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French Magazine Reports Ducati Developing Aluminum Frame for MotoGP

According to a report by Moto Revue, repeated by several European publications, Ducati is running a parallel development program with an aluminum chassis for MotoGP, alongside efforts to further improve its carbon fiber chassis.  Pictured above is the aluminum chassis underlying last year’s WSB-winning Aprilia RSVR superbike.  Below, you will see the many pieces that make up this frame.  Indeed, many aluminum frames consist of a combination of cast, extruded and forged pieces, carefully combined and tested to provide the proper flex and feedback for racing.   A twin-beam aluminum frame has supported many title winning roadracing machines.

Ducati has no experience racing on an aluminum chassis, having previously favored a steel trellis design for its frames. One concern for Ducati must be the fact that its new street legal superbike is expected to be announced this Fall featuring a carbon fiber chassis.  If it abandons carbon fiber at the MotoGP level, what will this do to the reception awaiting its new street bike?

You can see our recent discussion of the troubles Ducati has had racing the carbon fiber chassis here.

32 Comments

  1. Phil K says:

    It doesn’t really matter what medium you choose to design with, it the talent of the engineering crew that determines the failure or success. Steel works, aluminum works, carbon works etc… It’s how well the engineer understands the material and is able to manipulate it to achieve the desired end result.

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  2. kirk66 says:

    I find it funny that this is such a puzzling delima for Ducati. First, selling a Carbon 1198 is not likely. The cost of the bike would put it into the low $20k range at a minimum and they need the mass market appeal. Second, It’s not like the trellis frame was bad. It’s just a little heavy. Third, aluminum makes comely sense. The Delta Box has been around since the early/mid 80s. It’s easy to produce. Easy to tune via addition and subtraction of material and it’sreliable in street and race setting.
    I’ve said this in the past and will say it again. Take the vitues of the aluminum frame and design a trellis to style to hang the motor off of. You keep the tellis loyality and get a frame you can easily tune for flex. But I’m niether an engineer or play one on TV so I could be completely wrong.

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    • Norm G. says:

      re: “The cost of the bike would put it into the low $20k range at a minimum”

      curious… rubles…? or pesos…? ’cause in dollars, a first of it’s kind production C/F bike from ducati (if there were to be such a thing?) would be more like 50k at a minimum. oh, and if they were to build such a thing (which technically they haven’t stated they would) it wouldn’t be on some run-o-the-mill superbike, it would likely debut on another GP replica who’s price would then see it exceed the original D16RR. were talking in the 100k range. you don’t “monetize” the TENS OF MILLIONS spent hiring the most famous rider/crew combo in recent history by basically selling “t-shirts and mouse pads” to the masses. heads up, there are no “masses”, this is the niche business of motorcycling.

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  3. pat walker says:

    I wonder if it will look anything like this.
    [IMG]http://i1189.photobucket.com/albums/z428/gpff49/afd.jpg[/IMG]

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    • Norm G. says:

      whoa, kudos to you sir for showing me something never seen before. no mean feat. who’s is it or what is it…? looks bimota-esque…? or harris…? swinger is SB8-ish, but not. picture/michelins on marvics/engine is circa 851, 888. like a conversion kit for that generation superbike.

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  4. Norm G. says:

    guys, keep in mind it says it’s a “parallel program”. this is not the same as a corse press release confirming they have commited to a change of horses mid-stream.

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  5. Ruefus says:

    We’ll see, but this is a lot like Ducati walking into the Lion’s den. They have ZERO experience working with aluminum frames. The competition has decades of data and hundreds of thousands of miles of experience.

    Ducati has no choice. Win – or be defeated AND sacrifice a tradition in the process. Yeah, tradition may not mean much to some but it means a lot to Ducati.

    Major props for having the guts to do it, though. Their tradition of winning is apparently their most important.

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    • Dave says:

      It is easy enough for Ducati to go and hire aluminum frame experts to consult on design. The handful of companies that have developed the Moto 2 bikes on such short notice would be a good place to shop.

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  6. John A. Kuzmenko says:

    Reminds me of the 1993 Yamaha YZR-500 and it’s too-stiff chassis.

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  7. VooDooChild says:

    umm..
    Shouldn’t that be: take one step back and make two steps forward?

    Trying something differnet doesn’t always work out.
    But, the hard learned lessons gained during the attempt
    usually proves to become quite valuable later on.
    It often forms the basis of breakthroughs.

    As oldman Honda said:
    “Racing is a dynamic laboratory where you experiment with ideas. “

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  8. j risor says:

    if you really listen to the motogp interview with Preziosi you don’t need a french magazine to tell you that!!! he never says yes or no but what ever is faster…

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  9. Ceegar says:

    That is a very expensive looking piece of metal. New frames also entail thousands of hours of development time. Big bucks…I hope it gets them out of the 4th place doldrums..

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    • Norm G. says:

      re: “That is a very expensive looking piece of metal. New frames also entail thousands of hours of development time. Big bucks…”

      but PALES in comparison (it should be noted) to the cost/risk of modifying an engine layout that a 1/4 century spent at the pointy end has shown… WORKS.

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  10. Superhawk says:

    I think the telling comment from all articles is that riders are used to a certain type of bike with certain types of feedback. No on is used to the feedback this frameless Duc is giving and it seems to give less as well. And it’s not like you want to go out and crash alot to gain those last 10th’s details you need to win either. Crashing hurts!!!

    That said, you either go with familier or you go with something new that is BETTER!!!
    My .02

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  11. Artem_T says:

    It is a kind of something.
    Carbon Fiber was much better for F1. (Ron Dennis with his innovative car)
    Strange. Neveretheles we will see.

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  12. Trpldog says:

    Ducati, listen up. Let me help you with this. I got the perfect solution. Simply remove all those overpriced suspension pieces, and build the entire frame out of rubber. Perfect. No time wasted dialing in suspension settings, if you crash it, it bounces right back onto the track with no damage whatsoever. It will follow the surface contour of any track in the world without any computer assist, and think about this – Ducati can save millions of Euros by having Gumby ride it and Pokey be the crew chief. DUH.

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  13. Denny says:

    My question to Aprilia frame picture: are these components from generically different materials? It appears so, on top of forming methods (i.e. cast, pressed and so on)? I believe that even if someone is technically based it is hard to appreciate what’s going on with frame during use and what is really best from rider’s point of wiew.

    There is functional contribution of engine case as relatively rigid element and it must be taken to count in flex vs.rigid equation. Is L engine diferently rigid than inline? Probably yes. In street bikes we see combination of cast aluminum and steel trellis (such as Aprilia Shiver) but I do not know if this is applicable to racing bike. I am sure however that Ducati has analytical tools to find optimum solution, even if hybrid of sort was the outcome.

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  14. ziggy says:

    it’s about freaking time!

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  15. swami says:

    It doesn’t really matter what the MotoGP frame is. If the superbike is good people will buy the production version of it.

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  16. Stinky says:

    I’ve always love Ducatis because they were unique, 90 v, desmo, trellis frame, dry clutch, great sound, great lines, not because they won races. I don’t expect them to race to lose for tradition. They might as well go pneumatic, narrow the vee or go inline if they wanna win races immediately. Anyone buy an RC51, R1 or 1098 because it won a championship?

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    • Ruefus says:

      Win on Sunday, sell on Monday has been a mantra of vehicle marketing for decades. Ducati didn’t dominate WSBK for all those years because winning didn’t matter. Suzuki didn’t annihilate all comers in AMA for all those years because they felt like it and saw no benefit.

      Besides…..it’s a point of pride. Being the best matters. To quote Mario Andretti after finishing second and asked how it felt his reply was, in a disgusted voice……”What’s second?!?!”.

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    • Norm G. says:

      re: “They might as well go pneumatic, narrow the vee or go inline if they wanna win races immediately.”

      only problem is… wholesale changes RARELY win races immediately and end results are not gauranteed… especially not with something as complex and expensive to produce like an engine. honda took 4 years spent millions retrofitting radical pneumatic valves and zeroshift technology just to make their V4 a winner. and this from the company who pretty much INVENTED the racing V4 configuration (ref. VF750R, RC30, RC45, etc.).

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  17. arr2 says:

    I believe the production bike will be cast aluminum, not carbon.

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  18. Buttnase says:

    The upcoming street legal superbike will not feature a carbon frame but an aluminium frame, however it will use the same concept as currently used on the GP 11.

    You are of course right, it will be hard to sell, why they leave that concept for MotoGP if it’s so superior.

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  19. Gutterslob says:

    If only the human spine were that pretty

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  20. Booyaaa says:

    i hope this new frame of ducati’s comes with a magic wand

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  21. JP Jones says:

    Sometimes you take two steps back to make one step forward. This just proves that racing improves the cycle. Ducati took a chance for improvement. What’s wrong with that ? MotoGP is not production based superbikes.

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    • Denny says:

      You are right; Ducati took a chance and deserves the credit. And as you say, two step back – one forward is often in different fields the case too. I do not see it overall as alarming, but questions about competency when selling commercial bike will be raised.

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    • MikeD says:

      Like is said often…U have to start somewhere. Time is their only constraint…and to a point money…but if they nail it…hold on for dear life…(^_^ )

      As for trying with the Aluminium spars frame…why not ? If it works more power to them, after all, the goal here is winning with in and still conforming to the rules, right ? This is MGP we talking about, none of this stuff needs to or will see the streets and abide to it’s conditions, right ?

      Who should anyone care about tradition and legacy, BLAH, BLAH, BLAH when all it does is have u have the other OEMs hand u over ur lowest back on a silver platter at the races ?

      This is prototype racing…new things SHOULD be tried w/o FEAR.

      • hoyt says:

        Their tradition seems to be racing very well in WSB. I agree about prototype racing trying new things within reasonable costs per potential advantage-gained.

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        • MikeD says:

          Indeed, TRELLIS still king on the Superbike side of their Menu, Checa seems to get along with it just fine. Xcuse my poor way of wording my “thinkings”.

          I was referring to the ” STUCK UP stubborn mule actitude” that Ducati Corse has shown about the GP11 handling WOES…as in “My Poop don’t stink”… at least that’s the way they have been projecting themselves on my eyes with the way they have handle their handling WOES…JMHO.

          DENIAL IS A BLISS.

          I guess peer pressure works…they sure have opened up their “supreme italian heads” to other ways now (Spar Frame).

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        • Ruefus says:

          “Reasonable costs” in racing means you’re running mid-pack. Not always, but in most cases the one spending the most money wins. There are some fantastic examples of when that didn’t hold true, Toyota F1 being the one that comes to my mind.

          Fastest way to make a small fortune in racing is to start with a large one.

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