Have you ever looked at a MotoGP bike and thought to yourself, “Yeah, I could totally ride that!” Well, then, Ducati has the bike for you: the superlative-laced 1299 Superleggera.
It’s hard to know where to begin with a bike like the Superleggera, but we’ll start with two words: carbon fiber. The Superleggera, which means “super lightweight” in Italian, is the first factory bike to be built with a carbon fiber frame, subframe, swingarm, wheels and bodywork. What does this mean? Weight savings. The Superleggera’s carbon fiber monocoque frame weighs 3.7 pounds less than the one on the 1299 Panigale. The single-sided swingarm weighs 2 pounds less. The wheels lighten the bike by 3.1 pounds and create 26 percent less rolling resistance at the front and 44 percent less at the rear. Those might not sound like big numbers, but when you consider the Superleggera’s (claimed) weight is only 368 pounds, full of fluids and ready to ride, the percentage lost is significant.
Underneath the carbon fiber beats the heart of a giant—the most powerful factory twin-cylinder engine ever built. The 4-valve, liquid-cooled, Desmodromic L-twin Superquadro cranks out a claimed 215 horsepower at 11,000 rpm and 108 lb-ft of torque at 9,000 rpm. To achieve such numbers, Ducati had to make some significant changes to the existing engine, such as a lightened crankshaft with a larger crank pin and tungsten balancing pads, titanium connecting rods, new 116mm-diameter pistons with machined crowns, aluminum cylinder liners, a lighter flywheel and larger valve diameters. Amazingly, this engine is also fully Euro 4-compliant.
What good is power without control? The Superleggera includes an electronics package that is the closest yet to that of a MotoGP bike. It uses a Bosch 6-axis Inertial Measurement Unit (6D IMU) that provides the Ducati Traction Control EVO (DTC EVO), Ducati Slide Control (DSC), Ducati Wheelie Control EVO (DWC EVO), Ducati Power Launch (DPL), Cornering ABS, Engine Brake Control (EBC) and Ducati Data Analyzer+ GPS (DDA+ GPS) to tame this monster and allow you to adjust electronic intervention to suit your abilities.
The Superleggera’s suspension is, as you would expect, of World Superbike-caliber. The fully adjustable 43mm Öhlins FL936 upside-down fork weighs 3 pounds less than the Öhlins fork used on the Panigale R, and at the rear a fully adjustable Öhlins TTX36 shock with a titanium spring shaves off another 1.1 pounds. Stopping power is provided by two 330mm semi-floating Brembo discs up front, gripped by radially-mounted Brembo M50 Monobloc 4-piston calipers, and one 245mm disc and 2-piston caliper at the rear.
Production of the 1299 Superleggera will be limited to 500 units worldwide, for $80,000 a pop. We’ll take two….