For the last three years, Diego Sgorbati has been sitting in one of the hottest seats in the motorcycling industry: he oversees the global marketing of Ducati motorcycles. For this 40-year-old northern Italian native, it’s the latest step in a career that’s included stints at Honda, Aprilia and BMW Motorrad. But Sgorbati is no marketing apparatchik: he’s had a passion for motociclismo running through his veins since his teens.
What was the first motorcycle you bought with your own money? A secondhand Fantic Motor 50 Trial [below left]. I saved money from the age of ten so I could buy it the day I turned 14. The last motorcycle I bought—in June 2010—was a 1970 Ducati Scrambler 350 [below right], to make myself a present for my 40th birthday.
What do you think is the most beautiful production motorcycle ever built? There’s no single most beautiful motorcycle, but there are bikes that divide motorcycling history into ‘before’ and ‘after’. From Ducati, the 916 and the Monster 900 are good examples. So are the Suzuki Katana and the BMW R80 G/S [below]. These bikes aside, the production motorcycle I’d most like to own is the Honda NR750. I love the fact Honda treated it as a production bike.
What motorcycle do you despise? All those who are not matching at least one of these criteria:
—pursuing a goal of distinctiveness,
—showing commitment to perfection,
—representing devotion to the brand emblem they carry on the fuel tank.
When all three elements get together, a masterpiece is born. Most bikes on the market match one, but too many bikes fulfil none.
What is your idea of perfect happiness? There’s no perfection in happiness, that’s why I continuously pursue it. Sometimes I rest and enjoy it, knowing that there’s still more awaiting me.
Electric motorcycles: Yes or No? Not in the form we intend motorcycles today.
What is your favorite journey? The Val Trebbia road, aka SS 45 [below]. It’s 130 kilometres of rock ’n’ roll connecting my hometown Piacenza with the seaside in Genova. It’s road riding university—maybe even graduate school.
Which ‘everyday’ modern bikes do you think will become future classics? The equivalent of the Honda CB750 or Moto Guzzi V7 Sport, if you like? Everyone has their own ‘classics’. The bikes you love today will become your classics of tomorrow. Of course, a Desmosedici RR or a Bimota DB7 or a BMW HP2 Enduro will become classic tomorrow, but I’m sure in 30 years there will be somebody desperately looking for a Suzuki Gladius, to ride again his first ever motorcycle.
Who are your real-life motorcycling heroes? For me the GOAT is JMB [Jean Michel Bayle]. His entire career has been “I do it because nobody did it before”. When he moved to the US, he wrote Star Buster on his MX pants.
Are you optimistic for the future of motorcycling? The pleasure of controlling power, the physical dynamic of riding, and the undiluted sensation of pure freedom are unique to motorcycling. Therefore it’s impossible to be pessimistic for the future.
What is your current state of mind? Sitting in the office and thinking of riding a bike.