I don’t normally get nervous before testing a new bike, but this is something very different. This is Ducati’s allnew and frighteningly exotic R1.6m Superleggera. Let’s start with some jaw-dropping facts (while keeping in mind that this is a homologated road bike, not an out-and-out race machine). Dry weight is 159kg, a huge 16kg weight saving over the standard V4 Panigale, a class-leading bike in its own right. Peak power is 224bhp in standard road trim, or 234hp with the supplied race exhaust, which is only around 10bhp short of the factory’s World Superbike V4-R. The Superleggera is actually lighter than the race bike and its huge bi-plane wings create more downforce than even Ducati’s current GP20 MotoGP machine. Yet, it has headlights and mirrors, and you can ride to the shops on it. Despite its V4 Stradale motor revving to 16,500rpm, service intervals are at a perfectly normal 12000 km. Two Mugello lap times tell the true story. Michele Pirro, a Moto2 race winner who finished seventh in MotoGP at Mugello in 2019, set a best lap in the Italian Superbike race of 1.50.3 on his raceprepared V4. Meanwhile, Alessandro Valia, the highly “So don’t be fooled into thinking this is ‘just’ a Panigale with a race pipe and big wings. No, this is an entirely new bike from the ground up.” skilled Ducati test rider, on the same tyres as Pirro but aboard the Superleggera with race kit, managed 1.52.45. That’s just two seconds in it (on a long lap). And the Superleggera was running standard gearing and gearbox, road-compound brake pads and so on. Simply by optimising the gearing for the Tuscany track Valia would have shaved off another second a lap. So don’t be fooled into thinking this is ‘just’ a Panigale with a race pipe and big wings. No, this is an entirely new bike from the ground up. It is, for starters, the world’s only homologated bike with a carbon chassis (which saves 1.2kg over the standard bike). Carbon wheels account for another 3.4kg saving. The swing-arm has less rigidity and more flex, and is 11mm longer while making a saving of 0.9kg. The subframe is 1.2kg lighter; the bodywork, you guessed, is carbon too and 1.1kg lighter. The list goes on: Öhlins suspension is 0.6kg lighter courtesy of a titanium rear spring and machined aluminium fork bottoms. The rear sprocket nuts are titanium, the sprocket itself is aluminium, the chain is even lighter, making a total saving in this area of 1.4kg. The detailing and dedication take your breath away – even the suspension linkages and footpegs are machined to be lighter. Then we get to the 1000cc Stradale V4 taken from the ‘top-spec’ V4-R model, itself an extraordinarily compact and lightweight engine. Somehow, though, Ducati engineers shaved 2.8kg, while the road-legal Akrapovic exhaust is 2.5kg lighter than the standard V4 item, and the full race system, which takes power to 234hp, saves a whopping 6kg from standard. 44 RIDEFAST MAGAZINE JULY 2020 RIDEFAST MAGAZINE JULY 2020 45
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