The tale that Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s business card at one point read “I’m CEO, Bitch” is in fact true. Perhaps tired of dealing with investors and businessmen that didn’t take him seriously, or perhaps the young entrepreneur faced a tough time telling industry specialists twice or three times his age how the world was about to change, ol’Zuck was surely responding to the titles others had placed on him. Enervated at hearing phrases like “that kid” or “the Harvard dropout”, Zuckerberg’s “I’m CEO, Bitch” business card was not only about the young CEO having an equal seat at the table, but also about his personal brand, and reminded whomever held the card that were talking to the creator of one of most popular websites ever on the internet.
If we can stretch that metaphor a bit further, the new Ducati Superbike has its own identity crisis in the eyes of the public. Like the Ducati Vyper and Ducati Cayenne that came before it, we were first introduced to Ducati’s new flagship with its internal name: Xtreme. Whether out of the desire to drive webpage hits by creating controversy, or just actually being that gullible/naive about the story, mainstream outlets began using the nomenclature as if the Bologna brand had adopted product names that tugged on a common heart strings from the Twilight faithful.
Cleverly deciphering Ducati’s secret model numbering scheme, more educated publications latched onto the more likely Superbike 1199 verbiage. There was over course precedent for this +1 trend, after watching the Superbike 998 become the 999. Knowing that Ducati would be releasing a ridiculously over-square v-twin motor with the new Superbike, we also learned early on that the new power plant would be known as the Superquadrata, which sounds far more clever in Italian than its translated English. With all these different names being banded about for the same machine, we wanted to definitely put the business card wars to bed, and say conclusively that the new flagship from Bologna will be called the Ducati Superbike 1199 Superquadrata.
So what about all this Xtreme nonsense, you might ask? For that answer, you need to go back a bit in time when Ducati was preparing to unveil two very important motorcycles: the Multistrada 1200 and the Diavel. You may recall that the name Ducati Cayenne was offered as one name for Ducati’s adventure-tourer. With Porsche enthusiasts ready to file the trademark infringement papers on that issue, the Cayenne name came about from how Ducati viewed the MTS1200, and what it meant for the brand as a whole.
In many ways a few years ago, Ducati was going through the same growing transition that Porsche went through a decade earlier. As a brand the centered around racing and sport cars, Porsche found itself getting painted into a corner as it tried to grow beyond its basic sales levels, become more sustainably profitable, and continue to prosper under the growing trend of more stringent environmental regulation. Needing to be more than a brand that centered around the 911 platform, Porsche ventured off into the lucrative SUV market with its sporty take on that market trend: the Cayenne. The sportiest SUV on dealer floors at the time, the Cayenne was a huge hit for Porsche, and was not only the leading vehicle in the company by unit sales, but also by revenue. Though the pushback was huge from Porsche enthusiasts before the Cayenne’s launch, Porsche had carefully navigated its way out of being a pure-play sports car brand, and into a multi-faceted company known for its performance, engineering, and luxury.
If any of this story sounds just vaguely familiar, Ducati, like Porsche, had the problem of being a sport bike-only brand, and needed to adopt to the changes to adapt in the economy, market, and industry if it wanted not only to stay relevant, but more importantly in business. Luckily for Bologna, the Italian company had the game plan laid at its feet by zie Germans. The company needed a Cayenne though — they needed a model that was a departure from the Superbikes, Monsters, and Sport Classics. The answer was the Multistrada 1200, a motorcycle that borrows its name and basic theme from Pierre Terblanche’s hotly contested work. The Multistrada, despite the public’s perception, wasn’t a sales flop. Its demise instead stemmed from the company focusing on being a “superbike brand” — precisely the path Ducati is currently backtracking from at this point in time.
With the Adventure bike market now peaking and becoming a lucrative industry segment with well-funded riders, Ducati saw in ADV bikes what Porsche saw in the SUV market. Even if a single Multistrada 1200 never went off road (as has been said of the Cayenne), the allure that one could go anywhere with the Multistrada 1200 would drive sales, and 150+ bhp wouldn’t hurt either. Knowing that the MTS1200 had to be Ducati’s Cayenne, the name was used often in Bologna when talking about the bike, both as a metaphor and a direct reference. In the end, Ducati released a sporty and very Ducati-esque play on the adventure theme. Two years after its unveiling, the Multistrada 1200 is still driving sales for Ducati, outpacing the company’s flagship model the Superbike 1098/1198. As for the the Vyper name for the Diavel…I dunno, they were probably high (full analysis here), just as were publications that printed the internal “Xtreme” name as a likely badge for the new 2012 Ducati Superbike 1199 Superquadrata.
Though we expect that “Superquadrata” name to be dropped in the common vernacular, Ducati’s latest naming convention harkens back as recently as the 2001 Ducati Superbike 996R Testastretta, which debuted before the 998 successor that used the “narrow head” motor across its whole line. While much of buzz around the new 1199 has been about its lack of a trellis frame, in favor of a stressed aluminum headstock/airbox chassis structure, what will likely sell hardcore Ducatisti on the new Superbike will be the near 200hp Superquadrata motor.
Expected to be the highest revving Desmo-twin ever from Ducati, the Superquadrata will have peaky horsepower, just like the Japanese inline-fours it will compete against in SBK classes around the globe. It will be interesting to see how rideable on the street the Superquadrata engine will be, though we suspect that for 90% of owners, what’s going to matter most is the claimed peak horsepower figure. Expecting to please in this department, it’s no small wonder that Ducati has seen it fit to include the motor’s name in the model’s official title. If the past of the Tetastretta tells us anything, the Superquadrata could be around, in one form or another, for a time span measure not in years but in decades, and as for how personal brands goes, a motor’s brand is one of the most important, Bitch.
Source: Bothan Spies