Ducati always have had this insanity in them to time and again bring up machines that push the boundaries of two-wheeled glory, a boundary that will make every other manufacturer look like a speck of dust. For this alone, we must hand it to the Italian with all pomp and flair that they can literally pull off a true bloody special edition.
And this time we are talking about a 215 bhp of carbon fibre, the Ducati 1299 Superleggera. Which by the name itself means “simply light”. This is, ladies and gentlemen, the world’s first factory built superbike that is equipped with frame, swingarm, subframe, bodywork and the wheels built out of carbon fibre.
Ducati tells the world that ‘The 1299 Superleggera is the greatest expression of engineering, technology and performance ever put into mass production by a motorcycle manufacturer‘. It is a reminiscence of the legendary 1199 Superleggera.
Under all this is what I call a ‘Brobdingnagian’ twin Superquadro power house that can scare the daylights out of most seasoned riders. If that still does not fit your bill, the electronics package on this, one would need a Master’s degree and a PhD to understand the concepts of it, and by the time you do understand, you would stop caring about it because your brain is gizzing already.
Calling this ‘The quintessence of Ducati’ is no shortcoming. Dripping from every angle, curve or side is carbon fibre lust that, to ensure structure integrity, underwent three forms of non-destructive tests that have been until now seen only in aerospace construction. These include Active Transient Thermography, Ultrasonic Phased Array and Computed Axial Tomography. This should be enough to tell you how serious were the blokes at Ducati when they thought of churning out the ultimate.
When viewed at first, it still looks like the 1299 Panigale which only becomes obsolete when you get closer to the machine. The mean front fairing with sharp and angular dual headlamps continue to catch your attention, even after being a four-year-old face. The bodywork panel, being designed in the wind tunnel, can cut through anything like a Damascus sword.
Each and everything you can lay your eyes on here is handled internally by Ducati and the experience they have from Ducati Corse is made full use of in terms of exotic material selection and calculation methods. The fairings, wheels, mudguards, exhaust heat guard, bodywork, swingarm and the frame are all made of carbon fibre and resin, all in the pursuit of lightweight. The fuel tank is however made out of aluminium. In order to keep the weight to a minimum, even the screws and minor parts are made exclusively from titanium and aluminium.
Never before has any manufacturer bestowed their product with so much jazz in terms of materials used. All this to maintain breath-taking agility while maintaining maximum resilience. The monocoque frame has been a hallmark of Ducati Superbikes for several years and has now been expertly engineered in lightweight carbon fibre, as has the subframe which houses the electronics, tail and seat.
The track kit is exclusively made to suit the hype. Track Kit includes titanium racing exhaust, racing windshield, machined mirror block-off plates, license plate mount removal plug, side-stand removal kit, front and rear paddock stands, paddock bike cover.
There is nothing unlike the whopping Superquadro twin cylinder engine on the face of this planet or any planet for that matter. Like a hidden gem under the fairings, the Desmodromic EURO 4 engine is prancing with 215 bhp at 11,000 rpm, 10 more than the standard 1299 engine, and 147 Nm of peak torque at 9,000 rpm. This, my friends, makes 1299 the most powerful twin-cylinder ever produced, representing the best of Ducati technology. And is street legal. I think it is inhumane to unleash so much on the streets.
Similar to the 1199 Panigale R, the engineers have made use of lightened crankshaft having a larger crank pin and tungsten balancing pads. With increased bore and stroke, the 1285cc has a raised compression ratio of 13:1, thanks to the 116 mm diameter pistons, titanium con-rods and machined crowns. The crankcase is itself made by sand casting, a method reserved only for competition engines.
The cylinders are lined with aluminium as opposed to steel in the Panigale editions and run with a much lighter flywheel. The Desmodromic distribution now features new camshafts letting increased valve lifts that are itself larger in diameter and made from titanium. Even the exhaust valves are given an overhaul to have bigger diameter improving the fuel dynamics for efficient and powerful bursts.
A new forged aluminium clutch basket has been used to give the rider heightened ‘feel’ and stability to use a clutch with a new slipper and self-servo system. Through this, all the power made is transferred to the wheels via a 6 speed Ducati Quick Shift (DQS) gearbox with auto blip and lightweight and soundless chain. Specially made 2-1-2 system titanium Akrapovic exhaust spouts look quite menacing too.
As a testament to Ducati’s highest level of quality and built, the service intervals of each engine is 12,000 km for oil service and 24,000 km for Desmo service are maintained.
|Bore/ Stroke mm||116/60.8|
|Output||215 hp @ 11,000 rpm|
|Torque||146.5 Nm @ 9,000 rpm|
|Type||Superquadro: L-twin cylinder, 4 valves per cylinder, Desmodromic, liquid cooled|
|Valves per cylinder||4|
|Clutch type||Hydraulically controlled slipper/self-servo wet multi plate clutch|
|Transmission||6 speed with Ducati Quick Shift (DQS) up/down|
The characteristics of a frame designed with the utmost precision ensure that the race-inspired suspension offers superior balance in terms of stability and handling. At the same time, incredible braking performance on entering corners ensures meticulous precision, lap after lap. And at 156 kilos, it weighs just 10 more than my CBR250R; escapes my ability to think somehow.
You don’t buy a Ducati to expect comfortable riding with soft cushions and a boombox. And definitely, you would not buy the Superleggera for it. So talking about comfort is mundane here.
Top of the line suspension setup are provided by huge 43mm Öhlins USD FL936 fork and multi-adjustable Öhlins TTX36 shock absorber having titanium spring all for shaving as much weight even here. Coming to the braking job, it is taken over by twin 330 mm discs at the front and clutching them are Brembo M50 monobloc callipers, with new TT29OP1 brake pads, controlled by a Brembo MCS 19.21 adjustable-ratio radial pump. The rear has a single 245 mm disc. Bosch cornering ABS system has been revised and re-calibrated to take into account the new revolving mass represented by the ultra-light carbon fibre wheels.
To build the most extreme sportsbike ever in the history, just plain lightweight and a monstrous engine are no more enough. Electronics have been inculcated into every aspect of the riding styles and dynamics. The Superleggera gets all the electronic packages known to mankind and more new ones.
Providing MotoGP experience to the rider, the bike makes use of Bosch 6-axis Inertial Measurement Unit (6D IMU) and a bunch of others. The first one of them is the DTC EVO. It has an all new algorithm to ensure faster and precise intervention than the system present in the 1299 Panigale S Anniversario. Various levels of settings can control the amount of rear wheel spin during banking and crunching those apexes. It also controls the throttle body and injection advances to provide better handling of the power and the bike. This will now allow common riders like us to explore the levels of riding that was previously been possible only by expert riders.
A brand new invention developed jointly with Ducati Corse called the Ducati Slide Control (DSC) debuts in this motorcycle. It, together with the DTC EVO, improve performance when you exit a corner by preventing slide angles and is done by controlling the torque delivered by the engine. Doesn’t matter if you are a novice or a pro, you can now zip out of a corner with full confidence using the three levels of settings.
Latest version of the Ducati Wheelie Control EVO (DWC EVO) has been equipped from the 1299 Anniversario and has a better controller structure and algorithm. And with this, yet another brand new tech known as Ducati Power Launch (DPL) makes a scene here. This 3-level system ensures lightning-fast starts, letting the rider focus on releasing the clutch and keeps the engine revving at optimal level to give you a start that can make your eyeballs gouge inside the sockets and see what nonsense is playing in your brains.
The Engine Brake Control (EBC) helps riders optimise vehicle stability under extreme forces applied to the rear tyre under severe engine-braking conditions. Precise Ride-by-Wire throttle openings are administered to balance the tyre torques and are integrated into its three Riding Modes.
As a standard feature, this Ducati gets the Ducati Data Analyser+ GPS (DDA+ GPS) that allows technicians to assess the performance of both man and machine and can automatically record lap time.
|Suspension / Front||Fully adjustable 43mm USD Öhlins FL 936 fork with TiN treatment, billet fork bottoms and lightweight stress-optimized outer tubes, lightweight springs|
|Suspension / Rear||Fully adjustable single Öhlins TTX36 shock with titanium spring, adjustable linkage between progressive/flat. Carbon fiber single-sided swingarm|
|Brakes / Front||2 x 330 mm semi-floating discs, radially mounted Brembo Monobloc Evo M50 4-piston callipers with Cornering ABS, Brembo MCS 19-21 adjustable-ratio front brake master cylinder, remote lever adjuster|
|Brakes / Rear||245 mm disc, 2-piston calliper with Cornering ABS|
|Tyres / Front||10-spoke carbon fiber 3.50" x 17" with Pirelli Diablo Supercorsa SP 120/70 ZR17|
|Tyres / Rear||Fully adjustable single Öhlins TTX36 shock with titanium spring, adjustable linkage between progressive/flat. Carbon fiber single-sided swingarm with Pirelli Diablo Supercorsa SP 200/55 ZR17|
If you have to ask, the Superleggera has more than an average consumer could ever want or need. But of course no average customer will buy this exotic machine who are willing to just plop necessary funds to splurge on this. It costs ₹70-90 lakhs when if and when got to India by someone.
If you think you have that much to spend and are looking for your chequebook, don’t bother. All the 500 of them have already been sold out, and I have no problem imagining why. Whoever have, though, insert an insult here.
I searched everywhere, turned every small particle of my brain to get an appropriate contender to this Godly figure. But none of them have it in them to even smell this 1299 Superleggera. No one has a twin cylinder hankering as powerful as this. But, at this year’s EICMA, BMW Motorrad revealed to the world an initial glimpse of the most exclusive model in its history to date: the sinister looking BMW HP4 RACE. Although, it is a four pot.
Apart from this, BMW is playing the suspense inspector. No further information or specifications about the bike have been released apart from a handful of teaser images and a video. We are safe to think that at the least, 10 kg of weight reduction from the previous HP4 model is underway. The tail section, passenger footpeg brackets and the fuel tank (or its cover) of the RACE is also constructed entirely from Carbon fibre. Other definitive strikes seen on the teaser images are an Akrapovic exhaust, Brembo M50 blocks, T-Drive rotors and Grand Prix spec Öhlins FGR forks (likely paired with a Öhlins TTX rear shock)
I fail to understand myself on how to begin wrapping up this article. The 1299 Superleggera “Base Meccanica” is an exemplary showcase of cutting-edge technology, exotic materials, skilled craftsmanship, design and creativity. This tells us all about the experience, skillset and state-of-the-art know-how the folks at Ducati have that make them raise above and beyond.
It is by far the most advanced street-legal production motorcycle ever to exit the gates at Borgo Panigale. The single most obsession takes up to create such an advanced piece of machinery out to the world that has extreme performance and razor-sharp handling exudes from every angle. A machine making use of all exotic and opulent items kept away for track-focussed hooning that spares no expense.
Owners of the 1299 Superleggera will be able to enjoy an exclusive track day with their machine and Ducati technicians together with the team and the riders of the Aruba.it Racing - Ducati Superbike Team, Superbike World Championship competitors. You can also test the Ducati Panigale R Superbike, the official bike that competes in the world championship, a privilege that Ducati reserves only to its most enthusiastic customers.
How they did this is making me scratch my brains out. Wizardry, witchcraft and everything I suppose. I might need some time out to absorb all of this and return back to normalcy.