Wednesday, April 08, 2009
2009 Ducati Supermono Strada: Alistair Wager reinvents the Italian racing single
Remember the original Supermono, which Ducati released in 1993? Designed by Pierre Terblanche and fitted with a four-stroke, liquid-cooled, fuel-injected single-cylinder 549cc engine, the Supermono was a high-tech racer that cost US$30,000 back then. With a dry weight of 118kg and high-spec suspension components, the Supermono handled extremely well. And the 75 horsepower from its 549cc engine was enough to push the machine to a top speed of 225km/h.
You can read more about the original, 1990s Supermono here. In the meanwhile, British engineer Alistair Wager (who’s worked with Ducati for many years and who also headed the HMC Ducati AMA Superbike team in 2001) has put a whole new spin on the bike. With some help from the Ducati factory, Wager has built a brand-new Supermono Strada – one that’s fitted with a bigger, more powerful engine and updated chassis/suspension components. Of course, unlike the original ’Mono, Alistair’s machine is also street-legal.
‘I had worked on many of the 67 Supermono race bikes produced, and thought it would be great to own a road bike version myself. As the factory cannot risk putting such a lower spec bike into production, with no guarantee of success, I told Paolo Ciabbati what I intended to do and they agreed to open a direct parts account with me,’ says Alistair, replying to an email we wrote to him.
It couldn’t have been an easy task, building this new Supermono. According to Alistair, it took him six years of work (some of it part time) and more than £50,000 to complete the many patterns and moulds which were required.
The 2009 Supermono Strada’s 595cc single-cylinder engine, which uses the Testastretta cylinder head from the 999R, makes 88bhp (compared to 80bhp from the original 549cc engine). The new engine features Pankl forged titanium con-rods (forged steel on the original ’Mono), billet machined, hardened and balanced crankshaft, larger inlet and exhaust valves (41mm and 33mm respectively, up from 37mm and 31 mm) and a host of other mods. A new Magneti Marelli fuel-injection system, with 54mm diameter throttle body (50mm on the old bike), replaces the older FI system. A six-speed standard ratio gearbox, with one-up-five-down shift pattern, has been fitted to the Supermono Strada, replacing the six-speed close ratio gearbox on the race bike.
The new Supermono’s trellis frame is a replica of the original but is now made from lightweight 4130 Chrome-molybdenum tubing. The swingarm is a modified aluminium cast/fabricated item (as fitted to the Ducati 1000SS i.e.) and suspension components at both ends are Ohlins items. The front brakes comprise twin 305mm discs (280mm on the original bike) with four-piston radial-mount Brembo callipers, as fitted to the 1098R. The bike rides on 17-inch Marchesini forged Magnesium ten-spoke wheels, shod with 120/60 (front) and 180/55 (rear) Pirelli Diablo Corsa tyres.
Since the Supermono Strada is fully street legal, it comes with projector type headlamps, LED taillamp, push-button electric start and so on – bits that you won’t find on the original Supermono race bikes. The Strada also uses pre-pregnated carbonfibre body parts (rather than the original bikes’ wet-lay carbonfibre) for reduced weight and added strength, and a lightweight Titanium silencer, which does away with ground clearance problems.
We must say we’re hugely impressed with Alistair’s work – the Ducati Supermono Strada must be absolutely phenomenal to ride, especially on the racetrack and on twisty mountain roads. Taking an iconic Ducati and reworking it to make it even better couldn’t have been easy, but Alistair has just proved that it can be done!