Frankfurt motor show - For many, the prettiest rose among the thorns at this year's show is this, the new 899 Panigale, introduced by Ducati boss Claudio Domenicali at the Volkswagen Group Night preview.
He described the 899 as a 'Supermid' version of the range-topping 1199 Panigale, intended as a more accessible entry point to the exclusive world of Ducati superbikes, combining the superlative handling of Ducati's sports flagship with the rideability of an everyday streetbike.
Which is why, rather than just shortening the stroke of the existing L-twin to reduce its capacity, which would have made the 899 uncomfortably peaky in heavy traffic, Ducati has developed an all-new Superquadro engine with a revised bore and stroke for a broader spread of power.
The 899 is in fact rated for 109kW at 10 500rpm and 99Nm at 9750rpm, on a dry weight of only 169kg, which promises both sparkling performance and exciting agility.
Its body panels have purposely been made very similar to those of the 1199 to emphasise its world championship-winning DNA, and it shares its integrated quick-shifter, ride-by-wire throttle, antilock braking, electronic traction control and engine braking control with its senior sibling.
The Ducati 899 Panigale will be released in South Africa during the first quarter of 2014 at an indicative price of about R190 000.