I’m not one to gush over a bike, and usually, this sort of thing doesn’t interest me: a limited-edition Italian superbike with tons of possibly pointless bling thrown at it, colorful anodized and blacker-than-black carbon everything, the slightly matte rainbow glow of titanium piping, all stuck to the bike to make it more “exclusive.”
But the Ducati Superleggera isn’t really that bike.
Many of these I’m sure will end up cocooned in heated garages, squirreled away in collections, never to turn a wheel in anger, except for an annual roll-out into the sun where they will sit, blinking dazed into the light, while they're licked clean by owners too terrified to damage their investments and egos by putting miles on something this unforgiving. But these bikes were built to be ridden, not collected...
Normally, bikes like these are the province of Ducati-specialists NCR, who can actually improve your Desmosedici by making it both lighter and more powerful. But Ducati took a page out of NCR’s playbook book and just built their own nearly unobtainable special.
This is the superbike, perfected.
Not “perfected” like a BMW S1000RR HP4, with techno-geek sophistication and nods to everyman affordability, but with every part lightened, replaced, or improved in infinitesimal ways, cost-no-object. The frame replaced with… Well, it never had a frame to begin with, but the normally aluminum airbox/headstock is replaced with cast magnesium…
The price for the finished bike? Well the Buy-It-Now price on this one is $66,995...
From the original eBay listing: 2014 Ducati 1199 Panigale Superleggera for Sale
Truly a once in a lifetime opportunity to own a piece of motorcycling history!! With only 500 units being made worldwide and only 200 slated for the U.S., Ducati says once those are sold, that will be it for the Superleggera
The rest of the listing is just a reprint of specs. Which is sort of pointless, if you asked me, but what else is there to say? There’s no history for this example, with 32 miles on the clock. No mods, no customization, nothing but the window sticker, and some included “race” bits that includes an Akrapovic titanium exhaust.
Weighing in at 390lbs with a full tank of fuel, more than 70 pounds less than the aforementioned BMW, with 200 claimed horsepower at the crank, you’d have to add weight to be legal in any racing class. With no regulations to conform to, this thing is lighter than a World Superbike. In fact, it doesn’t meet the requirements for any race class. It’s pointless. It’s useless. It’s better than you are, better than you will ever be, a testament to the idea of speed.
These bikes aren’t friendly: the electronic aids aren’t there to help you go faster. They’re there to allow you to go faster, if you have the skill to exploit them.
And I’m sorry, but I think we can safely say that you don’t. Honestly, you will probably be faster on that BMW: this isn't some smooth, refined experience. It's an animal. A brutal, terrifiying, hairy-chested thing. You must be THIS tall to ride this ride. Under 18 not admitted without parent or guardian.
Look, I was never really a fan of the 1198. While the 999 maybe took too many stylistic chances, the 1198 didn’t take enough: basically a modernized 916, it was sleek, but bland. The Panigale, on the other hand, looks like nothing else, and is much more exciting for going its own way. The Superleggera just turns the volume up to 11, to indulge in one last cliché.