DUCATI'S new superbike – which is set to appear virtually undisguised in Italian magazine Motociclismo in early July – has now been talked about so much that we don't have many questions left. But one still remains; what will it be called?
When rumours of the project first surfaced, the name “Superquadrata” (super square) was bandied about. That was quickly dismissed by factory insiders – if it was ever used, it was only in relation to the new engine, rather like “Desmoquattro” or “Testastretta” and never a name for the actual bike.
Instead the name “Extreme” or “XTreme” has emerged. We can tell you for sure that this term is used within the factory, having spoken to insiders who used the term whenever referring to the new model. And Motociclismo, which from its new, close-up pictures, has clearly had better access to the bike than any other magazine in the world, is claiming that it will be called XTreme when it goes into production.
Of course, the other name that can't be forgotten is 1199. A follow-on from its predecessors and carrying on a Ducati tradition that goes back to the first Desmoquattro bike, the 851, the use of numbers alone would certainly work well in terms of keeping a bloodline flowing even though the bike's design differs from its forebears in virtually every way. However, some have suggested that the use of 1199 has opposition within the factory because, although an accurate representation of the bike's capacity, it's a reminder of the unloved 999.
In fact, there is a third option open to the firm. At the moment, the company's superbike range (the 1098 and 848) are the only bikes to go without names. Ducati's other models – Diavel, Hypermotard, Monster, Multistrada and Streetfighter – all carry full names, followed by numbers where necessary to identify different capacities. So the bike could eventually carry both a name and a number, as the “Xtreme 1199” or “Xtreme 1200” - opening the door for a smaller version, replacing the 848, which is sure to follow a year later.
Much the same question arose last year, when the Diavel was under development, with rumours suggesting names like Vyper were under consideration until a trademark application around the word “Diavel” revealed the truth. Nobody working on the project had mentioned that name before that point, so we could be in for a surprise again this year when the official name of the new Ducati is revealed at the Milan show in November. At the rate pictures and info are leaking, it might well be the only surprise about the bike that's left by then.