To unveil its important new models for 2015, Ducati decided to channel Apple and stream the event live on the internet for all to see, complete with the casually dressed CEO wearing a hands-free microphone (though unlike Apple's Tim Cook, Ducati CEO Claudio Domenicali felt it appropriate at one point to mention that he is not gay).
Aside from that and a couple of other moments of awkwardness, Ducati pulled the wraps off its new 205-horsepower 1299 Panigale S, an 1199 Panigale R as a basis for World Superbike, the new Multistrada 1200 S with the DVT engine and other tech goodies, and a limited-edition Diavel made of titanium.
The hour-plus presentation began, however, with the Ducati Scramblers, which Domenicali described as more than a line of motorcycles.
"We do not only present a new product... but a new brand," Domenicali said.
There was a U.S.-centered flavor to the Scrambler presentation, although in a somewhat bizarre, as-seen-from-abroad kind of way. Ducati Vice President for Sales and Marketing Cristiano Silei noted that the original Scrambler in 1962 was the result of a request from the U.S. distributor. The video had a noticeable Southern California feel, with scenes of beaches and wind-surfing. The most bizarre part, however, was that the Italian models standing on stage were wearing jeans and flannel shirts, rolled up to expose their midriffs.
Wait a minute, did I just see the introduction of Daisy Ducati?
I can only presume this is what "America" looks like, viewed from a hazy, Italian distance.
Imagery aside, the emphasis on the "easy-going" nature of the four Scrambler models and the availability of numerous accessories and apparel items also sounded very much like the way cruisers are marketed in the United States as a "lifestyle" package.
"There will never be a single Scrambler out there that is equal to any other," said Silei, assuring everyone that each owner would customize to his or her contentment.
To further separate the Scrambler "brand" from Ducati, the line will have its own separate display at the EICMA show this week and instead of red, everything will be yellow. The display will be called "the land of joy."
Limited-edition Diavel Titanium
Maybe no other motorcycle manufacturer has such a successful track record of convincing people to pay a big premium for exclusivity and brand as Ducati. Following on the success of its limited-edition, $65,000 Superleggera, Ducati is introducing a Diavel Titanium, with many parts made from that light, strong, expensive metal, rather than pedestrian steel. Like the Superleggera, production of the Diavel Titanium will be limited to 500 units.
1299 Panigale S and 1199 Panigale R
Word of the forthcoming 1299 Panigale had already leaked, but Domenicali unveiled official details, accompanied by video and dancers in tights. The displacement was bumped up by increasing the piston size to 116 mm, which Domenicali called "insane." The bigger Panigale will make 205 horsepower and weigh 395 pounds, Domenicali said. It also gets new technology in the interest of "compromise-removal," so the same motorcycle can work well both on the street and the track.
Ducati's Realtime Suspension Setup on the new Panigale uses sensors on the bike to adjust the suspension, based on what you're doing. Braking hard into a corner? The sensor detects it and stiffens the front suspension. Leaned over in a curve? The lean angle sensor tells the suspension to be softer. Slower speeds on the street will automatically produce a softer setup, while higher speeds and harder braking on the track will dial in a stiffer setup.
"It's like you have someone on the back with a screwdriver changing the setting in the middle" of the corner, Domenicali said.
The steering damper also adjusts, based on the same sensors. The ABS works while cornering, also by using the bank angle sensors, and the quick shifter works for both clutchless upshifts and downshifts.
Since the 1300 cc Panigale S is not legal for World Superbike competition, Ducati will build the 1199 Panigale R as a basis for its Superbike racing effort. The Panigale R also makes 205 horsepower and weighs less than 380 pounds.
Multistrada 1200 S
The new Multistrada gets the DVT Testastretta engine with variable valve timing that we described earlier, to go with the electronically adjustable Ducati Skyhook System suspension, cornering ABS and headlights that also use the lean sensors to light up the inside of corners at night. Ducati has Tour, Sport, Urban and Enduro Packs, which are combinations of accessories, all of which can be combined as needed to outfit the Multistrada for the mission at hand, whether that's traveling long-distance or riding to work.
Here's the entire presentation: