Is Ducati the master of motorbike design?

Ducati has featured its new Scrambler 1100 Pro models at the renowned ArtCenter College of Design in Pasadena, California, in yet another example of how the Italian company is a master in motorcycle design.

Don’t believe me? Think your Harley, BMW, MV Agusta, Yamaha or Honda is prettier?

Obviously beauty is in the eye of the beholder.

However, Ducati really does have the runs on the board in design.

Design awards

Ducati EICMA Streetfighter V4 vote
Ducati Streetfighter V4 wins most beautiful bike at EICMA

Last November Ducati’s Streetfighter V4 took out the award as the most beautiful bike at last week’s EICMA motorcycle show in Milan.

Ok, it was voted by visitors to the show who are mainly Italian, so there is a lot of patriotic fervour behind the vote.

However, Ducati has scored five wins in the past seven years, or 10 in 14 years.

Ducati has also scored three “Best” wins in the Red Dot Awards for the 1199 Panigale in 2013, the XDiavel S in 2016 and the Diavel 1260 S in 2019.

They are the most prestigious industrial design awards in the world, presented by the Chicago Athenaeum, Museum of Architecture and Design and the European Centre for Architecture Art Design and Urban Studies.

And then there’s Massimo Tamburini’s famous 916 which many rightfully regard as the world’s most beautiful bike.

anniversaryDucati 916
1994 Ducati 916

Ugly stick

However, Ducati doesn’t always get it right.

Remember the slab-sided Paso models from the eighties — not a good decade for fashion or design!

Revzilla said: “It looks like a 1987 Honda Hurricane smashed into a Suzuki RF900.”

Ducati Paso is no design master
Ducati Paso is no design master

And the original 2003 Multistrada was widely referred to as the “Uglystrada”. The front headlight and fairing assembly looked more like a Dyson vacuum cleaner than a motorcycle.

Thankfully Ducati totally redeemed the Multistrada with a complete redesign in 2010 into one of the prettiest of the brutish adventure bike category.

Scrambler design

No matter what you think of the modern “scramblers” and whether they are true scramblers, Ducati really has scored an ace with the design.

When the Scrambler family was introduced in 2015, they immediately became the company’s top seller.

That’s not to say they are not without their design quirks.

The most obvious is the looping cables which are reminiscent of original scramblers.

Ducati Scrambler Hashtag online
Loopy cabling

When Ducati unveiled its Pro models recently the cabling had been tidied up and tucked away.

Hopefully that will flow through to the rest of the range.

And the long trailing fender has been replaced with the remote fender from the Icon.

Ducati debut Scrambler 1100 Pros
2020 Ducati Scrambler 1100 Pro

Design master

Despite its design credentials, the object of the ArtCenter lecture by Scrambler designer Jeremy Faraud was to get the students to help design the Scrambler of the future.

Students will submit their designs to Ducati who will recruit one lucky student for an internship at the Ducati Design Centre.

Ducati master of design
Jeremy talks with ArtCenter students (Image: James Lipman / jameslipman.com)

The Pasadena event will also be followed in Bologna, where a second training and meeting event is scheduled for March, involving the most important Italian design institutes.

Tapping into millennials for design guidance is a smart move that should see Ducati sitting atop the motorcycle design throne for years to come.

Which motorcycle company do you think is the leader in design? Leave your comments below.

2 Comments

  1. “Design” is more than aesthetics. Lots of things look pretty but don’t work so great (eg Italian things) and lots of things that work but don’t look pretty (eg Japanese things). The trick is to get both in one (eg Apple things).

  2. I’d (Personally) argue that MV Agusta is prettier, but Ducatis are certainly not hard on the eyes. In general, I think Italian bikes tend to have the looks and performance, but unfortunately also have Italian price tags and durability.

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