Saturday, March 08, 2008

Singularly Sexy: The amazing Ducati Supermono

Racy, hot-blooded, Italian. Single, and likes being ridden hard!

Pics: Ducati, Flickr
Back in 1993, Ducati took a rather brave break from their traditional v-twin engine format, and produced a radical, high-tech racebike with a single-cylinder engine. Designed by Pierre Terblanche, the Supermono was fitted with a four-stroke, four-valve, Desmo DOHC, fuel-injected, liquid-cooled 549cc engine that made 75 horsepower at 10,000rpm (which actually translated into 61.4bhp at the rear wheel). Ducati claimed a dry weight of 118kg for the machine, and top speed was in excess of 225km/h. Of course, at US$30,000 back then, the Supermono’s price tag was equally impressive…

At the very outset, the Supermono was conceptualized and built as an expensive, exotic, no-holds-barred racer. The bike was fitted with Ducati’s race-proven tubular trellis frame, fully adjustable 42mm USD Öhlins fork, adjustable Öhlins monoshock, twin 280mm brake discs with four-piston calipers at the front, and a six-speed gearbox. According to some test figures from the 1990s, the little Ducati would do the standing quarter-mile (400m) in 11.4 seconds, hitting 197.5km/h in that time.

John Burns, who rode the bike for Cycle World magazine, said ‘Riders accustomed to streetbikes – even small ones – will feel as if they've returned to their potty chairs upon first mounting the Supermono. You crouch low, with your knees almost beneath your chin – it's a short reach to the clip-ons. Below 6000rpm, the Mono's motor is indistinguishable from the garden-variety thumper found in, say, an XT600 Yamaha.’

‘The difference becomes apparent as revs increase. While it's all over for a stock XT at 6500rpm, the Supermono is just beginning to breathe. The Ducati goes from less than 20 horsepower to almost 40 between 5700 and 6500rpm, burbles through a 500-rpm plateau, and enters its real powerband at 7000 rpm. By 8000rpm, where torque peaks at 37 foot-pounds, the lone 100mm piston is feeding 57 horsepower into the rear contact patch. At 9750rpm, maximum thrust of 61.4 horsepower is achieved. When the rev-limiter cuts in 1000rpm later, there are 55 horses and the piston is traveling 4938 feet per minute. Best to shift at 10 thousand,’ concluded Burns.

A Supermono in full race trim and the bike's 549cc, single-cylinder engine...

The Supermono’s Weber-Marelli fuel-injection system was quite sophisticated for its time, providing immediate, crisp throttle response. And unlike most other single-cylinder engines, the Supermono’s mill was fitted with a counter balancer weight, which allowed the engine to behave like a v-twin rather than a single. The result was that the engine was largely free of vibration at higher revs.

The Supermono was made in two batches – one in 1993 (41 units) and one in 1996 (26 units). Given that only 67 of these bikes were made, we suppose it would be very hard to find one on sale today. And according to some sources on the Web, current prices for a Supermono in good condition could be anywhere between US$80,000 – 100,000.

Also see:
Wakan 1640: A racing cruiser...?!
Nitin Design's 'Dacoit' set to roam the streets...
RAD 01: Ducati 749R-based forerunner to the Ducati 848
Cagiva Mito 500: Will they, or won't they...
CR&S Vun Racing: A modern-day equivalent of the Ducati Supermono?
Britten V1000: The greatest racebike ever built!
Can Honda work the CB1100R magic once more?

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