Italian magazine MotoSprint managed to snag this image of the 2012 Ducati Superbike as it tested alongside the Ducati GP12 at Mugello last week. Immediately striking is the machine’s diminutive size. Liter bikes the size of 600s have become somewhat normal, but this thing looks about as big as a 250. There’s also a horizontal shock, a very long single-sided swingarm and not an awful lot of room for a pillion. This was a test of an SBK-spec racer, not the production bike, indicating that Ducati will re-enter the series with the new bike next year.
Update: to put the size of this bike in perspective, Danilo Petrucci, the test rider, is 5' 11" tall.
Rumors have been swirling surrounding the “Superquadrata” or “Super Square” for some time now, with most simply indicating that Ducati will be doing what’s necessary to make a competitive superbike these days. Over the now rather uncompetitive 170bhp, 171kg (dry) 1198, expect 20 or so more horsepower, 20 or so less kilograms and a whole bunch of electronics like traction and wheelie control.
That horizontal shock isn’t without precedent. The 2011 Kawasaki ZX-10R uses a similar arrangement, which is claimed to improve cooling and smooth action throughout the shock’s stroke.
The long swingarm will help aid traction, something a bike this powerful, light and so incredibly small is going to need.
We also see a GP-style exhaust peaking out on the right side of the rear wheel and an apparent absence of Ducati's traditional steel trellis frame. The latter is impossible to definitively state due to the camo, but previous speculation and rumor has indicated that this new bike could adopt the Desmosedici's carbon monocoque arrangement. Hopefully without that bike's chatter.
More as we get it.