Bologna, Italy – “This is factory is for some like Willy Wonka’s chocolate factory.” Truer words could not be spoken by Livio Lodi, in regard to our Ducati Factory tour, as our herd follows in Livio’s expository wake. Today though, the factory is more than a fun land of high-end components, slick paint jobs and carbon fiber treats, through blind luck we may be witnessing two poignant moments in Ducati’s history.
As our group walks through the factory Livio not only explains the manufacturing process, but impresses upon us how the character, history and culture of Ducati, Bologna, and Italy has brought the company to its current status with each stop. We’ve gotten lucky; Livio, a second generation Ducati employee, is the curator of the company’s museum and what unfolds over the course of the factory and museum tour is the story of a company that has always responded exceptionally to great crisis. War-time bombings, totalitarian regimes, and upheavals have all seen Ducati adapt to crisis and prosper.
Indeed today’s tour gains even a greater historic significance with a true “I was there” moment. We watched the first production 1098 S roll though it’s final assembly. The importance is two-fold. First, it means that Ducati is ahead of it’s production launchdates for the 1098. Second, if this bike is a re-launch of the lauded 998 lineage, then Ducati may have recovered from the design “crisis” that was the 999.
By the way, a note to the future owner of this 1098, you may want to buff photographer Kevin Miklossy’s fingerprints off the bike once you receive it� lest he lay some sort of psychic-DNA claim on your new 1098 S.
There is another poignant moment as we walk past the bikes awaiting testing before warehousing and shipping (all Ducati’s go though this process). A lone 1098, one of the first produced, is sitting amongst a handfull of 10 Supersport 1000s destined for the US market. This marks the last Supersports produced, ending a line that began 9 years ago. In a strange way it seems like a handoff from old line to the new incarnation of the 916/996/998 line.