DUCATI SUPERLEGGERA V4 (2020 - on) Review

Highlights

  • Only 500 to be built
  • Carbon fibre frame
  • Most powerful Ducati road bike ever

At a glance

Power: 221 bhp
Seat height: Medium (32.9 in / 835 mm)
Weight: Low (351 lbs / 159 kg)

Prices

New £86,000
Used N/A

Overall rating

Next up: Ride & brakes
5 out of 5 (5/5)

You’d expect something costing £86k to be somewhat on the special side. And the 2020 Ducati Superleggera V4 certainly gets all the bells and whistles… and then some.

It is, for starters, the world's only homologated bike with a carbon chassis. Its dry weight is just 159kg, a mighty 15kg weight saving over the Panigale V4S, itself a relative lightweight in the superbike class. 

Those biplane wings create more downforce than Ducati’s GP20 MotoGP bike, while its quoted power with its Akrapovic race exhaust installed is 234bhp – just 10bhp less than Scott Redding’s WSB V4. And, yet, with the road-legal exhaust that’s supplied alongside the race system fitted, you can ride it to the shops without the law so much as batting an eyelid. 

Forgetting about the price and availability (sadly, only 500 Superleggeras will be sold) for a second, this is a machine capable of lapping within a few seconds of a top-flight factory race bike and being ridden on the road, both legally and easily.

On top of that, it looks stunning and has a soul and character of its own. This is the poster bike for the next generation. Of course, the £86k asking price is ridiculous and the 221bhp in standard trim is way too much for the road, but who cares? This machine is an exercise in extremism and one-upmanship and Ducati have shown us what they’ve got.

Ride quality & brakes

Next up: Engine
5 out of 5 (5/5)

We knew this first V4 Superleggera was going to be fast. The figures speak for themselves, but I didn’t expect the handling and braking to be quite so far ahead of the game.

The ease and efficiency of the way the Superleggera slows, turns and rolls into corners, and changes direction between them is a whole new level. Brake late, accelerate early, miss your apex or mess up a line – and the Superleggera is there to pick up the pieces. Mid-corner there is simply endless grip and feedback.

Cornering on the Ducati Superleggera V4

Then there’s the stability at speed to consider. At 168mph the Superleggera’s extraordinary biplane wings produce 50kg of downforce - 20kg more than the Panigale V4 with its single wing set-up.

At 186mph that’s up to 61kg – enough to markedly improve stability and reduce wheelies, thus allowing harder acceleration and braking as well as a faster corner entry. Towards the end of Mugello’s home straight there’s a notorious crest that MotoGP bikes hit at 220mph, which makes even the best chassis flighty and susceptible to a terrifying weave as their suspension extends. But the winged Superleggera is rock-solid.

Engine

Next up: Reliability
5 out of 5 (5/5)

The liquid-smooth Stradale motor loves to rev. Peak power is at 15,250rpm and peak torque at 11,750rpm but the V4 will carry on going to 16,000rpm, with a rev limiter in sixth gear at a giddy 16,500rpm.

Upshifts are seamless and instant and each flick of the left foot unleashes another tidal wave of power. Mugello is runway-wide and over five kilometres long but has never felt so short or so fast, with the Superleggera shrinking it to the size of Oulton Park.

But while this Ducati might (almost) have the power of the factory’s V4 WSB contender, it remains usable and smooth. It’s genuinely easy to ride.

A stripped version of the Ducati Superleggera V4

Reliability & build quality

Next up: Value
5 out of 5 (5/5)

Finished in a deep red and draped with gorgeous satin-black carbon wherever you look, the fit and finish of the Superleggera is exceptional.

There’s also no reason to suspect it would be unreliable, either, with long service intervals (see below) and a two-year warranty from the factory. 

Value vs rivals

Next up: Equipment
4 out of 5 (4/5)

At £86,000 out of the showroom and likely to be worth just as much – if not more – on the used market, the Superleggera will be forever unobtainable for the vast majority of riders.

For those lucky enough to own such exotica though, the World Superbike-spec performance doesn’t mean ridiculously short service intervals – remaining the same as Ducati’s comparatively cheaper Panigale V4R. There’s a smaller service at around 7500 miles and a larger Desmo service for valve clearances at around 15,000 miles.

Knee down on the Ducati Superleggera V4

If you’re riding hard on track, take plenty of fuel, as the rev-tastic V4 will drink like a fish. With so much power being pumped through the back wheel, don’t expect your tyres to last more than a day, either.

Equipment

5 out of 5 (5/5)

The beautiful carbon chassis saves 1.2kg over the standard 175kg Panigale V4. Carbon wheels account for another 3.4kg saving while a new carbon swingarm shaves off a further 0.9kg.

The subframe is 1.2kg lighter, carbon bodywork knocks off another 1.1kg, while new Öhlins suspension is 0.6kg lighter; courtesy of a titanium rear spring and machined aluminium fork bottoms… Ducati’s weight-saving engineers have removed 2.8kg from the Stradale V4 motor, while the road-legal Akrapovic exhaust is 2.5kg lighter than the standard V4’s item.

Even the rear sprocket nuts are titanium. The list goes on, but the result is a quoted 159kg in road spec and 152.2kg with its race face on – lighter than a Yamaha MT-03 as well as Ducati’s own factory V4s! 

Ducati Superleggera V4 side view

As well as shedding timber, there’s also a full electronics suite to help keep the 221 rampant horses under control. Simply transferring the electronics from the current Panigale R to the lighter, more powerful, extra-downforce Superleggera wouldn’t work though, so this set-up is something all new. 

As you’d expect, it gets the full raft of goodies: cornering ABS, slide control, traction control, anti-wheelie, launch control, an up and down quick-shifter, and changeable engine braking strategies. 

Rider aids can be trimmed and changed to meet personal demands while Ducati has also added three additional new rider modes, simply A, B, and Sport – two are track specific, the third for the road. There’s also a new RaceGP dash mode, for track use only, which shows lap times, splits, and riders aids. Some tracks like Mugello are already pre-programmed so you can simply work on improving your lap time and splits.

Ultimate racing experience

To help soften the blow of an £86,000 bill, every Superleggera V4 owner will also gain access to a World Superbike experience, which will see riders take to Mugello aboard a Ducati Panigale V4R, Superleggera and then a fully-fledged World Superbike for a number of laps.

For an additional €20,000 (approximately £17,000), Ducati will also sell you the MotoGP experience; granting 30 riders the chance to sample a GP20 MotoGP machine at Mugello.

Specs

Engine size 998cc
Engine type Liquid-cooled, 16v, V4, counter-rotating crank
Frame type Carbon fibre 'front frame'
Fuel capacity 16 litres
Seat height 835mm
Bike weight 159kg
Front suspension 43 mm Öhlins forks, fully adjustable
Rear suspension Öhlins TTX36 shock, fully adjustable
Front brake 2 x 330mm discs with four-piston radial Brembo Monobloc Stylema calipers
Rear brake 245mm disc, two-piston caliper
Front tyre size 120/70 x 17
Rear tyre size 200/60 x 17

Mpg, costs & insurance

Average fuel consumption -
Annual road tax £93
Annual service cost -
New price £86,000
Used price -
Insurance group -
How much to insure?
Warranty term Two years

Top speed & performance

Max power 221 bhp
Max torque 85.6 ft-lb
Top speed -
1/4 mile acceleration -
Tank range -

Model history & versions

Model history

  • 2014: Ducati 1199 Superleggera Based on the homologation-special Panigale R, the first Superleggera pumped out 200bhp and weighed just 166kg wet with no fuel. Exotic timber-shedding parts included a magnesium frame and wheels, carbon fibre seat unit, titanium fasteners, 700g lithium battery and revised electronics.
  • 2017: Ducati 1299 Superleggera - A step on from the aforementioned 1199, there was now a claimed 215bhp (up 15 ponies from 2014), improved electronics, a carbon fibre monocoque chassis, titanium con rods and more. £72,000 new, just 500 were made and all were sold out prior to the press launch. Impressive.

Other versions

There are no other versions of the Ducati Superleggera V4, however cheaper (dare we say it..) alternatives include the Ducati Panigale V4S and Ducati Panigale V4R. You can watch our video review of the V4R below:

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