Make a pilgrimage to the world’s best motorcycle museums
Time to lose yourself in a brilliant museum
‘The Ducati museum is an anorak’s dream’
Museums used to be the kind of places you got dragged to on a school bus where the spotty kid would inevitably chuck up en route and all you left with was a pencil sharpener from the gift shop and the lingering smell of puke on your clothes. But with adulthood comes a new appreciation for history and visiting a motorcycle museum is a fantastic day out.
You can’t rush a museum, which is why this is an experience best sampled alone or with a couple of like-minded friends. You need to take your time to appreciate the machinery on a plinth in front of you, drink in its engineering and chat about the time you saw it in action at a packed Brands Hatch or when you were wearing shorts and the circuit’s entrance fee was in shillings and pence. There are plenty to choose from, both home and abroad, including the stupendous Triumph Visitor Experience, but one of the very best is the Ducati Museum in Bologna. It may sound like a big trip to get to Italy, but the truth is to get to this wonderful city you only need spend £27.73 each way to fly with Ryanair from Stanstead and you can be there and back in the same day. And what awaits you is every Ducatisti’s dream.
I love everything about the Ducati Museum from its location to its contents and a dream of mine would be to ride my 916 there and take advantage of the free parking within the factory’s grounds you get if you arrive on a Ducati. But for a hassle-free visit, I’d generally stick to the plane.
Located on the first floor of the company’s factory in Bologna (on Via Antonio Cavalieri Ducati, naturally) the Ducati museum is built with typical Italian flair. Updated and expanded last year with a greater emphasis on the firm’s road bikes alongside race machinery, the museum features a main central area with off-shoot rooms that chart the development of the brand from the oh, so cute 1946 Cucciolo to the latest Panigale V4. And, as if that wasn’t enough, in the area around the central area is parked a jaw-droppingly gorgeous display of ex-race bikes that includes Paul Smart’s Imolawinning bike, Carl Fogarty’s 916, Ducati’s MotoGP bikes and much, much more besides. And none are hidden behind glass screens; they are all close enough to smell and inspect in detail. It’s an anorak’s dream and if you are very lucky you may even encounter the museum’s curator and guru Livio Lodi.
Lodi is a walking encyclopedia of Ducati and there is always one of him at every museum the world over. Find this enthusiast (they are generally the ones giving guided tours) and you will learn more than you ever thought possible, far more than you gain by simply reading the information cards or guide book. But you need to take your time or you won’t get the full experience. Museums are all about memories and, to be brutally honest, questions such as ‘are we nearly at the café?’ or ‘why are you still looking at that engine?’ ruin the whole atmosphere. If you partner appreciates what is on display then by all means share the experience, but don’t force a museum onto an unwilling spectator. This is a bucket list item that is often best ticked alone.
Plan your visit
O Entry €15, or €10 for Ducati owners (booking required for groups of more than ten) Visit www.ducati.com/ ducati_museum
‘None of the bikes are locked away in glass cases’
Glorious exhibits include the Desmo raced by Loris Capirossi in MotoGP MCN contributor, and Ducati and museum lover
Livio Lodi is the brains behind the Ducati museum Extra space has been devoted to road bike legends Learn the secrets of Desmodromics Meet the old-style Scrambler The Siluro lapped Monza at 170kmh Lodi has a tale or two to share