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  • Andrea Bogoni

Starting off-road and ending up in legend

[Interview] The current period for Ducati is undoubtedly a golden one. It's not every year that you literally dominate both the MotoGP and Superbike championships, not even at Borgo Panigale.

When one thinks of the Ducati brand, red bolides and riders huddled behind aerodynamic fairings immediately spring to mind. Ducati's DNA is steeped in asphalt, yet there is one exception: one of the Bolognese brand's most iconic motorbikes is actually a strange hybrid, generated by the architecture of a classic road bike modified for off-road use.  

Today I have the pleasure of telling the story of the Ducati Scrambler through an interview with Rocco Canosa, Scrambler® range manager, former colleague and dear friend.

Hi Rocco, thanks for accepting this interview. 

Can you tell us how you came to be responsible for the Ducati Scrambler?

I was involved in the project from the very beginning, when the company decided to create a brand unit dedicated to the launch of the new Scrambler®, giving me the opportunity to become a product manager and to share this experience with other colleagues who later became inseparable friends: Angelo, Claudio, Mario as the starting group and then many others. I would like to emphasise this aspect because beyond the project itself, it was the experience that was all-encompassing, as well as the way of approaching work that characterised these years, in the style of a real Californian start-up... albeit not with the same beaches.

The Ducati Scrambler team (2014)

The Scrambler® has a fascinating history. Can you describe its origins?

Well, to begin with, not everyone knows that the Ducati Scrambler of 1962 was the first motorbike officially called a 'scrambler' and marketed as such. 

The very first project was developed at the request of the American importer and combined road and off-road motorbike characteristics with a functional and somewhat minimalist design. Historically, in fact, the term 'scrambler' referred to road motorbikes that were modified at a handcrafted level to tackle off-road trails.

The Ducati Scrambler went on to become iconic thanks to its unique styling, with its teardrop-shaped tank, wide handlebars and wide seat that allowed for an optimal riding position both on the road and on the dirt roads typical of Californian deserts.

Vintage advertising images of the Scrambler® and the original Ducati Scrambler 450 from 1969

A few years after its birth, the Scrambler® was also imported to Italy and the rest of the world, becoming a symbol for the entire motorbike culture. Within 13 years, three motorisations were launched: 250, 350 and 450 cc. In 1975, Ducati decided to abandon the production of single-cylinder engines to concentrate on the development of the new twin-cylinder engine that would equip all the sports models destined to make the company's history in the years to come.

What are the main differences between the original Scrambler® from the 1960s and the modern version?

In spirit and attitude the values are exactly the same: the Scrambler® of today like the one of '62 is a fun, versatile, easy to ride bike, modern in design and advanced in components. We are satisfied that we have maintained its DNA without giving in to nostalgic vintage effects.

This is an operation that others have carried out in different sectors, especially in the automotive field: bringing back an iconic model with a contemporary attitude and style, as if production had never stopped. I am thinking for example of models such as the Mini and the Fiat 500.

Scrambler® Icon (2023)

Yes, successes that are anything but obvious if you think of the controversial history of the Volkswagen New Beetle.

How would you define the main objectives of the Scrambler® project?

The main goal has always been to get a certain audience of people who want to approach a motorbike, but are intimidated by the performance of a big motorbike. People who are looking for a means with which not only to escape but also to express themselves, almost as if it were a lifestyle, an extension of their personality in which style and character blend with authenticity, product quality and innovation.

How does the Scrambler® fit into the Ducati range today?

The Scrambler® represents an important slice of Ducati's business and this year, which marks ten years since the launch of the first generation, it has sold more than 100,000 motorbikes worldwide, allowing Ducati to approach more and more new customers. So strategically it plays a very important role. Many customers approach Ducati precisely because of the Scrambler® and then, after a few years, move on to other models in the range.

Has there been any customer feedback that has influenced the design or functionality of the Scrambler®?

The development of the Scrambler® has always been characterised by an inclusive approach. According to a bottom-up strategy, we listened to what the customer was looking for, and some of the model versions that we have launched over the years came about precisely by observing what our community preferred or how they customised their bike. This is how, for example, the Café Racer was born, which we had in the range for a few years.

What is your favourite part of your job? 

I like travelling a lot. I think it's the best way to grow and to confront ourselves with cultures that are also very distant from our own. Ducati is present in practically every country and has a very wide commercial network, so it's not infrequent for me to travel to Asia, North America, and around Europe.

Rocco Canosa - Shanghai - Presentation of the new Ducati Scrambler (2023)

What are your personal passions besides motorbikes, and how do they influence your work?

Above all, music, photography and running. Especially the first two influence a lot what I do in the company. Speaking of music, I always try to put a lot of weight into any initiative, from choosing tracks for a launch video, to scouting musicians to use for a presentation evening or even trivially composing some playlists to play at an event. While we're on the subject of music, this is the selection I made, with the contribution of some colleagues, for the launch of the second generation Scrambler® last year:

Is there a Scrambler® you are particularly fond of? 

The Nightshift version. I like its timeless style, a bike that you never get tired of riding and looking at, it always stays current beyond trends and fashions that by nature only last a few seasons. And that's what fascinates me most in all products that have this soul, whether it's a jacket or a used watch, with a story to tell.

Scrambler® Nightshift (2023)

How do you see the future of the Scrambler® range? Are there any new models or innovations coming up that you can share with us?

We have just presented in London two Scrambler® based concepts created by our Design Centre. The 'CR24I' concept is a motorbike in the purest Café Racer style, a natural evolution of the 2017 Scrambler® of the same name, with an aesthetic that emphasises the versatility of the Scrambler® mechanical base reinterpreted in a contemporary, post-heritage look that has always been at the heart of the Scrambler® brand.

The Scrambler® concept 'CR24I' on the left, and the 'RR24I' prototype on the right

The 'RR24I' on the other hand is inspired by the aesthetic canons of post-apocalyptic film sagas. Minimalist and functional in every detail, it immediately takes the enthusiast back to the pure essence of the motorbike, with a look inspired by the most creative custom garages. With its minimalist look and all-road attitude, it takes you into a sci-fi fantasy world where anything is possible.

So far both prototypes have received interest from a good part of our community, maybe one day we will put them into production.

I'm sure many people hope so. Thanks for your time Rocco. 


The story of the Ducati Scrambler project as told by the team that brought it to life (2018)


About branding

At the time when the first Ducati Scrambler appeared, in 1962, the Borgo Panigale company had just started to participate in the motorbike world championship. After all, Ducati had only started producing motorbikes, or rather small auxiliary engines for bikes, 16 years earlier. The sporting identity of the brand was still to be built. 

Today, on the other hand, it can be said without fear of contradiction that 'Ducati' is synonymous with 'racing' in motorcycling. At Borgo Panigale, they are particularly keen on preserving the brand's sporty DNA, and when they decided to revive the Scrambler®, they did so by adopting a strategy that was very careful not to undermine the brand's values. The Scrambler® has a different character from the rest of the Ducati range, which is why at Ducati they decided to treat it as a separate brand. It was a similar strategy to another story I am fond of, that of the Ferrari Dino.


Credits: - Pictures by Ducati Motor Holding S.p.A.


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