Alessandro Valia is integral to the development of every Ducati motorcycle. The former World Superbike racer works with each facet of manufacturing, from sitting with the original sketch artists to saddling up the first mules and final production examples. Here he runs through the process.
What are the phases of development for a new Ducati model?
It starts with the project brief, where we fix the designation of the vehicle. Then comes drawing the aesthetic of the bike and a look at the ergonomics and geometry. Next, we put a patchwork of different components on from other projects—the seat of the Monster and the handlebar of the Multistrada, for example—and begin working on the position of the handlebar, the seat and the footrests, the position of the engine in the chassis and all the geometry. This gives the character to a bike’s handling.
Do other riders give input before production?
After my first tests, we have another panel of riders—with different backgrounds, opinions and body sizes—check if my initial proposal is okay or if something must be changed. It’s not easy to satisfy all riders, but we try to have comfortable ergonomics. Take our Panigale V4: I think it’s the most comfortable super-sportbike because we didn’t put the footrests too close to the seat. This is very important.
How has electronic suspension improved select models?
The Multistrada has a semi-active suspension that is very fast in changing the damping, going from the maximum to the minimum in milliseconds. On the Panigale, we have the event-based suspension [stiffness varies based on braking, cornering or accelerating and can be adjusted automatically or manually, depending on setting]. So the philosophy is different. We use both technologies in the [Bosch] Inertial Measurement Unit [IMU], the sensor that gives us the information about what the bike is doing, whether accelerating, leaning, performing a wheelie or pitching. The IMU was an enormous breakthrough.
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