10 Minutes with Livio Lodi

The man with the keys to an Aladdin's cave of biking history.


He's the man with the keys to an Aladdin's cave of biking history. When work

and passion collide, get yourself a job in a museum. It does the trick for Livio



How long have you worked at Ducati?

Eighteen years. I started on the production line of the 750 Paso, then in 1988 I got a job as an accountant at Ducati. In 1998 the CEO of Ducati, Fabrizio Minoli, noticed my passion for history, so he offered me the job of curator at the Ducati museum. The job lets me combine my hobby with my work.

Why are you interested in Ducati's history?

My dad worked for Ducati and he'd take me to watch bike races when I was young. I became fascinated in the history of bikes.

What is it about Ducati's history that appeals to you?

It's the story of a product from my city, Borgo Panigale [Bologna]. When I was little I'd see this factory where they made motorcycles. They represent my country and my culture, and it's important to tell the story of Ducati. The younger generation doesn't know anything about the Hailwood days, let alone the first ever Ducati - the Cucciolo. All they know is the 916 and the Ducatis of Loris Capirossi, Carlos Checa, James Toseland and Carl Fogarty. It's my job to teach people that Ducati isn't only about what they are living now - it has over 50 years of history.

Tell us about the Ducati history

Ducati was founded in 1926 by the three Ducati brothers to make electrical goods and radios. It became huge in its field but the Second World War destroyed the factory, so when it came to re-building the brothers decided to make motorcycle parts too. In 1948 they made the Cucciolo, an engine that you bolted on to your bicycle; by 1950 they were building the Cucciolo as a whole motorcycle. Ducati then became renowned for their 125 Sport and desmo bikes. Then, in response to the Japanese machines, Ducati began producing twin-cylinder road bikes. But the real turning point was when Paul Smart won the 1972 Imola 200 Miglia race on his Ducati. And in 1978 when Mike Hailwood won the TT on a Ducati after a 10-year break from racing, Ducati became huge abroad.

What happened after that?

There was a period of crisis when the Ducati brothers died and Ducati was taken over by the Italian Government. They couldn't understand Ducati's strengths: motorcycle production. In 1983 the Castiglioni brothers - who today own MV Agusta - took over Ducati and resurrected it. There was a second life for Ducati in the 80s and 90s with bikes like the 851, Monster, 916 and all the World Superbike victories. In 1997 the Texas Pacific Group took over, consolidating further the image of Ducati and creating a better network of dealers.

How have the bikes changed throughout the years?

The 48cc Cucciolo was made like a bicycle, while the 999 is the most powerful roadbike Ducati ever built. Ducati started making single cylinder bikes then moved on to twin cylinders, and the Desmo engine that was first used for the races in the 50s filtered down to production. It would take all day to talk about all the things Ducati have done.

Which bikes represent the biggest step forward for Ducati?

There are so many, it's hard to say.
Bikes that made their mark are the 916, the 1974 750 Supersport, the 900 Supersport Mike Hailwood used at the TT and the 750 Smart used at Imola. But every bike became part of the history of Ducati in its day.

Which bikes do you like most?

I love all of them and I will never say which is my favourite. For me they are all worth exactly the same - from the first to the last, they all have value because they tell the story of Ducati.

If you could have only one Ducati, what would it be?

I can't make this choice, I truthfully do not have a preferred bike.

But don't you own a Ducati?

A Monster Dark. But it doesn't mean it's my favourite, just the most convenient to ride.

Tell us about the museum

It's one of the few that exists within a bike factory. We produce 40,000 bikes in one factory, while the Japanese produce eight million bikes in lots of factories the world over. But Ducati is like Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, it's a paradise for the enthusiast - a factory where bikes are built by hand. Currently the museum only displays racebikes. We've started to collect production bikes but we'll need more space before we can display them together.

Do you still have early production bikes?

We have some, others are donated by enthusiasts or bought from collectors. They still need to be restored. We have a couple of staff who restore the bikes. We're trying to collect as many as possible to complete the history of Ducati's production.

Do many people visit the museum?

Around half-a-million people have visited since 1998. People come from the UK, USA and New Zealand as well as Italy. Ducati owners want to see where their bike is born, but we also invite those who don't own a Ducati - we're not racist! All you need is a passion for bikes. Our organised visits last an hour-and-a-half. All the information is at www.ducati.com.

Do you organise bike meets?

Once every two years we organise World Ducati Week. The next will be in 2006 at Misano Adriatico. And riders often meet at the museum to go for ride-outs.

What do you think we'll see in the future?

The SportClassic Ducatis and the road version of the Desmosedici will be out soon. But the future is not history so I don't talk about it; you can't speak of the future in a museum. The future will be interesting when it's a year old.

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