After 45 years building its brand around the distinctive look and sound of the 90 degree V-twin, Ducati today showed its spectacular new V4 Stradale engine – a 210 hp, 14,000 rpm, 1,103 cm3, 90-degree V4 with 70° offset crank pins to facilitate a "twin pulse" firing sequence for predictable, arm-stretching, corner-exiting traction and a brand new signature Ducati sound.
In the world of motorcycle Grand Prix racing, the desmodromic Ducati is the undisputed horsepower king with its V4 Desmosedicis clearly faster than anything else on the grid in a straight line.
Ducati's beloved L-twin road bike engines have always been the heart of the brand though, and the new V4 engine will offer a different Ducati experience and sound, at the same time as capitalizing on the success of the Desmosedici's MotoGP performances under Andrea Dovizioso and Jorge Lorenzo.
Given the racing advantages of the V4 engine configuration, being primary balance (less vibration, low weight) and the most compact format for a four-cylinder engine (the maximum number of cylinders permitted in MotoGP, it's hence not surprising that Ducati should declare it now believes the 90-degree V4 layout offers "the pinnacle of motorcycle engine sports performance".
At the same time the new engine was being shown in Misano, the news broke that India's Eicher Motors, owner of Royal Enfield, is getting set to buy the famous Italian marque.
The motorcycle world has been waiting to see the inevitable V4 Ducati road bike engine for more than a year, and the launch of the new engine at the Gran Premio di San Marino today was widely publicized to happen at midday.
Remarkably, the Economic Times daily reported just a few hours prior to the engine unveiling that Eicher was set to make a bid of $1.8 to $2.0 billion for the technologically-revered motorcycle company. It is ironic indeed that Eicher might use the gravity-defying growth of one of the least technologically advanced transport companies in the world (Royal Enfield), to purchase one of the most successful motorcycle companies of the modern era.
Just two weeks ago New Atlas wrote the story of the success of Royal Enfield, which is now the top-selling large capacity motorcycle in the world, outselling Harley-Davidson, KTM, BMW, Triumph and Ducati combined.
Back to the engine
The engine will be used in both 1,100cc and 1,000cc configurations, though no more details than that have been released.
Although slightly larger at 1,103 cm3, the Stradale's engine configuration is closer to the ultra-powerful Desmosedici MotoGP motor than we could have imagined.
The 210 hp 90° V4 revs to 14,000 rpm, is rotated rearward by 42°, the crankshaft is the counter-rotating type, and as it shares the same 81 mm cylinder bore as the Grand Prix prototype, it has a near identical top end. The pic below shows the two engines together.
As expected, the throttle bodies have variable-height intake horns designed to optimise inlet efficiency across the rev range.
The crank pins have a 70° offset to facilitate a "Twin Pulse" firing sequence that delivers predictable out-of-the-corner traction and a new signature Ducati sound.