Yesterday was a pretty intense and important day. Sure, yesterday was Election Day, but that isn’t what I’m referring to. Instead, I am speaking of the unveiling of the highly exclusive and unique Ducati 1299 Superleggera at EICMA in Milan. One of several very significant unveilings yesterday during the show, the new Superleggera is among the greatest.
The 1299 Panigale already stands among the top contenders within its highly competitive segment. The new Superleggera is based somewhat upon this already lauded model. I say somewhat as the Superleggera is a major departure from the standard production vehicle. Just as BMW created the HP4 as an exercise in explicit exclusivity and as an example of advanced material usage based upon the S 1000 RR, Ducati has chosen a rather similar path. However, in true Ducati fashion, the firm has gone far further by creating a significantly more advanced machine with much greater exclusivity than the BMW. In fact, it is, in terms of substance, far more similar to the newly unveiled HP4 Race, though that bike is restricted merely to the track and lacks even headlamps.
This new Superleggera makes use of a uniquely designed, full carbon fiber frame. That’s not it, though. The swingarm, the wheels and even the fairing are made entirely of carbon fiber. Ducati handled the development of these parts internally, and even subjected them to rigorous testing akin to what MotoGP bikes are subjected to.
If I stopped here, I’d be happy and the bike would likely be worth every penny that the Italian firm commands for this masterpiece. The depth and substance of this product goes far further, however.This high spec chassis is mated to a custom Öhlins suspension and only the best name in brakes is implored to bring this powerful (we’ll get to that) machine to an abrupt halt, with 3 durable and uncompromising Brembo stoppers. The front Öhlins upside-down fork is, by the way, 3 pounds lighter than that which was used upon the Panigale R.
Speaking of weight savings, the new engine which serves as the heart of the Superleggera is 4.6 pounds lighter than the 1299 Panigale’s motor. No detail has been overlooked in the pursuit of weight reduction. Even a new battery has been utilized, which leads to a 3.7 pound saving. If you opt for the upgraded Akrapovi? track exhaust, you get a 5 horsepower boost and knock nearly 9 pounds off the bike’s overall weight, or 4.4 pounds for U.S. spec models. As for the standard exhaust, it’s a full-titanium Akrapovi? exhaust, similar to what Ducati’s World Superbike Championship Panigales adorn.
The lighter engine produces a staggering output of 215 horsepower, paired with such a light vehicle, performance will likely be mind boggling. This motor, the most powerful Superquadro Ducati has ever built, makes 10 horsepower more than the 1299 Panigale. To get that power to the ground, a new slipper clutch with an aluminum basket, using a self-servo system provides increased feel and control. As a slipper, it neutralizes tire hop from premature or abrupt downshifts, keeping the rider safer and improving performance.
A bike this sophisticated also makes use of a vast number of systems to keep the rider in control. These include; a 6D Inertial Measurement Unit by Bosch, Ducati Traction Control EVO, Ducati Slide Control, Ducati Wheelie Control EVO, Engine Brake Control, Bosch Cornering ABS, Ducati Power Launch and Ducati Quick Shift for both up and downshifting without using the clutch. Yeah, it’s a software developers dream bike.
There is a race kit available, incase the bike isn’t hardcore enough for you already. It includes that racing exhaust I talked about earlier but comes with several other goodies like a bike cover, front and rear paddock stands, a plate holder removal kit, a racing screen, a kickstand removal kit and even mirror replacement plugs.
Now, of course, a premium bike of this level will be exclusive. But exclusivity is relative. Ducati sold more than 50,000 bikes last year, whereas BMW is nearing 200,000 biker per year. Maserati sold slightly more than 30,000 cars last year. Is that exclusive? Ferrari sold more than 7,000 cars last year. How about that? Sounds like something for the plebs compared to the Superleggera. The Superleggera is limited to a mere 500 units, and each will adorn a plate to denote which of the 500 units it is. Clearly, a price reflective of this should be anticipated, though it hasn’t been announced as of yet.
In totality, the bike is very exciting and is the quintessential poster bike. You know, the kind of machine you’d have on your bedroom wall as a youngster, not unlike a Lamborghini or other exotica. Representative of mankind’s ambition, pushing the limits and seeking ever greater performance.
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