One horsepower per kilogram: it’s the kind of power-to-weight ratio you only see in the world’s most exclusive multi-million dollar hypercars. But at 231 hp and 152 kg (335 lb), the Ducati Superleggera V4 absolutely obliterates that figure, making 1.54 hp/kg.
This, mind you, is with a fancy racing kit and its titanium Akrapovic exhaust fitted. Out of the box (although the racing kit does come in the box), you’ll have to make do with a paltry 221 fully road-legal horsepower and a positively corpulent 159 kg (351 lb). Thumbing through the regulations for World Superbike production-based racing, it appears the rules require WSBK bikes to weigh at least 168 kg (370 lb). So there’s a genuine chance this one might not stick to the ground, and could float you away over the treetops.
Superleggera is Italian for “Reallylight,” and Ducati has used this designation before for special-edition superbikes that are tuned to the eyeballs and shaved to the last gram for weight savings. This new V4 would instantly become the #1 machine kids would pin up on their bedroom walls, if touchscreens hadn’t been invented and kids gave a single, solitary toss about motorcycles any more.
The entire load-bearing structure of the chassis is made from carbon or composites – the frame, the subframe, the wheels … even the swingarm is an elaborate carbon construction that looks like you could pick it up with one finger. All the bodywork is carbon, too, much of it finished raw so you can see the weave.
At this point, we have to discuss the hideous wings sprouting from the side fairings. Ducati calls them “biplane airfoils” and proudly boasts they give you 50 kg (110 lb) of downforce at 270 km/h (168 mph), helping to keep the nose down under high-speed acceleration, and squashing the front wheel down for extra traction when you’re braking at the end of a straight. Fine, if you’re riding this thing on the track, keep the wings on. On the road, they just make a beautiful bike look profoundly silly, and they don’t even look like you could rest your legs on them on the highway.
The motor is the Desmosedici Stradale V4 R – the 998cc one instead of the 1,103cc unit that graces the standard Panigale. Why? It weighs less. It doesn’t seem to be lacking in power, either. And yes, that’s an open clutch cover. This thing will rattle like a tambourine at idle, like all Ducatis should.
You wouldn’t expect Ducati to skimp on chassis componentry, so the combination of top-shelf Brembo and Ohlins gear is no surprise. Brakes are exclusive variants of the Stylema R series, and the suspension has been chosen for its light weight, including a titanium spring on the shock, GP-derived valving and a pressurized fork.
The dash and electronics are very track-focused, to the point where Ducati has called in MotoGP luminary Andrea Dovizioso to help design the raciest dash layout. Riding modes have gone nuts, with new Race A and Race B modes, as well as five custom modes you can set and save yourself. What’s more, you can save up to five favorite racetracks into the bike’s memory, so you can look back over your lap times and splits historically and record new ones.
As one of the most outrageous and desirable machines currently in production, the Superleggera V4 will be extremely expensive (price TBA) and limited to 500 units. Due to the complexity of the parts, Ducati’s only committing to making five a day, but it says all orders should be fulfilled within 2020. If you want, and why wouldn’t you, you can get it with a special carbon helmet and Superleggera-branded airbag-equipped leathers from Dainese.
The price will include a chance to ride Ducati’s Panigale V4 R superbike at Mugello, and there’s also 30 spots available if you want to upgrade that to go and ride Dovizioso or Petrucci’s MotoGP bike. And folks, as much as riding this Superleggera V4 would be an unforgettable experience, slinging a leg over a Desmosedici GP20 is the kind of thing that only happens in the moistest of motorcycling dreams. What a wonderful world we live in, if you’ve got a ton of money.
Plenty of gorgeous photos in the gallery, enjoy!