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Ducati Superquadrata - a new direction for Ducati Sportbikes



In Superbike racing, the steel tube trellis frame and L-Twin engine have been losing ground to more conventional chassis and multi-cylinder layouts for several years now. To even out the playing field, Superbike organizers have let Ducati run bigger engines (1200cc rather than 1000 for fours) as well as more sophisticated non-stock engine components, but these concessions mean more expense for Ducati, and no longer keep the latest Duc Superbike competitive.

Racing is a key image builder at Ducati, and they are now moving on to new technology for their Superbikes and the street going sportbikes, to whit carbon fiber frames. This fundamental change is a difficult one to swallow for Ducati, as their image has been built around the highly visible and winning trellis chassis.

Ducati now has taken the giant leap forward, with the highly anticipated late-2010 arrival of a brand new sportbike with a carbon fiber chassis – the Superquadrata. Less visible but just as important will be an all new 90 degree V-twin which opens up new possibilities for that engine configuration.

Ducati MotoGP bikes have switched to carbon-fiber chassis two years ago, so Ducati engineers know how to design an effective frame for the new machine. Making it solid enough for street use and a big twin engine, and at a low cost, will doubtless be an adventure, but these guys know what they are doing, so expect a beautiful piece. The all new Superquadrata engine will be a doozer on its own, a 90 degree twin with all the Ducati legendary desmodromic valve operation and the latest in light metals, low-friction coatings, and electronics.

The new engine features an extremely oversquare bore/stroke ratio of 1.85, compared to 1.56 on the “old” 1198R. The main objective for this engine remains to produce more power than the older Testastretta design. Check out the sidebar to understand how the bore-stroke ration can have an impact on power.

Why so Oversquare?
If all other engine variables remain constant, more power can only come from higher revs. You can increase revs by lightening all the reciprocating masses, and/or by making those masses travel less distance on each revolution.

In the case of the Superquadrata, this means a shorter stroke (i.e. distance travelled by the piston and conrod), and incidentally, a larger bore to maintain displacement at 1200cc. Combined with lighter pistons and connecting rods, this likely means a 14,000 rpm limit for the new engine. If the old Testastretta revved to 13,000, this would mean a straight 7.7% power increase, from say 180 to 194hp – a big jump in the highly competitive world of Sportbike selling and Superbike racing.

To achieve such an increase, designers naturally have to revise all the other engine components (Intake and exhaust systems, pots and cams, electronics, internal stresses) to optimize the new engine, which they have surely done.

The other news regarding the powertrain is that the engine is rotated 90 degrees toward the rear, and thus raising the front cylinder to the vertical. This means more clearance for the radiator and front wheel under full suspension compression, always a problem with the older engine position. Engineers have also moved the whole engine (And some weight) forward, thereby providing room to move the swingarm pivot forward and lengthening the swingarm without having to stretch the wheelbase.

This all means better front grip when entering corners and improved weight transfer and rear grip on hard corner exits, for racing as well as Track Day riders.

Mechanical and chassis components will be leading edge – let.s bet that the style will also be a hit. Ducati may have another winner here!