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This post is long, long overdue. Last summer I got married and in December, my wife and I went on our belated, Italian honeymoon. The plan was a three city tour: Venice, Florence, Rome. However, several months in advance, I did a little research and learned that if we rented a car in Florence, Bologna (the home of the Ducati Motorcycle Factory & Museum) was just a short 1.5 hour drive away.
So, what did I do? Well, I asked my wife very nicely if we could rent a car for two days (one day for Pisa, and one day for Bologna). Being the amazing wife that she is, she said yes and the rest is history. Below are my fun facts/takeaways from our visit to the Ducati Motorcycle Factory & Museum. Also, included are my pictures from inside the museum itself. Sorry folks, I can’t provide any pictures from inside the factory. If you have ever visited a motorcycle factory before, you will know that pictures are generally forbidden (trade secrets).
Last point I want to make before getting into it. We almost didn’t go at the last minute. A few days before the trip to Bologna, I started getting sick, and I indicated to my wife that maybe we shouldn’t go (in case I got sicker, etc). In response, her exact words were “don’t be so dramatic” and “suck it up.” Basically, she said that I had been talking about the factory/museum for months and that we had to go. Of course, she was right. So, with that, I took a bunch of DayQuil and off we went.
My Fun Facts/Takeaways – Ducati Motorcycle Factory & Museum
1) Like most early motorcycle manufacturers, they started out making radios, etc., before transitioning into motorcycles; and before producing full-fledged motorcycles, they manufactured small engines that strapped to bicycle frames.
2) The factory is really an assembly plant. The only parts that are partially-machined there are the crankshafts. The rest of the parts are sourced externally and assembled in the Bologna facility.
3) You will get asked at the beginning of the tour what motorcycle you ride and whether you are into MotoGP. The wrong answer is, “I ride a Harley and not really.” I suggest lying unless you want to feel a lot of Italian people staring at you.
4) They are very proud of the Desmodromic valve system, but surprisingly it is not patented in any way.
5) Generally, there is one assembly person per engine/transmission. People are not specialized to one piece of the power plant.
6) A “passport” or set of paperwork follows each bike around the facility, and the assembly person signs off at each stage. This is part of their quality control, as issues can be easily traced back to a single person. This results in re-training etc.
7) Also, there is a “supermarket” for parts, where a “shopping cart” is filled with everything needed to assemble the bike. The shopping cart follows the bike around as well.
8) It takes about 12 hours start to finish to assemble, test, and inspect a bike. If you special order a bike, this is how long it takes to assemble.
9) Everything pretty much occurs in the Bologna facility except paint.
10) There is a rolling road in the facility and once a bike is complete, it gets run through its paces by a high-level technician. If you ask very, very, very nicely, they will not give you that person’s job no matter how much you want it.
11) The initial failure rate before the rolling road is less than 2%. Following identification and rework of issues there, the dealership failure rate is negligible. A very impressive feat on such a complex machine.
Here are my pictures from the museum. They are in chronological order, starting with the Cucciolo (“puppy”) engine and running through the years. I was most in love with the vintage 450 Scrambler. I asked to take it home and was also denied.
Thanks everyone. I hope you enjoyed my post on the Ducati Motorcycle Factory & Museum. Please share on social media.
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