Tuesday, 30 September 2014

Ducati Scrambler launches - official press release and images

Cologne (Germany), 30 September 2014 – At the end of the first day of Intermot 2014 – the International Motorcycle Fair being held in Cologne (Germany) from 30 September to 6 October –Ducati finally unveiled one of the most eagerly awaited new bikes to go on show there; the Ducati Scrambler brand immediately became the focus of media and public attention, and the undisputed star of this key German fair.


Re-proposing the yellow containers that characterised the original, highly creative launch phase, Ducati set up a Ducati Scrambler brand-dedicated space in the exhibition area of its Intermot 2014 stand. This symbolic opening-up of a "new world" at the end of the press-dedicated day involved both public and media in an original presentation that was fully in keeping with the language and style of this exciting new concept.


"This year Intermot is especially meaningful for Ducati”, stated Claudio Domenicali, CEO of Ducati Motor Holding, during the press conference. “Ducati continues to grow steadily as it has done for several years now. The last 12 months confirm this positive trend with a growth over 5% compared to the previous ones, a new sales record. I’m also particularly proud to be celebrating, here at Intermot, Ducati’s historic win in the German Superbike Championship where the performance of the 1199 Panigale R has allowed us to take both the Constructors and Riders title - thanks to the prowess of Xavi Fores and Max Neukirchner.”


"Presenting the new Ducati Scrambler brand means for us opening the doors to an entirely new, fascinating, and absolutely contemporary world”, said Cristiano Silei, Vice President of Sales and Marketing at Ducati Motor Holding, during the unveiling of the new bikes. “We have reinterpreted an iconic motorcycle, part of our history for more than 50 years, in a fully modern way, designing and building the Ducati Scrambler as if we’d never stopped making it. The four bikes of the Ducati Scrambler family represent starting points on a path to personalisation that will make every single Ducati Scrambler a unique, free-spirited bike as individual as the person riding it.”


The waiting is finally over. The Ducati Scrambler is finally out of the yellow container that has so jealously guarded it over the last few months and is now – after the previews granted to employees and Ducatisti at World Ducati Week 2014 - officially ready. This is more than just a new bike: it’s a whole new world, one that expresses itself via a range of options and versions that provide a starting point for satisfying the different needs and wants of individual motorcyclists.


The Ducati Scrambler is a contemporary bike that expresses the pure essence of motorcycling. Tried and tested materials such as the aluminium of the rear swingarm and engine covers and the steel of the teardrop tank and frame are combined with new-generation components such as front and rear LED lighting and LCD instruments.

Wide handlebars and a long seat provide a comfortable, relaxed riding position and, together with the low weight, low centre of gravity and slightly knobby tyres, ensure pure riding fun whatever the situation.


“Post-heritage” design gives a contemporary take on the iconic bike built by Ducati back in the 60s and 70s. This Ducati Scrambler, though, is no retro bike: it is, rather, intended to be just how the legendary Bologna-built motorcycle would be today if Ducati had never stopped building it.


The Icon version, in yellow and red, is joined by three others - Urban Enduro, Full Throttle and Classic - each offering its own style and performance-related interpretation of the Scrambler spirit. The Urban Enduro, with its “Wild Green” paintjob, is for enduro style enthusiasts and ready to switch from city streets to country backroads in an instant. The Full Throttle is for riders enthralled by the flat-track racing world who have a penchant for pushing things to the limit. And the Classic is for devotees to details and a 1970s look who want the uncompromising riding pleasure and comfort of a modern-day bike.


The headlamp, together with the tank, forms a key part of the Ducati Scrambler look. Rounded, classically designed yet extremely modern (i.e. post-heritage) it features a glass parabola and an ultra-modern LED light guide around the rim that acts as a side light.


Seat and tank have been carefully designed to give the Ducati Scrambler appealing proportions. A compact bike, the Ducati Scrambler instils confidence from the very moment you set eyes on it. It’s been sized to make it accessible to all motorcyclists while the long seat maximises comfort and can also accommodate a passenger comfortably.


An oil and air-cooled L-twin two-valve 803 cc engine powers the Ducati Scrambler; it has an 88 mm bore, a 66 mm stroke and has been redesigned to give smooth acceleration throughout the rev range.


Moreover, thanks to a vast range of apparel and bike accessories, to be presented in November, the Ducati Scrambler offers a virtually unlimited range of exclusive personalisation and lifestyle options.


The Ducati Scrambler name has much in common with the verb to scramble - mixing up, blending, letting the imagination run free, sharing with others. The Ducati Scrambler is the two-wheeled alter ego of those who ride it, a cultural movement in and of itself. It’s free-spirited, positive and anti-conformist, open to encounters with other philosophies and styles. Ducati Scrambler isn’t just a bike, it’s a world.


The Ducati Scrambler will be in Ducati Dealerships starting form the end of January 2015 and the first of the four versions to become available will be the Icon.

Monday, 29 September 2014

New Ducati Scrambler: first official images

Ducati Scrambler: first official images under the banner "scrambled people give joy." Egg-sellent...
Sorry about the quality of the second shot - it's a screenshot of video clips at http://scramblerducati.com/

Monday, 22 September 2014

Ducati's 1973 Pantah preview - 60 degree heads

The latest (September 2014) issue of Classic Bike magazine includes a piece I wrote on the corsa corte (short stroke) 750SS that Taglioni prepared for the 1973 Imola 200.  At least as interesting as the bike is the paperwork that came with it courtesy of John at Made in ItalyMotorcycles. This is a series of internal memos from Franco Farnè to Fabio Taglioni comparing the power of the old heads with an 80 degree included valve angle to the prototype 60 degree items: ultimately the latter gave an extra 8bhp, although only Spaggiari raced with them, Ducati perhaps hoping their favourite son would get the win he was cruelly denied in '72. It wasn't to be, thanks to Jarno Saarinen’s Yamaha taking advantage of a split race that killed his thirsty  'strokers theoretical disadvantage.

But what's intriguing is that the 60 degree heads then disappeared, until surfacing in the new Pantah 500. Bruno kept his bike, but the others dematerialised and the later "NCR" F1 racers (such as the one above, also sold by John) retained the 80 degree head to the end. You have to wonder how much faster Mike Hailwood would have been in 1978 with an extra 8 horsepower - almost 10% more than he actually had


Sunday, 21 September 2014

Morbidelli DVD - the story of fast men and their motorcycles

Finally my Morbidelli DVD has arrived - with English subtitles – and, my-oh-my, was it worth the wait and the meagre £15 it cost (including postage!). The cover’s a bit uninspiring – a sketch of a racer that’s nice enough, but where’s the trademark Morbidelli pale blue? – but you don’t buy DVDs to look at the box.

What you get is an hour-and-a-half of something that feels like the BBC4 Timeshift documentary on old Brit bikes and the Rocker culture but of far more interest to anyone with a love of racing, Italian passion or even just the 1970s. Like the BBC4 series there’s a slightly whacky soundtrack and a lot of talking heads: but unlike the BBC4's talking head’s you’ll have heard of this lot; long interviews with World Champs Mario Lega and Pier Paolo Bianchi, plus  Graziano Rossi and the old man  himself, the incomparable Giancarlo Morbidelli. Many more contributors share tall tales of mechanics laying in front of the grid to delay the start until their rider could join the fray, and other insights into the 1970s Continental Circus. Of course it’s all in Italian with English subtitles, and there sometimes seem to be as many stills as period action – especially of the monocoque 500 we wrote of in Benzina #12 – but that’s the nature of trying to relate a history too many have already forgotten.
 Producer Jeffery Zani has not only tracked down great archive material, but most of all has got people to speak eloquently, and in detail, of Morbidelli’s achievements. Having been lucky enough to meet Snr Morbidelli I find it remarkable this quiet, modest man took on the Japanese and won. He only quit when his son got a drive in F1 racing, and travelled the world to support his boy’s own quest for glory. But even now Giancarlo’s first love is motorcycles, as his wonderful museum and three world championships testify. This is a must-own DVD, and I’d love to see a reference book to partner it.

If you’re still not convinced I’m trying to arrange a screening in the UK next Spring alongside a pop up Benzina live show. But in the meantime, if you’re wondering how to get you biking fix when Winter comes, here’s the answer.

Wednesday, 17 September 2014

Following in Fabio Taglioni's footsteps

photo courtesy of motorcycle-usa.com

End of a wet Bank Holiday Monday at the Classic TT/Manx: with racing cancelled Pat Slinn and I go looking for TT course landmarks. One of which was this well known pic of Dr T watching Dave Chadwick fly past on his Ducati 125GP in 1958. We know the race was held on the Clypse -rather than the Mountain - course, and figured Taglioni and his spanner man wouldn't have moved far from the Grandstand on Glencluthery Road. So off we set...
Initially we struggled, but then realised a 1970s extension over a new garage had led to the gateway Dr T's standing being blocked up with a new driveway created on the other side of the house; those huge hedges didn't help us either, but the chimneys are the giveaway. So here I am proudly standing in Fabio Taglioni's footsteps. The other pic is of the bungalow clearly visible in the original photo but now hidden behind a hedge. Maybe I'm just a feeble old anorak, but Pat had his photo taken in the same spot, so at least that makes two of us