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[Updated]New 1199 models: Senna and Superleggera

Posted on October 10, 2013 by acruhl

(Images from Roadracing World and MCN respectively.)
[See update near the bottom]
Ducati has announced 2 new 1199 models recently: The 1199 Senna for Brazil only, and the (alleged) 1199 Superleggera. The Superleggera is being sold by invite only, potential customers are being vetted through dealers.

Ducati originally made a 916 Senna (behind the 1199 in the top photo) by agreement between Claudio Castiglioni and Ayrton Senna, who were friends. Castiglioni was then the president of Cagiva who had purchased Ducati years before. Ducati was Cagiva’s top brand at the time, so the decision was for the “Senna” model to be a Ducati. This agreement was done before the death of Ayrton Senna in 1994 at Imola near the start of the F1 race.

The 916 Senna model was released in 1995, and then Cagiva sold Ducati to an American investment firm soon after. Castiglioni believed that the agreement between him and Senna was personal, so he later created an MV Agusta F4S 750 “Senna” model in 2002 and then again in 2006 with a 1000cc version (which wasn’t as nice looking).

Ducati made sort of a copy of the Senna in 2002 with the 748S, which might be the best looking of all of the 916 variants.

So now Ducati is back to making a Senna model again, this time with the 1199. Will MV Agusta be next?

The bottom picture (from MCN) is of the alleged “parts” of the 1199 “Superleggera” (“Superlight” in Italian). I say “parts”, because if you look hard enough, you’ll see nearly enough to build an entire motorcycle. There are many rumors flying around about specs, but it might be 40 pounds lighter than the 1199R (!) with about 10 more horsepower. If this is true, it should be by far the best power to weight ratio in motorcycling, and possibly the most powerful sportbike in terms of rear wheel horsepower. There are also rumors of more advanced electronics, although it looks possible that there is no electronically adjustable suspension.

In order to lose that much weight, it’s likely that all parts shown above will be made from carbon fiber, titanium, magnesium, and possibly forged (instead of cast) aluminum. It would be interesting to see if they make the engine cases out of something other than aluminum. Air cooled VWs had magnesium cases, but they were better known for burning than being light (but they were pretty light).

Some potential customers have already been contacted about this bike, but as far as I know, not very many details were released. 100 are coming to the US, and there will be 400 more for the rest of the world. The price is likely to be double or more than the current 1199R.

I’m wondering if this bike is an indication of changes in Ducati’s World Superbike program. This might be a homologation attempt for some parts that they can’t currently use, such as possibly a magnesium monocoque frame and revised bore and stroke, among other things. I haven’t read the recent WSBK rules so I don’t know if 500 “bikes” (or parts kits, as the case may be) qualifies. It could also be a way to stay competitive in a new rules structure that requires bikes to be less modified from their street bike versions.

UPDATE: The “Superleggera” is officially being called “Project 1201” and not many more details have been confirmed. The frame will be sand cast Magnesium, the wheels will be forged Magnesium (not common on street bikes), the subframe is carbon fiber, the crank is lightened, the rear shock has a titanium spring, and so on.

I got an email from Ducati about it this morning (October 11th). It says it will be nothing less “..than the most exclusive and desirable Ducati ever made.” I think that’s a bold statement in the context of bikes like the Desmosedici, Supermono, 851 Tricolore, 998R, and the fabled 955 homologation racer, among others. I’m pretty sure the Desmosedici will remain the pinnacle no matter what they do to the 1199, but we’ll see.

More later.

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