The Ducati Panigale V4/ V4S is highly regarded as one of the fastest and most technologically advanced superbikes on sale. The V4s blew our minds when we rode it in Valencia and on the streets of India. Ducati then launched a V4 R version too. But, if you thought that was the pinnacle of the V4 series' performance, Ducati has a surprise. The engineers in Borgo Panigale have cooked up another iteration of the bike, badged the Superleggera V4 and it promises to take the Ducati V4 experience to a whole new level.
Superleggera means 'super-light' in Italian, and as they say, weight is the enemy of speed. So, the Superleggera ditches the aluminium bits for carbon fibre and it's been used to form every component possible to improve performance. The Superleggera V4 features carbon-fibre fairing, wheels, swingarm, frame and subframe. In all, Ducati has managed to trim 6.7kg, which is significant for a high-performance superbike. In fact, the Superleggera V4 tips the scales at 159kg (dry), which is 11kg lighter than the Panigale V4. The claimed power-to-weight ratio in this street-legal configuration is 1.41hp/kg. Ducati will also supply a track-only, titanium Akrapovic exhaust that reduces the weight further to 152.2kg, while bumping up the power-to-weight ratio to 1.54hp/kg.
It also gets a lightweight engine. The Superleggera V4's 998cc, the liquid-cooled motor is 2.8kg lighter than the 1,103cc Panigale V4 motor, and develops 224hp in the street-legal trim. Fitting the Akrapovic track exhaust liberates an additional 10hp, taking the total output to 234hp. Let that sink in! The engine uses a dry clutch and manually adjustable desmodromic timing, further highlighting its racetrack readiness.
There's no question then that a motorcycle that weighs as much as a 200cc bike but produces over 10 times its power will offer ballistic performance. We can't imagine the level of skill required to tame such a powerful motorcycle. There is, of course, a comprehensive suite of electronics to keep everything in check with three reprogrammed riding modes – Race A, Race B and Sports. The Ducati Traction Control (DTC), and up and down Ducati Quickshifter (DQS) have been updated to EVO2 (latest generation) specifications.
Besides the advanced electronics, the Ohlins suspension has also been optimised. The fork bottoms are now made of lighter aluminium, while the titanium shock absorber and GP-derived valves offer improved damping while tackling road bumps, says Ducati.
The company has also employed its MotoGP aero tech to develop the huge bi-plane wings on the fairing. At 270kph, it produces 50kg downforce, 20kg more than the wings on the 2020 Panigale V4 and V4 R. Additionally, the wings are said to counter the tendency to wheelie under hard acceleration, and improve braking stability. On the subject of brakes, the Brembo MCS adjuster and Style R pads are exclusive to the Superleggera V4.
The lightweight, higher power, longer swingarm and other advancements have made the Superleggera V4 an ultimate superbike, according to Ducati. It is claimed to stop quicker, lean faster and attack corners with more precision. To attest to that, Ducati let loose their star test rider, Alessandro Valia on the Superleggera V4 (in track kit and slick tyres) at Mugello, and he managed to clock a 1min52.45s time. That's less than two seconds off Duacti's WSBK Panigale V4 R machine ridden by Michele Pirro!
It goes without saying that the Superleggera will be eye-wateringly expensive, and that's not just because of the exotic materials and the high performance, but also because it is limited to 500 units, worldwide. Spending a bomb on the Superleggera V4 will also give owners access to a special 'SBK experience' – which is a chance to ride the Panigale V4 SBK race machine at Mugello. If that wasn't enough, 30 Superleggera V4 owners will get a chance to ride the Ducati Desmosedici GP20 Moto GP machine under the able guidance of Ducati Corse technicians. Another addition to the list of exclusives is that owners can also purchase a Superleggera V4 special edition Dainese tracksuit, with a D-Air airbag system and a matching, carbon-fibre ARAI helmet.
The Ducati Superleggera V4 deliveries will begin in Europe from June 2020. The company can only produce five bikes a day but it intends to complete all 500 units by the end of 2020. More information on if the bike will come to India once Ducati India gets back to us. The Italian brand is expected to sell one or two units of the bike like they've done in the past. The Superleggera V4 is expected to cost slightly higher than the 1299 Superleggera that was priced at Rs 1.12 crore (ex-showroom, Delhi).