Ducati skirted the fashionable edges of the Los Angeles Auto Show to show off its newest super bike at a flashy Hollywood party.
The Italian motorcycle mavens took over the rooftop pool of the W Hotel at the corner of Hollywood and Vine and invited a mishmash of fashionable LA party people, automotive executives and motorcycle riders to see the debut of the 2012 1199 Panigale.
The event kicked off with a fashion show as models strutted the runway with everything from Ducati fire suits to bikinis. Watching the beautiful people pout and spin gracefully in motorcycle gear provided a surreal contrast to the mechanical predator waiting under a black silk shroud not far away.
Once unveiled, the red Panigale looked every bit the Moto-GP inspired machine it promised to be. Wrapped in a large aerodynamic outer shell, the Panigale seems to be leaping forward from its rear wheel, even while standing on a dais between two models.
Essentially a brutally fast computer on two perfectly balanced wheels, the Panigale offers the brand new Superquadro engine, which was designed from the ground up. That oversized power plant increases power, adds torques and reduces weight, producing a twin-cylinder benchmark of 195 hp. Ducati hasn’t officially announced what speeds its testing produced in testing, but with a weight of only 361 pounds, this bike should absolutely fly.
To keep the 1199 Panigale upright at speed, Ducati stacked it with electronic features – including ABS, Ducati Traction Control, Electronic Suspension, Ducati Quick Shift, Engine Brake Control and Ride-by-Wire.
The final package is a motorcycle for the speed connoisseur, not the casual rider. Ducati Moto GP star Nicky Hayden was on hand to confirm exactly that to the gathered throng.
“I’ve seen this motorcycle on the test track,” Hayden said, still healing from the wrist injury that severely limited his racing season. “The engineers really have included elements to this motorcycle that I thought I’d only see on our Moto-GP bikes.”
Look for the 1199 Panigale to sell somewhere between $17,995 and $27,995, depending on custom configuration.
During the same week, Ducati announced their 2012 Streetfighter 848, calling it “a new model set to add everyday accessibility to the Italian manufacturer’s famous naked sport bike family.”
The original Ducati Streetfighter originally debuted at the Milan show in November 2008, where it won the ‘Most Beautiful Bike’ award. Described as a “naked bike,” the Streetfighter lacks the air-splitting shells and fins (fairings) of Ducati’s fastest production bikes, coming as close to a dirt bike look as any street machine the Italian manufacturer produces.
Combining with a newly redesigned 848 Testastretta 11° engine, the Streetfighter packs 132 hp and promises “user-friendliness with a smooth and flexible power delivery, revised ergonomics and Ducati Traction Control.”
That’s a fancy way of saying that the Streetfighter is aimed at the prospective Ducati rider who might be intimidated or ill prepared for the ferocity of the 1199 Panigale or the AMG-tuned Diavel. The controls are simpler, and the capabilities are more manageable.
The Streetfighter will be available in North America for the first time starting in January, 2012. You can choose between traditional Ducati Red, yellow and matte black “Dark Stealth” colors. But the most attractive feature of the Streetfighter might be its very approachable price. For a suggested entry point number of $12,995, riders can get on a legit Ducati rocket without all of the expensive cache of more elite models.
And a Ducati by any other name would still rip the sweat off your face when you open up that throttle.