On our yearly moto calendar, it’s easy to think event to event — to those things like Motoblot or Rockerbox that come around each year. Yet we also get to have more spontaneous events every once in a while. This previous weekend had one of those when Ducati brought us three new models on just a few weeks notice. What better way to show them off than to have a little get together to celebrate?
Now celebrate might seem like a strange choice of words in this case. Three new Ducatis. So what? OEMs put out new models and model refreshes every year, right? True, but this year Ducati didn’t just tweak the seats and offer a couple new colors. For 2015 Ducati has brought one entirely new model to their lineup and updated two of the most significant bikes in their lineup. These three bikes together represent a very bright future for Ducati as a brand we’re excited to carry.
The Scrambler Ducati
If you haven’t heard about the Scrambler Ducati already, you’ve got to be living under a rock. Since its debut last fall, the whole world seems to be chanting “Scrambler! Scrambler! Scrambler!” — or at least the majority of the motorcycle press have been. We were lucky enough to get an early crack at a Scrambler just a few weeks ago and it’s pretty much everything we hoped for, and then some.
Yet the reason the Scrambler is an important bike for Ducati is the signal this bike is sending to the world. The Scrambler is Ducati paying attention to the now. It’s also a bike that’s as focused on being fun and approachable as past Ducatis have been on race-inspired performance and being an aspirational brand. Yet Ducati hasn’t lost any focus either. If anything, that focus is just getting sharper and they’ve definitely brought it to bear in figuring out how to inject all that fun into the Scrambler.
Speaking of performance focus, a next-generation Ducati Panigale 1299 is a big deal, if only for the fact of what the Panigale represents. Now with more than 200 horsepower, the Panigale 1299 represents the pinnacle of street motorcycle performance. The Panigale has only two real competitors in the rarified air of supersport bikes: BMW’s S1000RR and the Aprilia RSV4. Take a short tour of “shootouts” in the motorcycle press and you’ll often find a familiar name at the top of the podium: Panigale.
We went in depth on the new features of the Panigale a few weeks back, but it was great to finally see the new bike in the metal. Everything about the new Panigale speaks to the bike’s sophisticated approach to performance. Those of you looking for a weapons-grade supersport bike, look no further. With the new Panigale 1299, the message from Ducati is clear. “We are still king of this mountain.”
Of all the Ducatis in our demo fleet last year, one bike got taken out and put to company business seemingly more than any other. That bike was our Ducati Multistrada 1200S GT. I flogged it all up and down Driftless Country, Larry rode it to Canada and back, and Johnny later helped me compare the Multi to its previous self. When we had real miles to do, the Multi was the obvious choice. That blend of speed, utility and all-around stellar riding dynamics made the Multi our go-to.
The 2015 Multistrada takes everything we loved about the old model and dials it up a notch, while addressing the bike’s few discernible flaws. Now that we’re finally able to sit on the bike and feel it out, we were able to confirm the bike’s improved ergonomics. The new headlights look great and the overall shape of the front end has gotten much more handsome. The multi also now includes those handful of creature comforts its otherwise inferior competitors came with as standard. Unfortunately our party preview didn’t include using that impressive-sounding new variable valve timing engine in the new Multistrada. Will it deliver on all that smoothness Ducati is promising? Will it rob the bike of its angry tractor charm? We’ll find out shortly, but sadly not on Saturday.
So we celebrated
We’re excited for a new year and a new riding season. With spring right around the corner, we’re starting to feel the call of the open road. Yet we’re extra excited because of days like Saturday. Not even the bikes, though. Sure, these three new Ducatis seem to show a really bright future for the brand and what we’ll be able to offer here at Motoworks. No, the reason Saturday was such a blast was because so many of you came out to say hello and check out these new Ducatis. We had a blast because of such a big turnout. Sure, new bikes are neat and all, but our jam is having the shop full of bike fans around to celebrate the start of a new riding season.
So here’s to that. Here’s to 2015 and a new season for new adventures. Here’s to bikes new and old and the people who love them. Here’s to Ducati, and Triumph, and Vespa, and all those BMWs. Here’s to Chicago and all the friends we’ve made here. Cheers!