Walking into any motorcycle dealer is a special occasion; the promise of dreams stirred or fulfilled by rows of perfect machinery, fresh from the factory; the sight of a favourite model or the surprise of something new. There’s the satisfaction of seeing a spotless workshop with any number of machines being worked on by skilled mechanics, maybe the thrill of seeing your own bike nearing completion, ready to be ridden away feeling as good as new. Then there is the choice of apparel or the sight of an after-market part to keep both machine and rider looking the part.
We’ve come a long way from small back-street showrooms where the showroom floor was just as grubby as the workshop. Now, we walk into pristine cathedrals housing our favourite brands and nowhere is this done better than at Ducati Johannesburg in Randburg. The showroom is light and airy, with a mouth-watering line-up of Italy’s finest given space to shine individually, while the workshop is a shrine to fine engineering and expert technical knowledge.
There really is something special about a Ducati and the experience at the dealership reflects this. The staff here have elevated buying a motorcycle to an art form; here the message is ‘take your time, make the right decision for you and when you need us, we’ll be here to help.’ Fresh coffee is offered, demo rides are available on all models and, really, the only difficulty is deciding which model to choose. Even if you simply drop in for a chat and to browse, you are made to feel welcome; questions are encouraged and there is no pressure because the sales staff know that sometimes, buying a motorcycle isn’t the work of a moment and that every potential customer must leave not only armed with all the information needed to make an educated decision but with a positive experience that will keep Ducati at the top of their minds when deciding.
There are three distinct departments at Ducati Johannesburg; apparel, bike sales and the workshop, all working together to provide a seamless experience.
First, let’s get you onto a bike. There are four salesmen at Ducati Johannesburg; Ewald, Bruce, Roy and Hanro. You’re buying a bike; it’s a big investment and you don’t want to be rushed but you do want the right information. Each salesman has taken the time to completely familiarise themselves with every Ducati model through online factory training so you know that you can trust what they are telling you. Their attitude is one of ‘how would I treat a friend if he or she walked through the door?’ To this end, whether you are walking in to browse, buy a t-shirt, ask a question or have the intention of buying a bike, you will be greeted and, should you need it, will be accompanied throughout your stay and shown to the door at the end of your visit. It is this attitude that helps you feel really welcome, that you are not just a figure on a sales chart. Can’t make up your mind? It doesn’t matter; they’ll make sure you leave with all the right information and be ready for you when you are.
When you’ve bought a bike, they’ll take the time to talk you through all the various riding features before you set off on your first ride. However, the chances are that you won’t be listening with your fullest attention because you can’t wait to swing a leg over the bike and set off into the sunset! No problem; in a couple of days, they’ll give you a call to make sure that everything is all right and that you understand all the electronics and features of the bike – It’s the small things that make all the difference.
Secondly, there’s the workshop. It’s as clean as a surgery and, given the way some owners see their bikes, the work that goes on in here is just as much of a matter of life and death! Zoki Milanovic is in charge of the workshop and there is nothing he doesn’t know about the inner workings of a Ducati, having undergone extensive training at the factory in Bologna, Italy and through having worked on Ducati’s for many, many years. He heads a team of five technicians who can tackle any job from minor and major servicing to Pre-Delivery Inspections and even to accident damage repair. Customers are encouraged to visit the workshop and watch the technicians at work and make sure their pride and joy is being properly looked after and the technicians are always ready to talk you through whatever they may be doing to your machine.
In this day and age, motorcycles can have just as many factory-fitted options as cars and this can lead to delivery delay while the bike of the right specification is being built and shipped to SA. Not so with Ducati. All bikes are delivered in their standard form and the workshop can fit, as part of the pre-delivery inspection, any of the many options available and, what is more, fit them to factory standards. This way, delivery times can be kept to a minimum.
Of course, a Ducati is a special machine and needs special care and attention so what happens if you don’t live in Johannesburg and you need to get your bike serviced? Well, if you live in Nelspruit, Bloemfontein, Durban or Port Elizabeth, there are service partners of Ducati Johannesburg who can carry out routine servicing. For major work, Ducati SA will collect your bike and take it to either Johannesburg or their new dealership in Cape Town and deliver it back to you free of charge. So, not only are you buying a special piece of machinery, you are getting the care and attention it deserves.
Last but by no means least, is Ducati Apparel and this is under the care of Savannah Vermeulen. She explains that there are three areas within Ducati Apparel; race, sports touring and lifestyle.
Race is self-explanatory; we are talking race leathers – both one – and two-piece, boots, gloves and helmets as well as technical under garments. Ducati Johannesburg do carry stock of everything but, as anyone who has tried to buy a set of leathers off the peg will know, the right fit can be difficult to achieve. To this end, Savannah can supply you with a measurement chart to help you decide which will be the best fit for you and this is then sent off to Italy and, within six weeks, you should have your shiny new leathers and they will be worth the wait. Ducati partners with only the best manufacturers so Ducati leathers come from Dainese, boots from TCX and helmets from Nolan.
Sports Touring covers all your road riding needs, from sports jackets in both leather and textile, through adventure riding gear, waterproofs, boots and gloves.
Finally, there is Lifestyle, which covers casual, non-protective gear such as t-shirts, hoodies and casual jackets for men, women and even babies and young children, as well as merchandise such as key rings, stickers, magnets, watches and so on.
At the rear of Ducati Johannesburg is a secured parking facility, if you drive along Bram Fischer Drive (from Fourways direction), turn 1st left passed Ducati Johannesburg up Dover street, then left again at the first circle onto Hilltop St, your will see on your left hand side the entrance into Ducati parking. Also in the same location is a Pirelli tyre fitment centre and wash bay.
So, that’s Ducati Johannesburg; the best introduction to the Ducati way of life. Feel free to drop by any time and plan your next motorcycling dream.