To celebrate the 100,000th Multistrada coming off the assembly line, Jared takes the bike on an epic road trip across Italy.
It’s been 16 years since the first Multistrada rolled off the assembly line, 13 years since autoX was founded, and 10 years since I quit the finance industry and started working for this awesome magazine. These might not seem like the longest milestones, but we’re celebrating anyway! All these milestones wouldn’t have been possible if it wasn’t for one human trait that leads to greatness – passion.
Ducati was founded in 1926, but it wasn’t until 1950 that the Ducati brothers decided to start manufacturing motorcycles. Their passion for technology and love for automobiles seem to be the magic spark that created the legendary brand that we know today as Ducati.
Similarly, my passion for motorcycles somehow led me to Dhruv Behl, who founded autoX because of his passion for motorsport and fast cars. And here we are today! Ducati is one of the strongest motorcycle brands in the world, autoX is one of the most loved enthusiast auto magazines in the country, and I, well I’m still the same – only with a lot less hair.
Passion is the one emotion that leads people to do amazing things, and this story is about the passion for motorcycles, adventure, and speed.
It was my first time in Bologna, and I was really excited to visit the birthplace of Ducati. I entered the factory one morning as thousands of employees were getting ready to start the day. A very young and enthusiastic Ducati team welcomed me. We greeted each other while sipping cappuccinos in the cafeteria, post which began the factory tour.
The factory has different sections, with various assembly lines for each engine and model. My tour was of the Multistrada line. It all begins with the assembly of the engine, which then, after being tested, is carried by little manufacturing robots to the main assembly line where the chassis, wheels, electricals, and body panels are assembled.
It was the last week for the manager of the assembly line I was touring – he was retiring after 40 years of service. He didn’t speak much, but he smiled all the time and told me he was very grateful to Ducati for allowing him to be a part of the team.
The Ducati Corse R&D centre was behind a small door, and I was told that nobody has access to that room except for the engineers. It’s a top-secret room, of course, where technological works of art are born.
As we carried on, we talked a bit about the history of the factory. I learnt that the factory has been in operation for a very long time and was bombed on multiple occasions during WWII. After the war, the factory began manufacturing motorcycles. Over the years, the brand grew stronger and expanded into what it is today.
Within the factory lies the Ducati Museum, which takes you through the history of the brand. It’s not a large museum! In fact, it’s rather small – you can walk through it in a couple of minutes. However, inside this small circular room are some of the most impressive motorcycles to have ever seen the light of day on this planet.
The bike that brought Ducati fame was the fastest 250cc motorcycle called the Mach 1. The motorcycle and its beautiful Italian design was a revolution at the time. Incidentally, I happened to visit the museum while Massimo Tamburini’s 916 was on temporary display to celebrate 25 years of the Ducati 916. Massimo was a legendary motorcycle designer for Cagiva, Ducati and MV Agusta. The bike is absolutely stunning and a masterpiece in terms of design.
The museum is also home to all the winning MotoGP bikes that have been developed over the years. In terms of design, Ducati is truly one of the best. Red has always been its colour of choice, because, well, it’s the colour of passion.
Italians, in general, are very passionate people – something that’s quite evident in their everyday lives, including their clothes, food, and, of course, choice of automobiles. I discovered this during my epic 2,000-kilometre road trip across the country, which was about to begin.
Hitting the road
The Multistrada made its debut in 2003 and was an instant hit with adventure riders. And ever since, this dual-purpose bike has been on the cutting-edge of technology. In 2010, it became the first bike to feature different riding modes. The Multistrada is a masterpiece in terms of performance, engineering, and design.
The 100,000th bike to roll off the assembly line, the one that I got to ride around the country, was the 1260 Pikes Peak edition. To say that I was excited to begin the journey would ridiculously understate the surge of emotions that I was experiencing at the time.
The journey began the moment I got my hands on the bike. I left Bologna and headed for a small historic fortress town called Siena. I didn’t want to visit the main tourist stops, like Florence and Rome, for the simple reason that I’ve already been there more times than I care to remember. Another reason was that I wanted to ride on beautiful back-country roads and explore the beauty of the Italian countryside.
The ride to Florence was about two hours. I rode straight past it and entered Tuscany. The view of the rolling hills, accentuated by the endlessness of the vineyards and cliff towns, was mesmerising, especially while revelling in the pleasures of riding the Multistrada.
Siena is famous for its cuisine, art, and medieval cityscape. The central part of the city is restricted for automobiles to enter, which means that it was time to walk. As I strolled around the city, I had the rare feeling of travelling back in time. Beautiful medieval architecture surrounded me, imbuing me with an ever-increasing appreciation for the past. Small lanes that zigzag through the town are littered with tiny restaurants and cafes that serve some of the most delicious Italian delicacies. Siena really is a sight to behold, and I highly recommend a visit to this lovely city if you ever decide to go to Italy on vacation.
Stuck in time
My next stop was a pretty long ride to the south – Naples. I hit the road again after my brief interlude and decided to head to Rome on the autostrada (highway) to save some time. The weather was pleasing, and the Multistrada Pikes Peak was a blast to cruise on.
The bike is very comfortable, and all I had to do was to activate cruise control and just enjoy the ride. Once again, I went past Rome without stopping – I was very eager to sink my teeth into a proper Napoli pizza. Just before the sun decided to call it a day, I got my first glimpse of Mt. Vesuvius. It wasn’t a grand sight, but it meant that I was nearing my destination.
As I entered Naples, the roads became narrow, and I navigated my way through the narrow lanes to my hotel, which was located next to the harbour. However, before checking in, I decided to check out a pizzeria and had a seafood pizza, which propelled my senses into another dimension. The freshness of the smell emitting from the oven, the tempting sight of the bubbling cheese, the pleasant voice of the beautiful Italian hostess talking to me, and, of course, the deliciousness of that pizza together made for an unforgettable experience.
Before I retired to bed, I visited three more pizzerias. In Italy, it feels as if time stops when you’re out dining. The locals will tell you that eating out is very much a part of their lifestyle, and they treat the entire dining experience like a spiritual practice.
The Azzure of Amalfi
My next destination was the Amalfi coast – a dream of mine for quite some time now. After finally visiting this slice of paradise,
I can confidently say that it’s a place with otherworldly beauty. Before Amalfi, Lugano in Switzerland was the most beautiful place I’d ever seen in Western Europe. But, after visiting Amalfi, well, let’s just say that it blew my mind...
I spent three days here, exploring every inch, from Sorrento to Positano and all the way down to the city of Amalfi. Riding the Multistrada on these lovely mountain roads, with the bright blue Mediterranean Sea constantly in view, was mesmerizing – an experience that I’ll cherish forever. If I wasn’t passionate about travel and adventure, I don’t think I’d have ever seen anything so beautiful.
For the next part of my journey, I headed east, to the other side of Italy, along the Adriatic Sea. The ride took me through some more beautiful mountain roads and through the Matese Regional Park. There were many high mountain ranges along the way. Once again, I decided to take the autostrada, which has a series of tunnels that cut straight through the mountains.
As I reached Ancona, a port town on the Adriatic Sea, I rode up north along the coast towards San Marino – one of the smallest countries in Europe – where the San Marino Grand Prix was scheduled to take place that weekend. I was about to experience MotoGP for the first time in my life.
That Sunday, when I rode into the small country, I was amazed at the passion that people of the region exhibited for motorsport. Once again, it was the passion, the passion for motorsport, that made the experience exciting.
To see all those people celebrating and enjoying motorsport was really something special. It was an exciting race, and from the way the people were cheering for and celebrating Rossi, it was clearly evident that it was his hometown.
The Final Leg
It was now time for me to ride back up to Bologna. After completing more than 2,000-kilometres of riding around this beautiful country, I was a little sad. But it was a sadness that always accompanies the end of something beautiful.
It had been a quick trip, and I was always on the move. And I must say that I was fortunate to have experienced it. The Ducati Multistrada was a wonderful companion for a truly wonderful tour.
Witnessing the manufacturing of the motorcycle, followed by riding it on some beautiful roads and, finally, experiencing Ducati racing at the MotoGP was a fantastic experience – something that wouldn’t have been possible without passion.
Ducati does what it does because of its passion for motorcycles, which allows its customers to pursue their own passions. What a wonderful thing, then, this human trait is, which inspires and motivates us to always take that extra step!
Whatever your passion may be, I hope you get to follow it and realise it the way that I did. If it weren’t for our desires and urgency to do things in life that we are passionate about, then I guess the world would be a dull and boring place instead of what it is – exciting and delightful.
So, go out there and find your passion and enjoy your life. May I suggest a motorcycle trip around Italy on a bright red Ducati?