Friday, October 16, 2009

Other Desirable Bikes (part 1)

If you like the idea of lightweight, no compromise, exotic sports bikes, as I do, then the VUN is a good place to be. But are there other bikes currently on the market that can give a similar feeling? In the next few blog entries I will look at some of the alternatives, starting with a bike that will be always near to my heart, the Ducati Supermono...

Ducati Supermono

The Original 1993 model

Ducati produced the Supermono in 1993 and 1994 using a production line that is set aside for for low volume hand-built motorcycles. The first-born child of designer Pierre Terblanche, a total of only 67 supermonos were ever built.

I have always liked the idea that Ducati are able to produce motorcycles at a low volume like this. The Mike Halewood Replica (MHR) and Desmoseidici are other excellent examples of this process.

Ducati's Massimo Bordi designed the single cylinder engine in a very clever way. Starting with the water-cooled superbike's 90° twin, they removed the vertical cylinder but retained the twin's crank and con-rod. In place of the vertical piston is a levered mass of equal weight.

This produces a single cylinder engine with the natural balance and vibration damping of a 90° twin which allows the engine to rev much higher than a conventionally balanced single.

The original supermono was only produced as a track bike (no lights or indicators), and in its time it was unbeatable in its class.

The supermono has been out of production for 15 years already so it is no longer possible to buy one right? Maybe not... Earlier this year British motorcycle engineer and supermono enthusiast, Alistair Wager, released photos and specifications of a new, replica, supermono and announced his intentions to put it into limited production. What's more it is not just a track bike, it is road legal...

Alistair Wager and his prototype

The replica version uses modern components including an updated testastretta cylinder head. The larger capacity 600cc engine is said to deliver 88hp which is an excellent figure for a single cylinder. Dry weight is claimed to be 133kg which is also pretty good for a street legal bike. The original 550cc race bike quotes figures of 72hp and only 118kg.

The replica's muffler exits from the opposite side, providing room on the left side for a flick-stand.

Sounds great right? Well, not so fast. News of this bike first leaked in March '09, since then I have heard nothing so it is pretty clear that it is not in production yet. What about the price? As you'd expect it is not cheap, expect to pay at least $50,000.

One other thing I have to mention... those headlights? I would have gone a different way.

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