Superleggera not for Supersized
Fetishy brands for fetishy people
Lululemon, the Vancouver-based manufacturer of yoga-themed lifestyle apparel, caused a kerfuffle in 2013 when company founder and CEO Dennis (Chip) Wilson, in an interview with Bloomberg News, said “some women’s bodies don’t work well for the pants.” He was responding to criticism by full-figured customers that Lululemon’s yoga pants, stretched to the extreme, became sheer to the brink of transparent. Wilson, whose company had become more cult than clothier, was shown the door by shareholders for his comments. But if body-shaming cost Lululemon its leader, who’s going to pay the price at Ducati?
Ducati’s most-recent paean to obsessive-compulsiveness is the Superleggera V4, code name Project 1708. Liberally dipped in carbon fibre and titanium, the Panigale V4-derived edition of 500 was to be assembled at the soon-to-be-recalibrated pre-pandemic rate of five per day. Claiming 224 horsepower and a dry weight of 159 kg (350 pounds), the Superleggera weighs about as much as a 40 horsepower Yamaha R3. At an anticipated $100,000 (US), the Superleggera costs the equivalent of 20 R3s.
Ducati CEO Claudio Domenicali, under the banner “Dreams Matter,” addresses the faithful on a website dedicated solely to the Superleggera. “The new Superleggera V4 is, first and foremost, a true statement. It is where we draw the line between trying and doing. It is our foremost pioneristic creature.”
Funky aero wings protrude far enough that the Superleggera won't make your ass look fat regardless of your tail section girth. But good luck convincing the boys from Bologna to let you into the party.
Farther down the website’s main page, purchase perks are noted. Deposit 20 percent of the bike’s cost by June 30th and you’re eligible to spend a day at the Mugello circuit riding a trio of machines. To begin, you’ll limber up on the base Panigale, then move to the Supperleggera, and, at the end of the day, spin a few laps on an actual world superbike.
More frightening still is the opportunity—for a cool €4,000—to ride four laps on Ducati’s MotoGP machine. In addition to passing muster with your banker, “Ducati will confirm each customer’s actual participation after having contacted them directly and verified that…conditions have been met.”
Such as, Ducati? “The participant must be in optimal psychological and physical conditions, especially with regard to the following organs and systems that are stressed when riding motorcycles in extreme conditions: musculoskeletal, osteoarticular and locomotor, neurological, visual, auditory and cardiovascular.”
Additionally, the rider must be no younger than 25 and no older than 65, weigh no more than 100 kg (220 pounds), and stand no taller than 200 cm (six-feet seven-inches). Furthermore, the applicant’s “body mass index (BMI) must be between 15.51 and 30.” And, to check your applicability at home, the formula to determine BMI is expressed as “(P[kg])/(h^2 [m]) (P = weight expressed in kg / h = height expressed in metres).” And don’t think you can fudge the numbers if you’re overly fond of fudge, because a physician’s signature on the application form is mandatory. But you’re still not out of the woods. On the day of the event, Ducati will have its own medical team at the track (“at the sole discretion of the organizer” is the caveat) as a final hurdle before your four-lap stint.
I was horrified to learn, from an online BMI calculator, that my 185 pounds on a six-foot frame with a 32-inch waistline calculate a BMI of 25.1. I’m fat. Officially. Though still within Ducati’s physical requirements. Monetarily, however, it’s a non-starter.
But is BMI the most accurate metric to determine a rider’s eligibility to ride a machine they have no right to straddle in the first place? As a wide-eyed club racer, I’ve had my ass kicked by men who were old, fat, and on inferior equipment. And I’ve forwarded the humiliation on to younger, slimmer, fitter riders on bikes with twice the horsepower of my old Ducati when I’ve blown past them. You needn’t spend much time at a racetrack to learn that you never, ever, dismiss a rider based solely by the shape of his—or her—body.
Whether a fat Superleggera customer will risk the humiliation of fighting Ducati’s edict is to be seen. Lululemon customers irked by transparent tights, in addition to knocking the CEO off his perch, precipitated a massive recall of faulty product and the plummeting of the company’s value on the stock market.
Superbikes and tights don’t seem to have much in common. But they do. According to the New York Times, Lululemon customers who returned the tights were, to prove the veracity of their claims, “asked by [store] employees to put on the pants and bend over”—a scenario repeated at Ducati dealerships worldwide as men bend over to put their signature on the line for a motorcycle that costs $100,000.
Press kit for Superleggera contains stirring image of titanium bolts reflecting piercing blue Italian sky. Even the radiator cap is a thing of beauty. Both are the equivalent of chrome for people who don't like chrome.