The Ducati Panigale 1299 is already a remarkable superbike. But at its World Premier event, a couple of days before the commencement of the Milan Motorcycle Show (EICMA) 2016, Ducati showed off an evolution of the Panigale which is supposed to be the most powerful twin-cylinder production bike it has ever built. So you’d better believe they mean serious business. The end result is a new Superleggera that is not only more powerful than the standard Panigale, but significantly lighter as well. Naturally, you can certainly expect some earth-shattering performance.
More horses than ever
This new 1299 Superleggera uses the Panigale’s 1285cc Superquadro V-twin engine, in the same over-square 116mm x 60.8mm bore and stroke configuration as the standard bike. However Ducati put a lot of work in increasing the motor’s peak horsepower. To achieve that, the piston crowns have been reshaped to increase the compression ratio of the cylinders from 12.6:1 to 13.0:1. Apart from that, all the valves have now been made from titanium and are larger than before. The camshafts have been reworked too, to increase lift, and the overall cylinder head has been modified with reshaped intake and exhaust ports. The intake system has been updated as well, with a new WSBK-derived air filter, more aerodynamic throttle body opening and intake trumpets of varying lengths. These changes, apart from all those made to reduce weight in the engine as well, result in a motor that now makes a staggering 215hp of peak power at 11,000rpm – that’s 10hp more than the standard Panigale.
An obsession with weight loss
Ducati has gone all out in shedding every kilogramme from the Superleggera. Let's start with the engine. The Superquadro motor gets a lighter, tungsten-balanced crankshaft, titanium connecting rods, a lighter flywheel and aluminium cylinder liners. All of this drops about 2.1kg from the engine’s weight. As with the standard Panigale, the engine forms the central member of the bike’s chassis, to which the various components are mated. In the Superleggera’s case, both the monocoque and swingarm are made out of carbon fibre with 7,057 aluminium inserts laminated into the structures. The frame is about 1.7kg less than before while the swingarm is about 0.9kg lighter. About 1.4kg is saved by using carbon-fibre wheels which offer the added advantage of reduced rolling resistance. The updated Ohlins suspension is also about 1.8kg lighter. The final equation is a bike with a claimed wet weight of just 167kg! That’s about the same as a KTM RC390! 215hp on a bike that tips the scales at 167kg… you do the math!
Supercomputer on wheels
The electronics package on the Superleggera has been completely revised as well and is an evolution of the system found on the 1299 Panigale S Anniversario that was launched earlier this year. The 1299’s six-axis IMU, or Inertial Measurement Unit has received updated logic for this bike for much faster operations and more precise intervention. The DTC EVO (traction control) now reads from the lean angle sensors of the IMU and is designed to allow more wheelspin at level 1 and level 2. When the traction control cuts in, it does so by reducing throttle body valve opening and can even manipulate spark and fuel injection if the rear wheel slides much more. The three-level DSC, or Ducati Slide Control, now also works on limiting slide angle rather than just wheelspin. The Superleggera gets an updated version of DWC EVO (wheelie control) from the 1299 Anniversario along with recalibrated cornering ABS, launch control, engine brake control and a quickshifter that provides seamless, clutchless shifts, when upshifting and downshifting.
Undoubtedly the Panigale 1299 Superleggera is a phenomenal motorcycle, and if Ducati is to be believed, the most advanced superbike in the market today. Too bad only 500 examples of this mental machine will ever be made. But that’s okay considering that each of them could easily go for upwards of USD 80,000 (approximately Rs 53.30 lakh).