Uh oh. Don’t say we didn’t warn you. But the heavens have opened in more ways than one…

MCN has a potentially significant role to play in the lives of UK motorcyclists. Not least because of the uncertain political context in which biking exists, always vulnerable to predation by keen legislators and lobbyists. Being a weekly publication, it is uniquely placed to break and disseminate harder news stories compared to monthly titles: equally its scope means it can evaluate product in a different way  to other publications.

However, the recent makeover bestowed on itself by MCN amounted to a less focussed, more rambling incarnation. Judging by the most recent issue, a cynic might argue that this was merely preparation for massive advertorial in editorial guise. We feared that at some point the Panigale driven hype machine would be formally unleashed: that time, it seems, has come – if you take MCN.

The irony of course is that the Panigale – a sportsbike, lest anyone’s spent the last six months in a blissful trance – doesn’t yet quite cut it when it comes to sport, relatively speaking, as MCN’s own lap times confirm.  In the hands of the quickest rider at the test, Pirelli’s Alfio, the Panigale registered the slowest lap times (bar the MV, who seem to have reverted to type recently in delivering machines which are simply not ready for public consumption). That’s right: on the same tyres, in the most capable hands, the Panigale was the slowest of the contenders, but still proclaimed as a winner of the test along with the BMW. Go figure –  it didn’t over impress on the road segment of the testing either.  MCN proclaimed  this as a shock result, and yet the bike is a newcomer in a highly sophisticated market. Despite the 20 grand plus elephant in the room, the reader is still treated to page after page of what amounts to Ducati brand  placement – which wouldn’t matter so much if it wasn’t fronted by the Panigale copy. This is not news. It is good, old fashioned advertorial masquerading as a feature, swallowing what is supposed to be a newspaper. While it’s amusing reading MCN’s respected senior tester Michael Neeves trying ever so hard to justify the Panigale relative to the competition, a more realistic set of expectations and less hype would have kept things honest.

Is it really worth engendering the suspicion that MCN’s playing field may not be a level one? Even if that is simply a perception, it is a damaging one, which the paper can ill afford to foster.  Keeping Ducati or any other manufacturer happy at the expense of credibility is a desperately short sighted move, all the more so during times of great uncertainty for journalism in general -and print media in particular.






  1. I think the major point of interest for the vast nbmeur of people is going to be a comparison of the nbmeur to the far right of the graph.Not saying the new Buell isn’t simply amazing, or that the Ducati will be anything less than breathtaking for those few who can afford it. But for the vast majority of us who will be riding with our friends, going to work, and even flogging the bikes in and around our favorite riding areas the performance disparity between, say, the new ZX-10R and either the 1199 or the Buell isn’t worth the extra TWENTY FIVE THOUSAND DOLLARS. And you are the same guys who sneer at people for buying $20,000 cruisers with holographic stickers on the gastank. Come On! Really?! Other than a small contingent of the faithful, how many people do you think are going to be willing to shell out the 40 large for the prestige of having an Amurrican superbike or the latest that Ducati has to offer? If they don’t SELL as many bikes as they need to stay afloat because normal people who will ride them think they’re too expensive, they are (in my book anyway) no better than the d00ds from Milwaukee or any nbmeur of the Italian auto manufacturers. For Ducati it’s more understandable that they would do this in that they have a large line of bikes to choose from and the 1199 will be the flagship uber performance model. I can see someone being more than willing to shell out 40 large for a flagship uber performance model Ducati.For Buell, who is supposedly starting from scratch with unleashing this bike it’s less understandable. As of right now, as far as I am given to understand, the 1190RS is the ONLY Buell model for sale. And it is nearly 40 thousand dollars. They’re boutique bikes, nothing more. They make great posters on the wall in the garage and conversation pieces for when Tom Cruise shows up on one for the premier of Mission Impossible 4. Build me a bike in even the TWENTY thousand dollar range and I’ll save the money and wait my turn. Until then I guess I’ll stick with Japanese manufacturers and the occasional unpretentious Italian, thanks.

  2. I don’t have any proelbm with Ducatis. I don’t have any proelbm with expensive bikes in general, or the people who own them. I just feel kinda sorry for them.That’s because so few of the people who spend $40K on a bike will be out there at the track, the place these bikes are made for, thrashing the hell out of it, rashing up the plastics and razzing the tyres. They’ll be terrified of scratching it. Or damaging it. Or just terrified of it.The vast majority of the people who buy these bikes will pamper them, polish them, occasionally perhaps lick them, but seldom or never use them for their intended purpose or to their real potential. And in not doing these things, they’re missing out on the mad essence of what motorcycling is really about.I suppose that to some people motorcycles are something to collect and pamper, but not to me. They’re made to be used. Insert it takes all kinds, I guess disclaimer (HERE)

  3. Good story, followed by two inane comments. Yes Buell’s new bikes are expensive (however the story was actually about Ducati and MCN’s cash driven blinkers, not about Buell). But maybe you should try building bikes, in small quantities, all by yourself, and see what the retail price comes out at. That’s the exact reason why Ducatis cost more than Hondas, they make less, and they sell less. Companies exist to make enough money to survive. That is really hard for a small company. I’d bet that Buell would be happier making bikes that he could sell all day long for ten-grand, but it doesn’t just magically immediately happen. As the company get bigger, they sell more bikes and the unit cost can come down. But growing a company is really hard, especially when people are bitching and sneering at “expensive bikes”.

    Then the other guy, with “motorcycles are made for the track”. and the comment about what “motorcycling is really about”. Have you ever thought that what’s true for you isn’t some gospel, that the world must live by? For some people, bikes are about riding every day, not just every third Sunday at the track. From their perspective that’s what a bike is really about. Not sitting in a garage for countless days on end.

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