How do you top a 221 hp, wing-sprouting beast like the Panigale V4 R? If you’re Ducati, the answer is to add more winglets and replace the V4 R’s fairing and chassis with carbon fiber and reduce the weight by 35 pounds to a claimed dry weight of 351 pounds. Top it off with a paint scheme inspired by the Desmosedici GP19 MotoGP bike’s livery and you get the 2020 Ducati Superleggera V4. A limited edition model (only 500 individually numbered units will be produced), the Superleggera V4 is billed as the “most powerful and technologically advanced production Ducati ever built.”
Ducati replaced the Panigale V4’s entire frame, subframe, swingarm and wheels with carbon fiber. According to Ducati, this makes the Superleggera V4 the world’s first street-legal motorcycle to have an entire load-bearing structure of the chassis made from carbon (but not entirely carbon; Ducati says the frame employs 7075 aluminum alloy inserts co-laminated into the composite structure). The carbon chassis alone contributed to a 14.7-pound weight savings compared to the Panigale V4.
The carbon parts were developed using three different non-destructive inspection testing methods typically employed in the aerospace industry: Active Transient Thermography for inspecting the surface layers, Ultrasonic Phased Array for two-dimensional analysis, and Computed Axial Tomography for three-dimensional X-ray inspection. These checks helped ensure each component meets quality and safety standards.
The Superleggera’s aero package goes even further than the aerodynamic options available for the Panigale V4 and V4 R, and even Ducati’s current MotoGP bikes. The “biplane” design was inspired by the Desmosedici GP16, which Ducati says was more aerodynamically efficient than the current racebikes, which have to follower stricter racing regulations. According to Ducati, the biplane aerofoils produce a groundforce of 50 kg at 270 kph (110 pounds at 168 mph), compared to 30 kg (66 pounds) from the Panigale’s aerofoils.
The upper aerofoil has a longitudinally-arranged strake and endplate for added downforce. The lower aerofoil helps to reduce overall drag. The result, says Ducati, is greater stability, less front-end float and less of a tendency to wheelie at high speeds.
The engine is unchanged from the Panigale V4 R’s 998cc powerplant, claiming an output of 221 hp with its standard Akrapovič exhaust. The included Racing Kit comes with a track-use-only titanium Akrapovič exhaust which increases output to a claimed 230 hp. These numbers, however, are for the European-spec of the engine. North American numbers were not provided, but they should be similar to the V4 R which claims 209 hp with the standard exhaust. Like the V4 R, the Superleggera V4 uses a dry clutch.
In addition to the Panigale’s three pre-programmed ride modes, the Superleggera V4 gets an additional five modes that can be personalized by the rider. The Superleggera comes with a GPS-equipped onboard lap timer that can save data of five different race tracks. By default, the system comes preprogrammed with data for Laguna Seca, Mugello, Jerez, Sepang and Losail, for those fortunate enough to be riding the Superleggera on one of these five GP-quality circuits.
Other highlights include a five-inch TFT color screen, 43mm Öhlins NPX25/30 inverted fork, an Öhlins TTX36, Brembo Stylema R calipers, CNC-machined levers and Pirelli Diablo Supercorsa SP tires.
Each Superleggera V4 will come with a certificate of authenticity and an invitation to ride a Panigale V4 R at a World Superbike event at Mugello. Additionally, 30 Superleggera owners will also get the chance to ride the Desmosedici GP20. Ducati plans to begin delivery to European customers in June. There’s no word, however, about delivery to North American buyers.