Ducati embrace the single life: Meet the Superquadro Mono – the most powerful and highest revving single-cylinder motor ever!

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Ducati have gone back to their roots with the announcement of an all-new single-cylinder engine, their first in 30 years.

Called the Superquadro Mono, the 659cc motor is claimed to be the highest revving and most powerful road-going single-cylinder ever produced, kicking out a claimed 76.4bhp in standard spec and an impressive 83.4bhp in track-ready form.

It’s also capable of engine speeds previously unimaginable for a non-race mono, revving up to 10,250rpm – courtesy of a desmodromic top end.

Ducati Superquadro Mono engine top

With the biggest cylinder bore of any production single, the Superquadro Mono uses the same giant 116mm piston from the 1285c V-twin ‘Superquadro’ of the 1299 Panigale, and combines it with a stroke just 1.6mm longer than the superbike at 62.4mm.

This gives it the rev-inducing, massively oversquare dimensions (hence the name Superquadro which means ‘super square’) allowing the piston to travel at 21 metres per second at max rpm. It also cherry picks other choice bits from the firm’s most powerful road-going twin, such as valves, combustion chamber and desmo timing control – but the remaining 80% is totally new.

History lesson

It was 1993 when Ducati last dabbled in single life, with the legendary-but-limited Supermono 550 race bikes, which used the horizontal cylinder and desmodromics of an 888 Racing V-twin to thrum its way to 75hp at 10,000rpm.

Ducati Superquadro Mono engine valves

Although it’s logical to think Ducati have simply picked up where they left off with the Supermono, only the superbike-cylinder-stealing concept is similar to the 90s design – as well as the man responsible for it… Claudio Domenicali.

Now Ducati CEO, Domenicali was formerly the project leader on the Supermono so had more than a keen interest in the new single.

“About four years ago, during a brainstorming, someone proposed: ‘why not do a new Supermono?’” Ducati’s Engine Director Stefano Fantoni tells MCN. “At the end Mr Domenicali decided that this idea could be developed.”

Ducati Superquadro Mono engine side

Fantoni and his engine R&D teams got to work shortly after, with a brief to give the motor a huge band of performance, whilst also making it as light and compact as possible.

They claim that it generates a maximum of 46lb.ft at 8000rpm, but better than that they say 70% of that maximum is available at 3000rpm, with 80% in your right hand from 4250rpm to the 10,250rpm redline. Impressive stuff indeed from such a short-stroke engine, but how did they do it?

“We understood that we had to completely redesign the cam profile, for the intake duct we choose to use a smaller throttle body diameter and change the length of the duct, and also another key point was the length and design of the exhaust pipe,” says Fantoni. “All of these things together allowed us to reach the target of having a very robust torque curve.”

Ducati Superquadro Mono engine parts laid out

In terms of the project’s other key objectives, size and weight, Ducati haven’t yet been able to tell us final figures, but Fantoni says that every gram was carefully considered. As the Superquadro Mono con rod is offset towards one side, it allowed Stefano and his team an opportunity to save weight.

“Since the conrod is not exactly in the middle of the engine but is closer to the clutch side, the opposite bearing could be reduced a little bit because it has less stress than the other one.

“So, because the crankshaft is one of the heaviest components of the engine, we decided to have the bigger main bearing on the side that is really stressed and the smaller one on the other side. It’s a sign that we tried to spend every gram of this engine wisely.”

Ducati Superquadro Mono engine front

Although the bikes powered by the new Superquadro Mono haven’t yet been announced, spy shots seen back in September suggest it’ll be a motard-style machine.

Ducati Superquadro Mono engine in detail

  • Twin balancers: The original Supermono used a dummy conrod in order balance the motor and banish vibes, but the Superquadro Mono uses a pair of balancer shafts aligned with the crank. “If you decide to use only one counterbalance you have to design it bigger, so you have to enlarge a little bit of the engine in order to create more space,” Stefano said. “For Ducati this is absolutely an innovation.”
  • Lessons in MX: In October ’23 Ducati announced they will be entering the world of motocross, first by fielding a 450cc desmodromic prototype in the Italian championship. Although the Superquadro Mono has little relation to the competition MX motor, Stefano says that the road bike single helped them to massively increase their knowledge in this area. 
  • More bang: The production bike record bore of 116mm allows for a large piston crown surface area and, thanks to Ducati’s desmodromic valve actuation system, means that valve size can be optimised for maximum air flow through the cylinder and increased performance. The Mono shares the Panigale 1299’s valves – 46.8mm titanium components for the intake, and 38.2mm for the exhaust. The cam profile is slightly less aggressive than the superbike’s.
  • All consuming cases: As featured on the 1299 Panigale, Ducati’s single features dicast crankcases which include the water jacket around an aluminium cylinder liner, meaning no separate cylinder block, with the head bolting direct to the crankcase.
  • Servicing: High revs equal more attrition, right? Not exactly: “As this this engine revs a little bit lower than the Panigale 1299 and also because the cam profile is a little bit quieter, being designed more for torque than the peak of power, service intervals are a little bit longer than the 1299 Panigale.” The desmo service is now set to 30,000km (18,641 miles).