2012 Ducati Superbike: +20 HP/-20 lbs

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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.