Ducati seems to be ready to launch a new version of its limited-edition halo superbike, the Superleggera, and it apparently comes with some staggering numbers: 220 hp and 342 lbs. Oh, and then there’s the purported 66,000 English Pounds it’s rumored to cost in Europe.

Of course, none of this is actually official. Ducati had launched a web portal that some of its best customers were given access to, project1408.ducati.com, in which some details about a new superbike were released. Inside is information about a spate of new carbon-fiber components that surely must be part of a thoroughly updated Superleggera.

Here's Ducati's 1199 Superleggera unclothed and showing its magnesium frame that will be replaced by a carbon unit on the 1299 Superleggera. Aluminum swingarm and wheels will also be replaced by carbon components.

Here’s Ducati’s 1199 Superleggera unclothed and showing its magnesium frame that will be replaced by a carbon unit on the 1299 Superleggera. Aluminum swingarm and wheels will also be replaced by carbon components.

Our media rep at Ducati, Nathon Verdugo, wouldn’t confirm a new Superleggera, but he did allow that, “Ducati is always in evolving its superbikes and we will always be a superbike leader. At EICMA we’re going to deliver our stamp on the superbike world with a sledgehammer.”

A letter Ducati sent to its premium customers states its “engineers have once again created a motorcycle that redefines the boundaries of what is possible, turning a dream into reality.”

Ducati Panigale Superleggera Quick-Ride Review Video

The previous Superleggera, Italian for super light, retailed in America for a heady $65,000 and was rated at “>200 hp.” This new one shares the same 342-lb dry weight but employs carbon fiber in new areas for a production motorcycle.

This carbon-fiber piece serves as the main component of the Superleggera's frame and also its airbox

This carbon-fiber piece serves as the main component of the Superleggera’s frame and also its airbox

Most interesting is the carbon steering-head section of the monocoque frame replacing the magnesium frame member of the existing Superleggera. Ducati says this carbon section with 7075 aluminum inserts saves 3.53 lbs over the aluminum component on the regular Panigale, a 38% reduction, but no mention is made of how much lighter it is than the mag piece from the current SL said to weigh 6.6 lbs.

Text says the new carbon bits undergo “MotoGP-standard quality control measures such as Active Transient Thermography, Ultrasonic Phased Array and Computed Axial Tomography” to be sure of its structural integrity.


This also applies to the new carbon swingarm, another first for a production bike. It also uses 7075 aluminum inserts to aid structural strength, and it is purported to be 18% lighter (1.98 lbs) than the aluminum unit on the 1299 Panigale.

More carbon is found in the wheels, which are said to weigh a total of 3.1 lbs less than Ducati’s premium forged aluminum hoops. They offer a claimed reduction of rolling inertia by 26% on front wheel and 58% on rear. It’s likely they are sourced from BST.


As for the Ducati 1408 nomenclature, we’re highly skeptical it refers to the size of its engine, as it would be impossible to enlarge the existing 1285cc motor that much. It’s more likely it is part of recent naming conventions since Audi took over Ducati, in which the first two digits are likely the year the project was started, and the second two digits perhaps the number of that year’s bike-development projects.

This new Superleggera will use an uprated version of the 1299’s motor, still less than 1300cc. It will surely be lighter and more powerful than any other production Ducati, something around 220 hp when rated at its crankshaft, and it will have a dual-piped underseat exhaust like the latest Panigale factory Superbike.


“There are some things about this platform that are different from anything else out there,” Verdugo teased. “We are trying to expand our brand and create new riders (with bikes like the Scrambler), but we are at our heart and soul a superbike company.”

Full details will be revealed November 7 at Ducati’s press conference the day before the EICMA show in Milan begins.

2016 Intermot Motorcycle Show Coverage

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  • Alan G

    i’ll take 2.

  • Born to Ride

    Hmm, I wonder how much that carbon fiber steering head affects the torsional rigidity. I suppose the AL inserts are probably there to reinforce the part of the structure under the most compressive stress during cornering and braking. That is the tricky thing about working in composites, their behavior under load can vary wildly because the mechanical properties are directional (Anisotropic for those of you material science nerds out there). I cannot imagine the difficulty those engineers encountered when testing those structures. If it handles as well as the aluminum and magnesium steering heads and swing arms, then it is a true feat.

    • DickRuble

      Britten used carbon fiber steering, swingarm, and fairing twenty years ago. Ducati is really on the leading edge of innovation of 1996.

      • Born to Ride

        This is true, but at most it gives the structure two directions in which its ultimate tensile strength is maximized. Often times this can be bolstered by having layered composites that are bonded together with their fibers 45 degrees out of plane to improve the isotropy of the whole structure, but you have to remember that carbon fiber is far stronger in tension than it is in compression. Out of plane shear stresses occur then you add torsion to the mix, and introduce tensor components that are compressive, the Achilles heel of polymers and composites that incorporate them such as CF. Modeling a system like a motorcycle chassis is hard enough under static conditions with an isotropic material like aluminum or steel, I can’t imagine how you are supposed to design something like that under dynamic loading with an anisotropic material like CF. But I guess that is why they make millions of dollars and I do not.

        • DickRuble

          Not everything needs modeling. Often prototyping is faster and more informative. So don’t feel bad, you don’t know how to do it and neither do they. Britten certainly didn’t computer model his bike, though he gave it a programmable ECU.

    • Will

      Lockheed and General Dynamics need your expertise urgently to explain why their combat jets are going to fall out of the sky. just kidding.

      • Born to Ride

        Way to add to the conversation bro. I bet you were the guy that sat in the back of science class and made fun of the try-hards that asked the teacher questions.

      • Sam Bose

        I worked for GD. You’re spot on that they need good Engineers. Born To Ride would be a step up for them.

  • kenneth_moore

    Are the 7075 aluminium inserts for load-bearing surfaces new to motorcycle design/technology? I wonder if it’s a automotive tech that’s made it’s way into bikes.

    Are any other bike makers using carbon for structural components the way Ducati is? I know many have sub-components that they’ve switched to carbon for lightness, but I don’t think I’ve seen any with a carbon “frame” or swingarm. (Ok, aside from Britten!)

    • Born to Ride

      I presume that the Al inserts are to reinforce critical portions of the structure that see maximum compressive stress under loading. What we refer to as carbon fiber is actually composite material that uses a polymer matrix to hold together woven strands of carbon fibers. Carbon fibers are immensely strong under tensile loading(Being pulled apart), however, because they are thin strands of fibers, they will buckle if you stress them like a pillar. Meaning that the compressive strength of a carbon fiber composite is mostly a property of the epoxy it is layed up in. That doesn’t mean that it is weak by any means, the way materials actually break(brittle fracture) or permanently bend(yielding failure) is a result of shear stresses, which occur naturally in the material when it is stressed in any mode. The maximum shear stress of the composite is greatly increased by the presence of the carbon reinforcement. However, the reinforcement does not give strength equally in all directions because the carbon fibers lend their strength on the axis that they are layed in. This means that different loading modes(braking, turning, landing a wheelie) of the same structure can produce wildly varying amounts of shear stress within the material. Aluminum and steel have the same strength in all directions. This makes them a reliable source of reinforcement strength in composite structures that have a weakness to a specific type of loading.

  • Steve Cole

    I’m holding out for their 1099 middleweight.


    • Born to Ride

      If we go by actual weights, the panigale 959 has a claimed curb weight of 430 lbs. which is pretty middleweighty. The bikes in the 600cc class are all around 420lbs.

  • Volker

    “Look, dear esteemed HNWI customer, here’s a login for our TOTALLY SECRET PAGE with TOTALLY SECRET INFORMATION, and we’ll TOTALLY SUE YOU if you pass that info to the media, so don’t do it, m’kay?”

    That’s such a ridiculous marketing ploy. You don’t show stuff to the general public that you don’t want the general public to know. This rather serves two purposes: Give rich people a feeling of specialness, and putting some morsels towards the public with the hint of secrecy and exclusiveness.

    • Larry Kahn

      I think you might have this confused with some of the election news on the democratic side…