In an earlier blog post I wrote about my battle for authenticity – the struggle for me to express insights that I had discovered rather than just a different presentation or angle. Authenticity is important to me in other things. The products that attract me most share a clear design ethos, fidelity to their origin, a perpetuated level of quality. In the field of motorcycles, the fashion has strongly turned to a rediscovery of traditional virtues.
Looking at pictures of the original Ducati 900 SS, one could see the single-mindedness of the design.
Even for the late ’70s, it still looked old, really.
But that showed a faithfulness to company tradition.
The last original Triumph Bonnevilles (and Tridents, for that matter) had the same evolutionary look. Though De Tomaso is often cursed for his influence, his oversight of Moto Guzzi with the Le Mans Mk 1 was fantastic. It looked completely up to date next to the Ducati and the Triumph motorcycles, but not so game-changing as to not look like a real Guzzi.
Though both Triumph and Ducati have made big inroads into the neo-traditional market, their products lack authenticity. They make their respective models, Bonneville and Scrambler, in South-East Asia.Ducati licensed the name “Scrambler” in an effort to differentiate them from their other premium models. (Sadly rather ‘corporate’ of them to license the name of a type of motorcycle.)
Moto Guzzi , on the other hand, is the genuine product, made in the same Italian location since 1921. Some reviewers point to a slightly higher price, but you do get shaft drive, another traditional approach from the firm.
I like the idea that my spare parts come in bags filled with air from a northern Italian lake. The new Ducati and Triumph models just don’t have that poetry. They are facsimiles that lack the wellspring genesis of the originals. Not to mention the coming Ducati theme park. Perhaps there are worse things than bankruptcy.
Aaron David Yeoman
2. Moto Guzzi Le Mans Mk 1. By Brian Snelson – originally posted to Flickr as Moto Guzzi 850 Le Mans, CC BY 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=8254484