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.du­ 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

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