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By Blake Conner for Cycle World Magazine

Mugello, Italy—As a teenager, I was convinced that there could be nothing better than being a rock star. Thankfully, a lack of musical talent saved me from a monotonous life spent fighting off supermodels, eating caviar, and driving Lamborghinis like rental cars. Maybe I missed my calling, but I certainly enjoyed the limelight recently at the Mugello circuit in Italy, where I had an exclusive 10-lap ride aboard Ducati’s exotic 1199 Superleggera.

Just how exclusive was it? Well, let me just say that a horde of former world champs waited in the queue behind me for a chance to ride the bike for the first time, Troy-freaking-Bayliss included. I’m still not sure if I was just jetlagged, dreaming, or if it really happened at all.

If you aren’t familiar with the Superleggera, it’s an ultra-exclusive, $65,000 version of the 1199 Panigale R, with weight savings and power output taken to extreme levels. Ducati claims the Superleggera has the best power-to-weight ratio of any production motorcycle in history.

As a matter of fact, this bike is so over the top that it isn’t even eligible for World Superbike competition. First of all, with only 500 examples being produced (all spoken for), it doesn’t meet the homologation numbers required by the rules. Furthermore, at a claimed 366 pounds sans fuel (but with all street equipment in place, including mirrors, signals, and lights), it weighs only a pound more than the WSBK minimum. In other words, in race trim it would need ballast to compete!

I’ve drooled over and ridden many homologation-special, production superbikes over the years (Honda RC30, RC45; Yamaha OW-01, YZF-R7; and Ducati’s R models), but the Superleggera makes those bikes look ordinary by comparison.

But if the Superleggera isn’t intended as the basis for a competition machine, what’s the point? Like the 2007 Desmosedici, the concept was to showcase Ducati’s technical capabilities and answer those “what if” questions by pushing the envelope.

“We asked our engineers to build the best of the best and do everything they ever dreamed of, building this bike for our best customers,” said Ducati’s CEO Claudio Domenicali. “Of course, a lot of the things that we developed for the Superleggera will in the long-term find their way onto our other new bikes, as well.”

On paper, the Superleggera’s numbers are impressive. With its 4.5-gallon fuel tank topped off, the Superleggera, says Ducati, weighs only 393 pounds (30 less than the Panigale R). A hot-rod engine produces a claimed five additional horsepower and a bit more torque than the R model. Adding those figures to the dyno numbers we got on our last R testbike, we estimate the Superleggera produces 186 hp and 90 pound-feet of torque at the rear wheel. The titanium Akrapovic exhaust (in the included Race Kit) adds 5 more hp and shaves another 2.5 pounds of weight. For reference, the 51-pound-heavier BMW HP4 we last tested made 186 hp and 83 pound-feet of torque.

So, how do you skim 30 pounds off of one of the lightest production liter-plus sportbikes ever? Ducati’s team of engineers were given free reign with exotic materials. The Superleggera has a magnesium monocoque frame, a carbon-fiber subframe and bodywork, plus a lithium-ion battery, forged magnesium wheels, and numerous titanium fasteners. Even the Öhlins suspension is ultra light, featuring a FL916 fork with machined billet-aluminum bottoms and a TTX36 shock with a titanium spring.

Not only does the Superquadro engine weigh less than the R’s mill, but some of its weight-saving components allow it to rev to 12,500 rpm (a 1000-rpm bump) and increase power across the board. All four valves (intake and exhaust) in each head are now titanium, as are the Pankl connecting rods. The tungsten-counterweighted crankshaft, which weighs one pound less than stock, works with lighter two-ring racing pistons and a compression ratio that has jumped from 12.5:1 to 13.2:1.

If the spec sheet is impressive, the track manners of the Superleggera are mind blowing. Just a few corners into my first lap of Mugello, I could sense the bike’s feathery feel. With three chicanes per lap, Mugello highlighted the Superleggera’s awesome ability to transition, requiring substantially less effort than any Ducati I’ve ridden.

More impressive was how quickly it could be flicked over, and how stable and grippy the front Pirelli Supercorsa felt once planted. Off-cambers and long corners on the side of the tire were completely drama free. The plush Öhlins suspension ironed out the track’s few bumps, while the incredible Brembos with remote-adjustable MCS 19-21 master are some of the best brakes I’ve ever sampled.

With more torque/power on tap across the board, the Superleggera has a broader powerband than the R, with more midrange oomph and a less peaky nature. Which makes the Superleggera’s new left-handlebar-paddle-controlled, eight-level Ducati Wheelie Control (DWC), a welcome addition. Entering the front straight in fourth gear, the bike would wheelie at 150 mph before the system would intervene as I grabbed fifth, only for the front to get light again just before I toed the quickshifter into sixth.

Riding conservatively (with Domenicali watching!) I consistently hit 186-plus mph before braking a bit early for turn one. As the speedometer goes blank at 299 km/h, I’m not totally sure how fast I actually went on the few occasions this happened, but it was really fast. I’ve never experienced this sort of raw acceleration on anything other than the full-blown World Superbikes/AMA Superbikes I’ve ridden in the past. The Superleggera is a truly awe-inspiring machine and it’s almost inconceivable that it’s street-legal.

If charmed experiences such as this come only in 10-lap doses every couple of years, I’m fine with that. Because even the fortunate few who have purchased a Superleggera probably will never get to ride their bikes WFO at Mugello. And that’s something that most rock stars can only dream of, too.















Arai Corse Carbon RX7

The Arai RX-7 GP Carbon is developed to be the ultimate racing helmet. Just one look and you know it's different, taking all the pain-staking development of the RX-7 GP to the next level. The technology is based on that of the Formula 1 GP-6 RC car racing helmet. It consists of an extremely light carbon fibre outer shell, reinforced with the “Peripherally Belted” construction. Specifically for the RX-7 RC, Arai searched for a superior quality of carbon fibre, eventually found in the aircraft industry. 

It takes a skilled Arai crasftsman a full working day just to make the outer shell. This 'carbon version' is a work of art, but not only the outer shell, the EPS inner liner is too a masterpiece with no less than five different densities seamlessly combined in one, setting new standards in this respect.

The end result of all this breathtaking technology and craftsmanship is a very beautiful, extremely light and strong helmet. The RX-7 'Carbon' is by far the lightest SNELL M2010 approved helmet on the market today (Just like the RX-7 GP, the RX-7 'Carbon' offers the unique feature of being both ECE 22-05 and Snell M2010 approved!).

As expected the RX-7 'Carbon' offers all the features of the RX-7 GP, including the larger visor with wider aperture offering better peripheral vision with Arai's `Peripherally Belted` SNC outer shell construction that surpasses even the incredible strength and stiffness of the Corsair shell. The removable Dry-Cool® interior features `Emergency Release` cheek pads offering increased personal safety in case of an accident, while the famous SNC net material has become stronger to keep the shell shape intact even under extremely heavy loads and impacts. Other benefits include a new diffuser, less buffeting, improved ventilation. The list of improvements and industry firsts is impressively long. The RX-7 Carbon is the all new benchmark in Arai's helmet technology. If you want the same equipment as the legends of MotoGP this is the helmet for you!



Ducati Monster 821 Unveiled

As expected, Ducati has released a mid-sized version of its latest Monster 1200 – the Monster 821.

“Having delivered over 290,000 Monsters since the original concept more than 20 years ago, the essential new model maintains its stylish character using the new chassis and muscular styling of the Monster 1200, designed with premium components fully integrated with Ducati’s latest technologies,” Ducati says.

The new Monster arrives with the same water-cooled 821cc Testastretta 11-degree engine – transplanted from he Hypermotard line – that produces 112 horsepower and 65.9 ft/lbs of torque.

And like the Hypermotard lineup, the Monster 821 receives the latest in Ducati electronics, including an eight-level traction control, three-level ABS and three-level Ride-by-Wire all incorporated into the press-button Riding Modes.

Following the same design philosophy it has with the 1199/899 relationship, the younger Monster, which weighs 395.7 lbs dry, arrives with a double-sided swingarm and “premium” suspension, which looks like a Sachs inverted fork and monoshock.

The Monster 821 will feature similar ergonomics as the Monster 1200, and arrive with an adjustable seat height. As for colors, the 821 will be available in Ducati Red with a red frame and black wheels; Star White Silk with a red frame and matte red wheels; or a Dark version, which will arrive in Dark Stealth with a black frame and black wheels. Both red and white liveries are equipped with color-matched single-seat covers.

Ducati is expected to release additional information shortly, including an MSRP, and says the bike will be available in dealerships beginning in July 2014.

The Ducati Monster arrived on the scene in 1993, and not only broke styling boundaries, but also saved Ducati from financial turmoil. 

Thanks to our friends at Ultimate Motorcycling for the original story.

by Ron Lieback - http://ultimatemotorcycling.com/


Riding one of the Lucky 500

We're huge fans of our friends at MCN  who always do a bang-up job of reviewing anything on two wheels. Lucky bastards just spent some seat time on the all new Ducati SuperLeggera at the beautiful L'autodromo del Mugello in Italy. Check it out!


Video: An Intimate Look at the Ducati 1199 Superleggera

The Ducati 1199 Superleggera is finally here, Ducati’s exclusive 500 customers are starting to receive their bikes, and Ducatista around the world are acting like its Christmas in May. We can’t blame them; after all, the Superleggera is a rolling showcase of what the engineers at Borgo Panigale can do with a street-legal machine.

We were lucky enough to get three fine specimens in the first wave of deliveries. We'll receive nine Superleggeras in total — a pretty sizable sum when you consider that less than 200 will make their way across the pond to US soil.

Naturally we took the opportunity to examine up-close what $200,000 worth of carbon fiber, titanium, and aluminum looks like. Even better, we documented the experience, for your viewing pleasure, of course.

We love the opening lines about the Ducati 1199 Superleggera, because it’s so true. It almost seems a shame to have to put the fairings on this motorcycle, because the real jaw-dropping experience comes with the Superleggera sans bodywork, exposing all the effort Ducati’s engineers went to in order to trim the fat off the already svelte Panigale.

If money was no object, we’d take two. One to ride, and another that could sit undressed in a special showroom for us to gawk at while we contemplate life, the universe, and everything. We think that’s how Claudio Domenicali, an engineer himself, would like it…as long as you bring a towel.
Enjoy the video below. 

Original article from our friends at http://www.asphaltandrubber.com/

Diavel Night Returns

The Diavel's intoxicating design and breathtaking performance made a bold statement with its debut in 2011. Since then it has won countless awards and become a fan favorite amongst the media and owners alike. On May 23 2014, we are celebrating the arrival of the new 2015 Ducati Diavel. Equipped with the new Ducati Testastretta 11° Dual Spark engine, enhanced styling and improved ergonomics, the new Diavel is poised to take the world by storm once more.

Join us tonight, Friday, May 23, as we celebrate the arrival of the new Diavel with Diavel Night, the North American premiere of this incredible motorcycle from Ducati.


The Ducati Monster is one of the most iconic motorcycles of all time. Since it went on sale in 1993, over 275,000 have rolled out of the Bologna factory—and they’ve kept Ducati financially stable over the past two decades.

The first Monster, the M900, used a version of the air-cooled 900SS engine and pumped out 73 hp. The latest 1200S is water-cooled and has almost double the power, at 145 hp. But the biggest seller has historically been the entry-level 696, which shipped 12,000 units in 2009. There have been numerous limited editions, celebrating everything from the Matrix movie to racer Carl Fogerty.

Surprisingly, though, there haven’t been that many high-profile custom Ducati Monsters. There’s no shortage of hop-up parts available, from solid engine upgrades to tacky bling, but relatively few big-name builders have given the Monster a complete overhaul.

It’s probably a sign that designer Miguel Galluzzi got it right when he raided the Ducati parts bin in the early 90s. We’ve now decided to do our own raiding, this time through the Archives. Here’s our pick of the best Monster customs from the past decade.

JvB Moto Ducati Scrambler

Cologne-based designer Jens vom Brauck is widely recognized as one of the top custom builders in central Europe. Six years ago he broke the mold with his Monster 1000ie-based Scrambler, a minimalistic all-rounder packing around 95 hp and weighing only 170 kg when fully fuelled. The weight loss comes from a smattering of carbon fiber parts, including the stunning squared-off tank. Brauck regularly gets requests to build replicas, but the order book is now closed.

Arrick Maurice’s Ducati Monster 1100S

Designer Arrick Maurice was invited to become Ducati North America’s brand manager in 2010. This is his personal ride, heavily modified with a slew of Ducati Performance parts in magnesium, carbon fiber and aluminum. He’s also fitted Marchesini forged magnesium wheels, and a new swingarm and subframe from Ram Italia. The slightly ‘busy’ nature of the 1100S has been toned down with black-coated parts, including a ceramic-coated Termignoni exhaust system and anodized Öhlins suspension front and rear.

Paolo Tesio’s Monster S4R

Automotive designer Paolo Tesio knows how to make an impact, and his Monster S4R stopped the internet in its tracks a year ago. Tesio used CAD modeling to create a new rear subframe and seat unit, and designed girder-style fork guards to slip over the Showa front suspension. The visual flow of the bike is factory-perfect, from the retrograde MH900 headlight up front to the truncated tail unit. A body kit to replicate the look of this bike is now in the works, we’re told.

Hazan Motorworks Ducati Monster

Max Hazan is soon going to be a superstar in the custom world. He’s an old-school craftsman with an eye for a good line—and reminiscent in many ways of Falcon Motorcycles’ Ian Barry, who has moved on to the art world. Hazan was looking for a cheap city commuter bike and found this Monster 900 on eBay. But shortly afterwards, his Ducati got knocked over in the street. He decided that a full rebuild was in order, and this is the result. The tank, much of the frame and the exhaust system are hand-fabricated, with immaculately clean welding. It might be one of Hazan’s lesser-known builds, but it’s still absolutely amazing.

Radical Ducati Monster ‘9½’

The Spanish shop Radical Ducati no longer exists, but its legacy will live on for many years. This Monster custom from two years ago is one of Pepo Rosell’s most stylish builds, and inspired by the 1970 Desmo 450 Corsa bike raced by Nencioni. The chopped frame is from a 1997 M900, fitted with a race-style tail unit. Although the looks are distinctly retro, it’s a raid on the Ducati parts bin worthy of Miguel Galluzzi himself: the rear wheel is from a Ducati 916, while the tank is from a 999. Further proof that the closure of Radical Ducati is a huge loss to the custom world.

Words and pics by Bike EXIF. Check out their awesomeness here: http://www.bikeexif.com/

WHY DESMO? A short history of valve control and why Ducati sticks with desmodromics.

After World War II, when future Ducati engineer Fabio Taglioni wrote his original engineering-school paper on desmodromic valve drive, there was good reason to seek such a system: Valve springs broke at random as an era of rising rpm opened. In the 1950s, NSU pushed to 12,000 rpm, and by 1957, Mondial’s 125 was revving to 13,000. Something better than metal springs was needed, and Ducati, by 1958, was ready to win the 125cc rpm race. The Bologna-based company was second, third, and fourth in the 125cc TT, then smoked the MVs in Belgium and Sweden.
This success started Ducati down a path it has never left. In 2003, when I asked Claudio Domenicali, then in charge of racing and now CEO, why Ducati continued with desmo in MotoGP, he said, “Because it is the system we know best.” The company had, naturally, looked into pneumatic springs but understood: 1) it would cost a lot of money, and 2) there would then be a totally unfamiliar learning curve.

Domenicali then said to me, “I would hope you can regard desmo as the developed equal of any other system of valve control.”
As in a valve-spring engine, a cam lobe operates a pivoted finger follower that presses against the end of the valve stem to open the valve. A second, complementary cam lobe on the same camshaft operates an L-shaped closing lever whose clevis-shaped other end pulls the valve closed, acting against the underside of a collar fixed to the valve stem.
Thus desmo eliminates the usual problems with springs (read on), while the absence of conventional spring load saves some frictional loss at low to mid-rpm. Ultimately, Ducati uses desmo because it knows desmo and also because it is known for desmo.

Metal springs overcame the problems of the 1950s by combining super-clean vacuum-remelted wire with shot-peening to put the wire’s surface in compression. These advances came initially from the US producer S&W (Art Sparks and Tim Witham) but were soon adopted worldwide for high-reliability springs.
No sooner do improved materials appear than they are exploited. More fatigue-resistant spring wire allowed cam designers to use faster-opening ramps, leading to higher-load accel­eration. Back and forth went the cycle—materials improvement, followed by ever-more-vigorous valve acceleration. By 2006, Suzuki was changing springs in its MotoGP engines every night.
The problem is that metal wire has inertia. When a high-acceleration cam begins to lift a valve, wire coils pile up against the spring retainer then rebound from it as the valve reaches one-quarter lift. This can cause rapid end-to-end bouncing of the spring coils, greatly increasing the number of fatigue cycles the wire must endure. There are tricks to suppress this “spring surge,” but even when they work, springs become very hot in vigorous operation, which accelerates metal fatigue.
Formula 1 had reached the point of “one-day spring life” in the 1980s, triggering an intense search for better solutions. Several F1 engine constructors prototyped desmo systems of their own (Ferrari and Cosworth, for example) but did not pursue them.

Jean-Pierre Boudy, at Renault in 1984, devised an essentially massless spring that was immune to both metal fatigue and to the inertia-driven resonant coil vibration that drove it. The spring material he chose was a pressurized gas. Although pneumatic springs are regarded as exotic, they are in fact little more sophisticated than the gas struts that support the hood of your car when open. As with a metal spring design, the cam operates a finger follower that presses against the end of the valve stem to open the valve. But instead of the normal spring retainer and spring, there is a small piston, sealed to the inside of a bore in the head. The space under this piston contains nitrogen gas at a moderate pressure, such as 150 psi. To prevent leakage of gas between valve stem and guide, a highly effective seal is located there.
Because there will be some leakage of gas, pressure is maintained by a small port that is open only when the valve is closed, connected to an on-board pressure bottle and regulator or to an engine-driven pump.
A special advantage of pneumatic springs is that they are highly progressive. That is, as the valve lifts, the pressure under the gas piston rises steeply, allowing valve return force to be very much greater at full lift than when the valve is on its seat.
Titanium valve supplier Del West is also a provider of pneumatic-spring technology. The company would like to see economy cars save fuel with a variable-pressure pneumatic system that provided just enough “spring” for the rpm being used. With metal springs, a car engine on the freeway running at 2,600 rpm must bear the friction of springs chosen for that engine’s 6,500-rpm redline.


Originally published by Cycle World, written by By Kevin Cameron