Spy Photo: Ducati 899

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A Ducati fan on Facebook has snagged this first photo of the forthcoming Ducati 899. Based on the 1199′s “frameless” setup, this bike will be equipped with a smaller motor, double-sided swingarm and a lower price tag.

The 899 will be the latest in a proud history of mid-capacity Ducatis that ape the design, styling and mechanical configuration of their larger, Superbike brothers. The 748 looked like a 916, the 848 looked like a 1098 and now the 899 adopts most of what makes the 1199 so special. With no visible perimeter frame, it appears to use the same stressed motor with the airbox doubling as a front subframe and the rear subframe bolted to the rear cylinder of the v-twin.

In addition to the smaller capacity engine, the 899 is equipped with a cheaper, double-sided swingarm, different wheels and lower-spec front suspension and radial brake calipers. Expect the all-new engine to make something in excess of the current 848 Evo’s 140bhp figure.

It’s expected that the 899 will be officially unveiled at EICMA in November.

  • alex

    double swing arm fthandling

  • Fresh Mint

    I wonder how much the base model will go for, and if they’ll offer a configuration with Ohlins on its initial release.

  • Clint Keener

    Don’t like the looks of that swingarm, maybe it’s better in person though. Hopefully the whole bike isn’t cheapened too much.

  • Fresh Mint

    When bikes are unveiled at EICMA when are they historically usually available to the public?

    • http://RideApart.com/ Wes Siler

      Deliveries typically start early the next year. At least for Ducati, who’s pretty consistent. The Japanese tend to be equipped with follow up, but the smaller Italian companies roll heavy on the vaporware.

  • motoguru.

    899 is a stupid number.

    • Geoff

      Is that supposed to be funny? I don’t get the joke.

      • motoguru.

        No, it’s just a stupid number. 748, 749, 851, 888, 916, 996, 998, 999, 1098, 1199, etc were all ok numbers. 899 is ugly and dumb. Maybe they’ll go with 901 and 1201 instead.

        • Geoff

          That’s hands down the weirdest complaint I’ve ever heard

          • motoguru.

            Fair enough.

  • Motorcycle Extremist

    Until they move on from the current Desmo vavletrain design and replace it with one that I can reasonably service myself, I’m just not interested…

    • Scott Sweeney

      You can service a desmo valve train yourself…

    • Clint Keener

      Can you reasonably service a S1000RR or RSV4?

    • Damo Von Vinland

      The head location is what makes it difficult more so than the desmodromic valve system itself. The 90 degree V on the Honda RC51 was a pain in the buns too.

      It takes a little longer and it isn’t like you have to do it ever 7,500 like in the old days. The first valve check on my Hypermotard isn’t until 18,000 miles.

      Also, I think we all know Ducati isn’t going go non-desmo anytime soon.

    • http://garrett-nelson.tumblr.com/ Garrett Nelson

      If it’s anything like the 1199 Panigale, you won’t be looking at the valves for 15,000 miles. Plus why would you service it yourself and screw up any warranty you have?

  • AEH_Toronto

    I, along with pretty much everyone else will be hugely disappointed if they launch it with a double sided swing-arm. Really, really disappointed to see that. Somewhat of a defining feature and always looks better. Pretty surprising.

    • Stuki

      They’re going to have a harder time justifying charging much more than the “others”, if one of the most visible components is no longer obviously different. Management may well feel confident taking Ducati into more direct head to head combat with established players by now, though; rather than leaving the meat of the market to others.

  • Marc

    That’s one good looking Kawasaki

  • Chanson

    Why are we so sure the swingarm is cheaper? I think it has more to do with placing it as the less desirable of the two, which started subtly/not so subtly with the 848 and its wet clutch. A way visual way to differentiate the products that helps to preempt poseurs who are only concerned with image.

    • Damo Von Vinland

      Double sided swing arms are almost always cheaper to manufacture.

      Due to the semi symmetrical design and balanced forces you also require and overall smaller cross section of material to achieve similar or superior structural integrity with a double sided swing arm as opposed to a single. (Some what parallel example of convertibles being heavier than same make/model coupes). Less material, simpler design conventions, etc.

      I agree it was probably additionally done for visual queues to differentiate the two models.

    • AlexKnolly

      Check out this video of the 1098′s swingarm. Basically you have to do a lot of REALLY clever things to keep weight down on a SSSA, which adds to manufacturing costs quite a bit: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KsBYU22tfA8

      • Chanson

        There’s no argument that the per-piece price of a double sided swingarm is probably less expensive. But the fact is, to develop a new swingarm, there is additional R&D and tooling costs that far outweigh the cost savings achieved. Now they have to inventory a whole slew of separate parts specific to the 899. It would have been MUCH less expensive if they had simply decided to use the same, already existing and tested part than to make all that investment in the new part.

        I’m just pointing out that unless it’s a carry over, a different part is not necessarily cheaper overall.

        • Damo Von Vinland
          • Chanson

            Thank you, this definitely helps to illustrate the topic better. The LRAC is reached much sooner if both vehicles share the same part. However, when you create two separate parts, you need to justify the economies of scale for each part. It’s not a discussion about a single versus a dual sided swingarm, but instead it’s about whether it’s cheaper to make all the parts the same or not. And in the end that comes back to three things:

            1 How many 1199s and 899s are built
            2 How much is the initial investment for each design
            3 How much each swingarm costs

            Since no one knows these things (production may vary based on response) we can’t say with any degree of certainty that a dual sided swingarm is cheaper. Since we cannot say anything about the cost factor, then it stands that product differentiation is likely the main motivation.

            • Damo Von Vinland


              I personally think it is option Q (which no one else has brought up) that this is the first of several new models that are going to have double side swing arms.

              • Marc

                Just to fuck with y’all… single sided swingarm castings are actually generally easier and cheaper than double sided. Thicker walls improves material flow and make core location less critical, usually fewer cavities/cores (although not in the case of the 1098/1198… haven’t seen the inside of an 1199′s yet), and slightly smaller tool size all make the SSSA cheaper. What is (probably) more expensive is the eccentric chain adjuster, conical axle, and large wheel bearings for the SSSA. In this case, I would bet that the decision was probably driven more by product differentiation than by cost or performance factors.

                • Damo Von Vinland

                  We could argue this all day. You seem to know a reasonable amount about metal casting. You should then realize looking at any SSSA or DSSA that they is quite a bit of post machining that goes on in a SSSA relative to a DSSA. Casting of parts is not the expensive part of the process. The DSSA components as you stated, bearings, axles, etc. are extremely cheap, commercial, off the shelf, parts. The SSSA parts are usually custom to at least a small product range, maybe even a specific model.

                  SSSA are prevalent on high end bikes because is looks awesome (I prefer them due to ease of maintenance), but if they truly were cheaper, which they aren’t, everyone would use them due to cosmetic awesomeness.

            • Stuki

              Since everyone is doing double sided ones, across a range of prices, it is likely a fairly mature and well understood manufacturing process. SS on the other hand, may well be well into the realm of exotica to get to perform to 1199 standards. Which means manufacturing costs taking on properties more common to pure race parts.

    • Robert Horn

      Even if the arms cost the same, the axles, adjusters, bearings, and other hardware for a single sided setup cost a lot more to buy and/or make.

  • grahluk

    Huh. There were rumors that the baby Panigale was going to go down in capacity from the 848 so they could get back into middle weight racing. Guess this is another race bike with no where to race. Still, a 140+ hp sport twin for the street makes a lot more sense than the bigger bike to me.

  • Corey Cook

    I know why a double sided swing arm configuration is lighter / better, but I can’t see why it would be any cheaper considering that Ducati already has all the tooling to produce the single side. For this application they would have needed to make a completely new swingarm and completely new rear wheel, so it would actually be more expensive that way.

    Hopefully all of this just equates to a stunningly light new middleweight.

    • Damo Von Vinland

      If they sell a gang of them it will be cheaper. The tooling upgrade/redesign might have already been in the pipe after all the 848, 1098 and 1198s they have cranked out. They most likely have already figured in the Non-recurring engineering costs into the new model.

      If this thing is reasonably priced I am sure Ducati will sell them like the proverbial hotcakes.

    • Stuki

      Just guessing, but the kind of bearings, castings and machinings required to make a single sided swingarm work to 1199 standards, is probably way beyond what can be done with anything close to normal manufacturing processes. And once you leave that realm, costs tend to increase by literally orders of magnitude. Not saying it is entirely analogous, but Honda already have the “tooling” for MotoGP bikes………….

  • Rowan

    I miss the single sided swingarm on this. I understand that you get better handling from a dual sided swingarm and it’s cheaper to make, etc etc. But the 848 looks great with it’s swingarm, and the wheels on the 848 look so much better then the 899′s wheels in my opinion. I wonder if it’s going to have the heat issues that the 1199 has?

  • Jordan

    I wonder if Ducati would consider a single-sided swing arm for a higher spec model of this bike? I’m curious to see where its MSRP and engine output figures will be, too.

    • Stuki

      In a sane world, the dual sided swingarm would be reserved for the up spec, competition version of the bike. Lighter, stiffer, and catering to a market interested more inn pure dynamic performance than style. They’d have to do something outrageous, like making parts of it out of carbon (making it completely unuitable for day-to-day), in order not to offend their SS street customers, though.

      • Jordan

        The more I think about it, Ducati would probably just leave the single sided swing arm for the Panigale as a means of immediate distinction between the two bikes and help minimize the possibility of the smaller bike cannibalizing the bigger bike’s sales figures. In my previous comment, I was just considering what to anticipate from different trim levels, like S, R, SP, Evo, Tricolore, etc. The swing arm will probably remain the same as different suspension and brake kit are fitted to the appropriate model’s trim.

        If I were a perspective buyer and I could get one of the nicer trims of the 899 and the bike is as nicely sorted as Ducati would have you to believe at or below the price of the base model Panigale, that would be my Bologna bike of choice. Coincidentally, if you can get the base model bike for around $14k and the finished product is 90% as good looking as the Panigale, that makes for an attractive alternative to most litre bikes with the added desirability of buying into a much coveted motorcycle brand.

  • Guy

    I’m a little excited for this but the wheels… I hope those aren’t final.

    • Damo Von Vinland

      Yeah the wheels do look a bit 1990′s GSXR for my taste. I bet the overall package is going to be amazing though.

      I have always contested that Ducati’s “middle weights” are the crown jewels of their line-up, not their superbikes. Radical opinion, I know.

  • dokterdewe

    somehow i just can’t look at the rear arm :’( saddening…… i hope the real thing would be better…

  • Piglet2010

    Why not a 724.something cc displacement, so it would be Super-Sport legal?

    • http://garrett-nelson.tumblr.com/ Garrett Nelson

      Why would they want to go super-sport racing? They’re spending all their resources in WSBK and MotoGP. No room for Supersport. Plus the 600cc supersport market is pretty dead.

      • Piglet2010

        So just another bike to look good while parked outside the coffee shop?

        • http://garrett-nelson.tumblr.com/ Garrett Nelson

          No. The 848 was one of Ducati’s best selling motorcycles over the past years. It’s a great track day bike, entry level super bike, and club racer. They’ve sold many of them without having to go SuperSport racing. The 899 (I think it will be called 849) will be the same, but better by using much of the technology from the 1199. It’s going to be a great, easy to ride (compared to the 1199), affordable (compared to the 1199) way to get onto a premium motorcycle that will do amazing on the track.

    • Gerardo Astroball

      the rumor is that it will be powered by a 799cc.. hopefully they can reconsider the name to the 799..

  • Steve Rusnock

    Looks like the magnesium on the engine has been replaced by aluminum to save cost too. I wonder what the weight difference will be from the 1199.

    • Damo Von Vinland

      Even with the material substitution don’t be surprised if the 899 weighs a tiny bit less. A big chuck of that will come from the lighter swing arm.

      Then again the 848 was only about 10lbs lighter than the 1198 (in base model trim).

      • Tony

        What matters most is what part of the weight difference is rotating mass.

        • Damo Von Vinland

          Uhhh, there is no part of the swing arm that is rotating mass?

          We aren’t talking wheels,

  • Gonfern

    Middleweight? Last time I checked, almost 900 cc and 140 + hp is pretty much a liter bike. the 848 is already stretching the class limits. But the bike itself, looks as beautifully useless as the 1199. Same stupid exhaust that cooks the nuts, same foot pegs that your feet slip off of….Ducati never listens to their clients. Ill take a Hypermotard, thanks.

    • Stuki

      Ducati has done a pretty good job of listening to their clients’ wallets, over the past decade…….

      • Gonfern

        LoL. You make a great point. I say that of course as an owner of 2 previous ducatis. I correlate owning a Ducati to dating one of those incredibly hot girls with a terrible attitude. Yes, they treat you like shit, yes, they do absolutely nothing to accommodate your needs, and yes, they expect money…lots of it. And you do… Because…well, it’s the price to pay for jaw dropping beauty. However, after my first triumph, I realize that personality matters as much as looks.

  • Dan

    Looks like the 749/999 has been dropped from the history! Maybe unsurprising since the company has been trying hard to forget about that era for a long time :) I like the styling of this one. It reminds me of the curvy-but-menacing look of the Desmo.
    Also – no way they’ll keep the o2 sensor in that location by the seat, right? It looks like testing equipment.

    • Steve

      that’s a methane sensor