When surveying the current superbike landscape, the Ducati 1199 Panigale stands taller than most. Its close-coupled bodywork, booming L-twin engine and strong, lightweight frame (of which the engine is a structural member) conspire to provide astonishing performance. Essentially, it’s the two-wheeled analogue to a famous four-wheeled pavement scorcher that also hails from Italy, the Ferrari 458 Italia.
But what if Ducati was to make an 1199 that was conceptually similar to the Ferrari 458 Speciale? You know, more power, less weight and trick chassis bits? Well, it would probably look and feel a lot like the 2014 1199 Superleggera.
Styling-wise, the 1199 Superleggera isn’t that much different from the 1199 Panigale (including the S and R versions). The windscreen has been reshaped, and there are white stripes along the flanks of the bright red bodywork that pay homage to the liveries of Ducati racing bikes, but the overall shape and proportions remain the same. However, many of the components that fit inside that shape have been replaced with lighter substitutes. The monocoque chassis is formed from magnesium (rather than the Panigale’s aluminum piece), as are the spindly Marchesini wheels. The rear sub-frame and the bodywork are made of carbon fiber, and the rear suspension utilizes a titanium coil spring. Additional compensation for pavement irregularities comes courtesy of Öhlins, specifically a FL916 front suspension with fully-machined fork bottoms and a TTX36 rear system, while braking force is provided by Brembo’s M50 Monobloc rotors and racing-style MCS 19-21 front master cylinder.
More weight-saving tricks are found in the powertrain. The 1,198cc Superquadro L-twin already had titanium connecting rods and intake valves, but the Superleggera-spec engine also gets titanium exhaust valves and, for the first time on a Ducati street bike, short-skirt pistons with only two rings each. Reshaped piston crowns (for a higher compression ratio) and a titanium exhaust system are two other key changes that allow the hopped-up engine produce what Ducati will only say is “more than 200 horsepower.”
All that exotic material adds up to some serious weight savings; so serious, in fact, that Ducati claims the 1199 Superleggera has a dry weight of an almost scooter-like 342 lbs. Couple that with the 200+ ponies stampeding under the gas tank and you’re left with what the company claims is the best power-to-weight ratio of any street legal production motorcycle in history. And if you want to make that power-to-weight figure even more outstanding, you can order an 1199 Superleggera with a not-street-legal “Race Kit.” Consisting of an Akrapovic titanium racing exhaust system, taller windscreen, dust cover, paddock stands, and hardware for removing the mirrors, kickstand and license plate bracket, the Race Kit adds 5 horsepower and removes 5.5 lbs.
Ducati hasn’t publicized how many, uh, ducats you’ll have to part with to put an 1199 Superleggera in your garage. However, it has said it has already sold about three-fourths of the 500 bike production run to some of its most loyal customers and prolific collectors. So, chances are you won’t be able to score one (not brand new, anyway). But cheer up, champ; Ducati has released the following video and a bunch of photos to help give you a sort of virtual Superleggera ownership experience. That’s kinda nice, right?