The new Ducati superbike comes to Los Angeles to flirt with motorcycle lovers at Drai’s atop the
W Hotel in Hollywood.
She’s sleek, she’s sexy, and she she’s famous for wearing red. Where ever you take this little beauty, you’ll get there in a hurry, so when you rev her up, hang on tight and be ready for wild things to happen. If you’d like a date with this hot new Italian superstar, you’re in luck; all it will take is between $18,000 and $28,000 (depending on your options) and then you can ride her as hard and as fast as you dare.
Of course, I’m talking about the latest superbike from Ducati, the 1199 Panigale (Pronounced “Pan-ee-gah-lee”), unveiled November 18 to the U.S. market at an elbow-to-elbow Hollywood premiere party worthy of any major celebrity. Several hundred people ooh-ed and ah-ed this amazing piece of mechanized art, warming the hearts of the Ducati executives who were watching the crowd at Drai’s, the swanky nightclub on the rooftop of the W Hotel in Hollywood where the Panigale made her debut.
Let’s be clear, the 1199 is not to be trifled with; only the experienced should suit up and climb aboard. Ducati claims this superbike is the most powerful in the world, and her stats seem to back that up. A quick twist of the throttle can deliver 195 horsepower to the rear wheel of a motorcycle that weighs only 361.5 lbs. Ducati claims it has the highest power-to-weight and torque-to-weight ratios of any production motorcycle in the world.
Italian engineers and designers were given two goals when asked to design this motorcycle: add 25 more horses and trim off 22 pounds of fat. In essence, it’s a street legal racing bike, which is not surprising for a company like Ducati that claims over 300 World Superbike race wins and more world championships than all other manufacturers combined.
Like most supermodels, it’s high-strung and must be handled with care. Chances are that it’s out of the average guy’s league. One nervous twitch of the right hand and you and this motorcycle could quickly trade places, with her riding you.
Yet, for the experienced rider, this will be a sweet ride indeed; light, agile and capable of warp speed on command. Taming this pocket rocket, finding the line between caution and carelessness — a line racers live on — sums up the essence of motorcycle riding. No matter what you ride, it’s always a little perilous. That’s why you feel so alive when you ride. A little risk can be exhilarating, especially when it’s something you know you’ll regret if you take too many chances.
So if you are adventurous and skilled enough here are a few of the 1199 Panigale’s key ingredients:
- 195 horsepower “Superquadro” L-twin engine
- Electronic handling adjustments to match the riders style
- The latest-generation ABS system
- Ducati Traction Control (DTC),
- Ducati Electronic Suspension (DES),
- Ducati Quick-Shift (DQS),
- Ducati’s new race-derived Engine Brake Control (EBC) and
- Ride-by-Wire (RbW)
- Specially designed tires and wheels
All these features and the on-board computer make this one of the most adjustable bikes in the world. Even the full color Thin Film Transistor (TFT) instrument display changes to suit the rider’s preferences.
Josh Ronaldson, sales manager at Beverly Hills Ducati, stood in the background with some friends and watched the crowd react to the new motorcycle. He was definitely excited and pleased by the energetic response. His dealership ordered a hundred of the 1199s that will arrive sometime in March. He’s already sold nearly half of them and expects the rest to go quickly.
“This is a total game changer,” Ronaldson said, ticking off a list of the technological advances built into the bike. “Some of this technology is the same as they use in MotoGP racing.” (MotoGP is like the Formula One of the motorcycle world.) Judging from the crowd’s response to the Panigale, Ronaldson has made a good investment.
After the presentation, there was a line of people waiting to sit on the seat and imagine what a ride might be like. William Wu was cool, calm and focused but he couldn’t hide his enthusiasm for this beautiful new toy. Wu is a 40-year-old lawyer from Monterey Park and belongs to a motorcycle-riding club. Wu says he rides the canyons and has been to the track — a perfect fit for the Ducati demographic: young, adventurous and with significant disposable income.
“I definitely want one,” he said. “There’s a group of us who only ride Ducatis and I know the guys are going to want this bike.”
Megan Coogan and her friend Amisa Darmawan were perched conspicuously on the edge of the stage right in front of the Panigale posing for photographers. “Motorcycles are hot,” said Darmawan, also a rider. “I love to ride and I love the riders.”
We all know that riding motorcycles can be exciting and hazardous — it’s not for everyone. Sarah Collins, a medical equipment sales person from the Hancock Park area eyed the 1199 warily. What do you think of this motorcycle?” I asked.
“It scares me a little,” she replied.
It should. It should scare everyone a little. That’s the fun of it.
Copyright © Rick Ruiz/2011 Singular Communications, LLC.