2006 Ducati Superbike
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2005 has been an exceptional year for Ducati Superbikes, the range having been completely revolutionised with a series of stylistic and functional refinements and, above all, with a general upward shift in terms of power ratings and performance in both engine displacements and all versions. The 749 and 999 machines have been made more aggressive, edging closer to the dividing line between the street bikes and the official machine used on the world's racetracks.
For the Superbikes manufactured in Borgo Panigale, 2006 will be dedicated to digesting the generational shift, which has taken place just two years from the launch of the new series, with the numerous innovations and refinements introduced in 2005.
The decision to revolutionise the machines was driven by the return of Ducati to the North American AMA Superbike Championship, which has more stringent rules than European championships with regard to modifications to mechanical parts and chassis: the new model is a result of the efforts aimed at creating a machine that would be race-ready straight off the production line, with a large number of adjustments for attitude and riding position, while also being suitable for use on the road. The result is a superbly contemporary range that is highly sophisticated and able to meet the most demanding sports rider with the basic equipment of the 749 and 999, and gradually approaching the S and R versions in a series of evolutionary steps. This brings us to the current state of the art, with the top of the range position occupied by a 999R packing a massive 150 HP, proposed for 2006 also in a Xerox replica version, sporting the colours of the "official" SBK ridden by James Toseland and Regis Laconi.
The Ducati sports machines share aesthetics based on the concept of racing aerodynamics, with fairings that are highly effective also at extreme speeds. That's the thinking behind the development of a new upper fairing, designed to protect the rider's head and shoulders and eliminate air turbulence. The fairing, which is higher and wider than its predecessor to increase the level of protection, joining a tapered lower section of the body, equipped with a pair of sweeping wrap-around and highly effective deflectors. Protection of the rider is one of the key concepts of the latest generation of Ducati machines: the absence of air turbulence makes the cockpit more comfortable - an important factor when riding in traffic and offering significant benefits on the racetrack because stress and fatigue levels are reduced, allowing riders to achieve consistently fast lap times for longer. The unforgiving stopwatch has amply proved this theory.
The styling and aerodynamic strategies adopted are just two of the factors used to achieve the close relationship between competition and series production machines. The box-section swingarm - very light and with very high torsional strength - comes from the world championship experience in the Superbike class and is the most evolved solution for road riding and for the racetrack, apart from adding to the already mean appearance of the 749 and 999. Style and function are also reflected in the exhaust silencer, which is integrated into the rear fairing and protected by a black anodised aluminium cover, and also in the ergonomics of the machine and the multiple possibilities for adjusting rider position. Since their introduction in 2002, the current Ducati Superbikes have been characterised by the ability to modify the positions of the handlebar levers and footrests, and also the facility to adjust steering head rake to two positions, a feature that is unavailable on any other sports machine on the market. There's also one final detail worthy of note: fore-aft adjustment of the seat-tank unit on single-seater versions of the machines. These unique features make the 749 and 999 the production machines that, of all the bikes currently on the market, are the closest to the thoroughbred race versions.
The sports personality of these machines are also reflected in the engines, with the impressive twin cylinder engine bringing sheer performance prowess to all equipment versions. These results have been achieved while keeping a close watch on environmental concerns: all the twin cylinder engines, including the 150 HP mounted on the 999R, comply in full with stringent Euro2 regulations.