Ducati unveiled its new 2017 models yesterday and here's the headlines: The Scrambler line drew on historical inspirations for two new models, there's a new Multistrada, there's a Monster for riders of means and one for young cucciolos yelping to join the Ducati party, and the live stream of new model introductions is now clearly a Ducati "thing" that's here to stay and drew a bigger audience this year.
But first we have to talk about the bike you can't afford and probably can't buy if you can afford it, because that's just the way it is in the moto-world. Unobtainium rules the chart. So, here it is, the lighter, more powerful, most exclusive 1299 Superleggera.
Ducati 1299 Superleggera
Ducati is building just 500 examples of this incredibly light and powerful motorcycle for its "best customers." By the way, those "best customers" got early access and Domenicali said most of the Superleggeras are already spoken for. So you can look, but don't expect to touch.
Even Domenical said the Superleggera "is kind of insane." The power from the V-twin is impressive: 215 horsepower at 11,000 rpm in Euro 4-compliant form. But the rest of the bike may be a greater feat. Nearly everything is carbon fiber composite, from the fame to the subframe, swingarm and wheels. The frame weighs 5.73 pounds and the swingarm just 9.04 pounds. The result is a bike that weighs a claimed 339.5 pounds in U.S. form for a power-to-weight ratio of 1.58 pounds per horsepower.
"When the lucky customer will be brave enough to test it, they will feel the same sensation" Andrea Dovizioso and Chaz Davies get on their Ducati race bikes. Dovizioso and Davies, both of whom conveniently won their respective races last week, were on the stage to chat with Domenicali, but it was Casey Stoner, the only man to win a MotoGP world title on a Ducati and now a brand ambassador, who got to ride the Superleggera onto the stage. Domenicali noted that the sophisticated traction control on the Superleggera allows the rider to adjust the amount of spin and slide independently. That's something that was borrowed from last year's MotoGP bike but is not a part of the new uniform software that all MotoGP teams must use this year. So in that sense, Domenicali said, the Superleggera is more advanced than a current MotoGP bike.
Buyers will also get a special track day where they'll get to ride not only their Superleggeras, but also a World Superbike-spec Panigale, Domenical said. Ah, the life of the one percent. Got an extra $80,000? Better hurry.
Backing off from Masters of the Universe-level rich to merely First World comfortable, we get to the rest of the new lineup for 2017.
Ducati Multistrada 950
With the "best customers" taken care of, Ducati also brought out a couple of models aimed at making it easier to buy into the Ducati family. One of those is the Multistrada 950, which Domenicali characterized as a Swiss Army knife motorcycle.
The Multistrada 950 uses the 11-degree 937 cc Testastretta engine, which delivers a claimed 113 horsepower. But Ducati emphasized the usability of that power. From 3,500 rpm to 9,500 rpm, more than 80 percent of peak torque is available.
On this basic package, the buyer can choose from four available accessory packages (to go along with the four rider modes): sport, touring, urban and enduro. Several features were highlighted that make the 950 an option for the rider who ventures off pavement and may not want to bash up a $21,000 Multistrada Enduro off-road. The 950's 19-inch front spoked wheel, 6.7 inches of front suspension travel and a seat shape shared with the Enduro make it more capable off asphalt. Also, both the metal panniers from the Enduro or the more street-oriented plastic panniers will fit on the 950.
U.S. MSRP for the Multistrada 950 is $13,995 in red and $14,195 in white.
Ducati Monster 797
The other new model intended to provide "an entry door to the red world," as Domenicali phrased it, is the new Monster 797. The theme is "undemanding fun." Using the air-cooled 803 cc V-twin, the 797 puts out a claimed 75 horsepower and weighs just 401 pounds with a 31.7-inch seat height.
While the 797 lacks the traction control, cornering ABS and other advanced electronics of its more expensive siblings, it does include ABS standard. U.S. MSRP will be $9,295 in red or $9,395 in white.
Ducati Monster 1200 and 1200S
Fourteen years after the first Monster, Domenicali said the new 2017 Monster 1200 and 1200S take the model back to its roots.
"We have changed so many components it is hard to say if it is a facelift, as originally intended, or a new motorcycle," Domenicali said.
The goal was to return to the small, compact feeling of the original Monster. To do that, Ducati made the wheelbase an inch shorter and the tank and the bodywork around the seat narrower. It has the old-style hook on the tank just like back in the 1990s.
There's nothing throwback about the electronics package, however. The Monster gets three rider modes, traction control and wheelie control and the IMU enables Bosch cornering ABS. The 11-degree Testastretta engine is rated at 150 horsepower.
At one point in the presentation, Domenicali paused to note that Ducati was taking steps to reduce maintenance costs. The Monster is one of many Ducati models that can now go 18,000 miles between valve clearance checks, addressing one of the traditional complaints about Ducati ownership. Also, all those people who rode the previous Monster and complained about the passenger footpegs will be happy to know they've also been changed for 2017.
Upgrading to the S model from the regular Monster 1200 gets you the quick-shifter for clutchless upshifts and downshifts, Ohlins suspension, different Y-spoke wheels and Brembo brakes with 330 mm front discs, which Domenicali called "the strongest braking system available on two wheels."
U.S. MSRP for the Monster 1200, available in red, is $14,695. The 1200S lists for $16,995 in red or $17,195 in gray.
Red and yellow, Ducati and Scrambler
"Red is the color of the brand and red is the color of the passion," Domenicali said. But two years ago, Ducati launched a new brand. "The yellow side of our heart is the Scrambler."
The addition of the "yellow brand" to Ducati's portfolio has been a success. Domenicali said 29,246 Scramblers have been sold in the two years since the new line was introduced, so for 2017 the company expanded the Scrambler line in both street and off-road directions with two new models. The company had already announced these new bikes would be the Café Racer and the Desert Sled.
Scrambler Café Racer
If Spurgeon called BMW "late to the party" with its R nineT scrambler, then what can we say about Ducati coming out with a cafe racer for 2017? Isn't that two trends ago by now? I guess the sales numbers will let us know.
The Café Racer gets a 17-inch front wheel with Pirelli Diablo Rosso II tires, clip-ons and a radial front brake master cylinder. "We changed the whole mood ... to get a more sporty feeling," Domenicali said. The Café Racer will come in one color option: black and gold.
While one of the virtues of the Scrambler line when it first came out was the sub-$9,000 price, MSRPs are rising quickly as we get new models. The Café Racer is priced at $11,395.
Scrambler Desert Sled
While drawing on the British café racer scene of the past for inspiration for its new street-oriented addition to the Scrambler line, Ducati looked to the off-road scene of the United States to find its other styling cues from the past. Thus we get the Desert Sled. Yes, it's another "scrambler," but this one gets 7.9 inches of suspension travel at both ends, which may prevent some of the grousing we've heard about the other bikes having the scrambler moniker slapped on them.
The Desert Sled rolls on 17-inch rear and 19-inch front wheels fitted with Pirelli Scorpion Rally STR tires made specifically for this model. The seat height is 33.9 inches and Ducati lists the Desert Sled's wet weight as 456 pounds. It will be available in white and red color options and also costs $11,395, like the Café Racer.
The models introduced today are in addition to the SuperSport and SuperSport S unveiled at the Intermot show last month. Also, Domenicali said a new version of the Diavel cruiser, called the Diesel, will be unveiled in January and will be available in 2017.