Monday, 21 July 2014

New Ducati Scrambler - prototype photographed at World Ducati Weekend

It was bound to happen - in 35 hours in the Scrambler zone at World Ducati Weekend, some 4,000 people filed past the Ducati Scrambler, all stripped of anything that could take a photo. As if that was possible... so this is from a French Twitter account, and seems genuine. I like the distressed tank finish in lieu of the original chrome. But at least one person I know has got fed up with the endless teaser campaign and bought a new Scrambler this week - from Triumph.

Official launch of the new entry level Ducati is at the Milan show in November, and it’ll be Spring 2015 before you can buy one in the UK

Monday, 14 July 2014

All that glitters isn't yellow - or when is a Ducati Scrambler not a Ducati Scrambler

Compare and contrast – a brace of Ducati 250 Roads: one rather tatty; the other recently restored and recently sold by the first class team at Made in Italy Motorcycles. It made under £3000, possibly less than it cost to restore. So what does that make the tatty non-runner worth?
The Road was an even more asphalt targeted version of the Scrambler developed by Mototrans, the old Ducati outpost in Barcelona. Note the reinforced right hand engine case, with those bulges ribbed inside (oh-err, as Frankie Howard would say) for extra support and a better oil pump. Some say the quality wasn’t up to Borgo Panigale standards, but the 250 and then 350 Scramblers were built by Mototrans (with the usual Ducati engine cases) for final assembly in Italy. Funny old world

Even funnier is that the tatty non-runner has just finished an eBay auction at £1851 – in other words a grand less that it’ll be worth restored and running. In fairness to the seller, I said nothing while the listing was live, but as it happens even £1851 wasn’t enough to reach the reserve, so it seems the prospective buyer’s been saved; well, I think so. Having said that, maybe due to ignorance, it was listed as a genuine Scrambler and perhaps bidders thought it was. Emphatically not the case – the early narrow case Mototrans 250s, starting with the 24 Horas, even had different bore and stroke to the Bologna versions, and many internals are different. As are the tank, seat and loads of other stuff that differentiates the Road from a genuine Scrambler (below). So be careful out there – especially if the new Scrambler launch next weekend brings on a bout of old Scrambler fever 

Saturday, 12 July 2014

A Ducati spares catalogue from Down Under that includes recipies

You've got to love the folk at Belt and Bevel - their latest Ducati spares catalogue from Down Under even includes Italian recipes... but if it's spares you want email me ( and I'll forward the 3MB PDF

Friday, 11 July 2014

More on Mr Falloon - Ducati 860, 900 and Mille Bible v The Art of Ducati

Another brace of Ian Falloon money spinners, another hernia for the postman. In the interest of transparency, one book is great (and Kim at Veloce sent it to me for free); the other I paid for, and is... um, disappointing. Well to me, and I certainly have every admiration for Ian, having run an interview with him alongside praise for his work in issue 13 of Benzina. So let's do the positive stuff first.

The Ducati 860, 900 & Mille Bible is a pretty reliable, does-what-it-says-on-the-tin, reference, based on what the factory said it did, although if I was restoring I'd find the extra £15 and pay the eye watering £50 needed for the Ducati Bevel Twins 1971 to 1986 - Authenticity & restoration guide . Lots of period and restored bikes in both but there is an argument for buying the cheaper tome because, although the latter has useful details, the photos are better in the Bible. Well, I think so, but what do I know about photography?

Nothing apparently, because The Art of Ducati was a bit of a let down. Maybe that's not helped by the long delay in printing (perhaps due to it being printed in China, something I'm not a fan of - but at least it's admitted to; Veloce are more coy). The first thing to make my heart sink was the first sentence on the cover flap: "In the 60-plus years since Ducati's inauspicious start manufacturing cheap motorcycles - really no more than a two-stroke powered bicycle". Just plain wrong, and a bit of a fish across the face to Ducati fans.

There are other silly mistakes that contradict Ian's previous - and better - books. It's also a shame the owners of the bikes don't get named; maybe they're all paranoid about getting burgled or hit with a tax bill.

But it's the photography that should be the star turn, yet disappoints the inner anorak: non-standard bikes that seem to have been chosen for their shinny two-pack paintwork and polished alloy. If that's your sort of thing, and prefer your Ducais to have cambelts (and hate pushrods) you'll love this book. But for me it's a missed opportunity, and might explain why a newly published book is already so heavily discounted by Amazon to £26 from a cover price of £40.  Hand on heart -if you can get a copy - Phil Aynsley's  Ducati Tribute is much better, both to look at and as a reference. Sorry Ian 

Thursday, 26 June 2014

New old stock: our new Monster M900, and a reissued Monster Bible

The arrival of this early 1994 900 Monster at Benzina Towers coincided with the release of an updated Monster Bible by Ian Falloon, courtesy of Kim at  Veloce publishing. Perfect. After years of running Desmoquattro Monsters the visceral, pared back, thrill of the original model is refreshing - and for me the looks haven't dated a day. Our 17 year old lad loved the 900 the instant he spotted it, despite usually being completely nonplussed by my obsession with Italian motorcycles. He was blown away to discover that it's 20 years old: even older than his big sister; that's, like, really ancient.

Despite being one of the first UK bikes the frame number of this Monster is surprisingly high (though unsurprisingly I'm not posting it online): Ian's book points out that production was delayed because of problems sourcing components, without mentioning that this was because there was no money to pay for them. It seems that bikes were built up and stored without brakes and fuel tanks and, when the Castiglioni’s finally found the money to pay for them, the last bikes that were put into storage became the first to be completed - so frame number one might even have left the factory well after frame number 2000. Having said that the first 1500 or so all dissappeared into the Italian market; as ever with Ducati history, The Truth Is Out There. Just bloody difficult to nail down.

Maybe Ian doesn't want to recall this stuff because he has such a good relationship with the factory. After all, we all know how upset Italians can get if you doubt their finances/parentage/manhood and pretty much everything else. Otherwise the book has plenty of useful information and even stuff I didn't know - such as the Monster's frame being all new: based on the 888, but not identical as usually assumed. The only obvious omission is production numbers, which are listed in Ian's  standard catalogue of Ducati motorcycles. But who can blame him and the publishers for wanting to sell us two books rather than one?
As usual with Ian's books, this one's a must have. The Monster is the bike that made Ducati and, having sold over 250,000 of the things, the Monster is the best selling Italian bike of all time. Honda have only just passed the 100,000th milestone with the Fireblades that was launched at around the same time as the Monster. Given that the average age of a Fireblade buyer is now 47, there seems little chance of it ever getting close to the Monster's production run.
The book includes the new Monster 1200, although inevitably Ian missed out on the latest Monster 821. The latter is a bargain stonker, and now the entry level Monster given that the Scrambler's going to take over the role of the 696. As Pierre Terblanche pointed out in his interview in Benzina 13, there isn't a sportsbike in the top 100 selling motorcycles in Italy any more: the Monster was the start of that sea change, not just in Ducati's fortunes, but the entire nature of the motorcycle market

£35 25x20.7cm • 176 pages • 197 colour pictures

ISBN: 978-1-84584616-9

Thursday, 19 June 2014

Moto Guzzi Airone Sport and Moto Morini Corsarino for sale

Ah, the Benzina motorcycle collection, familiar to old teas-and-cakes visitors. Two already gone and now two more for sale -and reduced, because there's a Ducati single for sale I don't want to miss

 So my Moto Guzzi Airone and Moto Morini Corsarino (above - and lots more photos below)  both have to go to fund more Ducatis. Here’s the bare facts but if you want more info email - viewing welcomed: I'm central Wiltshire, 5 miles south of Devizes and 10 miles north of the A303 Stonehenge junction

 Moto Guzzi Airone Sport. 1949 (have factory dating certificate) so no road fund licence or MoT to pay for (although I did have it MoT’d as a safety check – expired August 2013). Older restoration with Akront alloy rims and modern carb. Lovely thing and a joy to bumble along on a summer’s day. Any inspection welcome, offers around £6500 which is a lot less than I paid two years ago

 Moto Morini Corsarino. No paperwork beyond sales receipt and dating certificate from North Leicester Motorcycles – says 1979 so that it can be registered as a moped; probably built earlier but without pedals it then is a small motorcycle which might matter for entry to certain events. Runs very nicely, and very original – just exhaust and stand are alterations. Looking for the £995, which is also a lot less than it owes me: needs new swing arm bearings and probably steering head too. Star of Morini Club Calendar but our kids aren’t interested so ought to go to a home where it will be appreciated.


Wednesday, 18 June 2014

Ducati Scrambler launches 18 July - and is Federico Minoli on his way back to Ducati?

Is Federico Minoli on his way back to Ducati? Because the new Scrambler has his fingerprints all over it. He always understood Ducati needed an affordable, youthful entry level model starting with –as he put it – the gift of the Monster when he took charge of Ducati, and pushing through Pierre Terblanche’s Hypermotard against the wishes of others. Minoli realised that Ducati couldn’t just be driven by racing and fine engineering; there had to be something for other fans of the brand. And the Scrambler ticks all those boxes

 Ducati also say the Scrambler will be launched at World Ducati Week (18-20 July - that's a week?) with a beach party on the Friday evening.  It will also be promoted using Ducati factory staff – another Minoli legacy, from his insistence that everyone in the factory learnt to ride and were passionate about Ducati rather than seeing their employment as just a job. Yes, this could just be a flywheel effect, although to see it still spinning seven years after Minoli was squeezed out seems unlikely. But there’s one final aspect to the Scrambler launch that is pure Minoli – the surf board and beach thing. Federico was an early admirer of Deus ex Machina – who mix surf and custom bike culture so successfully – and it was Minoli who was behind Deus’s flagship Milan store.
With the Scrambler Ducati are on course to challenge Harley-Davidson as the default non-biker’s bike of choice. I never dreamt that years ago, as folk ridiculed us Ducatisti for putting up with dreadful paint and laughable electrics – never mind failing big ends – that it would come to this. While  every other manufacturer seems lost in a wilderness of plagiarism and declining sales, Ducati have never looked stronger. And along with all the very special people who made Ducati’s history, Minoli made Ducati profitable and secured its future. The man’s a bona fide legend and it would be great to see him back on the board.

Everyone who’s seen the Scrambler loves it. Some are even saying it could cost as little as 7500 Euro, so maybe under £7k in the UK. I’ll have an orange one please.