2012 Ducati 1199 - First Look

More-compact, higher-performing V-Twin Italian sportbike will debut this fall at EICMA.

2012 Ducati 1199 - First Look

2012 Ducati 1199

It was about this time of year, 40 years ago, that the great Dr. Fabio Taglioni unveiled his 750cc “bevel-gear” 90-degree V-Twin. At that time, no other twin-cylinder engine even came close to offering the performance potential of Dr. T’s concept. In fact, the following year, in the face of Giacomo Agostini on his MV Agusta 750 and a strong contingent of Triumphs, BSAs, Nortons and Hondas, the Ducati 750s ridden by Paul Smart and Bruno Spaggiari dominated the inaugural Imola 200.

Forty years later, Ducati is in the final development stage of its new “ultimate Twin,” which I shall call “1199.” Highly advanced concepts are featured in all departments, but the bike’s 90-degree V-Twin dominates the scene in Ducati’s best “engine above all” tradition.

Claudio Domenicali and his team dared to tread new turf when they designed a 1200cc Twin that shares only its longitudinally oriented 90-degree Vee with the present 1198. Topping the list of factors intended to set the 1199 apart from the 1198 is the massive 112mm (4.41-inch) bore. A highly oversquare bore/stroke ratio was considered mandatory for a Twin that would be able to look straight into the eyes of any four-cylinder competitor, both on the road and at the racetrack. Stroke is just 60.9mm (2.397 in.), down 7mm from that of the present 1198, for a .543:1 ratio. This engine should safely soar to nearly 12,000 rpm. To keep piston acceleration within acceptable limits, the con rods have likely retained Ducati’s traditional 124mm center-to-center measurement for a stroke-to-rod-length ratio slightly higher than 2:1.

This design doesn’t take full advantage of the shorter stroke to reduce engine length, which is critical when attempting to achieve optimal weight-distribution bias with a 90-degree V-Twin in a short-wheelbase chassis. So, the new Twin is positioned more like a “V” than the traditional “L,” with the cylinder block tilted almost 10 degrees rearward—like Moto Morini and Piaggio/Aprilia have done with their 87- and 90-degree Twins.

Crankshaft main journals now turn on large-diameter plain bearings, which replace the “angular-contact” ball bearings that had been Dr. Taglioni’s choice since I brought them to him from my aerospace studies in college. The new crankshaft is consequently much stiffer and free from the axial pulsations that caused so many crankcase failures; cases had to be patched up with every displacement increase, from the original 851 to the 1098. New Alcoa “vacural-method” castings finally solved the problem.

The crankcase is still split vertically, but now its castings include the “half cylinders.” Barrels and pistons are inserted before everything is buttoned up, and the heads are bolted on top of everything. Combustion chambers are a further evolution of the well-honed Testastretta design, but the desmo distribution is now driven by a mix of chain and gears.

To reduce weight, the engine is the main structural element of the chassis, Britten- and Vincent-style. An aluminum pyramid bolts to the top of the cylinders to solidly locate a steering head of massive diameter and the related fork. At the rear, the pivot of the single-sided swingarm is inserted into the crankcase. This layout is largely inspired by Ducati’s MotoGP experience. The swingarm actuates the shock via a pushrod and finger-type rocker arm. The shock is nearly horizontal and its front end is hinged at the rear cylinder.

When the R&D department took its new bike to the Mugello Circuit earlier this year, World Superstock racer Danilo Petrucci was clocked just a whisker slower than the unofficial 1:50.8 World Superbike record set by Max Biaggi on his factory Aprilia RSV4. Former SBK champion Troy Bayliss turned a 1:52.0. Valentino Rossi was also present at the test but did not ride the bike.

As the riding photos indicate, the new bike is more compact than the current 1198, and its major mass is concentrated forward of the half point of the bike. Using a simple (and crude) method of “visual extrapolation,” I came to the conclusion that the 1199 has a wheelbase between 55.1 and 56.3 inches, with a swingarm length of about 21.0 in.—much longer than the 1198’s 19.3-in. arm.

Another interesting and rational element of this new Ducati is its exhaust system. Manifolds featuring ample curves exit the heads and converge into a large resonator under the crankcase, from which depart two short mufflers, one on each side. This not only looks neat, it ensures an effective centralization of mass.

Depending on the trim level, the 1199 will come with either Marzocchi or Öhlins suspension. The Brembo 330mm discs and radial-mount Monobloc front-brake calipers are carried over from the 1198. Expect a curb weight around 397 pounds.

Ducati Superbike Timeline:

1990 to 1992: Ducati 851

1990 to 1992: Ducati 851

1992 to 1994: Ducati 888

1992 to 1994: Ducati 888

1994 to 2002: Ducati 916

1994 to 2002: Ducati 916

1994 to 2002: Ducati 996

1994 to 2002: Ducati 996

1994 to 2002: Ducati 998

1994 to 2002: Ducati 998

2003 to 2007: Ducati 999

2003 to 2007: Ducati 999

2007 to 2008: Ducati 1098

2007 to 2008: Ducati 1098

2009 to present: Ducati 1198

2009 to present: Ducati 1198