Until now, if you rode a Ducati, it meant you rode fast. But the manufacturer is careening into its 90th Anniversary, and celebrating with nine new bike introductions for 2016.
On the spectrum of sizing someone up based on a single material possession, motorcycle preference tends to rank pretty highly in terms of providing a multitude of revelations based on little information.
The question “What do you ride?” is usually asked with an arched eyebrow and a cocked chin, the inquirer squaring off for imminent superiority. The answer, delivered with a swagger, always sounds a little bit defensive, a little bit like the throwing down of the gauntlet, no matter what the bike.
There is one reply, however, that is the ultimate rock to a pair of scissors, and that is Ducati. Even if the questioner thinks Ducati riders are egotistical peacocks, the envy is strong.
Until now, if you rode a Ducati, it meant you rode fast. But the manufacturer is careening into its 90th Anniversary, and celebrating with nine new bike introductions for 2016. Among the new models are three entries into genre-busting markets for Ducati, making the mark fast, dirt-friendly, off-road-ready and whip-smart.
So if you’re looking for a new identity in 2016, or if you just want to add depth to your current social profile, maybe try on one of these bikes for size.
1. XDiavel – The Smooth Operator
Just like in a remix, the “X” in XDiavel stands for a hybridization of two distinct styles. Good ol’ Italian engineering and performance is blended with a super smooth cruiser vibe delivered by Ducati’s first-ever belt-drive. This is relaxed riding for racers, a far-forward footpeg version of a sports bike and a new category for Ducati. Charmingly, the company says the XDiavel offers “low speed excitement,” which could sound romantic if that’s your thing. The numbers look good, too: 152 horsepower at 9,500 RPM, with maximum torque delivered at 5,000 RPM, making power more accessible in the lower revs. But if you still need to rip it, there’s 40 degrees of lean available.
2. Multistrada 1200 Enduro – The Adventurer
If you thought Multistrada meant “multiple roads,” now you need to add “including dirt and rocks” to that definition. This is the off-road adventure bike to rival other enduro entries, with an extra 1.2 inches of wheel travel, eight inches of ride height, increased fuel capacity and standard dirt-ready knobby Pirelli Scorpion Trail tires. This power of the bike is smoothened out by the same 1199cc Desmodomic Variable Timing (DVT) motor that debuted in 2015 with the regular Multistrada 1200 and S models. Other rider-defining features that contribute to the off-road aesthetic include higher-set handlebars, a narrower seat and steel footrests for those rugged moments when you stand up on the pegs while riding on soft, shifting terrain or climb steep switchbacks. The bike also has a whole bunch of extra protection against rocks, debris and anything else life throws at you.
3. Scrambler Sixty2 – The Pop Star
This is the svelte version of last year’s massively successful Scrambler re-introduction, named the Sixty2 after the year of its original predecessor’s launch. But don’t be fooled, it can still dominate in traffic, with a compact engine ripping at 400cc’s while other commuters eat dust on 125s or 300s. Its air-cooled V-twin two-stroke engine rocks a demure 41 horsepower compared to the 75 horses harnessed by its bigger brother, making it a nice, low-seated beginner ride or just a city-friendly whip.
4. Scrambler Flat Track Pro – The American Racer
The flat-track defines American racing, and its influence is felt worldwide since Kenny Roberts changed MotoGP forever when he showed up and dragged dirt style all over the track. One of today’s hero on the flat track is Troy Bayliss, who was on hand for the launch of this racing-yellow version of the Scrambler 803 at the EICMA show in Milan this week. The racier attitude of the bike includes a new rider-only seat design, lower, tapered handlebars, and a Termignoni exhaust slip-on end can. The bike features a side-mounted plate holder, and the nose faring and short front mudguard — painted the same color as the tank — are also unique to the Flat Track Pro version. But it’s not just for dirt — this bike has some glamorous points, too; take, for example, the machined rear-view mirrors, footrests, sprocket cover and front brake fluid filler cap.
5. Hypermotard 939, Hypermotard 939 SP and Hyperstrada 939 Family – The Maverick
These big boys made their EICMA debut in the most elite racing style, with MotoGP riders Andrea Dovizioso and Andrea Iannone guiding them (slowly) on stage. Their big news here is a new Euro4 compliant 937cc V-twin engine, which produces 113bhp and has a 10 percent increase in peak torque. The engine for all three bikes in the 939 family is based on Ducati’s 821cc Testastretta unit.
6. Panigale 959 – A Diamond in the Rough
This one is all about the engine, which Ducati is calling a “Supermid,” but that might not be the best character-defining trait to mention. The 955cc V-twin Superquadro tears it up with 157bhp at peak, which is an increase from the 148bhp of the outgoing 899 Panigale. To achieve a longer piston stroke and gain torque with the additional cc’s, Ducati redesigned the crankshaft and conrods. And in the high-falutin department, mechanical noise is reduced with a new cam-timing chain and some fancy Diamond Like Carbon (DLC) coating on the piston pins, a redesigned piston crown, a pair of new cylinder heads and aluminium top covers with a ribbed design. Oh, and the exhaust is discreetly tucked beneath the bike’s belly.
7. Multistrada 1200 Pikes Peak Edition – The Alpinist
Ride this bike and you can talk about the Pikes Peak International Hillclimb, a high-altitude muscle-fest of wringing two wheels up what is basically a cliff face. Ducati bikes happen to have won this annual competition four times — just sayin’. Subsequently, this bike’s spec includes a low carbon fibre windscreen, Termignoni exhaust system and mechanically adjustable Öhlins suspension. The Multistrada 1200 Pikes Peak has a racing-inspired color scheme, with white, red and black livery and Ducati-red chassis. Even the three-spoke black wheels have a racing-inspired red trim. Mountain-climbing worth carbon fibre components include the front mudguard, front tank cover and lateral front partitions. Choose some accessories to top it off, such as the Touring Pack (heated grips, panniers and centre stand), the Urban Pack (top case, tank bag with tank lock and USB hub) or the Enduro Pack (supplementary LED lights and Ducati Performance components by Touratech including engine crash bars, radiator crash bars, sump guard, a broader kickstand base and off-road footpegs).
8. Monster 1200 R – The Speed Demon
The Monster gets a makeover with 160 horsepower delivered smoothly by the sporty “R” power unit. This is the most powerful “naked” bike produced by Ducati, featuring the second generation Testastretta 11° DS engine. Dual spark plugs and a secondary air system make it run smoother. Sleek new tailpipes and a lighter rear frame have been added to the Monster fly-line, while the legendary round headlight flanked by forks, sculptural metal fuel tank and the raw construction remain the same. A track-ready chassis, pleasing riding ergonomics and that instantly recognizable Ducati engine rumble are also part of the package.
9. Another Scrambler – A Mystery Guest
This one is kind of a trick entry, because so far it’s just a promise by Ducati that another Scrambler version will be developed jointly as part of a newly announced three-year partnership with Italia Independent. The likely very beautiful, very powerful motorcycles made through this partnership will be revealed in Miami during Art Basel in December 2015.
Words: Kirsten Nelson/Selectism.com