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Ducati are set to launch the world’s first production bike with a carbon-fibre frame. The new Superleggera version of the Panigale V4 R uses the high strength, lightweight material to slash weight from its chassis, and with a tuned engine will have the highest power-to-weight ratio of any road-legal bike ever.

It was expected that BMW might be first to use a carbon frame on a fully-homologated road bike, following their track-only HP4 Race, but Ducati will steal the spotlight.

Leaked details about the Superleggera confirm that carbon be will be used for the main structural frame section plus the subframe, swingarm and wheels, saving 7.7kg from the chassis alone over the V4 R – that’s almost eight bags of Tate & Lyle.

Of course, the previous 1299 Superleggera also used lashings of carbon, but didn’t have a frame as such – called a monocoque by Ducati, the 1299’s airbox effectively attached the steering head to the front of the engine. On the V4 there’s a short twin-spar design that also has legs extending down the front of the engine, which Ducati refer to as a frame. Good enough for us.

Weight saving doesn’t stop there: an aluminium sprocket, lightweight chain and carbon fibre fairings save another two kilos, while tweaks to the suspension, controls and yokes scrape off a further 1.32kg.

Weight has been removed from the 998cc V4 engine, too. Almost three kilos are saved through lighter fasteners and a dry clutch, plus the use of titanium camshafts.

Ducati’s desmodromic valve system mechanically opens and closes the valves, rather than using a spring for return, giving them precise control – it’s part of the reason the short-stroke V4 can rev to a stratospheric 16,500rpm.

By taking another step forward with lightweight titanium cams, inertia will be reduced (more so than by using hollow cams, as weight is saved right to the lobe rather than just from the centre) and give Ducati another unique advantage in their cylinder heads.

Changes and tuning take output to 220.9bhp at 15,250rpm, making it the most powerful V4 Stradale engine yet produced. With the full Akrapovic race exhaust supplied with each bike this figure climbs to an absurd 230bhp.

News & Image Source: motorcyclenews.com

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