Up-Close with the Ducati 1199 Superleggera

11/05/2013 @ 10:51 pm, by Jensen Beeler22 COMMENTS

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The highlight of the 2013 EICMA show has to be the Ducati 1199 Superleggera, which Ducati formally introduced to the press last Monday night. The “super light” street bike may not have the dynamism of being a completely new machine, as was the case with the Desmosedici RR, but the 155kg (dry) Superleggera is just as impressive when you pause to take a moment and examine all of its details.

With only 500 units being made, Ducati says roughly only 50 are unspoken for as of Sunday morning — a pretty impressive figure considering that up until that moment, only a handful of people had actually seen the Ducati 1199 Superleggera in the flesh. Once the 500th bike is sold, that will be it for the Superleggera, Ducati having learned its lesson from the Desmosedici launch.

The most obvious part about the Superleggera is its orange-red paint scheme, which matches the Rosso Corsa paint found on the Ducati Desmosedici GP13. If you only examined the Ducati 1199 Superleggera skin-deep, this would be your big takeaway from the experience, but the beauty really resides in the details.

Claudio Domenicali emphasized at the press conference that every component on a stock Panigale had been examined and lightened in order to make the Superleggera. He held up a radiator cap to prove this point, as the fairly mundane part had been extensively reworked to drop a mere 6g from its mass — a small amount, but it adds up over the aggregate.

Throughout the bike you can see titanium fasteners and bolts, and where plastic once was, there is now carbon fiber. Taking the fairings off of the Ducati 1199 Superleggera, and the methodical work of Borgo Panigale becomes even more evident. The magnesium alloy front frame dominates, though the solid carbon fiber rear subframe attempts to balance things visually.

Öhlins suspension pieces were chosen for their mass as well, thus Ducati went without the WSBK-spec FSGR units, opting instead for the Öhlins FL916 and custom machined-billet fork bottoms. Not the titanium spring on the TTX36 rear shock.

Just about the only decision that doesn’t center around the Superleggera’s “essence of lightness” mantra is the LED headlight, which weighs more than its base-model counterpart. But, you can hardly fault Ducati for wanting to avoid omitting one of the Panigale’s signature pieces, and newest pieces of tech.

Most art looks great standing still, though I would offer the philsophy that when it comes to motorcycles as art, the object in motion is just as important. To that end, Ducati says that test rider Alessandro Valia put down a jaw-dropping 1’54”900 lap time at Mugello, on street rubber. Move over Picasso.

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Photos: Jensen Beeler / Asphalt & Rubber – Creative Commons – Attribution 3.0

Comment:

  1. Norm G. says:

    re: “Claudio Domenicali emphasized at the press conference that every component on a stock Panigale had been examined and lightened in order to make the Superleggera.”

    except for the swingarm. it should be Mg. if you see any of those suits runnin’ around, tell ‘em Normstradamus has an inquiring mind and asks what the dilly-o…? for $65k its not an unreasonable expectation in future year 2014. if they balk…? say…

    “5 words… 1999 MV Agusta 750 Oro.”

  2. paulus says:

    As much as I wanted to find fault with this machine… it is exquisite!

    Is the Swing arm not Mg painted black?
    If not, it must be a structural/liability thing.

  3. OfficerLeroy says:

    So they reworked a radiator cap for 6 grams, but didn’t think to put shorty levers on?? 6 grams = 6 paperclips….

  4. John Mith says:

    @Norm G.

    Very interesting. Perhaps a profit motivated move? Used Magnesium swing arms for an F4 run between 2-3K depending on quality.

    Could be worse though. MV released the F3 “oro” model and instead of Magnesium wheels they opted for gold spray paint. A sign of the times for sure.

  5. SBPilot says:

    @OfficerLeroy: No real race bike or racer uses shorty levers, they are cheap aesthetic mods that street guys pounce on once they get a bike.

    I wonder how much the lights weigh, because once those are removed it’d be even lighter. Of course all this lightness is probably negated by fat riders with a gut, wearing cowhide suits that weigh 35lbs alone.

    I wonder what someone like top MotoGP riders can do on this bike, since they all weigh like 140lbs.

  6. Kenny says:

    I wanna know what it would do to Mugello with some race rubber on it. MotoGP qualifying is in the 1:47′s?
    Also I can smell trickle down parts for next year’s Panigale R & S models

  7. Rossopuro says:

    Swingarm isn’t mag because to do it in mag and retain the same stiffness etc. would have necessitated a change in dimension that would have negatively affected the bike.

    Removing the lights drops a kilo. So, with track kit installed and lights removed the bike is 2.5 kg less than the WSBK minimum weight :)

  8. dc4go says:

    Beautiful bike not big on the GP color scheme though. Good base for the 14 Pinagale racebike , remove the lights, license plate and add weight to meet the minimun limit in WSBK. Is the motor going to be legal in WSBK, can Ducati run this beast under the EVO and WSBK rules?

  9. Every time a Superleggera comment mentions race homologation, God kills a kitten. Please think of the kittens.

  10. Patric says:

    LED headlights negate a ton of weight savings, but they sure look good.

  11. Potreroduc says:

    Has Ducati created their own in-house ECU map for the Akra system? I know they do for the Termis. I’ve heard the Akra system was designed to work with the stock map, but it would be cool if Ducati started making custom maps for more than one exhaust brand.

  12. Dc4go says:

    @ Jensen Beeler.. I’m allergic to cats . Lol…. Sexy bike can wait to ride it!!

  13. MikeD says:

    Is it ok if i feel nothing for it and all for the new Monster 1200 ? I even feel more attracted to the one without plastics than the dressed one. (o_O)’

    Beautiful photos Jensen. Keep up the good work. (~_^)

  14. Norm G. says:

    re: “Is the Swing arm not Mg painted black?”

    not so much.

    re: “it must be a structural/liability thing.”

    and the first ever Mg “front bone” responsible for connecting the front half of the bike to the rear half of the bike, while absorbing all the braking forces (transmitting them into the cases) isn’t…?

    unlike Mg SSA’s for which their is plenty of data on from both racing and the aftermarket, there is ZERO data on the use of Mg in this application. they’re in uncharted waters.

    re: “Perhaps a profit motivated move? Used Magnesium swing arms for an F4 run between 2-3K depending on quality. ”

    you know what i’m about to ask next right…?

    $2k-3k means what to the discerning Ducatisti shelling out $65 grand…? when you have a 10+ digit bank balance, increasing the MSRP by $10k is neither a deal maker nor a deal breaker for the person holding one of the 500 invites.

  15. Norm G. says:

    re: “Every time a Superleggera comment mentions race homologation, God kills a kitten. Please think of the kittens.”

    OMG THAT’S HYSTERICAL…!!! LOL

  16. Norm G. says:

    re: “to do it in mag and retain the same stiffness etc. would have necessitated a change in dimension”

    right then, which dimension…?

    re: “that would have negatively affected the bike.”

    ok how…? talk to me goose.

  17. John Mith says:

    @NormG

    “re: “Perhaps a profit motivated move? Used Magnesium swing arms for an F4 run between 2-3K depending on quality. ”

    you know what i’m about to ask next right…?

    $2k-3k means what to the discerning Ducatisti shelling out $65 grand…? when you have a 10+ digit bank balance, increasing the MSRP by $10k is neither a deal maker nor a deal breaker for the person holding one of the 500 invites.”

    Norm. Good point on the extra cost.

    I’m not sure though that your perspective is correct on the target customers for this bike. Like a lot of other exotic bikes many of the people buying these will be financing them. You don’t have to have a 10+ digit bank balance to make monthly payments. I’m sure some of them will be paid for in cash but that’s probably the exception rather than the rule.

  18. Norm G. says:

    re: “I’m not sure though that your perspective is correct on the target customers for this bike.”

    no worries, I’m sure.

    re: “You don’t have to have a 10+ digit bank balance to make monthly payments.”

    but you do need the credit score. anyone with access to financing for a non-essential recreational item (high risk) like this, by definition already has the cash to pay for it. this is not a unit your going to put thru VW credit along with your Veyron.

  19. So full of gas and oil about 390 lbs? It looks like a spaceship without its bodywork. I think I might go for one of these over the Aprilia.

  20. VW Group, stealing my idea to use a motorcycle V-twin engine to power an automobile. Using this motor in one of their high mileage vehicle designs.

    http://www.carscoops.com/2013/11/vws-ducati-powered-xl1-may-debut-at.html

  21. Valendino says:

    Hope it goes better than the current “NANGALE”

  22. Valendino says:

    ops, “NANAGALE” Great looking machine though!