When OEMs wanted to take advantage of production racing rules (don’t say “beat Ducati”), there was a short-lived V-twin takeover that turned up the bass in the superbike racing soundtrack. The moment represents a sort of U-turn in development for the manufacturers. At least for those not based in Borgo Panigale.
It’s an interesting blip that gave sportbike fans alternatives to screaming fours. If Ducati’s superbike success was to be attributed to a rule book that favored larger-capacity twins, other manufacturers weren’t about to let them exploit it uncontested. Ducati’s rampant on-track success forced the other manufacturers’ hand. If you can’t beat ’em, join ’em.
Biased rule book or not, the impetus for other manufacturers to build V-twins was clear: beat Ducati in World Superbike (oops, I said it). In other words, it was a grudge match that made the likes of four-cylinder stalwarts Suzuki and Honda do something very un-Suzuki-y and very un-Honda-y: concede. They built motorcycles that they didn’t necessarily think were the best solution to going the fastest around a track.
Think of it as Rolex building a watch with a quartz movement in response to a culture of Swatch wearers. Or Guinness brewing an IPA for bearded hipsters with man buns. “Fine, you want a beer that tastes like mildewed pine cones and feral cat piss, then here!” Both Rolex and Guinness, by the way, made these very concessions.