Whatever you Call it, Ducati's New Superbike will likely be a Knockout

June 29, 2011

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Behold, MD-ers: the face of the new Ducati superbike, surreptitiously caught by our friends at Italy’s Motociclismo magazine. The rumored specs include 20 more horsepower from an all-new motor and an end to the iconic steel-tube trellis frame. But what will it be called?

I’ve always thought the IRS gives its tax forms better names than the Bolognese give their motorcycles—“916” or “1098” don’t convey the beauty, performance and exquisite design of those models. And they’re running out of numbers; will they have to get into decimals as they bump up against the 1200cc limit for World Superbike V-Twins? Motociclismo has claimed the bike will be called the Xtreme, (taaaacky!) but England’s Motorcycle News says its sources say otherwise-expect it to be called the 1199. Let’s hope they’re right.

England's Motorcycle News captured this image of Troy Bayliss on the new 1199 at Mugello.

But who cares about that—are we ready to ditch our beloved, beautiful, feedback-singing steel frames? It’s no secret Ducati has been working on an ultra-light carbon-fiber or aluminum monocoque chassis, eliminating 10 or 20 pounds and improving handling. Expect a lengthened swingarm for improved traction and a shorter wheelbase.

The motor will be a similar departure for the brand. To give a shorter wheelbase, the motor is expected to be a short-stroke screamer dubbed the “Superquadratta.” Website Ducati News Today says the mill will use gear-driven cams (buh-bye to new rubber bands every 15,000 miles!) and use massively oversquare dimensions of 112 by 60.6mm. Expect it to make 20 more hp and weigh 20 pounds less. So if the motor is 20 pounds less and the chassis is trimmed 10-20 pounds, expect the new bike to weigh in somewhere around 370 to 380 pounds gassed up and make around 175 hp at the wheel. For some perspective, the insanely flickable Kawasaki Ninja 250R weighs in at over 380…and ripples the pavement to the tune of 27 hp.

Designer Luca Bar’s favorite book: Italian translation of Moby Dick?

A prototype racebike has been spotted recently as well, and it’s no secret Troy Bayliss is assisting with developing the machine. Spy shots reveal a very stubby and tiny bike. What will the final street version look like? I hope not too much like the rendering moto-designer Luca Bar came up with—yuck!

Expect the full fog-machines-and-dancing-girls treatment in just a few months at the Milan EICMA show, and probably a few more “accidental” leaks from the factory, just to keep the 1199 fresh in our minds.

Ducati's patent filing for the new design. I'm guessing it will look just like this.

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