749 moves to an all new level
DUCATI is taking the racing success of it’s all-new £11,000 749R so seriously it has developed a new engine to allow it to take on the best the Japanese can offer.
What was initially thought to be a highly-tuned version of the 749S has turned out to be the most exotic and highly-specced race machine for the road in the class. The aim of the Italian manufacturer is clear – it simply wants to be able to beat the Honda CBR600RR, Yamaha R6, Kawasaki ZX-6RR and Suzuki GSX-R600 on the track.
To get this job done Ducati turned to the same people at it’s racing arm, Ducati Corse, who developed the Desmosedici MotoGP machine and the World Superbike title-winning 999 Neil Hodgson won on.
749R highlights include: All-new engine with a shorter stroke and wider bore for even higher revs, Peak power claimed to be 116bhp at 10,500rpm, Forged aluminium wheels, Aluminium alloy swingarm copied from the WSB 999, Radially-mounted front Brembo brakes, Enlarged fuel tank up from 15 to 18 litres, Titanium engine internals, Magnesium engine covers, Carbon-fibre bodywork, High-spec Ohlins suspension, A slipper clutch, Lightened crankshaft, Racing camshafts, A weight saving of seven kilos over a standard 749, Special silver badge giving the number of the bike.
Ducati appears to have left no stone unturned. It knew it needed lots of revs to compete with the likes of the 140bhp Ten Kate Honda CBR600RRs. The standard 749S motor struggled to deliver – so Ducati has bored the motor and shortened the stroke.
The standard bore and stroke of 90mm x 58.8mm has changed to 94mm x 54mm to allow the engine to rev faster while the risk of mechanical failure is reduced because of the lower piston speed.
In addition, WSS tuning regulations are so strict about what can be changed that Ducati has taken no chances and fitted high-spec parts as standard. These parts include: Titanium connecting rods, Magnesium cylinder head covers, A slipper clutch to prevent rear wheel lock-ups, Titanium valves and valve guides, Racing camshafts with longer duration and increased lift compared to a 749S, Carbon-fibre cambelt covers with cooling ducts to maintain consistent cam timing in the heat of track action, Lightened crankshaft, Aluminium alloy pistons.
The 749R’s trellis frame is painted red to echo the bigger 999R. It also has an adjustable steering head and an all-new aluminium swingarm copied direct from Hodgson’s WSB series-winning 999. The swingarm cannot be changed on the race bike in supersport so the 749’s new one offers more rigidity with less weight.
The 749R’s brakes are the latest Brembo radially-mounted front stoppers with four pistons and four triple-bridge pads biting on to thinner 4.5mm thick brake rotors. These discs have also been mounted further out into the airstream to improve cooling.
Forged aluminium alloy Marchesini wheels are shared with the 999R and shave 3.2kg off the weight of the standard 749 and 749S wheels. Wheels, brake calipers, front suspension externals and the swingarm all have to be kept standard on World Supersport race bikes so the better the standard items the easier it is to race the bike.
Ohlins suspension all round with 43mm titanium-nitrided, upside down forks up front, which feature a specially-designed mounting bracket for the new radial brakes.
At the rear the shock is all new – it has an altered spring rate and shortened stroke (down to 56mm from 71mm), with every aspect of adjustment available for pre-load, compression and rebound.
By painting the wheels black and the frame red, not to mention adding radial brakes and carbon fibre everything, Ducati has turned the otherwise ordinary-looking 749 into a knee-trembling thing of utter beauty. Awesome handling is assured, and even if it makes just 110 of its claimed 116 ponies (before the race kit), the 749R is going to be one hell of a tool.