2020 Ducati Superleggera V4 First Ride Review

Here in California, the sales tax alone on Ducati’s $100,000 Superleggera V4 is more than I’ve sầu ever spent on a motorcycle.

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And the price tag is just one of several otherworldly figures swirling around this street-legal, ultra-exotic, V4 R-based superbike. The other stunners are the 350-pound weight & 234 horsepower. Both claimed, và both in need of interpretation.

Those 234 ponies are unleashed with the included Race Kit (that’s a complete titanium Akrapovic race exhaust and ECU reflash) và measured at the crankshaft, which isn’t useful unless you’re slotting this 998 cc Desmosedici Stradale R engine into a piece of direct-drive sầu industrial equipment. In a motorcycle, power has to travel through the transmission (and a jaông xã shaft in the V4, since the crank rotates “backwards”), plus the final drive sầu. Rule of thumb is roughly 10 percent drivetrain losses, but even after you knoông xã off 24 horsepower, the Superleggera is making well over 200 at the rear wheel at 15,250 rpm. Let that sink in.

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The 2020 Superlegga V4 is the lathử nghiệm "super light" superbike. Production will be limited to lớn 500 units. Ducati photo.

Meanwhile, that 350-pound claimed weight is “dry,” as in no gas, coolant, or other fluids. Why does Ducati list the weight of an unrideable machine when most other manufacturers have gone khổng lồ wet (also called “curb”) weight? The same reason you stand up straight & suchồng in your gut for that class-reunion pholớn — it makes you look better. The fact is that filled with all critical fluids the SL will likely tip in at about 400 pounds. That’s what a Yamaha MT-07 —one of the smallest and most flickable naked middleweights — weighs.

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The Superleggera"s engine is a de-stroked version of the 1,103 cc motor that powers the Panigale V4s. Its bore và stroke dimensions of 81.0 mm x 48.4 mm are the same as Ducati’s MotoGP.. racer. Ducati photo lớn.

So even with corrections for reality, the Superleggera V4 stats are extraordinary, và make the SL the lighthử nghiệm, most powerful, and most sophisticated motorcycle Ducati has ever produced. And on the topic of production, the final key figure is 500. As in that’s the total number of Superleggera V4s Ducati will make.

When it comes lớn such an expensive sầu, exclusive motorcycle, there are a lot of questions. After spending time with Ducati North America personnel và wrangling a pre-production Supeleggera around Lagumãng cầu Seca for a few laps, here’s my attempt khổng lồ make sense of it all.


Why does it exist?

Limited-production models are a Ducati tradition, an exercise that dates baông chồng khổng lồ the 888SPS of the late 1990s. Many models (including the V4 R the Superleggera is based on) were built for race homologation. In other words, performance-modified machines produced in sufficient numbers (typically 500 units in a year) to lớn make them legal for production-based series like World Superxe đạp.

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Exploring the limits of design is what the Superleggera V4 are all about. Ducati phokhổng lồ.

Other limited-edition bikes have been built for commemoration, while some exist simply as a manifestation of Ducati’s passion for performance và pioneering. Such is the case with the Superleggera V4.

Ducati says this bike serves as a demonstration of what it is capable of. It’s Ducati swinging for the fences. The SL V4 project establishes a new engineering benchmark for Bologna và was the impetus for pursuing technical solutions và processes that increase the company’s know-how. That includes new techniques for working with carbon fiber & greater experience in aerodynamics & computational fluid dynamics, among other things.

It’s that type of dedication and ardor that wins over enthusiasts’ hearts & compels Ducatisti khổng lồ get L-Twin tattoos. To a lot of people, this is exactly the sort of thing that makes Ducati, Ducati.

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The biplane wings use strakes, winglets, louvers, and flaps lớn create downforce. This is aeronautical engineering, applied khổng lồ motorcycles. Ducati pholớn.

Of course, the cynics ahy vọng us may lambaste the Superleggera V4 as an overpriced kinh doanh move sầu. But even if you think the SL is nothing more than a flex, you can’t deny that it’s straining the sleeves on Ducati’s T-shirt.

What’s so special about it?

Superleggera is Italian for “super light,” a term and treatment Ducati previously applied to the 1199 Panigale in năm trước. The recipe relies heavily on exotic materials like titanium and carbon fiber lớn reduce weight. So this bike is technically special because of its low mass and the extreme measures that were enacted to achieve it. Of course there’s the performance, as well as all the incredible technology and features that come on an ultra-premium superbike, and then there are the many intangibles that a creation like this represents.

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Ducati brakes are always badass. These use Brembo"s lademo Stylema R calipers, which have sầu coated & drilled pistons for reduced friction, reduced weight, và increased cooling. Ducati phokhổng lồ.

This lathử nghiệm Superleggera is based on the V4 R, the 998 cc homologation special introduced in 2019. Ducati then unfurled reams of carbon fiber and chucked up loads of aluminum and titanium khổng lồ slash 35 pounds off the V4 R. That’s no small feat, given that the V4 R had already gone on a diet that made it 15 pounds lighter than the standard, 1,103 cc Panigale V4.

The SL has carbon fiber, well, everything. The front frame, subframe, & swingarm are all formed from carbon fiber, & when you hold the components in your hands it’s hard lớn believe that something so light và delicate is strong enough to lớn harness the engine’s power. The chassis, such as it is, accounts for a seven-pound savings over the aluminum parts on the V4 R.

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Each Superleggera will be individually numbered. The three bikes on site at Lagumãng cầu were unnumbered pre-production machines. That means they"re even more rare! Ducati photo lớn.

Then there are the carbon wheels and bodywork, titanium sprocket nuts và axle nut, và shochồng spring. Yes, the shoông xã spring on the Öhlins TTX36 shock is titanium, which has a totally different elastic modulus than steel & required a complete recalibration of the damping. Up front, the gas-charged NPX25/30 fork has lightened machined-aluminum bottoms. Machined-from-billet rearsets, triple clamp, & myriad other parts continue to lớn cut ounces. Even the pistons in the new Brembo Stylema R calipers are drilled for lightness, as are the Desmodromic cam lobes and shift drum within the engine.


The motor, which already utilized magnesium side cases và titanium connecting rods & intake valves, is now held together using titanium và aluminum hardware, contributing to lớn another six pounds saved. A Euro4-compliant Akrapovič exhaust slashes another 5.5 pounds, but slapping on the full Akro race exhaust that comes with each Superleggera means saving an additional eight pounds và unlocking an additional 25 horsepower.

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Semi-precious metals abound on the SL. That"s a titanium nut securing a carbon wheel to lớn the carbon swingarm. Ducati phokhổng lồ.

Another thing that makes it special? Those massive biplace wings. As with the use of carbon fiber for structural components và the Desmosedici Stradale R engine as a whole, the SL’s wings are part of Ducati’s goal khổng lồ push boundaries. Sure, you might think those are just the boundaries of good taste, but the wings contribute a great giảm giá khuyến mãi of stabilizing, speed-enhancing downforce at speed, & Ducati claims the thiết kế is more effective and efficient than the aerodynamics of last year’s MotoGP xe đạp.

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Each Superleggera comes with a complimentary race kit that includes a full titanium exhaust, front and rear stands, và numerous other goodies. Ducati presentation phokhổng lồ.

Need more special? Each xe đạp is inscribed with its number (out of 500) on the key and top triple clamp, và there’s a placard on the cylinder head with the name of the technician who phối the Desmodromic valve sầu clearances. Superleggera buyers also get the chance to fly lớn Europe and ride a WSBK-spec machine, and 30 customers have the opportunity to buy seat time on a real-giảm giá MotoGP. bike.

Many people say that owning a Ducati is all about the experience, và Bologna is really driving the point trang chủ with these special opportunities.

What’s a $100,000, 234-horsepower bike like to lớn ride?

Anxiety. Apprehension. Excitement. Fear. These are just some of the feelings I had as I suited up to ride at Laguna. And I wasn’t even going out on the Superleggera yet! Ducati had us “warm up” on the standard 209-horsepower V4 R.

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What"s that old saying? Nothing focuses the mind quite lượt thích throwing a leg over a 350-pound, 234-horsepower motorcycle? Ducati photo lớn.

The V4 R is, without a doubt, a spectacular machine. I’d ridden this model before, and it has one of the freest revving engines I’ve sầu experienced this side of a YZF-R6 or a 125 cc two-stroke. Power nguồn builds like pressure within a tea kettle, và it pulls all the way khổng lồ the 15,500-rpm redline. All that, và it comes with a two-year warranty & only calls for valve sầu service every 15,000 miles. It’s kind of hard khổng lồ believe.

The “Twin-Pulse” firing order of the 90-degree V-four groups the left & right cylinder banks, with a pause between the pairs, so it mimics the power signature (& thus traction và tractability) of a V-twin. The sound is reminiscent of a short-stroke Panigale V-twin, but with a slight offmix to lớn the beat that reminds me of the way a singer might stack vocals in the studio to lớn give sầu their voice more depth & texture. It’s an intoxicating và chất lượng sound.

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Oval, variable-height intake funnels help optimize power across the 15,500-rpm rev range. Ducati photo.

With six laps under my belt to reacquaint myself with Lagumãng cầu, it was time for one of my two 15-minute sessions on the SL. Right away, the Akro exhaust makes itself known. While you could hear the dry clutch rattling on the R, that sound is drowned out by the roar of the open race pipe. The uninitiated would Gọi it deafening, but I think it’s better described as delicious.

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I felt like I’d barely scratched the surface of what the V4 R could do, but even so, the Superleggera presented as a distinctly different riding experience. I didn’t notice the power — that would be like identifying larger ice balls in a hail storm, and I only hit WOT in a few places anyway — but the Superleggera was easier to ride. The weight reduction is evident, most noticeably while braking, where the ultra-light SL simply slows down quicker và takes less muscle to manage while decelerating toward an apex.

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Laguna"s Turn 1. The dash is showing 167 mph at 14,500 rpm in fifth gear. You may think the SL"s biplane wings look goofy, but at that tốc độ you better believe sầu they"re doing work! Pholớn by Ari Henning.

The biggest difference, though, was in the bike’s high-tốc độ stability và cornering feel. Turn 1 at Laguna is a slight bkết thúc over the crest of a hill, & it’s a curve you attachồng at over 150 mph. On the V4 R, even with its modest wings, the front over got light và wiggled, và the xe đạp would dance và pump as I powered up the hill toward the Corkscrew. In both those sections of track, the SL was roông xã solid, encouraging me khổng lồ apply more throttle, or at least not roll out. Chalk it up lớn those oversized biplane wings, which at the apex of Turn 1 are applying about 100 pounds of force on the front over, pinning it to lớn the track surface. They may look goofy, but they’re functional.

It’s not just in the fast straight bits that the xe đạp behaves differently. Oddly, the SL takes slightly higher effort lớn tip inkhổng lồ turns, but then feels more planted once on the side of the tire. It’s more than the bike feeling glued lớn the ground. It actually feels externally stabilized. I imagine part of that is the aerodynamics (which would explain the higher turn-in effort, despite lighter wheels), but I’m tempted to attribute some of the cornering feel lớn the carbon chassis. Ducati said they took advantage of the carbon’s characteristics to lớn tune the flex of the forward frame, which is a key factor in cornering feel and traction.

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Ducati manipulated the rigidity of the SL"s forward frame. It"s actually less stiff laterally & torsionally, all in the pursuit of improved feedbachồng và grip while cornering. Ducati pholớn.

Another interesting aspect of the chassis is that during maximum braking I could barely tell that the bachồng end had gotten light or was skating, until of course I tipped inlớn the corner và felt the rear tire gracefully swing around. It was a similar situation with power slides (which, admittedly, were few and far between, as well as very small, due lớn the insane grip of the massive sầu Pirelli slichồng, mounted for the track in place of the stochồng, street-legal Diablo Supercorsa SP). They sort of snuck up on me, without much notice, but also no drama, either. I imagine the chassis was sending cues regarding all of this, but it’s all so refined và subtle that a pleb like me couldn’t piông chồng up on it.

It would have sầu been great to lớn focus on those sensations more in order to lớn better understand & appreciate the bike, but after every apex is an acceleration zone, and that’s when the Superleggera steals all of your attention.

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High-speed stability and braking are where the Superleggera differs most from the standard V4 R. Ducati photo lớn.

The rate of acceleration is astounding, but despite the lunatic thrust I didn’t experience many power wheelies. Perhaps I was just being timid with the throttle, but the longer (by 16 mm) swingarm likely helped, as would the downforce created by the wings, which is proportional lớn your tốc độ. Whatever the factors, I was grateful for the limited distractions, because even as composed as it is, the Superleggera is a handful.

A degree more throttle or a quarter-second hesitation on the brakes has an exponential impact. This is a machine that demands precision, but the good news is that it’s keen to lớn respond appropriately no matter the tốc độ, lean angle, or scenario. It’s refined, responsive sầu, and predictable. In short order, the SL had instilled enough confidence that, rather than grimacing in fear, I was grinning ear-to-ear in my helmet. It’s honestly an easy bike lớn ride, as long as your brain is quick enough to keep up.

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Installing the Race Kit unlocks RaceGP.. Dash Mode, which utilizes onboard GPS to lớn traông xã lap times & sector times based on preloaded traông chồng maps. Ducati presentation phokhổng lồ.

Mine barely was, but thankfully I had just enough bandwidth left lớn fully appreciate what I was doing —riding the lachạy thử and greakiểm tra Ducati superxe đạp on one the world’s most iconic racetracks. When I saw the checkered flag signaling the end of my track time, I made sure khổng lồ let it all soak in on my cooldown lap, relishing the feel of the engine, the bark of the autoblipper on downshifts, and the view from behind that custom-machined top triple clamp. It’s a ride I won’t soon forget.

It works great, but why is it so expensive?

The V4 R, which is what the Superleggera is based on, costs $40,000. And yet the SL is $60,000 more. That’s a huge delta.

I didn’t get the chance to dig inkhổng lồ the topic of cost with Ducati personnel, but in the quichồng conversation I had with Ducati North America CEO Jason Chinnoông xã, he explained that it boils down lớn production expenses and the massive sầu investment in R&D, all of which will ultimately need to lớn be spread out over just 500 production units.

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Based on the V4 R "race homologation special," the Superleggera weighs a claimed 350 pounds (dry) due in large part to lớn an all-carbon-fiber chassis và wheels. Ducati photo.

As far as production goes, the SL is made using a lot of pricey materials and utilizes production processes that are specialized and very expensive sầu. While many performance motorcycle use cast aluminum for parts of their frames và wheels — a readily available industrial service using a technique that’s been around since, oh, about 4,000 BC — the Superlegerra’s chassis utilizes a material that first came on the scene in 1963. The carbon bits are then subjected lớn intensive inspection procedures that include X-rays & ultrasonic imaging. That’s a little more involved than checking for cracks and weld penetration.

The Superleggera’s lighter weight also called for a total recalibration of not just the suspension but the whole electronic rider-aid package, and trachồng rentals & software engineers aren’t cheap. Then there’s the time in the wind tunnel, the cost of feeding a bunch of journalists a really good boxed lunch at Laguna Seca, and maybe even a little profit mixed in.

OK, so who is actually buying a $100,000 motorcycle?!

You won’t find a Superleggera V4 for sale in your local dealership. They’re special-order only, & Ducati offers them khổng lồ existing SL owners and VIPs before letting just any shmo stroke a kiểm tra for 100 grvà.

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A lap-time comparison of the LS V4 versus previous Superleggeras and the World Superbike machine. Two seconds off WSBK pace is no joke. Ducati presentation phokhổng lồ.

Many Superleggeras will go to collectors who are liable to drain them (heyo, now that dry weight figure makes sense!) and park them in their living rooms. If you’re lượt thích me, that makes you a little sad, because in my mind motorcycles, no matter how precious, are meant to be ridden. Thankfully, there’s at least one Superleggera V4 buyer who feels the same way.

That buyer is Ryan in Colorabởi. He’s a 45-year-old father of two who reached out via Instagram lớn ask about my experience at Laguna. He’s ordered his Superleggera — his first new-bike purchase since 2002 — và he’s understandably excited khổng lồ get his hands on it.

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Öhlins TTX36 rear shoông xã uses a titanium spring. Combined with a gas-charged NPX25/30 fork with machined bottoms, the SL"s suspension is 1.3 pounds lighter than the standard V4 kit. Ducati pholớn.

We linked up via phone và it turns out Ryan is like many of us, at least in the sense that he’s buying this bike because A) it stirs his soul, and B) he’s excited lớn ride it, and has no intention of parking it in his den.

Ryan heads up two successful companies, but he didn’t come from money & his first Ducati was a wrecked 748 that he rebuilt himself. He has a sizeable collection of rare Ducatis, including a track-only 748S, 916SPS, & 916 Corsa, among mỏi others, that he exercises at the 10 lớn 15 track days he attends every year. His street bikes include a 900SS, 996R, 998R, 1098R, and an 1199 Superleggera that he rescued from a collector’s living room with just 60 miles on the odometer. It has 2,000 miles on it now, which includes trachồng laps.

“I’ve sầu ridden all the brands,” says Ryan, “but they don’t excite me the way Ducatis bởi vì. It’s no accident that so many of my bikes are homologation specials. Those really speak to lớn me. I can ride my bikes on Sunday & it gives me a sense of joy that lasts throughout the week.”

Fair enough. But why buy a $100,000 Superleggera V4, rather than the $40,000 V4 R that makes the same power và only weighs 35 pounds more?

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The most quality feature of the Superleggera V4 is its all-carbon-fiber frame, snugly cradling the 998 cc Desmosedici Stradale V-four engine. Ducati pholớn.

“I rode the V4 R. It’s the best xe đạp I’ve ever experienced. And it fits in with my other bikes in that it’s WSBK spec. But then there’s my 1199 SL, & what I really love about that is the weight. It feels so special. I worked out what it would cost me lớn get a V4 R’s weight cthua thảm lớn the SL’s, & you’re not that far off financially. With the SL V4 there’s the weight, and then there’s enough about it that is super special, the carbon frame & bodywork. That’s what makes it worth it. I’m looking around và wondering what other bikes are out there that would add to lớn my riding enjoyment? The SL V4 is it.”

And when all of his other bikes were purchased used, why would Ryan buy this one new? “If I wait two or three years I can save $30,000 buying used, but that’s two to lớn three years that I can’t enjoy the xe đạp. I’m 45 now, and tomorrow isn’t promised to lớn anybody toàn thân. In life you can always make more money, but you can’t make more time.” Amen man.

My father always told me the same thing.

It’s hard not khổng lồ be envious of someone who can shell out $100,000 on something lượt thích a motorcycle, but I gotta say, I’m happy to lớn know that a xe đạp as special as the Superleggera V4 is going lớn a guy lượt thích Ryan.

The sales tax is pretty low in Colorabởi, too.

20đôi mươi Ducati Superleggera V4
Price (MSRP)$100,000
EngineDesmosedici Stradale 998 cc, liquid-cooled, 16-valve, 90-degree V-four
Transmission,final driveSix-speed, chain drive, with up và down Ducati Quichồng Shift
Claimed horsepower209

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