Ducati Superquadro Engine

10/10/2011 @ 2:58 am, by Jensen Beeler22 COMMENTS

Ducati has a new flagship Superbike coming out soon, if you hadn’t heard the news. Powering the Ducati 1199 Panigale is a new 90° v-twin motor dubbed the Superquadro (Ducati mini-site here), which the Italian company officially unveiled today. Confirming the specs we released back in November of last year, the power plant boasts 195hp and 98 lbs•ft of torque, making the Ducati Superquadro motor a new direction for Bologna, in more ways than one. For starters, the Superquadro is the first production motor in the company’s history that’s is fully-integrated into a bike’s chassis, thus putting final confirmation that the 1199 Panigale will use the MotoGP inspired “frameless” chassis design (not that we were really doubting this).

Deriving its name from the massively over-sqaure cylinder design, the Superquadro is the most powerful motor to come in a production motorcycle from the Bologna brand. Other highlights include the use of hybrid chain/gear-driven camshaft, titanium valves, a wet slipper clutch, ride-by-wire throttle actuation, 15,000 mile major service intervals, and a rider-selectable “riding mode” system. Boasting that the company built the Superquadro motor with a clean sheet of paper, the company has proven once again that there are no sacred cows in Bologna.

With the Superquadro motor being a fully-stressed member of the chassis, Ducati has spent a significant amount of time designing how the Superquadro motor would fit in the company’s monocoque frame design. Tilting the motor back 6°, the front cylinder sits 21° from the horizontal plane, which allows the motor to be moved 32mm farther forward when compared to previous design. Ducati says this allows for better front/rear weight distribution, and improved front-end feel.

An issue we’ve heard a great deal about from the Italian brand, and with the woes seen from Ducati Corse in MotoGP, we’re pretty sure the entire motorcycling world is eager to see if this chassis concept will work for Ducati on its new street-going Superbike. In the meantime, we’ll have to suffice with the bevy of technical specifications the Italian company has provided us on the new Superquadro motor.

With a bore and stroke of 112mm x 60.8mm, the Superquadro makes an impressive 195hp @ 10,750rpm & 98.1 lbs•ft (13.5kgm) @ 9,000rpm. Aided by the increased bore size, larger valves have been employed to help create that monster amount of power from the v-twin motor, and as such the intake valves have been increased from 43.5 to 46.8mm, while the exhaust valves go from 34.5 to 38.2mm. Built from titanium, the valves are unsurprisingly actuated with Ducati’s signature Desmodromic valve system.

Helping the Superquadro motor breathe is a larger oval throttle body, which gets bumped from the Testastretta’s 63.9mm, to a 67.5mm equivalent diameter. Controlling the dual fuel injectors is a ride-by-wire throttle system, while the camshaft is driven by a hybrid gear/chain system. Because of refinements to the Superquadro’s cam system, the Ducati 1199 Panigale can be more easily started than its predecessors, allowing for a smaller starter motor and battery, which resulted in a 7.3 lbs weight reduction on the motor.

Perhaps the most contentious modification for the Ducati Superquadro motor is the introduction of a wet slipper-style clutch, similar to what is found on the Multistrada 1200 and Diavel. Doing away with the infamous Ducati dry-clutch rattle, we’re sure this change of the status quo will gain the ire of many Ducati-loyal motorcyclists, though we hear from our sources in Bologna that the company is taking a pragmatic approach to its transmission, admitting that the wet-clutch operates better in virtually every condition and use.

We don’t normally republish press releases, but because of the level of detail Ducati has gone through to explain the numerous changes to the Superquadro motor, we’ve reproduced it below for those that want to wade through every technical detail.

Ducati 1199 Panigale “Superquadro” power house revealed

With just a matter of weeks to go until the final unveiling of Ducati’s brand new 1199 Panigale at the EICMA International Motorcycle Show in Milan (10-13 November), the Italian manufacturer now reveals the secrets behind the awesome power of its 2012 Superbike.

The most extreme benchmark ever

Ducati’s latest engine, the Superquadro, goes beyond the barriers of engineering to enable the introduction of a futuristic Superbike today. Its no-compromise approach to design, combined with Ducati’s Italian innovation has now set the most extreme benchmark ever and stands as the latest milestone in Ducati’s long and iconic history of Superbike engines.

Ducati engineers were given a near impossible design brief to create the new generation Superbike engine for the Ducati 1199 Panigale. Increase power, torque and user- friendliness and reduce overall vehicle weight and scheduled maintenance costs seemed impossible tasks, but given a “blank canvas” to create the new power-plant and encouraged to think outside-of-the-box to achieve the unachievable, engineers have finally ticked all the boxes.

The innovative Superquadro engine, so called because of its massively over-square bore and stroke ratio, has increased power to an absolute production twin-cylinder milestone of 195hp and torque to 98.1 lb-ft (13.5kgm) with user-friendly Riding Modes that deliver that power appropriate to the rider’s style and environment. Its construction has enabled a radical reduction in overall vehicle weight and, further identifying Ducati’s constant pursuit of performance perfection, major services have been extended to 24,000km (15,000 miles).

Only Fabio Taglioni’s masterpiece 90° L-twin configuration and Desmodromic valve control have been retained from previous engines. Everything else is new.

Engine architecture

With the engine designed to be a fully stressed member of the chassis, its architecture has been completely re-calculated to provide the best possible vehicle construction for layout, weight distribution and strength. The cylinders, which remain at 90° to each other, have been rotated backwards around the crankcases by a further 6°, until the front cylinder is 21° from horizontal. This has enabled the engine to be positioned 32mm further forwards for improved front / rear weight distribution in addition to perfectly positioning the cylinder head attachment points for the 1199 Panigale’s monocoque frame.

The crankcases, which are vacuum die-cast using Vacural® technology to ensure optimal weight saving, consistent wall thickness and increased strength, also incorporate in their form the outer water-jacket of the “cylinder”, eliminating the jointing face that used to exist at the base of the cylinders. Instead, the Superquadro has separate nikasil-coated aluminium “wet-liners” inserted into the tops of the crankcase apertures. This design enables secure fixing of the cylinder head directly to the crankcase, improved sealing and enhanced heat dissipation from the thin cylinder-liners directly into the surrounding coolant.

The primary-drive casing, clutch casing and outer cover, sump and cam covers are all cast in magnesium alloy, ensuring a lightweight engine despite its increased strength as an integral part of the chassis.

In addition to cylinder position, the crankcases now use shell main bearings for the crankshaft, previously only used by Ducati on the Desmosedici RR engine. Removing the roller bearings has enabled an increase in diameter of the crank journals for enhanced rigidity and an increase the crankcase section around the main bearing area for improved strength in line with the Superquadro’s extreme power output. The shell bearings are force- fed oil from internal drillings within the main bearing pillars to keep the new crankshaft well lubricated and is quickly scavenged back into the sump with the introduction of a new Ducati feature, a highly efficient MotoGP-style vacuum pump.

The pump is driven by the main oil pump shaft and effectively maintains constant vacuum in the crankcase area below the pistons, reducing atmospheric resistance during the down- stroke of the piston and controlling the internal “breathing” of the engine.

Extreme dimensions

In calculating the optimum configuration to achieve the next big step forward in power output for the L-twin engine, Ducati and Ducati Corse engineers increased engine speed and enhanced breathability with the incredible bore and stroke of 112mm x 60.8mm. The intense study of power and ridability resulted in an output of 195hp @ 10,750rpm and 98.1 lb-ft (13.5kgm) @ 9,000rpm. The new bore and stroke ratio of 1.84:1 effectively increases rpm with the ultra-short stroke of the crankshaft and increases the cylinder area to enable increased valves diameters. Inlet valves have increased from 43.5 to 46.8mm and exhaust valves from 34.5 to 38.2mm.

With such large inlet valves operating at higher rpm, the intense inertial forces have been controlled by using titanium instead of steel, a solution only previously used on full “R” models. The new valves are actuated by racing-derived rocker arms, ‘super-finished’ for reduced friction and fatigue and then coated in polymeric-like carbon (PLC), a process originally developed for the aerospace industry.

The race-derived Superquadro pistons have a distinctive double-ribbed undercrown to achieve high strength and reduced friction by using minimal piston wall surface area. Using technology developed by Ducati Corse, the design enables reliable operation of the 112mm diameter pistons when performing at high rpm.

The improved volumetric efficiency of the increased inlet valve diameters is further capitalised on by increasing the oval throttle body dimensions from an equivalent diameter of 63.9 to a massive and high-flowing 67.5mm. The Ride-by-Wire throttle bodies feed air across twin injectors per cylinder, one positioned below the butterfly for enhanced flexibility and one above for outright power.

Clean power

With such enhanced “breathing”, the challenge for the Superquadro’s Design Engineers was to program performance-optimised fuel mapping for a smoother cycle-to-cycle engine operation, without compromising emissions. To achieve this, Ducati introduced a secondary air system that completes the oxidization of unburned hydrocarbons and effectively reduces HC and CO levels. The system is activated when the engine ECU recognises specific conditions in the engine’s operation via the lambda and throttle opening sensors. It then opens a valve enabling a flow of clean air from the main airbox to a reed valve situated in each cylinder head, which enables one-way flow into an air gallery exiting into the exhaust port close to the exhaust valve. Entering the hottest point of the exhaust gasses, the fresh charge of air enhances the burn environment, eliminating any unburned fuel that escapes during the exhaust cycle under certain conditions.

Desmo dependent

With such an extreme engine, never before has Ducati’s unique Desmodromic system been so vitally important. With the high engine speeds at which the Superquadro operates combined with such large valves, it would be impossible for the valve’s rocker-arm to follow the steep closure profile of the cam lobe using normal valve closure springs. The Desmo system actuates valve closure mechanically with the same method and accuracy as it opens, enabling steep cam profiles, radical cam timings, large valves and high operating speeds. This system is used on every single Ducati motorcycle and is constantly proven on Ducati Corse’s World Superbikes and Desmosedici MotoGP bikes.

The power of precision

Controlling such large valves with the precise Desmodromic system also led engineers to replace the original belt-drive concept, used since the introduction of the Ducati Pantah in 1979, with a combined chain and gear-drive arrangement. The conventional bush-type chain runs from the crankshaft to the cylinder head where a single sprocket positioned between inlet and exhaust camshafts, is attached back-to-back to a gear wheel mounted on its own short, dedicated shaft. The attached gear meshes directly with gears on the ends of both the inlet and exhaust camshafts, which are also designed with +/- position adjustment for ultra-precise cam-calibration. The cam chain, therefore, provides highly efficient point-to- point drive route and, tensioned automatically, provides continuous reliability and further reducing the cost of routine maintenance.

On the end of each exhaust cam drive gear is a centrifugal flyweight which retracts at speeds below tick-over to rotate a “protrusion” from the concentric section of the cam, thus creating sufficient inlet valve lift to act as a de-compressor. This ingenious device enables the Superquadro engine to be started easily without using a larger battery and starter motor, which has reduced overall vehicle weight by approximately 3.3kg (7.3lb). When the engine starts and the camshafts begin to rotate at tick-over speed, the centrifugal flyweight flicks out, retracting the “protrusion” back into the cam and allowing complete valve closure for full compression. This innovative feature further underlines the lengths to which designers and engineers have worked together in the single-minded pursuit of weight-saving.

New transmission

Ducati’s engineers also capitalised on the opportunity of the “blank canvas” project to increase dimension between the centres of the six-speed gearbox shafts, enabling larger diameter, stronger gears to transmit the enhanced power output. New for a top-of-the- range Ducati Superbike is a “wet”, oil-bath clutch. Based very closely on the design of the Multistrada and Diavel components, the clutch assembly features a “slipper” function and a progressive self-servo mechanism that compresses the friction plates when under drive from the engine. While enhancing frictional efficiency, this also results in a rider-friendly light clutch lever “feel” at the handlebar. Conversely, when the drive force is reversed (over-run), the mechanism reduces pressure on the friction plates, enabling a true racing “slipper” action, reducing the destabilizing effect of the rear-end under aggressive down- shifting and provide a much smoother feeling when closing the throttle or down-shifting under normal riding conditions.

Performance perfection

Competition is the platform on which Ducati has always challenged and measured itself. It is a discipline for designers and engineers and the bedrock of motivation for a company in which the constant desire for victory has become a way of life. The Superquadro is the most powerful twin-cylinder production engine on the planet and is destined to power the new Ducati 1199 Panigale with absolute performance perfection.

Source: Ducati

  • john magnum

    Im kinda short on cash and a loan is going to end up in my sex being cut off if she found out.
    Can you still do the sell your soul to the Devil thing?
    Pure moto porn fantasti…..
    Gunna be big coin here in OZ

  • Doctor Jelly

    I’m not always a fan of Ducati’s methods, but it appears they really came through with a truly impressive powerplant!

    Something not mentioned (and maybe this is used more than I know of so it’s not press release worthy) is the coolant/oil heat exchanger. That big black box next to the tiny starter motor. The only other current bike I can think of with one is the F800. Will the bike have an oil cooler/radiator as well?

    Also, I’m curious how much the entire lump weighs (transmission and all)? I think BMW’s s1000 comes in around 130lbs as a benchmark.

  • Damo

    Wow Ducati is making me eat my words!

    I have always been a dry clutch and constant valve adjustment hater since day one, but they have finally changed that….maybe it is time to crack the check book.

  • duxbros

    Amazing piece of engineering–Taglioni would be proud. Makes me grateful for the CAD that allows a small company like Ducati to come up with something like this. Man, those con rods are SHORT! Can’t wait for the ride reports and comparison tests. Now if they can just come up with a GP bike that can spank the Hondas…

  • Captain Ducati

    Fascinating. A very powerful engineering statement. And it raises the question: with such a large bore, how do they get away with only one spark plug to fire all that charge and get full burn/power at such high revs? I assumed that 2 plugs would have been required. Also assumed was a doubled-up cam chain/gear drive to both heads on the same side of the engine (a la Honda V4), and not a separate cam drive system to each cylinder – double the weight, double the complexity (?), double the parts that can fail. And the output shaft appeares to have a mighty small diameter for all that power. Where was the external spin-on oil filter? The huge pistons do not appear to have any slippery coating on their skirts to prevent piston rocking and reduce friction – surely such big pistons will rock alittle in their cylinders and cause galling? Is that the water pump in the V between the cylinders? How is it driven? Can’t wait to get more info. Just amazing work for such a small company. Congratulations! And cheers.

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  • BikePilot

    Looks like the cylinders are now part of the cases. Saves weight and increases strength I’m sure, but might make top end work considerably more work and more costly.

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  • Minibull

    @Captain Ducati: Im pretty sure those pics of the internal parts are CAD, so not really the actual product finishings.

  • mark

    Having two cam chains on either side allows the same cylinder head to be used for front and rear cylinders. I’m sure that more than offsets the cost of two cam drives.

  • GeddyT

    Cylinder heads are still different due to the front subframe mounting points.

  • MikeD

    Million Dollar Question:

    What’s the little “wheel” that looks like a Primitive Centrifugal Supercharger at the end of the rear cylinder intake camshaft ?

    @Captain Ducati: LOL, that’s not the output shaft, look closer, the sprocket is partially covered by a guard. What u were loking at is the shifter’s shaft. LMAO.

    The oil filter must tbe a paper element type, i think the compartment for it is under the Generator and next to the starter(cap with 2 screws).

    How they get away with one plug? Easy, Fresh Air injection right at the door of the xhaust valves plus it MUST have Cat Converters to further scrub “clean” the xhaust gasess.

  • MikeD

    I forgot.

    Don’t anyone else find it wierd how they installed the de-compression mechanism on the intake side ? That has to be a typo.

    Everyone does it on the xhaust, is just logic…why would u want to push the mixture u just sucked into the cylinder out again into the air box ? Gas soaked filter media ? Back fires anyone ?

    My SV1000N has it…but on the HOT side(xhaust).

    And so much for full gear driven cams. It ended up been the same hybrid system as what Suzuki used on their TL1000S Lumps, my SV1000N has it and the M109R Cruiser too.

    P.S: This thing is so pretty i would put it in a glass box as a table center piece.

  • kielbasa

    “And the output shaft appeares to have a mighty small diameter for all that power.”

    That’s the shift shaft, not the output shaft.

  • Bjorn

    @Mike D: I assumed the hook arrangement on the end of the exhaust cam was the decompresser assembly.

  • MikeD


    That’s why i said it must be a typo from Ducatis editor(s). I saw the same thing but heard-read another.

    U tell me…LOL.

  • Rob749

    @Doctor Jelly

    MY KTM RC8 R has a heat exchanger (looks almost exactly the same as that one).

    Back on topic: Holy Crap that is beautiful!!! Check out those conrods and pistons!!! Straight from F1!

    I would love to see what the combustion chambers look like, must be pretty special to stop those pistons outrunning the flame front at high rpm, and still be able to idle!

    Love it, pity it costs the earth :(

    Funny that a base MV Agusta F4 will be cheaper than a Ducati Superbike…

  • Minibull

    @MikeD: I think your thinking along the lines of bevel cam gears. The chain/gear has been used on quite a few of the big twins, RSV, TL/SV engine. Im guessing it saves weight a bit and is cheaper to produce.

  • BikePilot

    The big thing with the chain/gear drive system as well is that it reduces cylinder head height – allows you to use much smaller cam sprockets without the complexity of full gear drive all the way. Also it makes valve adjustments much easier in a conventional head as the cams lift right out with no fussing about with the chain.

  • elwe

    With the primary chain tensioner on the upper side; is the engine rotating backwards?

  • MikeD

    elwe says:
    With the primary chain tensioner on the upper side; is the engine rotating backwards?

    Nope. Same old rotation (same as the wheels).

  • MikeD

    Minibull says:
    @MikeD: I think your thinking along the lines of bevel cam gears. The chain/gear has been used on quite a few of the big twins, RSV, TL/SV engine. Im guessing it saves weight a bit and is cheaper to produce.

    Like the Kawasaki W800 ? If so then NO, NOT at all.
    I was talking like what Suzuki uses on the M109R, same as the TL1000S/R and SV1000N/S…wich is basically what Ducati is using here.