Ducati 999R

 

 

 

Make Model.

Ducati 999 R

Year

2005

Production

200 Units

Engine

Four stroke, 90° “L” twin cylinder, DOHC, desmodromic 4 valves per cylinder, belt driven

Capacity

999 cc / 70 cu in
Bore x Stroke 104 x 58.8 mm
Cooling System Liquid cooled
Compression Ratio 12.45:1
Lubrication Wet sump
Engine Oil Synthetic, 10W/40
Exhaust Single steel muffler with catalytic converter

Induction

Weber Marelli electronic fuel injection, 54 mm throttle body  

Spark Plugs

Champion RG4HC

Ignition 

Marelli electronic
Battery 12V 10Ah
Starting Electric

Max Power

110 kW / 150 hp @ 9750 rpm

Max Torque

108 Nm / 11.0 kgf-m / 79.7 ft-lb @ 8000 rpm
Clutch Dry multiplate with hydraulic control

Transmission

6 Speed 
Primary Drive Ratio Straight cut gears, 1.84:1
Gear Ratios 1st 2.466 / 2nd 1.765 / 3rd 1.400 / 4th 1.182 / 5th 1.043 / 6th 0.958:1
Final Drive Chain, #525
Final Drive Ratio 2.400:1 (15/36)
Frame Tubular steel trellis  

Front Suspension

Öhlins 43mm upside-down fully adjustable fork with TiN surface treatment
Front Wheel Travel 120 mm / 4.7 in

Rear Suspension

Progressive linkage with fully adjustable Öhlins monoshock

Rear Wheel Travel 128 mm / 5 in

Front Brakes

2 x 320 mm Discs, 4 piston calipers

Rear Brakes

Single 245mm disc, 2 piston caliper

Front Tyre

120/70 ZR17

Rear Tyre

190/50 ZR17
Front Wheel Y-shaped 5-spoke light alloy 3.50 x 17
Rear Wheel Y-shaped 5-spoke light alloy 5.50 x 17
Rake 23.5° - 24.5°
Trail 97 mm / 3.8 in
Dimensions Length 2095 mm / 82.5 in
Width:    730 mm / 28.7 in
Height  1110 mm / 43.7 in
Wheelbase 1420 mm / 55.9 in
Seat Height 780 mm / 30.7 in

Dry Weight

181 kg / 427 lbs

Wet Weight

205 kg / 399 lbs

Fuel Capacity

15.5 Litres / 4.1 US gal / 3.4 Imp gal

Consumption Average

5.0 L/100 km / 19.9 km/l / 46.8 US mpg / 56.2 Imp mpg

Standing 0 - 60 mph

3.17 sec

Standing ¼ Mile  

10.34 sec / 216.2 km/h / 134.4 mph

Acceleration 60- 80 mph

2.9 sec

Top Speed

280 km/h / 174 mph
Reviews Motorbikes Today / Motorcyclist / Sport Rider

An EVOlution of power, aerodynamics and style, for a dream Ducati which is more competitive and powerful than ever Based on the motorcycle representing Ducati in this year's American Superbike Championship (AMA), the 999R has been significantly upgraded for the American market.

A new front fairing, new rear swing arm and suspension, a major upgrade to 150 horsepower for the engine are all intended to reinforce the bike's Superbike status. AMA technical regulations allow fewer modifications to the engine than the international Superbike regulations so Ducati, which returned to the AMA championship this year, has produced an engine with technical characteristics that are much closer to those of the racing version.   The new 999R is yet another step forward in Ducati tradition, which has always been characterised by the manufacture of series production bikes similar to their race versions not only in styling, but also in technical features.

With the arrival of the 2005 model, the differences between the 999R and Ducati's competition bikes have almost disappeared. The R features the latest, most advanced Testastretta engine, radically redesigned from the cases up. The result is an engine that delivers 150 HP, the most power of any Ducati production engine and a safe bet for anybody who wants a bike that leaves the competition standing.

The race-ready 999R confirms Ducati's determination to bring their production Superbikes closer to their official racing machines.

In terms of power, efficiency and weight, the 999R is equipped with the best components currently in production.

Customise your new Superbike with Ducati accessories. Working closely with R&D and the Corse race team, Ducati builds motorcycle accessories that let owners create their own Dream Bikes. With a passion for design innovation and new materials, Ducati itself has become the industry reference point for the finest, custom Ducati accessories available.

Features:

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.

Just a glance is enough to recognise a no-holds-barred solo machine, designed expressly for use on the racetrack at the highest level of competition. The engine hails from the Testastretta series, while the solutions adopted for the chassis equipment are among the most EVOlved and extreme in the world of Superbikes, meeting with the approval of the most discerning racers.

Review

IT DOESN'T LOOK ALL THAT DIFFERENT...
Yes, at first glance the new 999R looks basically identical to the '04 model, of which only a handful were officially imported into the U.S. That's mostly because externally, the only real change is the elimination of the holes in the upper fairing and the leading-edge "flow conveyors" that were aimed at smoothing the fairing's airflow for better aerodynamics. Ironically, this change came from experimentation on the factory Corse WSB racebikes to address rider complaints of excessive buffeting at high speed; the supposed result is much better stability at triple-digit velocities. The windscreen has also been reshaped and is taller, which removes the problem of the edge obscuring the dash that we complained about with the 999.

The big changes were reserved for the 999R's testastretta 999cc V-twin engine. The highly oversquare bore/stroke configuration of 104 x 58.8mm (versus the standard 999's 100.0 x 63.5mm setup that displaces 998cc) is identical to last year's, but major revisions were made to the cylinder head and other internal components. The compression ratio is increased incrementally from 12.3:1 to 12.45:1 using new pistons with reshaped faces to aid in better combustion with the relatively huge bore and single spark plug. Instead of the usual individual cutouts for each valve in the piston face that provide adequate clearance during high-rpm operation, the new 999R's pistons use a single longitudinal cutout for each pair of intake and exhaust valves. Ducati engineers found that with the engine's large bore and resulting shallow combustion chamber, the "flame front" of each burning combustion charge was slightly impeded by the ridge between each singular valve cutout; by using one larger cutout for both valves, combustion is quicker and more complete, providing increased thermodynamic efficiency (in other words, a better and more complete burn for more power at all rpms).

The cylinder head features larger titanium valves (intakes grow to 42mm from 40mm, exhausts up to 34mm from 33mm). With such large valve sizes, the weight savings garnered by changing to titanium were pretty significant: The intake valves are 36 percent lighter, while the exhaust poppets are 39 percent lighter than their stainless steel counterparts. More aggressive cams are used on both the intake and exhaust sides (1.3mm more lift on the intake, 1.2mm on the exhaust, along with slightly more duration and overlap), with new half-cone retainers that were first introduced on the new 749R ensuring positive actuation from the trademark desmodromic valve system. The new valve retaining system contributes to the lighter valves by enabling the use of thinner stems (6mm versus 7mm).

The combustion chamber is also redesigned, with the larger valves moved away from the cylinder walls to prevent "shrouding" at lower valve lifts that can hamper combustion-chamber filling efficiency; however, due to the larger valve sizes, the valves themselves were moved farther apart from each other to ensure adequate metal between the valve seats. The included valve angle remains unchanged at 25 degrees total, however. In order to help prevent the aforementioned valve shrouding, the valve seats are also raised incrementally into the combustion chamber. This required compensating for the lost combustion chamber volume; thus, to keep the compression ratio in check, the piston has a slightly lower deck height.

A new, more powerful Magnetti Marelli ECU controls the engine management system, offering greater memory and faster computational capacity for racing applications. The injectors are now 12-hole (instead of the older four-hole) units for improved fuel atomization.

The titanium connecting rods are attached to a lighter crankshaft scaling in at 8.6 pounds from the previous 9-pound unit. The crank counterweights are now "knife-edged" to enable them to cut through the crankcase oil froth more easily, reducing internal windage power losses. The counterweight's different shape was made possible by a more efficient "cross-drilled" oil passage pattern, which also provided the side benefits of less machining and fewer internal oil galley plugs for better reliability.

All this engine work boosts power significantly, with the new 999R pumping out a claimed 150 crankshaft horsepower at 9750 rpm, versus the previous 999R's 139 horsepower at 10,000 rpm. Note that the changes to the new motor have resulted in a slightly lower power peak, indicative of more efficient power production. It should also be noted that since the 999R is street legal for road use in the U.S., this power is produced with the dual catalyzers and street mufflers in the exhaust.

There are some minor changes to the suspension for '05. The 43mm inverted hlins fork has revised damping and spring rates, along with a new top-out spring to aid stability accelerating over bumpy pavement. The fork spring also uses a new internal spring guide made from hard plastic; by keeping the spring from bending torsionally, the internal guide is claimed to provide less friction as well as less metal debris in the oil from metal-to-metal contact with the inside of the fork tube. The rear hlins shock now has a one-way valve in the rebound piston, allowing rebound damping to be isolated from the influence of the compression damping adjuster.

OK, MORE POWER...
BUT IS IT BETTER?

Ducati reps fitted all the test 999Rs with Michelin's excellent Pilot Race 2 DOT rubber, so we knew the tires surely weren't going to be the limiting factor during the track riding introduction. And with Mazda Raceway at Laguna Seca's roller-coaster layout, we were ensured of being able to put the Ducati's chassis and suspension through their paces.

Noticeable right off the bat is the new 999R's revvier motor. We haven't ridden the previous 999R, so we don't have a comparative sense there, but relative to the 999S we recently tested ("Twin Pipes," September '04), the R model devours the upper portion of its rev range far quicker. Throttle response was crisp and snappy without being overly sensitive, and there was no fluffy carburetion down low like we've found in some other race-oriented Ducati twins. Usable grunt can be found as low as 4500 rpm, with a serious midrange lunge beginning at 6500 rpm transcending into a zippy yet smooth top-end charge that will have you slamming into the 11,000-rpm rev limiter (which, incidentally, has the same abrupt onset as the 749R's) surprisingly quick--quick enough that you need to be on your toes in the lower gears to avoid repeatedly bouncing into the limiter. Although there's plenty of overrev available, you can feel the power tapering off at 10,250 rpm, so revving the piss out of the motor doesn't really get you any more speed.

In fact, you have to force yourself to not ride the Ducati like a four-cylinder because of its quick-revving nature, instead using its long-legged midrange to carry a gear higher through corners to keep up momentum. Ridden as such, the 999R will make serious time in a very subtle manner compared to the frenetic visceral sensations of a four-cylinder.

Aiding in this deceptive production of speed is a remarkably agile chromoly steel-trellis chassis using the standard 999's geometry numbers, along with the expectedly superb hlins suspension action. However, with the engine's added power, proper suspension and chassis setup is critical for stability. Until we cranked in enough rear spring preload and compression damping to get some front-end weight bias under hard acceleration, the 999R would seriously shake its head even over smooth pavement, despite stiffening up the hlins steering damper to quell the swapping bars.

We originally started off with the steering head set to the more radical 23.5-degree angle, thinking it would provide more front-end weight bias and quick turning characteristics. Front-end feedback was OK with this setup, but sometimes tended to get a little numb when really pressed through Laguna Seca's fast turns. We then changed to the conservative 24.5-degree rake angle setting and found a marked improvement in cornering stability and feedback, especially through the aforementioned fast corners, such as the bumpy, downhill Rainey Corner heading down from the Corkscrew. There was only a barely noticeable increase in steering effort, and once dialed in, the 999R offered up excellent stability combined with surprising agility.

Braking into the slow Turn 11 at Laguna Seca had us wishing for a slipper clutch, however, as the rear end would chatter no matter how carefully we fed out the clutch. This was somewhat exacerbated by the Ducati's relatively tall gearing, which made using first gear unavoidable. When asked why the 999R didn't come with the slipper unit now becoming ubiquitous among race-oriented machinery (including Ducati's own 749R), chief engineer Andrea Forni replied that "because the World Supersport regulations forbid changing the clutch, it was included with that particular model. Current superbike rules allow clutch replacement, however, so we figured that since the 999R is a streetbike, any owner who needed one for competition use could easily fit one if he so desired." Streetbike in concept, maybe...

Braking from the radially mounted four-pad Brembo calipers biting on 320mm discs was excellent, with a very linear response and feel at the lever. However, we'd prefer slightly more progressive action, as the brakes became very high effort the harder we rode, which tended to cause fatigue during longer sessions. We're sure this issue can easily be corrected with different brake pads.

SO IS IT WORTH IT?
Well, that obviously depends on your priorities. The new 999R is a limited-production homologation model with a race-ready pedigree, so it's not cheap by any means: One of these prized Ducatis will set you back a cool $30,000. What you get for your 30 large is the pinnacle of V-twin technology and performance, though, so the usual aspects of panache and exclusivity inevitably apply here. It should also be noted that if you purchase one, you will supposedly be given first priority at placing an order for the Desmosedici RR MotoGP streetbike--that alone is literally worth the price of admission in our opinion (given the fact that if you can afford this, the Desmosedici isn't much of a stretch at all).