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Ducati design boss: ‘I’d like to make the Panigale even more extreme!’

Published: 13 January 2016

Updated: 11 January 2016

Performance Bikes asks Ducati’s most important designer since Tamburini how Ducatis of the future will look


T’S ARGUABLE that Ducati’s chief designer is the most important in the bike industry. Other manufacturers might sell more bikes, but there are few others that live and die by image as well as performance quite so much as Bologna’s exotica masters.

Gianandrea Fabbro is the man with Ducati’s future (and a pencil) in his hand. Although he’s not the only one designing, creative direction and ultimate responsibility is his. He designed the 1098 to rescue the superbike range after the failed experiment of the 999, and later developed the Panigale. This makes his thoughts and opinions important...



“I’m not sure electric bikes are the future”

I don’t know how electric bikes will influence the future of motorcycling – whether they will become a smaller, niche interest. My problem with them is that I am in love with motorcycling – they are not just transportation for me. I think they have a place in off-road and sportsbikes. It has a future in racing, but the rest, I’m not so sure.


“The H2 is great, but it won’t influence anyone else”

People talk enthusiastically about the H2, it’s a very exciting motorcycle. I don’t know if this sort of engine and behaviour will influence the design of any other manufacturer – I feel the H2 stands as a flagship, not as something to make money. It’s a super-exciting thing for such a big company to produce, it’s like when we built the Panigale Superleggera – it’s something exotic that exists outside normal needs – it’s a demonstration of ultimate design.


“We’ve developed five scale model concepts with Audi’s help”

We were already working like the automotive world when Volkswagen took over, so they couldn’t really change any of the design processes. They do keep an eye on us, and they have to approve any projects. We have asked to collaborate with them on some advanced designs and concepts, and have created five scale model concepts in conjunction with them.

A motorcycle designer has to be sensitive to engineering – it’s a 50/50 balance between mechanicals and body design. Car designers know they are more or less working around the same volume and shape, they don’t have to worry about packaging, With a motorcycle, the design is influenced by the mechanical components, the riding position and so on. But that gives us more freedom to create something new compared to car design.


“The Sport Classic was ahead of its time”

There is the potential to see something like the Sport Classic range again. We were too early with the idea, and maybe we didn’t communicate the concept well enough. I don’t know if it needs to be a high-tech, high-performance bike, because people now want bikes that are easy going,  Some people were scared of Ducatis – we produced the Scrambler for this reason.

The rider can dominate the bike. It changes the psychological effect the bike has on you – sometimes you feel you have to prove something to yourself when you ride a supersport bike, for example. But if you can’t give 100% of the bike’s ability, you want something that demands nothing from you.


“I like the R1... it’s a bit like a Panigale”

 Of all the bikes from other manufacturers, the 2015 YZF-R1 is the one I like the most. Yamaha have retained the model’s identity, but I think it is influenced by the Panigale. There are details like the hidden headlights, which was one of the main themes of our bike. I recognise some similar details, but I also like the quality of the bike. They have the courage to do something different sometimes too.”





“I want to take the philosophy of the 916 to the extreme”

We have done breaking away from Ducati’s image and heritage. We learned a lesson with the 999, and being influenced by the 916 still isn’t a problem for me. In fact, I want to push the 916’s design philosophy further. It was a bike that was straight from the track – it was very well designed and finished, but there was nothing extra.

My dream is to design a motorcycle just for racing, and then make it ready for production. The Panigale is a good example of this idea – it’s rationally packaged and well finished. But I would like to start with a race bike, and create a bike whilst learning from the mechanics. The Panigale is a little more balanced between road and race – we do have to take care of  street ability, even when we produce something that is close to a pure racer. Bikes that are uncompromising, maybe harsh, are for good for Ducati. The Japanese are good at producing balanced bikes, but I feel we must be uncompromising with Ducati superbikes.”


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