Ducati fully plans to capitalize on the arrival of Valentino Rossi to commercialize the extraordinary carbon-fiber monocoque frame first debuted on its GP9 desmosedici MotoGP bike.
This next step in the quattrovalvole superbike family evolution is more like a revolution. Indeed, the trademark tubular steel trellis frame will no longer be used despite its very advantageous stiffness-to-weight ratio. As on the racing desmosedici, the steering head will be incorporated into the airbox, which itself is attached to the cylinder heads. At the other end, swingarm and suspension linkages are bolted directly to the engine’s crankcase. Unlike the company’s MotoGP bikes, the new superbike will keep its identity by using a very beefy single-sided swingarm.
Carbon-fiber construction was used for the first prototype’s chassis, including the swingarm; this version could possibly be used as an “R” model for World Superbike homologation. But to keep prices at an acceptable level, base models could use cast aluminum or magnesium in place of c-f. A substantial reduction in the number of parts and the use of the engine as a component of the chassis has saved a rumored 22 pounds. Cycle World’s 1198S Corse testbike from “Alternative Energy” (July, 2010) weighed a scant 401 lb. on our scale, so shave 22 lb. off and you get an impressive-sounding 379-lb. production bike.
John Britten’s V1000 was a masterpiece and well ahead of its time.
Keeping up with the Joneses has been ever more difficult for Ducati in Superbike competition, so the engine is due for another major overhaul to obtain more performance, in addition to the changes needed to utilize the engine as a structural element of the chassis. No longer will the front cylinder lay horizontally; instead, the engine will be rotated back to allow more leeway with the front-end design and geometry. But don’t worry, two hallmarks—desmodromic valve actuation and the 90-degree Vee—will live on.
In order to obtain more power, the engine needs more revs, and rumors suggest 13,000 rpm! At that rpm, 63.1mm of stroke creates peak piston acceleration of 7500g (between the 1198R’s 5800 and an F-1 engine’s 10,000). Current Superbike rules limit capacity to 1200cc, so a 110.0mm bore (1199cc) has a 1.74 bore/stroke ratio, which is very close to the old 999R’s 1.77. Ducati’s own aborted twin-cylinder “V2” MotoGP project featured 114.0 x 48.5mm bore and stroke measurements (990cc). Furthermore, the very oversquare dimensions allow the use of bigger valves to feed the engine at high rpm—very important to obtain the desired power output, which is targeted at 190 hp at the crank. Bigger valves mean more valve weight and high rpm more valve inertia, two good reasons justifying the retention of desmodromic valve gear.
Gone are the signature under-seat exhaust canisters, replaced by a MotoGP-style under-engine silencer. Overall styling is expected to closely resemble that of the current 1198 range, as this illustration suggests.
Much like Ducati’s patent, the Britten’s carbon-fiber swingarm is bolted to the engine while a c-f front pyramid is attached between the steering head and cylinder heads.