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Common Tread

Superleggera V4: The most powerful production Ducati ever

Feb 06, 2020

Today, Ducati unveiled its newest and most powerful production motorcycle to date: The Superleggera V4.

The last time Ducati built a bike like this was 2016’s 1299 Superleggera. A lot has changed at Ducati since then, most notably the production V4, so it was only a matter of time before a new “Superlight” was revealed.

Ducati Superleggera V4
This is Ducati's best, unless you're racing at the highest levels... yet Ducati's test rider came within two seconds of Michele Pirro's pace at Mugello. That should be fast enough for most. Ducati photo.

Ducati calls it like it is: “The Superleggera V4 is the most powerful and technologically advanced production Ducati ever built.” They’re also quick to point out that the Superleggera is the only street-legal motorcycle available with a full carbon fiber chassis and wheels. The fairing is also carbon fiber, of course. Only 500 will be made, and rumor has it they’ve already been sold after a preview for hardcore Ducatisti.

Ducati V4 Superleggera
Carbon fiber frame, and the only street-legal bike to offer it. Ducati photo.

Just like modern GP bikes, the Superleggera V4 wears aerofoils. On the Superleggera V4, they’re good for about 110 pounds of downforce as the speedometer crests 167 mph. Ducati rates the Superleggera’s Desmosedici Stradale R at 220 horsepower in street-legal trim, and 230 horsepower with “the supplied Racing kit and switching the bike to its track configuration.” The Racing kit also drops the weight down to 335.5 pounds dry. That’s… a lot of power in a very light package.

Ducati has loaded the Superleggera V4 with its top electronics to help riders manage the bike/stay alive for as long as possible. No “Rain Mode” here; you get Race A, Race B, and Sport. You could use one of the five programmable riding modes to build a foul-weather map if you really wanted one. There’s a lap timer, DTC, up/down quickshifting, and just about every other feature you could think of that might help in a race.

Ducati Superleggera V4
If those wings were any bigger, this biplane would need a pilot's license. Ducati photo.

Suspension is shelf-above-the-top-shelf Öhlins. Braking is by Brembo, with its most advanced Stylema R calipers hauling the rider down from near-flight speeds.

2020 Ducati Superleggera V4
Even the rear shock spring is made from lightweight titanium. Ducati photo.

If you want a matching Dainese race suit and Arai helmet, that’s also available for a price. Ducati will only sell the matching suit to Superleggera V4 customers because we can’t have filthy casuals like me riding their suit around on a thrashed CBR, now, can we?

What your purchase does include is the “SBK Experience,” which gives V4 owners access to ride the Panigale V4 R at a Mugello test track. And 30 of the 500 owners get the “MotoGP Experience” aboard the Desmosedici GP20. Ducati Corse technicians will be watching closely, I’m sure.

2020 Ducati Superleggera V4
This motorcycle exists for the track. You can still take it on the street, though. Ducati photo.

What do you say to a bike like this? For basically everyone, this is unobtanium. And I’m still looking at it, because this is the best power-to-weight ratio ever seen on a production motorcycle. And even if they weren’t possibly sold out, this motorcycle will probably sell for around the (very low) six-figure mark, so I guess that last spot in my garage is still safe. 

While discussing this article, Editor Lance suggested that I look into the BMW HP4 for comparison. When Spurgeon rode that bike, he didn’t seem let down by the fact that it makes 15 horsepower less than the Ducati and weighs about the same. BMW charges the low, low price of $78,000 for one, and they’re having trouble moving them, from what I hear. Why can Ducati sell out all their insane bikes, and BMW Motorrad can’t?

Because Ducati is Ducati, and BMW is BMW. At the risk of oversimplifying, this is Ducati doing what they live for, so congratulations to the 500 owners of Superleggera V4s. And for everyone else, there might be some good deals out there on HP4s if you look around. Especially now.