Du­cati get ex­treme for their se­cret new Su­per­leg­gera

Motorcycle News (UK) - - This Week - By Richard New­land

“The time has come to share with you a pre­view of our new ex­tra­or­di­nary project. In Ital­ian we speak of a con­cept we call ‘quin­tes­sence’ – it means the per­fect man­i­fes­ta­tion of a thing; the high­est de­vel­op­ment and purest ex­pres­sion of its soul.

“Our engi­neers have once again cre­ated a mo­tor­cy­cle that re­de­fines the bound­aries of what is pos­si­ble, turn­ing a dream into re­al­ity. The quin­tes­sence of Du­cati. All as­pects of this mo­tor­cy­cle are taken to the max­i­mum ex­pres­sion of what is tech­ni­cally pos­si­ble to­day. Unequalled tech­nol­ogy and pas­sion in a lim­ited edi­tion for true en­thu­si­asts.”

So says Clau­dio Domeni­cali, CEO of Du­cati, in his wel­come let­ter on the in­vite-only, pass­word-pro­tected web­site teas­ing the firm’s supremely ex­clu­sive new Su­per­leg­gera – which is cur­rently re­ferred to as ‘Project 1408.’

Set, we be­lieve, to be un­veiled at next week’s Mi­lan show, the spec looks likely to redefine what man­u­fac­tur­ers see as a flag­ship superbike. And one word dom­i­nates the ethos of this bike: su­perlight. Ac­tu­ally, there’s an­other word: ex­pen­sive. The new Su­per­leg­gera is ex­pected to cost around £70,000.

Car­bon-fi­bre is lav­ished upon al­most ev­ery com­po­nent that can be fab­ri­cated from the won­der­ful weave, com­pli- mented by alu­minium, ti­ta­nium and mag­ne­sium for pretty much ev­ery­thing else ex­cept the tyres and light­ing.

And while the tan­ta­lis­ingly teas­ing web­site con­tin­ues to re­veal a few new de­tails each week, MCN’S spy snap­pers have also cap­tured the 1408 on the pub­lic road in Italy – twice. The first was back in June, the sec­ond just a week ago, look­ing far more pro­duc­tion-ready.

While it might not look too dif­fer­ent at a quick glance, a lot of star­ing at the de­tail re­veals this is in­deed the next-gen­er­a­tion Su­per­leg­gera. The black gloss fair­ings and lack of gold on the Öh­lins makes it look like a base model, but those wheels are the car­bon-fi­bre ones seen on the Project 1408 web­site, the fair­ings are one-piece, as is the seat unit, and the sus­pen­sion is also iden­ti­cal to that re­vealed on the mi­crosite. It may be dis­guised with plain­ness and miss­ing many of its car­bon trin­kets, but this is the new Su­per­leg­gera – set to be phe­nom­e­nally lightweight and dev­as­tat­ingly ef­fec­tive on track. And we know quite a bit about it...

‘Car­bon-fi­bre is used for al­most ev­ery pos­si­ble com­po­nent’

The frame game

The mono­coque frame is – yes, you guessed it – con­structed us­ing high-strength car­bon-fi­bre with 7075 alu­minium al­loy in­serts lam­i­nated into the car­bon struc­ture. Over­all weight sav­ing com­pared to the frame of the 1299 Pani­gale is 1.6kg, or 38% less. The sub­frame plays the same game, shav­ing 1.3kg off the to­tal com­pared to the 1299 Pani­gale’s alu­minium unit.

Rolling stock

Car­bon wheels are matched to alu­minium hubs. Less un­sprung mass and lower in­er­tia have a tan­gi­ble ef­fect on ac­cel­er­a­tion, brak­ing, and di­rec­tion changes. The weight re­duc­tion is 1.4kg for a pair, com­pared to their forged alu­minium coun­ter­parts, with a claimed re­duc­tion in rolling in­er­tia of 26% front and 58% rear.

The rise and fall

The fork is a fully ad­justable 43mm Öh­lins FL936 unit with TIN treat­ment, lightweight bil­let fork bot­toms and lightweight stress-op­ti­mised outer tubes. In the quest for max­i­mum light­ness, lightweight springs are also used. At the rear nes­tles a fully ad­justable Öh­lins TTX36 shock with a lightweight ti­ta­nium spring, and an ad­justable link­age con­nect­ing it to the car­bon-fi­bre sin­gle-sided swingarm (right).

Set to stun

While much of the spec is still ed­u­cated guess­work, the facts are now com­ing thick and fast, too. The big vis­ual dif­fer­ence be­tween the two bikes we’ve seen test­ing is the switch from high-level ex­hausts to more con­ven­tional un­der­belly si­lencers on this test mule. But MCN’S sources sug­gest that the Wsb-style high-level Akrapovic ver­sion will ac­tu­ally find its way onto the pro­duc­tion bike – not just the of­fi­cial op­tions list.

Still a twin

Per­sis­tent ru­mours of a V4 cer­tainly have no rel­e­vance here. The new Su­per­leg­gera is very clearly a con­ven­tional Du­cati L-twin, and Domeni­cali con­firms this in his mis­sive, say­ing: “At its heart is a unique twin-cylin­der en­gine that is des­tined to make his­tory.” The ex­ist­ing Su­per­leg­gera is a 1198cc 8v V-twin that de­vel­ops an ex­tra­or­di­nary 200bhp and 99ftlb torque, but the rhetoric sug­gests this new bike will be 1285cc and over 210bhp.

The light fan­tas­tic

“Light­ness de­fines the per­for­mance of a mo­tor­cy­cle,” say Du­cati. “Never be­fore has a pro­duc­tion mo­tor­cy­cle been en­dowed with ex­otic ma­te­ri­als to such an ex­tent.”

Du­cati cer­tainly seem to be tak­ing weight loss se­ri­ously. As well as the car­bon wheels, the 1408 gets a car­bon mono­coque frame, sub­frame, tail, seat and fair­ings. The pur­suit of light­ness means that all fix­ings are also made ex­clu­sively from ti­ta­nium or alu­minium.

Sin­gles club

The car­bon-fi­bre sin­gle-sided swingarm was de­vel­oped with Du­cati Corse to get the ultimate bal­ance of rigid­ity for a wide range of rid­ing con­di­tions. The swingarm em­ploys the same tech­nol­ogy as the mono­coque frame: high-strength car­bon-fi­bre and a high-tem­per­a­tur­ere­sis­tant resin sys­tem with 7075 alu­minium al­loy in­serts, co-lam­i­nated into the car­bon-fi­bre struc­ture. It’s claimed to be a sig­nif­i­cant 900g, or 18%, lighter than the 1299 Pani­gale’s alu­minium ver­sion.

New spyshot re­veals bike is close to finished

High-level ex­hausts seen on the pre­vi­ous test mule are miss­ing

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