation and racing successes Ducati entered into a deep financial crisis. Its cash was drained by unsuccessful ventures of sister companies within the Castiglioni group.

Ducati was taken over by Texas Pacific Group, an american investment fund, that brought much needed cash and a new group of international managers. Simultaneously the launch of the ST family allowed Ducati to enter the Sport Touring segment of the market.

1997 - 1999
The new management team, together with the old group of engineers responsible for product development, turned the company around posting quarter after quarter record sales and profits.

The great success of this period has a name and it is Monster Dark, the best selling motorcycle in Italy in 1998 and 1999.
Ducati started changing from a purely manufacturing company to an entertainment company. It now provides a full motorcycling experience, centered on the technical excellence of it motorcycles but also extending to racing, heritage, accessories and apparel.

The first World Ducati Weekend underlined the newly found sense of the Ducati Community bringing together in Misano 10.000 Ducatisti from all over the world.

The turn around era culminated on March 24th 1999 with the listing of Ducati Motor Holding at the New York and Milan Stock Exchanges.

The MH900e becomes the first motorcylcle eve
r to be sold exclusively on the internet. Just a few weeks after the eve of the new millennium 2000 enthusiasts had already booked the new bike designed by Pierre Terblanche as an homage to Mike Hailwood.
Based on the success of the MH900e Ducati makes a strategic commitment to the internet founding, an independent subsidiary, that will take the successes of Ducati into cyberspace.
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