Lets hope the upcoming GP bike keeps the momentum going. On the designer side somebody still has to fill Massimo's Tamburini's shoes....I have yet to see anyone pull out the exciting designs (748/916 for Ducati and the F4 for Augusta) that he is capable of.
The way Texas Pacific Group has been acting, they are trying to replicate Harley-Davidson...but ONLY in the US are they using that idea. They are pushing accessories, clothing, and community, and the feeling of mystique and exclusivity so as to add value to the sale. It works for Harley, why not Ducati?
Christ, go look at their website! It's one of the best in motorcycling. Fast, reliable, and more. They give tips on technical information, from simple stuff like to how to change a spark plug and teaching you how 4 stroke engines work, all the way up to explaining the Desmodromic valve system. They give riding tips, real ones you can use. They encourage readers to share information and post stores about trips, ask tech questions so they can answer them on the boards, and set up a private web stite for auctioning purposes. It's really impressive.
Go to www.ducati.com, with it's plethora of information (including all part and accessory numbers online - no more looking through catalogues!) and then go to any other manufacturer's site, except Harley Davidson. Ducati's is far and away the most helpful and indepth.
Went on a second tour of the Ducati factory a month ago. Was a pale imitation of the tour we got 3 years ago. This year no picture taking was allowed, no detailed explanations of anything, just a quick walk through of the main floor. A few years ago, you could take pictures of everything, a technician demonstrated the inner workings of the desmo cylinder head, the automated machinery equipment was running full tilt, etc. Then to top it off this year, the museum was closed because there was a meeting being held in it. Why even bother scheduling tours if the museum is closed? Very disappointing treatment for motorcycle enthusiasts who traveled a long ways and went to some trouble to see their operation. I suspect their monetary success is having some negative effects. I also agree with surfnm that they need a new designer fast. Pierre's street designs are ugly! Witness the Multistrada.... Yuck!!!
As an interesting side note on the dealership thing. There is a Ducati dealer in Minnesota that has been around since (I believe) the late sixties. The guys that own it were good friends of my dad's back in high school. Anyway, the mechanic is arguably one of the best Ducati mechanics around. They are getting their dealership pulled because they are not willing to invest the money in the computerized fuel injection stuff (guess they figure it's not profitable). Well, my point is that it's too bad to see stuff like this happen, the place is like a miniature Ducati and Norton museum.
Have you seen the front of the thing or are they still working on it? If they get the Chassis dialed in as well as the WSBK bike it may be second only to the RCV. Looks like form as well as function was considered.
I am curious if the dealership you are refering to is Trackstar in MPLS. I recently tried to call them early this spring and was stunned to hear that the phone # was no longer in service. I was wondering what happened to them. It's a shame the store was so cool. They were the only dealership in Minnesota that carried motorcycle riding boots in stock so you could try them on. I believe Moto Primo is a new dealership that might take its place. I',m not sure though. Let me know if this is the dealership you are referring to.
No, I haven't seen the photos of the front end--only the photo on Ducati.com. They must be done with it, because they are rolling it out at WDW which is coming up shortly in Italy. But, I do get the impression that they are hiding some stuff--so I would think there could be many changes and surprises before the 2003 season.
I don't know for sure what makes me so mad about these type of comments either, other than they just seem totally absurd to me. Everybody readily accepts the fact that Ferarri's cost more than Chevrolets--or that homes in San Francisco cost more than homes in Nebraska. Only in the motorcycle industry have I ever heard a comment that carries on about why a classic Italian made bike is more expensive than cookie cutter Japanese bikes. If one doesn't understand the value there, then buy the cheap bike--but to go around saying a Ducati should cost the same as a Honda seems totally absurd to me.