Friday December 6, 2003
Ducati is rumoured to be preparing to unveil a V4 roadster based on it MotoGP-winning V4 Desmosedici, promising the strongest line-up of 1000cc Supersport motorcycles on the showroom floor in years.
Aware that having the fastest projectile on the block sells bikes, Yamaha and Suzuki have been fighting it out in this class for several years,with progressively faster and better versions of their R1 and GSX-R1000 respectively.
It's just been announced that the GSX, weighing in at 168 kilos with 165 horsepower, has won the 2003 International Bike of the Year (awarded by a panel of journalists).
Yamaha has responded with a new one litre R1 with 173 kilograms and 180 horses and as we reported some time back in Gizmo, Kawasaki has thrown its hat in the ring with the ZX-10R, claiming the highest power-to-weight ratio in the class. Until this week, they weren't letting on just what that figure was, but they've now released the stats - 181 horsepower and 170 kilos.
No sooner had the figures hit the motorcycle magazines than very strong rumours began circulating regarding Ducati's imminent announcement of a roadgoing version of its MotoGP-winning Desmosedici.
There's no official word yet, but if the roadgoing V4 does appear, it'll have a lot of legitimate street-cred, being the only one of the bunch with direct lineage from the roadster to the MotoGP bike.
Honda's all-conquering V5 MotoGP bikes bear little resemblance to the company's four-cylinder roadster, suzuki's GSX has an in-line motor and its MotoGP bike has a V4 engine, while Kawasaki would be foolish to draw too many parallels between their forthcoming roadster and the GP bike, given the machine's distinctly unchequered showing to date.
Just what the new Ducati, if it exists, is likely to look like is pretty predictable - Ducati produced a two-seater Desmosedici so that select VIPs could experience the thrill of the Desmosedici's 220+ BHP at certain GP venues (Mugello, Barcelona, Donington, Estoril, Valencia) under the throttle hand of ex-GP winner Randy Mamola.
The modifications made to the "two-seater" version essentially regard allowances for the presence of a passenger. While there is a different suspension set-up, all the other key components - the frame and the generous Ducati V4 engine - remain unchanged. The saddle support has, of course, been fully re-designed and reinforced to take a passenger and the fuel tank now features two slots which house safety grips, indispensable for the passenger to offset the incredible forces of acceleration and into-the-bend braking. Additional footrests complete the two-seater kit.
We suspect that the roadster, if it emerges, might have a few more niceties, but we'd bet London to a brick that it'll be a serious challenger to the Japanese bikes engaging in the power-to-weight war.
Now Gizmo recently had the opportunity to throw a leg over the latest yamaha R1 and can attest that it is a fantastic motorcycle - and that was the 2003 model, the target which all of the above motorcycles were aimed at.