It’s been known for a while that Ducati has been working on a new supersport bike that borrows it engine technology from the company’s MotoGP bike, which spy pictures proliferating all across the web of late. Now however, the company has officially taken the wraps off the engine that will be powering this motorcycle – a new 1,103cc V4 motor that spells the end of the V-twin superbike from this legendary Italian motorcycle maker.
The Borgo Panigale based company had so far vehemently stuck to powering all their road bikes with V-twin engines, but had used the V4 formula for years when it came to their MotoGP machine.
This new motor is called the Desmosedici Stradale – an indication of the company’s MotoGP tech transferring to the road – and will be at the heart of the Panigale V4, which is all set to be Ducati’s first mass produced 4-cylinder bike. Speaking at the unveil, Claudio Domenicali, CEO of Ducati, commented “This engine also demonstrates the close collaboration between Ducati Corse and the group developing production motorcycles, and how much racing is able to develop technology that is then usable for the standard models".
The Stradale is a very interesting bit of kit in itself, and represents a departure from many of Ducati’s (road-bike) traditions. While the V4 mill maintains the 90 degree layout seen on their V-twins, the cylinder heads have been rotated back 42 degrees from the horizontal, making them less like Ducati’s L-layout and more like a traditional V-layout. Ducati claims that this allows for the integration of larger radiators, moves the swingarm pivot as forward as possible and makes for an easier integration of the engine as the central core of the frame.
Of course, as the same suggests, the motor uses the company’s characteristic Desmodromic valves which are now driven by four overhead cams. One rather fascinating aspect of this motor is the counter-rotating crankshaft, which rotates in the opposite direction of the rear wheel – an idea taken straight from racing which compensates for the gyroscopic and rotating inertias of the wheels. This apparently also reduces wheelieing when under hard acceleration and mitigates rear wheel lift under braking. The 70 degree offset on the crank pins has allowed for a rather unique firing order (which Ducati calls Twin Pulse), which along with variable height intakes provides great ridability and supposedly a brilliant engine soundtrack.
This Stradale sports a massive 81mm bore – the same as on Ducati’s MotoGP bike and the widest ever on a four-cylinder motorcycle. Coupled with a short stroke of 53.5mm and a high compression ratio of 14:1, you’re looking a mental 210hp on tap and 120Nm of tyre shredding torque. The engine’s six-speed gearbox comes with a slipper clutch, engine braking control and a quickshifter for both up and down shifting.
The magnesium-and-aluminium motor is compact in size and weighs in at just 64.5kg – just 2 kilos more than the 1,285cc twin-cylinder Superquadro. To further keep its bulk in check, it houses the water pump for its liquid cooling system in between the V of the cylinders. The engine uses a MotoGP style semi-dry case lubrication, with the oil tank also housing the filter located in a magnesium oil sump under the crankcase. Ducati has worked hard on maximising this engine’s durability and has achieved a standard Desmo service interval of 24,000km for this incredibly powerful motor.
A large reason behind shifting from a V-twin to V4 for their road bikes was the lack of success the twin-cylinder motor was enjoying in World Superbike (WSBK) racing in recent times. Ducati does plan to go racing with this new bike and motor and as such has plans for an R version of the same. This version will be a homologation special designed for track use with a displacement under 1,000cc, and will be launched one year after the Panigale V4’s 2018 launch date.