Ducati MIG-RR, (in English)

So here’s a first: I will post this in English. As a gift to my overseas Instagram folllowers and also to not interfere with normal publication of this article. Enjoy.
(voor Nederlanders: ik plaats dit artikel in het Engels om degene die het oorspronkelijk zou publiceren nog een kans te geven)

Ducati’s Mig-RR is pretty much the most overlooked Ducati of the past year. And that is not so strange, when you consider that there is no gasoline going anywhere, you will still have to make an effort and it will not go any faster than 25 kilometers per hour. It is therefore a bicycle. But not just any … it is, as the name implies, a Ducati. And I want to add that this just might be the best new model they have at the moment. For the coming reasons.

Right. So I have a two-wheeler again. Finally. The advantage, in this case, is that I was able to combine the kilometers with some relaxation. And a little sporadic, short work. And what’s more, it’s so nice that I was able to spread out the Mig over two separate weekends so that I didn’t have to work this all at once. Saves a bit on my behalf. Another advantage? This is the first Duc that fits in the trunk of my car. And which I can lift up the stairs to put next to the TV. Or rinse in the shower.

But that is not all. With the Mig-RR, Ducati has not taken one, but many first and decisive steps. And if you think about it, this may even be the most important Duc of the moment. Forget about V4, forget about Scrambler, this is the real stuff. Allow me to explain.

Full Circle

It starts with that. Or rather: it started with that. When Ducati was still a small Ducati, they first made small electronics and radios. In the museum in Bologna, a very small amount of attention is paid given in a very small display. After the war and the takeover of the state the factory, like many other factories (the end of the war was the reason many weapon manufacturers also made the switch, hence the often illustrious history of many historic brands), committed to manufacturing engines or, you guessed it, bikes. However, the next step, Ducati’s first real success as an bike manufacturer, is important. A small, crazy and very clever 49cc engine block rolled off the line and could be mounted in an existing bicycle: the Cucciolo. And indeed, when entering the museum there it is, the first bike to shine in full glory. The similarities with the Mig-RR are therefore not to be missed. Bicycle with auxiliary motor, see here your twenty-first century counterpart. And yes, this is again, just like the Cucciolo, a top spec device, the best of the best and tangible proof of what is technically possible.

And that includes a change. The Mig is electric versus gasoline for the Cucciolo. It is therefore also the first time that Ducati is involved in electrical propulsion. Why push boundaries? You can look over it easily, but secretly this can be a huge step for a brand like Ducati. Sensible to do it this way, but if history runs its course as we may expect, we can look back in a few years and say that this was the first full electric Ducati. And well, you can call it cheating, with a Shimano engine and the expertise of Thok (the brand responsible for the implementation and possession of the mtb know-how), but take a look under the tank and the saddle of your current engine. .. there is also a CPU of brand A and further parts of brand B … it is no longer so ‘pure’ anymore. Anyway, if you want to innovate and keep up with the times, then you will also have to experiment with the inevitable, in this case electric driving. You bet we’ll hear a lot more about this. And don’t be surprised if an early experiment with an e-bike is mentioned.

The price!

Do you want value for money? Forget the forty grand you can put down for a Panigale V4R, or even more for a Superleggera or Desmosedici. All insanely expensive. Then comes the Mig-RR. Just a topper for a very tangible price. Even the Scrambler400 is more expensive than this thing, for a meager € 6,250 you have your own Duc in the shed. Or living room. Or bedroom. Or wherever you want. And to think that no expense has been spared, not in any way.

That means quite something. Step away from the motorcycle world into the world of mountain bikes and you can assume that the names of the participants change, but that does not mean that it is suddenly inferior. By the way, Ducati is not completely crazy either: for the Limited Edition version introduced at the end of 2019, they have gone one step further and have actually chosen Öhlins suspension again. For the standard RR, however, we are talking about the best that Fox Racing can deliver. With 170 mm travel in the front and 160 mm in the rear, it is really a monster of a bicycle. And of course it goes much, much further. No savings have been made on any part, so we have a Shimano Steps engine with 70 Nm of torque, Shimano XT shift gear, Shimano Saint four-piston brakes, Mavic rims, a Renthal carbon handlebar, a Raceface dropper post and the list goes on. In terms of geometry it is also a top line device, to the level that the front wheel has a different size than the rear wheel. That is quite new in the mountain bike scene and moreover the only bike that Thok has in its range with this feature. The benefits of this are yet to come. The thing is so hardcore that it comes standard with Maxxis DHR and DHF tires: nothing less than real downhill tires. And if you are a little familiar with mountain biking, that is the discipline where the biggest blows fall, so when you consider that this bike is designed for that, you can get an impression of how they rate it themselves. And know that such promises are thoroughly tried out by the press and consumers, so any false claim is mercilessly exposed.

Has Ducati gone mad? Where Bologna always sells a more expensive product in a certain category than the competitor, a two-wheeler with such a price suddenly seems to go in a completely different direction. However, the opposite is true, as said, the Mig-RR is the highest specified and highest priced machine of the complete range. And this has come a step further with the limited edition version, which has become quite a bit more expensive in the Ducati tradition. And more exclusive. Amd yet it’s also the most sought after and immediately sold out. Too bad, people. But: this Mig-RR is still for sale and then you also have quite something.

The raddest

If I were to start a comparison, it is ultimately you – the reader – who wants a review, then I can have fun. In mountain biking, development has gone quite smoothly in recent years and a modern bicycle can therefore hardly be compared to anything from a year, a few years or even longer ago. When I bought my own bike, I did pay attention to some features that at least had to be fitted, including even the way of mounting some parts, because of the interchangeability with new ones if something broke. That worked, I also have nice suspension, disc brakes and a few things included. But there is little, virtually nothing, that is really too comparable with the Mig-RR. While my own bike is still on 26-inch wheels, the standard is now 27.5 or even 29-inch, so it is really completely new to me to combine those sizes as Ducati has. The effect of this is unimaginable, but also very similar to a dirt bike, for example. A serious off-road machine is also equipped with 21 inches in front and 17 inches rear, for a reason. The same reason applies to the Duc and the result is amazing. Even when my own bike is already very busy keeping track, the front wheel of the Mig slowly turns its laps as if it doesn’t matter at all. “Is that all you can do”? The thing seems to be wondering, while you are already working a lot harder than what you were used to on your own rig. Add to that the fact that the demo that Ducati has has, has a frame size L and that frame also has a completely different, more modern geometry than my own nerves and the party is complete. With the robustness of the whole and the enormous 800 mm wide handlebars you can almost handle the apocalypse, as it were. That is also the reason that I wanted to prepare well and waited a long time for the right time to try the bike on the right route. I would have liked to go to a downhil park for another weekend, but that just didn’t fit in with the planning. Maybe next time, because it is pretty addictive. Nevertheless, I was able to enjoy the Utrechtse Heuvelrug and the route in the dunes of Schoorl, which has a few promising sections of descent. You will naturally feel like more. Until hopefully you will come across a situation that gives you the impression it makes the bike work for its money. For the time being, however, the rider is the limiting factor. With all those top parts and pride at the top of the list of available models, the Mig-RR is therefore secretly still the most expensive in its class. And that sounds very familiar.

With all the euro requirements, we sometimes come into conflict with our wishes in terms of sound. There is still no better sound than a nineties Duc that breathes through open funnels, combined with a set of straight, wide sections of tube without damping. Unless you tap such a roaring nineties machine, you can forget about it. A fully-tuned Panigale with a complete titanium racing system from Akra also doesn’t sound so beautiful, so dark, as black coffee as a decent-running 900SS. And that is partly due to development, so that a modern liquid-cooled bike with timing on the edge just sounds much meaner, much rawer, much more mechanical than the pleasant hum of an old-coal machine with less critical tolerances. Just forget about that with the Mig-RR. It is a bit of a joke, but this is by far the quietest Ducati ever made, with the exception of at most the first Panigales. Because yes, before the superbike, Ducati already released a two-wheeler under that name. Made by Bianchi at the time, the Panigale was a true Italian performance machine. Perhaps not so much has changed in all those years. Troy Bayliss will probably have one in the attic, as well as a former colleague from the media world who once “borrowed” one from colleagues of a bicycle magazine further down the hallway of the same building. Now, twenty years later, the Mig-RR is definitely the quietest Duc you can buy. And if you’re not used to it, at the same time the noisiest. With the support on, you will have to get used to the idea that an electric motor is running while you are churning around in the otherwise silent forest. It never gets annoying, however, and if you do your best, you need very little. Certainly on slopes, the only thing you hear is the rolling of your tires over the forest floor and the smooth rattling of your rear hub.

The slowest. And the fastest.

You read that right. The Mig-RR is without a doubt the slowest Ducati ever. And that is intentional. With a specified maximum speed of 25 kilometers per hour on the display, it is a joke when you look at it next to its stable mates in the showroom. Only … with 70 Nm of help that is more than enough. Certainly on more technical parts and uphill you should see how fast that is, if you would ever reach that 25 kilometers per hour. It is not the case that you are actually cheating with an e-bike, which many fans of “natural cycling” will probably throw at you. Let them, they are jealous. It is true that thanks to that support you can really storm a hill like a tank, but it is not that you don’t get tired. The word says it all: it is support, not an automatic motor.

With four settings (off, eco, trail and boost) to choose from and also 11 gears, you can still get busy on the road. The operation, however, is very intuitive and before you know it you’ll be going crazy through pieces of loose sand that you never thought you would ever come through with a two-wheeler alive. And then it is true that you regularly exceed the indicated speed. However, the transition from supported driving to unsupported driving is such that you still like it. At least if you are in good shape. You could also just commute (and occasionally go up a flight of stairs), so that you would prefer to stay in the supported speed areas, purely because it is possible. Once you go faster, you have earned it. It’s that simple.

Secretly, the Mig-RR is by far the fastest Ducati on the list. Try to keep up with it on the paths that it’s made for with your V4…. Moreover, while you are breaking a track record with the Mig-RR, you are also much more environmentally conscious than with a Multi, Scrambler or Monster.

The most robust

You can expect something for the designation ‘best Ducati of the moment’, right? Prefer not to have just spent your hard-earned money and come across something trivial like vibrating mirrors or expensive carbon shell work that is so thin that it almost falls apart when you point at it. Nothing of all that with the Mig-RR, in all likelihood, this is the most robust two-wheeler in the stable at the moment. Throw a Scrambler Desert Sled, pretty much the next one, brutally on its side. Hopefully there will still be something left that is somewhat rideable, but in all likelihood it will be a phone call tot he dealer. Not with the Mig-RR. In a sport where crashing takes a very prominent place, you can’t help but expect that transport and driver will each take off in their own direction from time to time. So you have to assume that the Mig is ready for that. Get up, dust yourself off, pick up the bike and get going, that’s about it and that’s possible with this device. That works with an MX engine sometimes, but not always. Such robustness, that is still a characteristic of quality.

So there you go: the most innovative, the most affordable and the most unruly, smiling in your face, Ducati is a bicycle. Take a deep breath. Anyway, are we cheating a little here? I just don’t know yet. Admittedly, manufacturing and development is outsourced and it says “Ducati by Thok bicycles” very honestly, but that is not quite the end of the story. As said before, Ducati already had a deal with Bianchi to make some bikes under their name, this time it is an apparently completely unknown brand. How does one suddenly get there? Simple: connections. In addition to founder and mountain bike legend Stefano Migliorini we come across a very famous name: Livio Suppo. The same Livio Suppo that for years held the lead in marketing and also for a few years the MotoGP team from Ducati. And Honda, casually. That same Livio Suppo. The ties between Thok and Ducati are therefore fairly clear. In addition, other brands also  want to release their test balloons under other names or specialist branches thereof from time to time. Montesa is still the lord and master of the Trials, although it is clearly under the flag of Honda for everyone. Why shouldn’t  Ducati do that too?

All joking aside, here, no matter how you look at it, it is indeed not a motorcycle. For what it is, it is a top spec device like we are used to from Ducati, a particularly good, not half-thought mountain bike and, as an e-bike, almost even an over-developed machine for the Dutch trails. It’s no coincidence that I have tested it not once, but twice during the weekend. If I could I do it more often and expose it to even more challenges. Certainly know that I could do it with this bike. I’m in the market for a new mountain bike, so who knows, it might even happen too.

But the Mig-RR is an extremely well-equipped, very modern e-bike that could indeed be the start of a new chapter. A modern variant of the Cucciolo, the machine without which Ducati would never have had the illustrious history it has today. With that as a starting point, we still have a lot to expect.

Words: Vincent Burger
Images: Vincent Burger, Thomas Reedijk

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