Interviews with Andrea Forni, Ducati’s Technical Director

Interviews with Andrea Forni, Ducati’s Technical Director

Two interviews with Ducati’s Technical Director Andrea Forni…

Ten Minutes With Andrea Forni (immediately below) interview with Andrea Forni about technology, and his favourite bike
Andrea Forni Ash-on-Bikes Question Time (below the above mentioned interview)
Answers to questions about the 2013 Multistrada posed by ashonbikes forum users 

Ten Minutes With Andrea Forni July 11 2013

Technology is the future.
The semi-active suspension on the new Multistrada is only a step towards what we are doing for the future, for eternity, as technology never stops. This is great technology for Ducati, but not a target for five or ten years, it is for forever!

We don’t want to give the ECU too much control.
You may say that now we are already at that point where the ECU can determine everything for suspension, but a rider is a strange guy. He wants to personalise this bike, he wants to have a bike that is compliant to his feeling. So even in the case, and this is the case, that the algorithm and the ECU try to do its best setting in every situation, still the rider for sure does not always like what the ECU is doing.

We will keep the personal touch.
He wants to put his imprint on what the ECU is doing to the suspension, that’s why we leave the possibility to personalise the overall behaviour of the algorithm. At this moment the ECU can do everything, it could be already now that it does it all, but in my opinion this is not what the customer wants. Many customers still want to personalise their bike, to have a feeling that is good for themselves.

Suspension one day will be ‘fully’ active.
For sure, to change the spring-rate and the preload is the next step. it is not so  complicated with software, but much more energy and force is required to actually change the spring preload and spring rate, and probably the way we use current actuators is to make them faster, or stronger or something like this, to change the principal of adjusting stiffness. This is under investigation, and something we will see in the future for sure. Eventually, all our models will have something like this.

We are not dropping Öhlins for Sachs.
It is not a matter of preference over which supplier we use, it is just the fact that Sachs had their package ready for mass production. Öhlins’ similar system is still under development, good of course, but we had the opportunity to change and improve the Multistrada – why not, it works, it is a good package and, let me say, a cost-effective component. The core of the system, the solenoid valve, is used on cars so everything has already been industrialised and produced. So the cost is reasonable so why not? It is a step toward the future.

Sachs is now a big player in suspension.
We are using their components already in the past, shock absorbers and so on. They change their position in the market of suspension manufacturing. In the past they were more about producing cost effective components instead of top performance. Now they have changed position and this is the result, and we are satisfied. Also, Marzocchi has under development its own system. Where they are exactly I don’t know, but all the major manufacturers of suspension are working on this system for the future.

ABS will get much better, too.
Even ABS systems will have a big step forward in the future, and what we expect is that now ABS will be refined. For motorcycles it works when the bike is basically vertical, in the future there will be an ABS system that operates in the middle of the corner at full lean. Also there will be the refinement of feeling, as in order to save someone it has to release, but it can be refined further to avoid unforeseen circumstances, like if a bike hit some gravel while trying to stop, for example.

My dream Ducati would be a sporstbike.
Choosing one dream Ducati is hard, that is like asking a father which child is his favourite! When I was younger, I had to buy a motorcycle, and with my money I could afford only one – I always chose the sport bike, because it is first of all fun. A sportsbike is still the best for me, I understand it is uncomfortable, and it has some limits. But when I was younger I overcame those limits by putting sidebags on my Ducati Pantah or F1, and travelling Europe on those bikes. If today I have to make the same choice again, even if now I am old, I will always choose the same, a sportsbike.

I ride all year, when possible.
From spring to autumn I ride to work everyday. And all the year long, every Saturday I ride. I also get to ride all the prototypes too, although they are always full of sensors and recording devices. Three years ago I rode the first Panigale and the bike is all in black, it was handmade with wires and everything. It is moments like these where I think I like my job, it is fantastic, I am very happy and lucky that I do what I do.


Andrea Forni Ash-on-Bikes Question Time
Kevin Ash (RIP)
Pictures: Milagro

Ducati’s Technical Director Andrea Forni provides candid answers to some of the questions about the 2013 Multistrada posed by ashonbikes forum users:

What has been done to deal with the problem of rear brakes not working?
“All brake fluids lose a small amount of vapour throughout the braking system, and this was becoming trapped due to the layout, preventing the hydraulics from working properly. We have redesigned the layout of the brake hose and positions of the components so that this vapour no longer becomes trapped and the brake is easier to bleed effectively. The components themselves are unchanged as this wasn’t necessary.

What about the reliability of the suspension system?
“The Sachs system we have used is an off-the-shelf system which has been used for many years in the automotive industry, and tens of thousands of these components have been made and have proved themselves. The basic algorithms are openly available, we have added our own where necessary, otherwise it is all proven and very well tested.”

Can I carry over the higher rate spring I bought for my Öhlins onto the new model?
“The spring does not fit but it is not necessary as we have a progressive spring fitted now which is better when subjected to higher loads. The softer 85N/mm rate applies for the first 60mm of travel, then it behaves as a 125N/mm spring. This is also the point of compression the suspension goes to when a passenger is on the bike. This was always a better solution but Öhlins did not offer a progressive spring so we had no choice with the old model.

Why is Öhlins no longer used?
Öhlins does not not have a full semi-active suspension system but Sachs does, and the quality of Sachs suspension components is very good. Also, because the Sachs components are produced in very high numbers for the automotive industry the costs are not excessively high, which is how we have managed to offer the new Multistrada at the same pricing as the 2012 model.

Why is there no cruise control option?
“We could fit cruise control very easily, all the components are there and with ride-by-wire throttle it is straightforward and would not be expensive. We were not asked by the marketing department and did not think there was a demand.”
(At this point, the marketing manager says he did not think there was a great demand for cruise control on the Multistrada… but he does look a bit sheepish!)

There seems to have been an unusual number of cylinder head failures, can you tell us anything about this?
“Yes, there have been some problems with coolant escaping into the lubricating oil. This was caused by an unexpected internal corrosion problem caused by glycol-based anti-freeze. We have changed the anti-freeze specification to a non-glycol one and this has cured the problem. We now recommend a non-glycol anti-freeze for all existing Testastretta engines.”