Motorcycles

Ducati's new 215-hp, carbon crotch rocket is lighter than its World Superbike racer

Ducati's new 215-hp, carbon cr...
Ducati 1299 Superleggera: too light and too great an engine capacity to race in World Superbike. 
Ducati 1299 Superleggera: too light and too great an engine capacity to race in World Superbike. 
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Ducati 1299 Superleggera: 156 kg and 215 horsepower is a very potent combination of numbers
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Ducati 1299 Superleggera: 156 kg and 215 horsepower is a very potent combination of numbers
Ducati 1299 Superleggera: too light and too great an engine capacity to race in World Superbike. 
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Ducati 1299 Superleggera: too light and too great an engine capacity to race in World Superbike. 
Ducati 1299 Superleggera: this piece of performance art is yours for just US$80k
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Ducati 1299 Superleggera: this piece of performance art is yours for just US$80k
Ducati 1299 Superleggera: weight has been shaved in every possible area, from the lightweight lithium battery to the engine internals
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Ducati 1299 Superleggera: weight has been shaved in every possible area, from the lightweight lithium battery to the engine internals
Ducati 1299 Superleggera: the entire monocoque frame, plus swingarm, subframe and even the wheel rims are made from carbon fiber
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Ducati 1299 Superleggera: the entire monocoque frame, plus swingarm, subframe and even the wheel rims are made from carbon fiber

Ducati has released its most powerful motorcycle ever, in a package that's so light it would need to add ballast to race in World Superbike. The extraordinary 1299 Superleggera packs 215 horses, weighs just 344 lb (156 kg) and leaps to the top of our Christmas wishlist at just US$80,000.

It's funny – there are really very few analogs for the Lamborghinis, McLarens and Ferraris of the world in the motorcycle scene. The top-of-the-line 180-mph performance superbikes are all pretty much within just about any clown's budget. You've got to go way overboard to produce something people can't afford.

Of course, people do. Ducati has never been shy when it comes to releasing this kind of ridiculous exotica, hero bikes to fan the desires of drooling Ducatisti. You'll recall the US$70,000 Desmosedici RR, which at the time of its release was the honest-to-god closest thing you could buy to a factory MotoGP bike.

Well, the company is at it again. For the opening of EICMA 2016, Ducati has just pulled the covers off the 1299 Superleggera, and it's absolutely bonkers.

Ducati 1299 Superleggera: 156 kg and 215 horsepower is a very potent combination of numbers
Ducati 1299 Superleggera: 156 kg and 215 horsepower is a very potent combination of numbers

At 215 hp and 108 lb-ft of torque, this is the most powerful streetbike Ducati has ever made. Built almost entirely from unobtanium, it weighs a preposterous 343.9 lb (156 kg) dry, and 368.2 lb (167 kg) wet, meaning that it's several kilos too light (as well as 100cc over capacity) to legally take the grid in a World Superbike race. Let that sink in for a minute.

Thanks to liberal sprinklings of titanium, tungsten and aluminium, the core of the twin-cylinder engine (crankshaft, conrods, pistons, cylinder liners and flywheel) is a whopping 5.3 lb (2.4 kg) lighter than the standard, wildly quick 1299 Panigale it's derived from, allowing everything to spin up much faster and offering even less gyroscopic resistance to your steering inputs.

Weight is saved everywhere, from the tiny lithium battery to the titanium springs in the shock absorber – but the big ticket item is the use of carbon fiber. The entire monocoque frame, the single-sided swingarm, the subframe and the rims are all carbon, using aerospace-level inspection techniques to verify the quality and integrity of each piece.

Ducati 1299 Superleggera: the entire monocoque frame, plus swingarm, subframe and even the wheel rims are made from carbon fiber
Ducati 1299 Superleggera: the entire monocoque frame, plus swingarm, subframe and even the wheel rims are made from carbon fiber

Suspension is Ohlins, brakes are handled by Brembo, with everything being top shelf. If you can't live with the full titanium Akrapovic exhaust system, which is road homologated, you can switch it for a track kit that drops an extra 5 kg (11 lb) from the bike's already ludicrous weight figure, and boosts the total power output to 220 hp. I can't think of a single reason why you wouldn't.

The 1299 Superleggera also takes several strides forward in electrickery, packing a six-axis Bosch IMU (inertial control unit) and making full use of it. Lean-angle sensitive traction control (DTC EVO) and a new Slide Control system make this bike one of the safest machines ever to get sideways on.

Wheelie control is now paired with launch control, the first such system to be fitted to a Panigale, and there's lean angle-sensitive Cornering ABS, engine brake control to complement the slipper clutch, and a full onboard data acquisition and analysis system that's got a built-in GPS so you don't even need a transponder to track your lap times.

For such an extreme beast, it's impressive to see Ducati's thrown a full two year warranty at it, as well as giving it 7,500 mi (12,000 km) service intervals.

If a US$80,000 pricetag seems a bit high, maybe just tell your buddies you didn't get on the list in time, and all 500 of this short-run monster have sold out. Because they will, quick smart. Ducati has made something very special here, a machine as sharply performance focused as it is exotic and exclusive. We hope those 500 bikes go to people who can really use them, unlike what typically happens with high end sports cars.

Slather yourself in pure motorcycle pornography with the launch video below.

Source: Ducati

7 comments
possum1
WOW! To be able to ride just half as well as the test pilot........
CesarCantua
Unobtanium? Is that a joke?
DavidRogerBrown
Cesar, Of course it's a joke,it's Loz writing. If one crashes,the parts will be "unobtainium" for this vehicle.
KeithPhillips
WOW what a machine. I would have to win Lotto before I could even consider one, he says more in sorrow than anger!!
mhpr262
Unless one is a trained motorcycle racer on an national level at least, there is no way one can drive this beast anywhere near its limits, short of opening the throttle on some boring looong straight. 99% of people can't even ride modern 600 Supersports to their limits.
PeterRnz
Am looking forward to reading Loz's road test report....
LarryWolf
Can't compete with the LS218.