2012 Ducati Superbike: +20 HP/-20 lbs

11/24/2010 @ 1:08 pm, by Jensen Beeler18 COMMENTS

2011 marks the end of the current Ducati Superbike 1198 as we know it, and Ducati has been hard at work on the successor to the crown jewel in its model line-up. Undertaking the most expensive model design in the history of the company, Ducati has poured a ton of resources into its 2012 Superbike in order to make it a market leader. Recently stretching the faith of the Ducati loyal by introducing bikes like the Hypermotard, Multistrada 1200, and now the new Ducati Diavel that extend Ducati into non-racing segments, 2012 is the Bologna brand’s answer that it is heavily committed to its Superbike roots.

Starting from scratch with its design, the 2012 Ducati Superbike features two impressive performance figures: an additional 20hp (taking the Superbike up to 190hp), and a weight reduction of 20 lbs across the model line. Host to a bevy of street bike firsts, our Bothan Spies also tell us that the new Superbike is going to be a stunner.

The writing has been on the walls for some time for Ducati’s trellis frame, and 2012 will be the year we see Ducati break away from this design element, which has become just as iconic as the company’s v-twin motors. Already being used on the Ducati Desmosedici GP9 and GP10 MotoGP race bikes, Ducati tipped its hand in March of this year with patents that showed a frameless motorcycle that used the motor as an integral part of the chassis. Attaching directly to the motor, Ducati will use a carbon fiber headstock that integrates the ram-air intake, airbox, and front fairing/sub-frame stay into a single composite-crafted unit.

Further weight reductions come from the single-sided swingarm that pivots directly off the motor, and is longer in dimension than previous models. The rear sub-frame will be built off the motor as well, although it is not immediately clear to us if this will be another carbon fiber construction, or some other material. What is clear is that the absence of the trellis frame, and use of carbon fiber has drastically reduced the weight of the Ducati Superbike platform, with a weight reduction of 20 lbs being quoted to us.

Despite the idle speculation that Ducati would use a V4 motor for 2012, the new superbike remains a 1200cc class v-twin. Using a massively oversquare cylinder size, the “Superquadrata” (overquare in Italian) motor benefits from being able to rev higher, and also produce more horsepower than its 1198 predecessor. Our sources are quoting a power increase of 20hp over the base model, which should mean a 190hp performance figure. Capable of holding its own against the BMW S1000RR and Kawasaki ZX-10R in the spec sheet department, expect the 2012 Ducati Superbike to be a peaky tire smoking machine.

Although it hasn’t been stated outright by our sources, the new Superbike’s rumored larger throttle bodies and gear-drive cam designs are surely a bone of contention between Ducati and World Superbike. When WSBK wouldn’t budge over provisions that allowed the 2012 Superbike design, Ducati said adios to the series, already too invested to turn back on its new Superbike design. With a high-technology motorcycle, class leading performance, and the star power of Valentino Rossi, Ducati likely thinks the trade off of not racing in World Superbike still makes sense. Many Bothan Spies died to give us this information.

  • If the PRODUCTION bike has the gear driven cams and larger throttle bodies, then why would that be a problem for WSBK?? I can understand the Aprilia controversy because the gear driven cames are neither stock on the customer bike, nor are they available aftermarket…

  • BikePilot

    The “non-racing” hypermotard won the Pike’s Peak hillclimb in its class in 2009 and the “non-racing” multistrada 1200 won the same class in 2010 (and will likely win the overall motorcycle class in 2011 since they’ve paved more of it).

  • Aprilia’s gear-driven cams were available in the aftermarket (not that anyone but a race team could afford them), which is how they got away with that move.

  • BikePilot

    I’m also thrilled that they are keeping it a twin! Now for a naked streetfighter version and then a MTS version ;)

  • Steve


    The throttle body issue is a WSBK rule problem for them. The rules had the 1200cc twins running inlet restrictors (50mm IIRC) so larger TB’s would not have been of much benefit.

  • Rob Evans

    I eagerly await this bike, however I would really hate to see the ‘new’ 1198 be even more peaky than the current gen model. To create another 20hp from the same displacement, expect the stroke to be apprx. 60mm or so, meaning itll rev to the moon (for a twin anyway) but lack that bottom end grunt. To me if a twin revs to 13.5k rpm to make an additional 20hp but sacrifices 20ft lbs down low, then whats the point of being a twin powerplant at all? The twin is so amazing because of its ability to put down tractable torque at nearly any rpm, I hope the new Superbike doesn’t lose this trait.

  • joe

    Rob, by the time you can afford one, you’ll know how to ride it.

  • Ape Factory

    If you call the current bike “peaky”, you’ve never ridden one.

  • MikeD

    Hope most of the “Intel” supplied is true. specially the gear driven Cams and -20 Lbs Diet.
    Im all in for BBC size Slipper Pistons, short stroke(lower piston speeds) and 190HP, not down with the Stratospheric Redline(for a TWIN anyways).
    KUDOS to them for keeping it an L-2 and not an L-4.
    What a shame, the Trellis Frame was such a Ducati LandMark…but i guess technology and design MUST continue.
    SSSA? Keep it, another Ducati stapple.
    All that use of Carbon surely will go NOTICED on the MSRP…Don’t matter, too broke to even think about it.

    Would be great if they could make the valve check intervals as long as or longer the Multistrada’s. Don’t know if the 1198 is already capable.

    Keep up the good work and keep the other OEMs on their Toes, Ducati! Nothing keeps the fish swiming and healthy as having a Shark on the same tank as them, LMAO.

  • mamak kerala

    Ducati should take the gold opportunity and andvantages from Rossi in their camp to build the all new bike with more powerful and beautiful face…look what Rossi contribution in remake over Yamaha M1 to became the best in motogp..from worst to gorgeous..

    Ducati has produce Desmosedici RR which taken from GP10 for production sale and bikers over the world can feel it, taste the excitement with the bike..latest, they produce the Stoner replica for Ducati’s fans…so cute..si tasty…

    i hope, very very hope, with Rossi in their camp, Ducati’s management can use his expertise to build the new 1198sp..there is nothing imposibble for it..

    dont be like Yamaha and Honda which only their rider can ride and feel the most powerbike in the world..they doesnt know how to appreciate their fans to have the same bike as they use in Motogp…only Ducati make dreams come true,,only Ducati

  • 76

    The 1198 peaky…. thats funny
    What do you normally ride a V-10 R6?

  • Westward

    Carbon body is a mistake, anyone that is familiar with cycling knows the the integrity of carbon a body frame deteriorates over time. Keep in mind that we are talking about a bicycle. The longevity of this new Motorcycle will not be for long I would suspect. Pro Racing it doesn’t matter. but for consumers, I’d never buy a new or especially a used one…

    Good luck with that purchase…

  • mark usowicz

    sounds like the briten rip john

  • pdub

    Single sided swinger? Still? Thought this might be the chance to leave that in the past too and make the new bike follow as a descendant of it’s GP machine with one of those massive GP style box swingarms. Alloy of course. A carbon one would cost more than a new R1. Then again there is the official aftermarket. Ducati would make a mint off the well heeled who have to have it “more GP” like.

  • a m

    westward – had carbon bodywork on my 998 since it was new, had it uv-protectant clear coated and it still looks like new, bike has over 20k miles. there’s no problems there, not sure what you have read. bst wheels on another of my ducs, and they work fantastically.

  • MikeD

    Maybe they are afraid of having another “999 Reaction” from the buying public and thus sticking to the 996/998/1098/1198 SSSA Format ?

    I don’t care wich route they choose im sure they’ll do an awesome job. The “normal” swinger looks like it could be made stiffer, ligther ?
    But its easier to adjust the chain and remove the wheel with the SSSA…JMHO.

  • Minibull

    @a m: I think Westward is talking about carbon structural parts, as they say that the headstock is made of carbon fibre. Fairing panels dont have that much stress put on them…

    This does sound cool, but I’m waiting for the day that the manufacturers go back to the style of the first R1. Massive low and mid range shunt, just whats needed on the roads.

  • Ducracerx

    I’m pretty sure Westward was talking about CF headstock and frame, not the fairing panels or body. Also I think he is speaking LONG range deterioration. I think by the way Westward speaks, he is a guy who keeps his Ducati’s for many many years. Unlike this “faux new generation” Ducati guys with that neophobe mentality. Then again……Ducati is entering the mind set of NOT caring too much about building a superbike for a guy to commute on the streets everyday BUT to build a racebreed monster that will win on the track. Why do you think they are making other bikes for you street riders??? Davial, monster, multistrada etc….