Ducati Superquadro: huge pistons, short stroke, 195hp, 15,000 mile service intervals

Dailies, Galleries -


Today details surrounding the Ducati Superquadro superbike engine are finally being released. Horsepower is 195 at 10,750rpm, valve adjustments come at 15,000 miles instead of 7,500, timing belts are replaced with chains and gears and a wet slipper clutch replaces the clattering dry unit of past Ducati Superbikes. Welcome to the future.

Update: Now with English sub-titled video

The motor is a ground-up redesign, sharing nothing with past Ducati engines and it uses massive 112mm (up from 106) pistons. Those pistons make possible 46.8mm intake valves (up from 43.5) and 38.2mm exhaust valves (up from 34.5). Stroke is reduced from 67.9 to 60.8mm. This big piston/short stroke design works well for Ducati. The short stroke reduces piston speeds and makes is possible for the big twin to spin as fast as it needs to without undue stress. Ultra-aggressive cams take a cue from the MX world and now sport auto-decompressors and are turned by chain, via idler gear (a lot like the system KTM uses). Desmodromic valve actuation is by new PLC coated followers makes it possible to snap those huge valves open and closed at high-rpm. Valve float, or at least more intense maintenance intervals, would be the result if this were attempted with ordinary springs and followers. Throttles bodies have also grown in size from 63.9mm to 67.5mm and they’re now controlled with stepper motors via the ecu. Ride by wire, especially when combined with a slipper clutch, provides the ability to fine-tune engine braking and feel during corner entry in ways that would never be possible with the old motor.

In addition to making things bigger, Ducati has changed from roller to plain bearings for the crankshaft and added an oil scavenge pump. “Removing the roller bearings has enabled an increase in diameter of the crank journals for enhanced rigidity and an increase the crankcase section around the main bearing area for improved strength in line with the Superquadro’s extreme power output. The shell bearings are force-fed oil from internal drillings within the main bearing pillars to keep the new crankshaft well lubricated and is quickly scavenged back into the sump with the introduction of a new Ducati feature, a highly efficient MotoGP-style vacuum pump.”

The cylinders have been tilted back an additional 6º for a total of 21º back from level. This allows the motor to be set 32mm forward which improves weight distribution, allows for a longer swingarm and puts the cylinder heads in the perfect place to support the vestigial frame. Look closely at the motor though and all you’ll see is engine cases and heads, the cylinder castings themselves having gone away in favor of Nikasil coated aluminum wet liners.

Some Ducatisti will bemoan the loss of belts and dry clutches, but for a superbike designed to win races, tradition is not important (look where it’s gotten harley). That Ducati was willing to piss a few people off to make it’s new superbike as fast as possible shows just how serious they are about the 1199 Panigale.

From Ducati:

_195 hp
_4.41 in (112 mm) bore diameter
_Full and indipendent RbW system
_2.66 in (67.5mm) equivalent diameter oval throttle body
_Twin injectors for each throttle body
_Feeding and delivery gerotor oil pumps for vacuum effect
_Crankshaft on shell bearing for enhanced stiffness

_Nikasil coated aluminum wet liners
_Decompressor device on both cylinder heads
_Inlet titanium valves
_Magnesium sump cover, head covers and clutch covers
_Plastic gears (tecno polimeri) for oil and water drive

_Integrated design for engine & vehicle: the new Superquadro engine is a fully stressed member of the chassis
_Racing oriented pistons: double ribbed and RR58 alloy
_Secondary Air System
_New chain drive timing system
_Slipper and self-servo wet clutch
_New gearbox: increased dimension between shaft centers for increased strength

For comprehensive coverage, check out our Ducati 1199 tag page.

  • rndholesqpeg

    Goodbye dry clutch, you will be missed

    • Kevin

      A friend of mine has a Ducati Elefant. The sound of the dry clutch is the one of its better party tricks.
      The looks on peoples faces as they expect to bike to explode is priceless.

      but time marches on, it will be missed.

  • robotribe

    That’s hella impressive. No more trellis frame, and now THIS. Boy, they’re testing the faith of the Ducatistis at full-strength now.

    As for wet clutch in a Ducati supersport, anything to save us all from hearing another smartass douche jokingly say, “dude, I think your bike is broken!”, in public is a plus.

    • John

      “Der’s sumpthin loose on yer bike!” “Huurr hur huur”

      • robotribe


        • nick2ny

          I like the sound of a dry clutch. I wouldn’t keep it in the face of improved performance (whatever that means), but it doesn’t bother me. I find it interesting, it’s another reminder that old ducatis belong in the Smithsonian.

  • tomwito

    What is the stroke? I suck at math(lazy)can’t figure it out on my own.

    • Sean Smith

      Stroke is reduced from 67.9 to 60.8mm.

    • rndholesqpeg

      Bore 112mm x Stroke 60.8mm

      • tomwito

        That is cool.

  • Eric

    I’ve been working on Ducati’s since the 2003 model year – coming from a Japanese service background of 20 years.

    The advancements that Ducati has made in casting technology over the last 8 years is incredible, looking at that engine and the “shrink wrap” design of the cases- it is so far removed from the 996 days it is not even funny.

    Just the weight of an empty 996 cylinder head was retarded.
    I cant wait to see one in the shop.
    But it is going to be weird to hear a rattly camchain on a Duc

  • John

    Welcome to the 21st century, Ducati.

    I like it.

    Desmo. Desmo. Desmo.

  • matt

    “Removing the roller bearings has enabled an increase in diameter of the crank journals for enhanced rigidity and an increase the crankcase section around the main bearing area for improved strength in line with the Superquadro’s extreme power output. ”

    Something’s not right here. You use roller bearings because for a given radial load, their cross section is lower than a ball bearing setup. Going from rollers to balls wouldn’t allow the crank journals to get larger in diameter unless the ID of the bearing mount in the crankcase got larger also. Unless there is an axial load or some threat of misalignment (rollers are pickier that way, needs to be straight and parallel), the rollers are the way to go. Anybody got more on this one?

    • Sean Smith

      Going to plain bearings frees up a whole lot of room.

      • matt

        axially, along the length of the crankshaft, yes, more room with a plain bearing. But not radially, which would allow for a larger diameter crank journal.

        • Sean Smith

          Hm, they’re using plain bearings. There are no balls or rollers, just oil and thin shells. Getting rid of all those parts frees up lots of room.

          Clear things up?

          • matt

            got it. Rereading the article text it doesn’t say “ball bearings”, I just interpreted that part. I’m used to this configuration being called a “journal bearing” when it has a forced lubricant in there somewhere, like the journals on the connecting rod ends. My experience is that a “plain bearing” is usually just a low friction sleeve sliding around a shaft.
            Makes total sense now. thanks.



          • tomwito

            Lighter also…

    • Your_Mom

      Roller bearings are a hold over from the days of pressed cranks. Plain bearings have much less friction resulting in lower power losses. Plain bearings are also much thinner in the radial axis which means the crankshaft can now have a larger journal within the same space. As a result, the crankshaft is much stiffer torsionally as torsional stiffness increases to the 4th power of the diameter increase.

      No one uses rolling element bearings for road racing engines anymore if they start with a clean sheet design.

      Best Regards.

      • http://www.faster-faster.com fasterfaster

        Not sure who Your_Mom is, but he’s a very welcome addition. Love having the guys with real knowledge to keep armchair engineering in check.

      • matt

        A 999 had a pressed crank? I know I’ve seen the roller bearings that support the crank on that engine. Crank bearings in my 95 900ss were also roller bearings. What about the current 1198? Wondering if this is ducati’s first use of this crank bearing style.

        • Sean Smith

          This is their first use of plain bearings.

    • another Nik

      They didn’t go to ball bearings. There is no rolling element. Just the journal and bearing surface separated by a thin oil film. Much less room, higher load rating, and less friction.

      –damn I need to hit refresh more often…

  • http://www.muthalovin.com the_doctor

    I have no problem with this. The future is, indeed now. I can play Mortal Kombat with a friend in Vietnam, even!

  • Your_Mom

    This is a nice – if expensive – modern engine. If I could afford it I would love to have one of the new 1199s.

  • wwalkersd

    “puts the cylinder heads in the perfect place to support the vestigial frame.”

    Seems I just heard they were going back to a separate frame on their MotoGP bike because using the engine as a stressed member wasn’t working for them. I’m guessing development was already too far along for that lesson to be passed on to the Superbike.

    • http://hellforleathermagazine.com Wes Siler
    • Sean Smith

      I think that what happens in MotoGP doesn’t necessarily apply to the superbike. The bikes weigh less, the tires are ridiculous and the lean angles are more extreme. A MotoGP bike and a superbike will behave differently and have different needs and problems for these reasons and many others.

      Don’t discount the 1199 just because that style of chassis isn’t what’s currently winning in MotoGP.

  • rndholesqpeg

    I hope it only takes them a year to have their midweight bike out.

    Having a replacement for the 848 motor that doesn’t require you to drop $4k on having the case split for new bearings will be great.

    • Sean Smith

      Whoa. Care to share that story?

      • rndholesqpeg

        Early 1098′s and all 848′s shipped (to my knowledge) with a crap crank bearing. If you push an 848 on the track for any period of time, the crank bearing will fail. The fix is to split the case and drop in a set of roller bearings intended for a 999. I personally have not had one fail, but I have seen three in the shop within the last year for this very reason.

        This is part of why I moved onto a 675 for the track.

        • Sean Smith

          Ouch. All things considered though, that’s not too terrible a fix. If you wrench on your own bikes it would probably cost less than $500 (bearings+gasket kit, coolant and oil).

          • nick2ny

            Yup. I don’t know how people pay shop labor rates! You know how ladies get together and sell tupperware to each other? We need more people throwing brake fluid / tire change / crap crank bearing replacement parties.

            • Wereweazle

              Join a local – keyword local – forum. I see things like “Engine Swap Party! – Beer and Pizza!” all the time.

            • http://twitter.com/metabomber Jesse

              “Wrench 101″s. Get togethers with shared tools, hands, advice and stories. Brakes get done, chains and sprockets, valve jobs, KLRs get doohickies replaced… all usually in someone’s garage or centrally located parking lot with a canopy. Often grilling and beer.

              • dux

                Sounds like a beautiful thing. I’ll introduce it to my neighborhood.

              • Sean Smith

                Sounds like someone needs to start organizing these things in Los Angeles. I get funny looks when I’m swapping working on my GSX-R in the communal garage.

                • http://twitter.com/metabomber Jesse

                  It is surprising how quickly these can come together. I’m on a “local” ostensibly motorcycles (+ tools, network bit-sniffing, handguns, lifeguarding, ME, EE, politics and blinker fluid) email list. Someone picks a date, finds a place, and people show up.

              • http://rider49er.blogspot.com Mark D

                This. I have no garage and no tools over here, but I’ve got a half-way ok working knowledge of basic maintenance.

  • 1

    How are 1198 sales right now, domed?

    • http://www.postpixel.com.au mugget

      Domed, doomed even… ;P

      Honestly I have heard stories of crate loads of Ducatis just sitting around in storage and dealerships… and that has been as far back as about a year ago (maybe more).

      • Kevin

        Unless they are just moving them from the showroom floor into the back room, that’s definitely not the case at my local dealership. They are moving Ducatis and Triumphs like nobody’s business.

  • stephen

    Good riddance to belts! I can live with out a dry clutch, but they are cool, now as long as they don’t have a plastic gas tank that expands they will be all set.

    • Sean Smith

      The new ones actually contract. It’s a little known or talked about feature, but supposedly they were designed so that 1199 riders would eventually learn to get by with less gas (and less wide-open throttle). This reduces both tail-pipe and sound emissions and is a big part of why the 1199 will be available for sale in California. ;)

      • Archer

        Now that there almost cost me a keyboard. Nose cola stuff, that.

      • stephen

        Dosen’t look like the Girard Gibbs lawsuit will fix my tank.

  • DoctorNine

    Who can complain about a massive piston, double ribbed for your pleasure?

    • Sean Smith

      It’s even got three rings on it!

      • DoctorNine

        You have to make sure it’s secure, in case of premature detonation.

    • Kevin

      Shorter stroke and thicker bore. That’s all she ever asked for.

  • moshaholic2

    very cool, love engine schematics and details. Nothing too “ground breaking” in engine design. Short stroke, higher revs, better breathing heads = more HP with a slight loss in tq… But, it’s nice to see motorcycles finally switching over to “drive by wire” tech. Much better throttle and fuel delivery can be accomplished. I always figured we see it on motorcycles first (fewer components than on a car) But auto manufacturers have been doing drive by wire for years.

    Rotax, with their smaller production which makes it easier to do changes like this should have taken the lead. Although, I dont think we have seen the true full potential of their 1125 design (base engine of the 1190) which will rev to almost 12k

  • http://www.postpixel.com.au mugget


    And here I was secretly wishing that Ducati would build their new superbike as a V4, thinking that a V-twin (errr, sorry – L-twin) could not possibly be developed any further, but they went and did it anyhow…

    That is a LONG major service interval… but how do you think it will go for track riding? Surely you couldn’t leave it that long? Although it seems that now you can have an exotic Euro with something resembling Jap service & reliability?

    I’ll wait to hear and see how they ride, but from the sounds of things I’m very tempted to father my firstborn child, then give up my firstborn child to own an Panigale!

  • raphmay

    15000 mile service intervals…..no thanks.

    • troy rank

      I might actually consider this. However, after riding bikes that require less maintenance than a toaster, it’s hard to think about those Desmo valve adjustments…

  • Thom

    So now this begs the question ;

    How long before all this ” New ” engine technology finds its way into the rest of the Ducati lineup ?

    • Sean Smith

      The thing is, none of this is new technology. MX racers have been enjoying this tech for years and there’s plenty they or any other manufacturer could have done to make more power.

      The rest of the Ducati lineup isn’t hurting for power. The bikes are designed to be a certain way, nothing more. If people demand more power though, that’s likely what they’ll get.

  • http://www.youtube.com/user/Adeysworld adeysworld

    Ducati needs to stop playing with my balls and give up the goods. Tired of all this teaser crap…

  • BuellDoc

    Will this New Ducati effect 1190 sales? Here is a great twin with an established network, trained techs to service and repair and a whole lot of performance upgrades. Am I comparing oranges and apples?

  • Ray

    I don’t like the sound of any twin engine and truly hate the sound of a dry clutch but, it looks to me as if this Duc engine may be a winner by design alone, very very cool.