Wednesday, 11 November 2015

British Ducati fans rejoice!

What a year to be a British bike - and especially Ducati - fan. Danny Kent's our first Grand Prix world champion (used to live just up the road from me), Michael Rutter pedals a TT1 round the Isle of Man at over 120mph - and now this; Ducati have already sold over 50,000 bikes in 2015
All-time sales record for Ducati: bike deliveries top 50,000 for the first time ever

  • On 10 November Ducati delivered its 50,000th bike of 2015, an increase of no less than 23% with respect to the same date last year
  • Seven new 2016 bikes to be unveiled at EICMA
  • “More than Red: Black, Wild and Pop”. This is the title of the Ducati World Première 2016, to be streamed live around the world on Monday 16 November at 4.30 pm (CET time)

Borgo Panigale (Bologna, Italy), 11 November 2015 – Ducati Motor Holding continues to grow and has now - for the first time its history - broken through the 50,000 bike sales per year barrier. This ground-breaking result was reached on 10 November. By the same date last year Ducati had sold 40,650 motorcycles which was, at the time, a record for the Bologna-based bike manufacturer.

In the wake of this major achievement, the company is now getting ready to reveal the most important new products for 2016, a year that will, as previously announced, see the arrival of nine new bikes.

To ensure the ever-greater involvement of the Ducatisti community, the “Ducati World Première 2016” will be streamed live starting at 4.30 pm (CET time) on Monday 16 November.

From 17 November (the day set aside for the press) to Sunday 22 November, all the latest from Ducati will be on show at EICMA 2015, the international motorcycle exhibition  - now at its 73rd edition - that will be held at the Trade Fair centre in Rho-Milan.

Reaching the 50,000 bike mark is a huge sales achievement for Ducati”, commented Claudio Domenicali, CEO of Ducati Motor Holding. “Growth is not a goal in itself but, rather, an indicator of customer satisfaction with regard to both the bikes and the overall quality of our work. It’s a result we’re very proud of, one that rewards our efforts and confirms the soundness of our strategy. It also stems from continuous product innovation, far-reaching geographic expansion and efforts to become ever-closer to the Ducatisti community. It’s also a result that augers well for EICMA 2015, where we’ll be presenting seven all-new bikes. Together with the Monster 1200 R and another new bike eagerly awaited for the end of the year, that adds up to no less than nine new bikes for 2016.

On Monday 16 November, Milan will also host the Ducati World Première 2016, a live-streaming event that will involve thousands of enthusiasts all over the world. It will be entitled “More than Red: Black, Wild and Pop”. Three words that herald new horizons for Ducati – and an entry into three new worlds.

Watch the Ducati World Première 2016 on (worldwide), (Germany).

Thursday, 5 November 2015

Ducati on a roll for 2016

Despite the woes of parent company VAG (aka VW) Ducati are lining up for 2016 filled with confidence. There are those who expect VAG to have to sell of at least one brand after the defeat-device scandal (now extended to petrol engines) with Porsche tipped to be the first to go. Let's hope Ducati gets left in peace so they can build on their current success.

First of Ducati's nine new 2016 models has been spotted by Italian mag Motociclismo. It’s a learner legislation friendly 400 L-twin Scrambler. Not a single as some predicted, but most of us know that would be far more expensive to put into production than a revived version of the 400 L-twin that was available for the Japanese market as the six speed F3. Picture shows cost cutting in the swingarm and lack of tank  panel, but what did you expect? Smaller holes in the barrels don't save any cash.

On my visit to the US some very well connected folk expected a new V4 - a limited edition model as a sort of lower spec Desmosedici, since collectors are already pushing up the price of the originals. There was a time when £25,000 would have secured you one, but Ducati must have noticed how prices have rebounded and how well the limited run Superleggera L-twin sold. A new V4 wouldn't be aimed at racing however, a job firmly left to the Panigale.

And after John Hopkins and Moto Rapido showed that the Panigale can be competitive in British Superbike racing, next season Ducati are looking to win the title. Paul Bird Motorsport will contest the 2016 races with Panigale Rs, fielding four-time BSB champion Shakey Byrne alongside Glenn Irwin. These are not folk used to doing the best they can given their budget - these are people used to winning, and with direct support from Ducati Corse we'll hope they can.

It's also great that Ducati haven't used this as an excuse to leave Moto Rapido out in the cold, but will continue supporting Wilf and his team. No word on riders yet, but be nice if Hopper stays on board.

Thursday, 29 October 2015

Steve Parrish comes to the West Country.

Good friend and former Honda supremo Gerald Davison told me about this - he's a member of the Westland Classic Motorcycle Club that's putting on an evening with Steve Parrish. Steve's always good value and very approachable, plus there'll be a chance to sup ale and talk bikes with like minded souls. Just £12 with all profits going to the Dorset and Somerset Air Ambulance.
It should be a great evening out and a chance to support a service we all hope we'll never need, but are very grateful for - just in case it all goes pear shaped. Sadly a knee op means I can't get there but otherwise I'd be calling John (Doe?) on 01935 423372 for tickets

Tuesday, 22 September 2015

The great Volkwagen emissions scandal. Or rather a great political science scandal

Is it just me who finds the VW emissions “scandal” a jaw dropper? The same VW group, by the way, that owns Ducati along with all the other marques in the picture.
Not jaw dropping because I didn’t think motor manufacturers were fiddling emission declarations, but because I assumed our self-serving masters knew about it but were happy to at least look as if they were doing something about the environment.

But it turns out they really didn’t know, because none of them have even a passing knowledge of engineering, the experimental method or – god forbid – science. It even turns out that the UK’s House of Commons science committee is chaired by someone with a degree in – get this – dance. I suppose it makes a change from the usual blagger’s charter of politics, philosophy and economics favoured by most of the folk who run this country.

But with the rise of technology driving wealth for anybody outside the city, you’d hope for better. Google and Amazon are changing our society, yet I’d wager the aforementioned chair of the science committee doesn't even have a science A level. Land Rover Jaguar – about our most valuable manufacturing company – can’t recruit enough engineers. This might be a good thing, with our youngest about to start a MechEng degree at Warwick, which is establishing a joint academy with Land Rover Jaguar. Further good news is that almost 80% of Warwick’s engineering graduates are working in engineering within 6 months of qualifying. There just aren’t enough folk with science A levels – never mind degrees – to satisfy our needs.

Yet when was the last time we had a Prime Minister with an engineering or science degree? Ironically it’s back at the point we started out on the farce of emission control that has always seemed to me – as always - more about being seen to do something, rather than actually grasping the nettle.

Margaret Thatcher (yes it was she – Chemistry from Oxford, and married to a former BP executive) was championing British Leyland’s lean burn technology (her Marxist haters might want to read that again), reasoning it was cheap and that using less fuel would, ergo, mean lower emissions. But the Americans wanted a simpler fix for their gas guzzlers, and pushed their platinum catalytic converter technology instead. Never mind that this meant mining, refining and transporting platinum, it was their technology and a quick fix. And also never mind that lead in petrol buggered the catalyst because the US had already phased its use in fuel out, where Europe hadn’t quite got there. So we’ve gone from a time when lead from vehicles was commercially viable to collect from road junctions, to a time when the same is now true of platinum. Oh, the irony. Maybe we should have just handed our lean burn technology over to the Americans, just as we did with the A-bomb and jet engine.

Of course the fragile catalytic convertors needed all sort of technology to protect them from too much or too little fuel, being too hot or too cold, and so on. Eventually engineers realised the same sensors and controls could spot when an emissions test was being run – a certain distance at a certain speed, for instance – and make sure the emissions and noise levels complied with legislation. The rest of the time it’s a free for all which is why in practice some cars and motorcycles can’t meet track day noise requirements, despite complying with them in theory.

Yes, VW took this one step further with a urea tank that only supplied the exhaust system's diffuser under test circumstances, but it’s surely just another step into this cheaters charter that’s been going on for decades. Or maybe I’m missing something. Perhaps it can all be explained by interpretive dance rather than by science.

Thursday, 17 September 2015

Ducati to launch nine(!) new models for 2016

Ok, it's the usually PR guff; except for the statement that two 2016 Ducati models will take them into new market segments. Any guesses? Minoli once hinted at an off roader (Scrambler based?), and  I guess in the niche hunting world that is motorcycling the Multistrada is neither an adventure bike nor full dress tourer.
  • Nine new models for the Ducati 2016 range to be presented at EICMA 2015 (17-22 November, Rho/Milan)
  • New Monster 1200 R wins public and media acclaim after its unveiling at the Frankfurt IAA
  • Positive growth trend continues for the made-in-Bologna bike brand: before the end of the year the symbolic figure of 50,000 sales will be exceeded

Borgo Panigale (Bologna), 17 September 2015 – The first of a major series of new bikes that will join the Ducati 2016 range has been presented at the Frankfurt-held IAA (Internationale Automobil Ausstellung). The new Monster 1200 R, the most powerful supernaked ever built by Ducati, made its official debut at this prestigious international showcase where it was immediately given a warm welcome by the public and media alike.

With its 160 hp, a new, even sportier look and an array of components worthy of a real "superbike", this latest Ducati is just the first in a long, exciting series of new models to join the "made in Bologna" 2016 range - a range that represents, beyond any shadow of doubt, the biggest, most decisive attack on the market ever to have been launched by Ducati.

"The year 2016 will see continued growth at Ducati,” stated Claudio Domenicali, CEO of Ducati Motor Holding, at the Frankfurt fair. “No less than nine new models, including the just-unveiled Monster 1200 R, will be joining the 2016 range. Never before has Ducati presented so many new bikes and EICMA will provide the perfect platform on which to show them to all to our enthusiastic customers.

Two of these will take us into segments in which we’re currently not present and this is going to be one of the greatest challenges of 2016: to extend the Ducati hallmarks of style and performance to motorcyclists who were – until now – beyond our reach.

 Following a highly positive 2015, we look to the future with optimism and confidence. Given the results achieved during the first six months of the year, with 22% growth and 32,600 bikes delivered, we can already state that 2015 will see us attain another absolute record as we expect - for the very first time in our company’s history - to break through the symbolic barrier of 50,000 bikes sold before the end of the year.

Nevertheless, our main goal is not so much the pursuit of ever-greater volumes but, rather, to keep on surprising our customers with awe-inspiring bikes. The increase in sales is simply a consequence of just how incredibly well-received our products are - products that stem from implementing strategies that are in keeping with our identity, looking to new markets and taking on tough new challenges every day”.

Sunday, 9 August 2015

Donington Classic festival photos

Thanks so much to all who came and said hello at Donington. Too exhausted to scribble now (thanks to our motorway network rather than the spectacular event at Donny) but in the meantime here's some pics. And that's Eddie Roberts on the works Ducati he lapped the TT circuit at 106-odd mph

Thursday, 6 August 2015

Donington Classic Motorcycle Festival 7 to 9th August

I'll have a stand at the Donington Classic Motorcycle Festival 7 to 9th August (aiming to get there lunchtime Friday) which is now  one of the largest classic bike events in Europe. With 46 (!) races plus practice and parades a bumper entry of over 500 bikes is expected.

Star names of the world of motorcycling have already confirmed appearances at this year’s festival, including the legendary Freddie Spencer, Niall Mackenzie, Steve Parrish, Ron Haslam and Jim Redman. Oh, and me. I'll have my Ducati and the TT book for sale, with Pat Slinn on hand to autograph, plus the cover star on show - the wonderful ex-Sports Motorcycles Ducati that Roger Nicholls' rode to a morale victory in the 1977 F1 TT.

I'll also have a handful of Benzina back issues - if there's something missing from your collection, email me and I'll try and find a copy to bring along