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Ducati gets cool with Diavel, lifestyle apparel

February 11, 2012 12:00:00 AM PST
The name Ducati is usually associated with sporty motorcycles on the road or the race track, but for its latest offering, the Italian company has gone in a different direction and created a cruiser called the Diavel.

"Ducati realized that a lot of their audience really needed to have something comfortable and rideable, but that wasn't going to sacrifice any performance," said Arthur Coldwells, publisher of Ultimate Motorcycling.

It has the stance of a Harley - on steroids that is. The rear tire is as wide as those on many cars. The design is very rakish, yet the riding position is comfortable.

And technology has been included too. A switch lets the rider scroll through different modes for the engine's power output and traction-control system. It's a muscle bike - with a brain.

Coldwells has seen Ducati's fortunes rise over the years, thanks in large part to the brand becoming known as something cool.

"Without a doubt, Ducati are the Ferrari of Italian motorcycles. They have that Italian exotica thing going for them," Coldwells.

Ducati has aligned their brand with other high-end brands, from Mercedes AMG cars to Tumi luggage, lifestyle at its finest.

Motorcycle enthusiasts have known the name Ducati for years, especially when it comes to racing. But more and more lately, non-motorcyclists are aware of the brand, too.

They might even be intrigued by Ducati's line of fashions, now worn by stylish trendsetters.

"Ducati are one of the few manufacturers who have their own line of apparel. And it's lifestyle apparel, not just the technical safety apparel you wear on the motorcycle," Coldwells said.

They're not low-priced machines by any measure, but they're perceived as cool by everyday Joes, as well as big celebrities. And 2011 was Ducati's best sales year ever.

"The truth of it is, they're a fairly small factory. But they have such a big presence that everybody assumes that they're huge," Coldwells said.

But they're just big enough in brand awareness to get noticed on the road, or even on the runway.