Ducati at the Qatar GP race last week release more photos and information on the Desmosedici GP9’s new carbon fiber frame. Ducati calls this “the next step in the advancement” of their GP series motorcycles. The objective behind the new frame is to create a chassis set-up in which each element carries out a specific function, to obtain the desired rigidity with as little weight as possible, thus attaining maximum efficiency.
Ducati’s basic idea is to abandon the classic concept of the chassis as the element that connects all other elements, in favor of a design in which the engine is the central element to which the main frame, rear sub-frame and rear suspension system are individually connected.
We can see the evolution of this model in Ducati’s previous GP bikes, namely the GP3 and GP7. The GP3 was unique in having a rear swing-arm that was attached solely to the engine. In particular both the swing-arm pivot and the suspension linkages were connected directly to the engine without any attachment to the main frame. Whereas, the GP7 featured a main frame that was totally detached from the rear sub-frame. Basically the engine was the central element of the bike. The main frame was used as link between the engine and the steering head. The rear sub-frame linked the engine to the seat and to the footpegs and controls. The two frames, main and rear sub-frame, that were still linked to each other on the GP3, were now only attached to the engine on the GP7, meaning that they were smaller and lighter.
On the GP9 the main frame is formed to connect the engine to the steering head. The main frame now also incorporates the air-box in one single construction. This monocoque construction allows the air-box to function efficiently within the main frame.
Choosing to utilise the carbon fibre composite technology to create the frame means that, on the one hand, one can mould the piece into the desired form without incurring enormous equipment costs and, on the other hand, varying levels of rigidity and torsional characteristics can be attained simply by altering the type, the number and the directional orientation of the carbon fibres, using the same equipment.
According to Ducatai, the frame on the GP9 guarantees greater precision and stability in breaking, and on entering corners. Through continued test, and by using it in a race environment, Ducati hopes to be able to properly evaluate the potential of this chassis solution. Should the tests prove positive, and so far in Qatar it might be safe to say they have, one could very well see the carbon fiber chassis make it onto production Ducati’s.