August 21, 2013 by
Image shamefully lifted from www.motorcyclenews.com
The UK’s Motorcycle News has a short article about the new Ducati “899” here:
They are calling it the 899, and I haven’t seen any confirmation that this is actually what it would be called. I’d be much happier with something like 990 or so :).
So what can we see in these pictures that is different than the 1199? Quite a bit, actually.
The most obvious thing is the conventional swingarm. I have no problem with conventional swingarms. They obviously work very well on many bikes, including the 999. It should be possible for this one to be both lighter and stronger than the one on the 1199, but you probably won’t hear anything about that if it’s true.
Other not so obvious things are the smaller diameter forks without any fancy coating (maybe the same ones as the 848), possibly cast and not forged front brake calipers, smaller front brake discs, narrower rear wheel with a similar design as the current base 1199, smaller rear tire, possibly different cylinder heads (that’s a stretch), and probably a smaller diameter exhaust. I don’t see magnesium engine covers, this would be an obvious way to save money. I don’t see any ABS gear. And that’s all I can see from this photo.
The rear tire looks pinched a little bit, and that wouldn’t be possible with today’s tire sizes on a 6″ wheel. So it’s probably 5.5″ like the current 848. That might be a 190/55 tire, which isn’t an ideal fit on a 5.5″ wheel. Maybe it will use the 180/60 from the 848 Streetfighter?
The forks look very similar to the current 848, which isn’t a bad thing. Based on the flat caps, they might be Marzocchi or possibly “Big Piston” Showa.
Smaller front brake discs and cast calipers are not a problem either. Smaller discs could mean quicker steering, and cast calipers are fine for all but the fastest riders. The cast calipers on my 998 work just fine, and that bike is definitely heavier than this one.
The current 1199 motor has a shorter stroke than the 848, so they could retain the same crank as the 1199 and still maintain a pretty oversquare design. This would save some money, and possibly make for a flatter power curve than the 1199. It doesn’t make much sense to build another radically oversquare engine for this class of bike, it wouldn’t really need it. This bike doesn’t fit into any current racing classes at the world championship level like the 848.
It likely wouldn’t save much money by not including electronics such as traction control, engine braking control, and stuff like that. Hopefully the quickshifter is included. Electronics are sort of expected on sportbikes these days.
There isn’t much evidence that this bike would be lighter than the 1199, but it’s possible. That’s another thing that probably wouldn’t get much publicity, at least not in the context of the 1199.
I make it no secret that I’m a big fan of these “in between” sportbikes. 600s are too manic, and the 1000cc fours are pretty nutty. My 1199 is great, but it’s scary fast and a bit hard to deal with if you’re not careful. By contrast, my 998 is much easier to deal with and still feels pretty fast, even if it is lagging behind newer bikes. Same goes for my MV F4S 750. I’ve raced many GSX-R750s, and I’ve never ridden one I didn’t like. I’m also a big fan of the current 848 and past 999. MV is now back in this “in between” range with the F3 800. I’d be really surprised if this new Panigale isn’t as good or better than any of these on the track.
So this bike was introduced a few days ago. One of our members sent a mail to the Google group email list, and I replied with this:
Wow. Some of my speculations were correct:
Showa BPF forks
180/60 rear tire
Non magnesium engine covers
Less oversquare engine (but still a pretty short stroke)
But I got a few wrong too, such as no ABS. This one comes with ABS, no option to remove it.
Some surprising stuff:
Steel gas tank. You have to go back a ways to find one on a Ducati. My good tank bag would work again though. No more plastic tank fiascos I guess.
Steel tubular subframe. The one on the 1199 looks both cheap and correct for the job to me, I’m surprised that they would change it. Steel is still cheaper than vacuum formed Aluminum I guess.
Black and white LCD instead of color display. Probably done for money reasons, but it would be interesting to see if it’s an improvement. Probably isn’t based on what I see.
So in the end:
ABS + steel tank + steel subframe + no magnesium engine covers = 12 pounds heavier than my standard 1199.
Still pretty light though, all things considered. It’s lighter than most 600s I think.
Also funny that they call it a “Supermid”. I had said that I’m a fan of “in between” sportbikes. Ducati has seen fit to invent a new word for them.