The Ducati apparel fashion show didn't hurt, but it was the motorcycles on the convention floor turned more heads than the models on the runway at this weekend's Progressive International Motorcycle Show in Long Beach.
Stefano Sbettega, marketing and communications director for Ducati North America, stood among the gleaming red, black and white machines -- near the espresso bar, in front of the red, black and white cupcakes, just to the side of the Ducati champagne -- and said that although the company is happy with the American response to its motorcycles, the year to come may well be Ducati's best.
On display were the new Hypermotard, Hypermotard SP and Hyperstrada, and the new flagship racer the 1199 Panigale and Panigale S, several versions of the Multistrada, and a new variation on the Diavel -- the devilish, Bat-bike looking Diavel Dark.
There were Monsters too, which make up about 30% of the company's worldwide sales.
The Hyperstrada seemed to be getting more than its share of the attention. That's because, Sbettega said, of its versatility.
It's a road bike, an off-road bike and, with the side bags, almost a touring bike. It has a 110-horsepower, 821cc Testastretta engine in a newly designed frame, keeping its Supermotard design but cranking up the accessories to appeal to the touring rider -- like a Multistrada on Hypermotard steroids. It features higher-than- usual ground clearance, multilevel anti-lock brakes and traction control, a choice of riding modes to suit the terrain and conditions and, by the way, it looks awesome.
Sbettega himself seemed not sure how to explain the brand's appeal, especially its appeal to people who don't even ride. It's the Ducati red, he said, and the company's traditional attention to detail, and the many championships over many successful racing seasons. Ducati isn't the world's largest motorcycle company, he acknowledged, but it's among the best known.
"It's history, it's legacy and it's legend," he said.