Interview: Massimo Bordi

Massimo Bordi, motorcycle designer
Massimo Bordi is one of the most illustrious engineers in motorcycling history. He developed the 4-valve Ducati Desmo engine in the mid-80s, designed the Ducati 851, worked with Tamburini on the 916, and created the racing department Ducati Corse. After a stint as CEO of the giant Italian agricultural company Same, Bordi has returned to the motorcycling world to run MV Agusta—an invitation extended from his friend, the late Claudio Castiglioni. Here Bordi takes time out to answer the traditional ten questions of the Bike EXIF interview.

What was the first motorcycle you bought with your own money? A Lambretta 125 that I immediately modified by skimming the cylinder head.

What do you think is the most beautiful production motorcycle ever built? The Ducati 916 (below). Not because there was one particular component in the engine or frame that was outstanding, but because the combination of engine and chassis defined a new standard in motorcycle design and function. It was the fastest twin-cylinder in the world and an important technological step forward.

Ducati 916
What motorcycle do you despise? I don’t despise any motorcycles, but there are a few projects that were delusional—such as the Ducati 500 parallel twin. Or the Aprilia Moto (below), which in my opinion was a crude copy of the Monster created by a designer who doesn’t understand the difference between a motorcycle and a filing cabinet.

Aprilia Moto 6.5 by Philippe Starck
What is your idea of perfect happiness? Work that is also my passion, horse riding and respect for others.

Electric motorcycles: Yes or No? The only serious application for a car or motorcycle is the hybrid drive. Other than taxis, buses or other forms of city transport, I don’t see electric vehicles as an alternative.

What is your favorite journey? The Maldives. I love to scuba dive and snorkel: it’s the perfect way to leave behind all the daily stress and truly relax.

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? The new three-cylinder Brutale 675 (below).

MV Agusta Brutale 675
Who are your real-life motorcycling heroes? Without a doubt Giacomo Agostini, who is the most successful motorcycle racer of all time. Giacomo is not only the best rider ever, but also a great person.

Giacomo Agostini with 1975 Yamaha YZR500 OW23 and YZR-M1 at 2010 Dutch TT. Image by
Are you optimistic for the future of motorcycling? Absolutely. I can’t see any reason why I should be pessimistic. Considering my passion for motorcycles, I could not imagine life without them. They offer the most intense emotions: adrenaline and stress relief.

What is your current state of mind? I believe that I am currently living the best period of my life. I am working at MV Agusta, which is a small company with an enormous potential. This is the third great project of my life after Ducati and SAME Deutz-Fahr [Bordi was the CEO of this Italian-based agricultural machinery group, which includes Lamborghini Trattori]. And without a doubt it will be a big success, for which we all owe credit to Claudio Castiglioni (below). I live in Varese, close to the company, and am surrounded by horses, which are my second passion. What could be better than this?

Massimo Bordi image courtesy of Motorcyclist magazine.

Claudio Castiglioni