Forgive me if the sound isn’t as good as usual today, I am away at the minute and wasn’t intending to work, but I wanted to get this video out. It may have got a bit jumbled up too, so if I repeat myself forgive me, better to say it twice than miss it, and I just don’t have the extra time for editing that I would normally spend on it.
Well Ducati have begun a new era, but if you believed half the hype coming out, you might think this was their first ever single cylinder bike. In the Ton Up 250’s video I featured the old Mach 1, and it is only 30 years since the Ill fated Supermono was released.
However, Ducati have now revealed an all new single cylinder Supermoto that is in their words to be the start of a new era. I guess it was inevitable after KTM decided to take them on on the roads that Ducati would fight back and enter the fray in the dirt.
This is the first of what will undoubtedly be a whole series of bikes and they have already announced entry into the Italian MX Championships for next year even though we have few details of the bike that will compete yet.
You will hear all the talk of Tony Cairoli being hired to help create the new bikes, but let us be clear, most of that is just more marketing hype.
What I’m more interested in is if the bikes can actually be competitive, when the likes of Sherco and Beta as well as KTM have been at this game for years.
Just like Triumph with Ricky Carmichael, to be successful with sales they will have to win races.
A Word To The Ducatisti
Now before I start properly, I want to say a few words to the Ducatisti out there. I love the way that Ducati over the years have supported and worked with some truly great designers and engineers. From Fabio Taglioni and Leo Tartarini to Massimo Tamburini and Pierre Terblanche. They have designed some of the most breathtaking motorcycles ever to grace our roads.
The question I will be looking at here, is whether this bike will become yet another of those memorable motorcycles. I will look at this more later on.
To be clear, I’m not a hater, any more than I hate Triumph or KTM, who have also got some stick in some of my other videos. What I do hate, is the way that marketing is taking over from engineering excellence in our industry, and the way it is being used by all 3 of these companies.
Anyway, for now, the first bike we get to see is not the future MX bike, the MX450, which in theory will be ridden by Alessandro Lupino, 8 times Italian MX Champion next season, but probably the most expensive Supermoto ever to be put into full production. If they put the 450 engine in this chassis it would be almost 100lbs over AMA MX race weight limits of 222lbs making it so much heavier than the competition that it would never win anything. So I guess they need more time to get the new chassis finished on the MX bikes.
The new SuperQuadro Mono Engine
The new SuperQuadro Mono engine is the first of the new single cylinder engines and will power the new 659cc Supermoto that for whatever reasons Ducati has decided to label the 698.
I suppose to the uneducated that might sound bigger, but do Ducati really hold their customers in such low regard?
And this is where I go off script a bit and rant. I know its a modern trend and Ducati didn’t start it, but its stupid. Call it a 650 or a 660, fine, but don’t paint it as something it’s not. It’s not a 698 so don’t call it that. Where the 698 number came from I have no idea, but I guess it makes it sound bigger than the KTM 690.
This new single-cylinder engine has a top end derived from the older V-Twin Panigale 1299 and if you were to simply believe the marketing, it is set to become the most powerful single cylinder motorcycle on the market.
Now again, and I wont mention any names, I have heard big channels describe the engine as a single overhead cam with finger followers actuating the exhaust valves, It isn’t, It is a double overhead cam engine, and truth be told, it is, as far as I am aware, and according to the released figures the most powerful single on the market. But that is only by a fraction, and already in this Supermoto form, it is actually slightly heavier than the only competition it has in the market. The KTM 690, Gas gas 700 and Husqvarna 701.
All come in around the same weight, and when you consider the Ducati has the advantage of lighter forged supermoto wheels and magnesium crancase covers rather than the heavier spoked wheels and alloy cases of the others, that weight difference is hardly significant.
I also had to laugh when I saw the official Ducati marketing, which describes a wet weight with no fuel. I’m sorry, but if it has no fuel in, to me that is not a wet weight. Which fluids are included? That, as they say, is something we may never know.
A High Performance Single
With a price tag of around £11,000 for the basic standard version in the UK and what will be significantly more with the full power kit and other extras, I am not so sure.
Will that price tag make it great? Probably, in some ways. Whether it can win races at an international level is a different question entirely.
It seems to go against the idea of a true supermoto to me. That idea of an absolutely minimal motorcycle built to take the knocks and be rebuildable over and over again at minimal cost.
Money No Object?
If money is no object, you can add over £2,500 for the full Termignoni exhaust system to help release that maximum power, but how many times would that need replacing from crash damage in an average year of Supermoto racing?
Looking At The Specs
Getting into the specs, it has a very over-square engine. Now in the Panigale race bikes that isn’t an issue, but will it work as a single? The 116 mm diameter piston has just a 62.4 mm stroke and I honestly can’t think of another single with anything like such an over-square design.
This does have the advantage of letting the engine rev higher, and it will allow it to produce more power from the same capacity engine, but there is always a balance, and that extreme rev range is almost certainly going to cost low end torque, which might not be the best idea on a Supermoto or MX track.
Low end pick up can be much more important than overall power on all but the fastest tracks, and it will be interesting to see how the Ducati actually works in a real race environment if anyone ever actually takes it racing. A 62mm throttle body and 46.8 mm titanium intake valves along with 38.2 mm steel exhaust valves are all controlled by the classic Ducati Desmodromic actuation system, and means we are looking at a power output of 77HP at 9,750rpm on the standard model with a redline of 10,250rpm.
Max torque is quoted as 63Nm but from the graphs I’ve seen from Ducati, who were the ones claiming 63Nm, the graphs actually show it as less than 50Nm peak torque at just below 8,000rpm.
That is significantly less torque than the KTM 690, but more importantly, because the maximum torque doesn’t hit until 8000rpm, which is 2,000rpm higher than on the KTM, the engine just won’t pick up as well. So this is an engine you will need to keep “On the boil” to get the most out of it.
Full Race Trim
In full race trim the power goes up to almost 84HP at 9,500 rpm, but no torque figures have been released on that so far. The original 63Nm figure may have been for the full race spec model, but that isn’t what Ducati originally said, and they don’t seem in a hurry to answer my questions.
Another thing I found interesting is the use of Marzocchi front forks and a Sachs rear shock rather than the ubiquitous Ohlins set up you might expect.
Now don’t get me wrong, I actually prefer Marzocchi in many ways, and Sachs have always made top notch suspension, but when we are talking about a bike with a price tag like this, I would have thought Ohlins would have come as standard.
Having said that, it would have then been much harder to market what will inevitably be an Ohlins shod SP model that will without doubt follow, for another few thousand pounds more of course.
The RVE Model
So, the RVE model with, in Ducati’s words, the extra cool graphics, is fitted with the quickshifter as standard, although it seems not much else. This RVE version is already announced and will sell for around £11,500 and you still don’t get the Wheelie Assist that we will come to later for that. Also if you want the Wheelie assist, you have to buy the full Termignoni race exhaust system first. So if you want the quickshifter and Wheelie assist you are already at £14,500.
You do get a Slipper cutch on all models though to be fair.
That race exhaust system alone costs over £2,500, then another £300 for the Wheelie assist software package before you add anything else.
In the States that looks like $12,995 for the standard model with no extras $14,495 for the RVE version. Then add the Termi exhaust and wheelie assist and it comes to $17,500
You can get road homologated silencers for just £1,500 to save a bit if you want to keep the Catalytic converter, but that means you can’t get the Wheelie Assist software to work.
A retuned ECU is not listed at present but at very least will need re-flashing.
There is an endless array of ridiculously overpriced extras too. Better foot-pegs at £270 because the originals look woefully small, a rear swingarm spindle is another £240 because its titanium, carbon headlight shroud comes in at £325, then there is another £180 for half a carbon front mudguard, and over £200 for a forged brake lever, yes you heard me right, it is actually £216 for a brake lever, and the stupid thing is, you just know some people will buy them. Add another £80 for some shiny new clutch reservoirs and over £90 just for a pair of front LED indicators that probably cost less than £2 to make.
Then, although prices aren’t yet published there is a skid plate which im not even going to guess at a price for, an aluminium tail tidy which will probably be £200 to £300, or a carbon one which will probably be £4-600. Then there is an Ohlins steering damper which is likely to add a lot more than another £1,000.
Then we come to what is described as a full style kit? Why? does it not have any style unless you buy the extras?
Then there is a Carbon rear mudguard, racing seat, multimedia system, which I assume will give it the Bluetooth connectivity they obviously forgot about, and a billet aluminium fuel cap. So I’ve no idea if the standard fuel cap is steel or plastic.
I would say most of these should really come as standard on a bike at this price. Add even half of them and you won’t get much if any change from £20,000.
Add the price of the aforementioned Ohlins suspension in the near future and you will probably be looking at somewhere between the £20 to £25,000 mark or maybe even more for future SP models in the UK.
Is that really the price of a Supermoto? Or an entry level bike to attract new customers as it is also called? Can it be both? And surely the “Look at me” brigade will want to go for the bigger V-Twin Hypermotard?
Can It Be A Sales Success?
So I ask you, can it be a sales success?
Wet weight with no fuel is said to be 151Kg or around 333lbs, but we all know how accurate quoted weights can be, and despite EU rules, this is not a true wet weight as it is measured with no fuel. So lets call this a damp weight.
In comparison, a KTM SMC690R, weighing about the same, produces around 75HP at 7,500rpm and 75Nm of torque at around 6,000rpm, and although we all know it is not advisable to leave it that long, it has 10,000 mile service intervals. Ducati with its 10,250 rpm redline claims a 9,000 mile service interval, with those desmo valve clearances done every 18,000 miles or 30,000 km.
Power And Torque
What I do see in the Ducati graphs, is a hole in the torque curve between 5,000 and 6,000 rpm and hole in the power curve at 8,000 to 8,500 rpm. I would say they are both critical points for a race bike.
Will It Last?
What this all effectively says is that those huge Ducati pistons can travel up and down the bore 50% more than the KTM without any extra servicing. Let us try and look at that closer.
Running both engines flat out at peak power and taking a random 1 minute per mile figure as a way to compare, If the KTM service is done at 10,000 miles, the piston will have travelled up and down the bore 100 million times. the Ducati piston in that same time will do 150 million cycles Yet they still claim it will only need servicing every 9,000 miles. If we look at that a slightly different way, the Ducati will have done the equivalent of 15,000 miles worth of revs in that same time the KTM does 10,000 miles worth of revs.
Does that sound feasible to you? Especially considering the price, I can’t see many owners leaving it 9,000 miles between oil changes.
So, In real terms, you get a tiny theoretical power advantage, but loose around 25Nm of torque, and the torque you do have doesn’t kick in until much higher up the rev range.
The weight is effectively the same as the KTM and you will be paying in the region of £5,000 more for the Ducati as well. And love them or hate them, the KTM 690R has a proven track record.
So Which Would You Buy?
Normally here I would say don’t forget, you could save even more if you buy the Gas Gas version, but in this case that isn’t actually true in the UK, because right now M and P cycles in Swansea are actually offering the 2024 KTM SMC 690 R on pre order at just £7500. So ask yourself, is the Ducati better than 2 KTM SMC 690R’s?
Another thing is the seat height, Now I know not everyone wants or needs to get both feet down, and the KTM is no short arse with a seat height of 890mm or 34 inches, However, even in the highest 1970’s platform soles, at over 910mm or 35 inches, I would need a ladder just to get on the damn Ducati. Each to his own, but is there anyone out there who thought the seat on the KTM wasn’t quite high enough?
Something else which you know is a pet hate of mine is electronic rider aids on so called race bikes. For me it should be the rider in control not the computer whizz back at the office, but for those of you who do like them, Ducati were not content with matching the raft of electronic wizardry on the KTM.
Down To The Nitty Gritty
Here we start to get to the nitty gritty, and I quote “For the less experienced riders” I’m sorry, but this is supposed to be a race bred supermoto!!! Not a bike for learning on.
You get Ducati traction control and lean sensitive ABS, Wheelie Control and Engine brake control. Ducati “Power Launch” which I assume is a standard launch control system lifted straight from the Panigale, not one set up for the dirt.
We have not 3 but 4 rider modes, because 3 just wasn’t enough, then we get umpteen ABS options that will take up half an hour of your riding time to choose from. You also get something called a “Slide by brake” function and a “Wheelie assist” button. These are to allow you to do things you really shouldn’t be doing unless you actually have the skill to do them.
The slide by brake function allows a certain degree of slide on the back wheel to tighten up your turns, and the Wheelie assist function lets you choose how much of a wheelie you want to do. It feeds in enough torque to help you keep a wheelie going, without letting you tip the bike head over heels, a sort of anti wheelie device in reverse so to speak.
And this is where we get to the real truth of the matter. This isn’t actually a race bike at all, It isn’t a bike built so that expert riders can win races, it is a bike for hooray Henry’s who have more money than skill, to try and make them look like better riders than they actually are.
So if you have more money than sense, and even more stupidity than skills, maybe this really is the bike for you.
Designed By Committee
The bike seems to have been designed by a committee of sales reps and number crunchers who looked at the KTM, and then decided all they needed to do was make as many of the figures as possible look slightly better on paper.
People who thought, we don’t need to develop an all new engine, just cut the Panigale V2 in half and all we need to design is a chassis and new crankcases with a lighter gearbox.
They obviously wrote the sales pitch too, where they talk about lightweight aluminium forks, I do hope they aren’t all aluminium or the stanchions wont last long. Haven’t all forks been mostly Alloy for many years now? I cant remember the last set of steel forks I saw other than a pair of Girder forks.
This bike isn’t designed to be better, it has been designed to look better in the sales pitch and they can’t even do that right.
You will notice, in all the footage from the Ducati sales pitch, there is not one picture or video that is taken on an actual Supermoto course. Maybe they don’t know what Suppermoto is? There is no dirt anywhere. Most of the video footage is from a road racing circuit, which is fine if that is what you want, but is it a real Supermoto?
I will leave you to answer that yourselves.
What I will say, is it is obviously very road focussed for a Supermoto.
I don’t think you need me to say whether I will be buying one or not. And I guess I certainly won’t be getting any discounts from Ducati, any more than I would from Triumph or KTM.
As always, I say it as I see it here, and no amount of corporate money will ever change that.
New details do keep appearing, so if I notice anything significant I will let you know as soon as I can.
I just hope the proposed new range of Motocross Bikes is a bit more like they should be, to be truly competitive Pro MX race bikes.
I hope you’ve enjoyed the video and can take the time to look around the channel.
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Thanks for watching.
I hope you get some great riding in.
Ride Free everyone.
Here is a link to another video in the description below, The SupermotardKing and his followers have been discussing this new bike, they also have some interesting observations, so go and show your support there too if you have the time.