Ducati Applies for Frameless Motorcycle Patent

03/19/2010 @ 3:30 pm, by Jensen Beeler19 COMMENTS

Modular motorcycle design is the wave of the future, and it would seem Ducati agrees with this same sentiment that we’ve been harping on for the past 9 months or so. Perusing through the USPTO’s records for patent applications, we found this interesting nugget submitted by Ducati Motor Holdings S.p.A. Known better as Patent Application #US 2009/0308677 A1, or “Simplified Motorcycle”, Ducati’s patent application outlines a motorcycle that is devoid of a frame, and instead has all the components of the motorcycle bolt on directly onto the motor.

In it’s filing, Ducati’s lawyers use some inspired prose and jargon to describe what effectively could have been called a frameless motorcycle:

“A motorcycle comprising a propelling group or engine, a saddle support, a support for the rear wheel, and a front directional group comprising a handlebar integral to a steering headstock functionally associated to a supporting organ of the vehicle front wheel, wherein such front group is connected to a box-like body incorporating the function of filtering box, constrained to the engine and apt to support the latter by connecting it, therethrough, to said front directional group, said support for the rear wheel and said saddle support being constrained to the engine, the vehicle being not equipped with additional members apt to constrain said engine to such front directional group.”

This would seem to be the real world application of what we lovingly called “the nugget” back in early 2008, which we covered in the “Tradition is Not A Business Model” series. There’s an argument to be made that this patent will be considered null by the USPTO from prior art, but still it’s a worthy insight into where Ducati is exploring the future of its chassis design. What better way to replace the famous trellis frame design, than with a desmodromic lump. Thanks for the tip Jessica!

Source: Google Patents

  • wayne

    Wasn’t the Britten V1000 also a ‘frameless’ bike. And yes, I have an OCD for that bike. Seriously though, I find it rather telling that almost 20 years later, folks are just now looking to concepts he embraced decades ahead of their time.

  • jimmy

    I would hate for the piston to blow through the head and castrate me.

  • @jimmy, do you think there’s something preventing that from happen with Ducati’s current design?

  • Bill Smith

    I see significant detriment with Ducati/v-twin vibration increasing to the rider touch points – many of the newer Ducati motorcycles suffer from this discomfort WITH the full trellis frame. I would also assume the astute rider would feel a significant difference in feedback/rigidity. I will guess there is (will be) a very different rear end suspension feel with a rear swing arm (especially the single swing arm design) bolted directly to the engine instead of the critical stress point on the frame.

    I would in fact challenge Ducati to move in the opposite direction to reinforce the existing frame and add alternate crank counter balance to resolve somewhat sever engine vibration. If you perform a direct comparison of the 2009 Monster to a mature Japanese inline four (as I did) you will agree that this is an area where Ducati motorcycles fall short of their Japanese counterparts; all critical attributes of rider comfort and fatigue.

  • Pingback: Asphalt_Rubber()

  • Bjorn

    @Bill Smith, The advent of Pantah engines in ’79 saw the swingarm pivot from the engine cases not the frame. This practice continued until the horsepower being extracted from the progressively lightened engine castings of the early ’00’s World Superbike homogolation models (linear decendants of the Pantah) required the frame to anchor the pivot as well as the engine cases.

    Ducati are no slouches when it comes to engineering and I’m sure they have done enough initial work to consider it’s worth their while to beef up the cases where nessecary to get rid of the frame.

    As to vibration, having logged plenty of miles on 2 and 4 valve Ducati machinery and Japanese in-line 4s, I disagree with you. Given the choice I’d much rather ride/race a twin with it’s gut rumbling vibes than the hand numbing tingle of an in-line 4.

    Is a mature Japanese in-line 4 an older bike or an old mans bike?

  • Jim

    Not sure that Ducati has something that is patentable, the Britten and oil-head BMWs have the head stock and rear suspension members supported by the engine and no other connection between them.

  • Bob

    Don’t forget the Quantel Nortons, Vincents, and the original Virago. All used engines as a stressed member.


    This is the GP10 “110%stressed v4” He,He… nice job Britten ehm ,i mean Ducati……took u 20 years??????????

  • Bill Smith

    @ Mrs. Bjorn Borg,

    I certainly would never question Ducati’s design engineering prowess – only their direction and results. I love the new Monster 1100 but after a 30 minute test ride I discovered the following:

    Wrists/hands: numb
    The engine barely sputters below 3k rpm (but it is extremely powerful from 3.5 k rpm to redline)
    You’ll need an athletic supporter when you ride (very common complaint from current owners)

    The Monster 1100 has many great features (including the fantastic Ducati visual design) but it is years behind the refinement of the Japanese liter equivalent. I own a Yamaha FZ1 and as an equivalent, it is a Series 7 compared to a Passat (Ducati Monster 1100).

    I’m sure we’ll see a level of refinement over the next few years but at this moment — it (the Monster 1100) is a very Inferior motorcycle.

  • giova

    hey bill,
    the monster 1100 is an air cooled bike and of course is not going to feel as good as your yamaha watercooled bike. Your bike is about 60 lbs more than the monster and it doesn’t handle as nice as the monster. I had the chance to ride one too and the thing that I love the most was the handling. Ducati builts quality not quantaty.

  • Bjorn

    @Bill Smith, Stop with the cutting jokes about my name. You’re killing me with your sophisticated wit, at least thats what I’m assuming it is.

    As Giova points out, the M1100 is an old technology air cooled machine (the cooling fins may have given it away), comparing it to your beloved Fz1 is a bit like comparing a VW Passat to a BMW 7 Series (I assume that’s what you were talking about) or perhaps a Fiat 500 to a Toyota Camry, just to be correct with our nationalities. I’ve never understood the need of motorcyclists to draw analogies with cars.

    A more reasonable comparison might be an S4 Monster (4 vave water cooled) to the FZ1. As a rule Japanese 4 cylinder bikes feel smoother due to their 180 degree cranks, but many people are looking for a more viscerial feeling from their motorcycle, hence the popularity of Ducati, Motor Guzzi and Harley Davidson.

    I’m aware that ergonomics are pretty subjective things and what fits Jack may not fit John (or Bill). I certainly suffered no ill effects from a 600 km round trip on an M750 a number of years ago, but that doesn’t mean it would be my choice for serious miles.

    Keep riding your motorcycle and loving it Bill, cos that’s what it’s all about. But be open to the fact that just because you don’t enjoy something, doesn’t make it intrinsically bad.

  • Nice shameless plug Guy.

  • Bzzr

    Back to the original topic….this would be sweet (even if it has been done in some form or another before)….and to the side topic, I don’t think ‘refined’ and ‘Ducati’ belong in the same sentence….I don’t ride a Ducati because I want refined (I’ve compared my friends Triumph Sprint ST 1150 to my ST4s and while the Sprint is a dream to ride, shift and lean, it’s not for me…I prefer the raw rumble and torque of my v-twin)….it all comes down to rider preference….in the car world I don’t think you could call a Shelby Cobra ‘refined’, but it is a sweet ride that livens up the senses!

  • TeeJay
  • What are they getting a patent on exactly? As has been pointed out it has all been done already over many many decades. Is there something “unique” about this design?

  • carboncanyon

    Also the Sachs Beast has no frame…

  • Bjorn

    Considering it is a patent application rather than an actual patent, it will be interesting to see if the patent office judge it to be unique enough in an enviroment where such designs already exist to grant it to Ducati.

    Happy Easter to A&R and all the riders who comment here.

  • Pingback: Gody()