By Steve Bauer
MILAN, Italy – Ducati Motor Holding hinted at a new focus for the company’s sales objectives during its 2008 motorcycle product launch at EICMA.
Ducati Motor CEO Gabriele Del Torchio said the new bikes mark a new direction in sales targets that Ducati is taking, with an emphasis on product over apparel.
“The continuous growth that Ducati is experiencing is confirmed by positive economic and financial results for the third successive quarter, which we have presented to our investors,” Del Torchio said. “The new products that we have brought to EICMA represent the result of the research and the technological development that Ducati is offering with this new range. They also confirm that Ducati is a company which is based on product and will make up our sales target for the next few years. Our future plans are clear and precise: Ducati will continue to be the leader in the premium bike sector.”
Del Torchio also remarked that although the company has a renewed focus on product development, it’s excited about its apparel line, particularly its partnership with shoe manufacturer Puma.
“We’ve had an unbelievable response to our first Ducati-Puma product, the Panigale, which has been on back order for some time,” he said. “We will continue to produce new product with Puma, including riding boots and other apparel that will be unveiled in 2008. Although we’ve placed our long-term sales focus on our motorcycle development, we will continue to produce quality apparel and accessories for our customers.”
Unleashing the monster
Ducati unveiled three bikes at EICMA, most notably its Monster 696, which features a Ducati L-Twin engine and a front brake system with two 320mm discs and four-piston radial calipers. The chassis of the new Monster is made up of a new Hybrid Trellis frame with larger diameter tubes, which are attached to a rear aluminum sub-frame.
The engine of the 696 is an evolution of the previous 695 version. Measuring 696cc, it boasts a series of updates and refinements. Power output gets a 9 percent boost to 80 hp and an 11 percent increase in torque to 50.6 foot-pounds. The company says the new engine continues to have the best horsepower of all Ducati’s air-cooled units.
“We are extremely excited about the Monster 696, and the bike is a testament to the renewed focus Ducati has placed on its product development,” Del Torchio said. “This motorcycle is the beginning of what we believe will be a dynamic time of new product development for our company.”
In addition to the Monster 696, Ducati unveiled two additions to its Superbike lineup: an extreme racing version, the 1098 R, and a mid-engine size version, the 848.
Ducati says the 1098 R is the most powerful and lightest twin-cylinder bike ever produced by the company, with the highest torque/weight ratio of any sport bike on the market.
Other features include a 180hp engine, a torque value of 100 foot-pounds and the Ducati Traction Control (DTC) system, which is fitted to a production bike for the first time ever. The 1098 R is supplied with a racing kit for track use. This is made up of a pair of “102dB” carbon mufflers and dedicated ECU, which further boosts the performance of the bike. With this kit the rider also can activate dialog between the ECU and the DTC system. The racing kit will boost power output to 186 bhp. The 1098 R will be available in a Red Monoposto configuration, with an MSRP of $39,995.
The 848 enjoys all the performance advancements of the entire Superbike family, while adding its own innovations to redefine the middleweight sport bike class. At 369 pounds, the 848 is 44 pounds lighter than its predecessor and 11 pounds lighter than its larger capacity brother, the 1098. The 848 will be available in both Red and Pearl White, with an MSRP of $12,995.
“These bikes further strengthen our Superbike lineup, and we’re excited to unveil the 1098 R at the 2008 World Superbike Championship,” Del Torchio said. “The innovations on these bikes are the first of their kind in the industry, and once again it goes to show the dedication Ducati has to creating state-of-the-art product development.”