Now that’s a perk. Yes, Ducati has produced a positively bonkers bespoke velocity tool in the new V4 “Superleggera” (that’s Italian for “fast as hell and as spendy as you might imagine”), but for the 500 lucky buyers of the rapid red 234hp street-legal land missile, the most interesting feature might be the chance to throw a leg over the actual race bike the Superleggera is based on and get in some ultra-hot laps at the Mugello racetrack in Tuscany, Italy. More on that below.
No price has been announced for Ducati’s latest two-wheeled pièce de résistance, internally known as Project 1708, but seeing as how the last Superleggera went for about $70,000 per copy, we expect this even higher-performing masterpiece will cost that or more. But as is usually the case with Ducati’s limited edition hyperbikes, you do get what you pay for. In this case, that includes nearly all-carbon fiber construction – frame, wheels, bodywork – for a stunning weight of 350 pounds in street trim, and 335 pounds when prepped for the track. Much of the weight loss for track trim comes from fitment of a track-only (yeah, ha ha) exhaust system made from titanium and possibly ground unicorn horns. Both the Superleggeras’ street and track weights are actually well below the 370-pound minimum weight World Superbike imposes on their racing machines!
As mentioned earlier, Ducati has apparently once again found a way to extract even more energy from a drop of liquid dinosaur as the positively howling naturally aspirated Desmosedici Stradale V4 power plant – downsized to 998cc from the Panigale V4’s 1098cc mill to cut weight – cranks out 224 ponies for relaxed cruising around town with your pals and 234hp for scorching those pals at the track in race trim. The gives the Superleggera a power-to-weight ratio of 1.54 horsepower for every one kilogram. Compare that to, say, a full-pop Porsche 911 GT3 RS that’s hauling 2.7kg for every horsepower and you can begin to glimpse the acceleration that lies in wait with the Superleggera’s inverse P:W figure.
Safely controlling all that juice is beyond the scope of most humans, so the Superleggera is sporting some serious rider tech including two race modes and five user-settable riding modes (Fast, Even Faster and OMG would be some of my naming choices), a broad swath of ABS systems, traction control, quick shifter, slide control for MotoGP-worthy corner exits and a very comprehensive color LCD panel to toggle all of your tweaks and tuning. Proprietary Brembo brakes and Öhlin’s best suspenders are standard fare, natch, as is LED lighting all around and a properly noisy dry clutch.
The look of the Superleggera is a cross between art, purpose and design dictates, including not one but two sets of downforce-creating wings sprouting from the front fairing, which may be the bike’s only stylistic sore points. Maybe they have quick releases for street riding? I’ll check into it. But the wings are there for good reason as Ducati says they create even more more needed track-riding traction enhancement than the system on the equally powerful (but heavier) Panigale V4 R.
If you’re rolling your eyes at these power and weight figures, then you’re probably racing professionally or close to it, or you’re a bit full of yourself. Want to find out which? Then reel one in and take advantage of Ducati’s invitation to show your chops aboard their actual World Superbike machine, and if you’re really down for the sickness, option up for one of the 30 spots to take a few laps on their pinnacle GP20 MotoGP machine. There are a ton of asterisks, of course, including weight and height requirements, and seasoned Ducati factory riders eyeballing your skillz before they let you go anywhere near their multi-million dollar racing stallions. But if that’s you, have at it.