More “reading between the lines” in recent interviews of Ducati executives indicates the 916/996 replacement, due next year, will be something special, indeed.
The recurring theme we hear is “light weight”. Of course, road-going 1000cc v-twins have never been as light as the in-line fours (Suzuki’s GSXR750 is a good 35 pounds lighter than the lightest street-legal v-twin superbike). Ducati hopes to change this. But how?
Is Ducati ready to go with a carbon fiber frame? It is hard to see how costs could be kept within reason if Ducati did. Nevertheless, we suspect Ducati has something special up its sleeve to keep the weight of its new superbike extremely low in street trim.
The trademark, single-sided swingarm will almost certainly have to go if light weight is a primary goal. It is impossible, given the same material, to make a single-sided arm as light and stiff as a conventional, two-sided swingarm. This change alone could save ten to fifteen pounds on the current 996, for example.
An aluminum frame would seem out of character for Ducati, and a steel trellis frame can be just as light and strong as aluminum, if properly designed. Nevertheless, statements by Pierre Terblanche in the Roadracing World article, and, more particularly, statements by another Ducati R&D executive on the net, indicate the new 996 should “push the envelope”, both in design and function. We can’t wait to see it.