You’re looking at a milestone engine. Whether you’re into bikes or not, what Ducati has done here is like Porsche making the 911 a V8. After decades of success with V-twin engines, cracking the 200bhp boundary in the process, Ducati’s first sports V4 is here.
Called the Desmosedici Stradale, referring to its 16 ‘Desmodromic’ valves and its street state of tune, the 1103cc unit is larger than the MotoGP unit to access more torque at lower engine speeds via a longer 53.5mm stroke. The 81mm bore is the same as the GP bike’s engine, and the two engines’ plumbing is very similar. We already know it sounds pretty fine.
With 206bhp at 13,000rpm, it starts at around the same horsepower as the pinnacle V-twin, indicating that it’s only going upwards from here. Ducati has previously said there was no more it could do with the two-pot without cranking capacity up, which could rule it out of various racing classes.
Angled at 90 degrees, the banks of two cylinders keep weight distribution well suited to the chassis that Ducati has been building for years. It’s naturally balanced in the way it’s set up, say the Italians, so it needs no balancing shaft and revs beyond 14,000rpm. The firing order is a ‘big bang’ style, with cylinders one and two firing together, followed by three and four together.
It uses the same type of counter-rotating crankshaft as found on MotoGP engines; the shaft spinning in the opposite direction to the wheels. It helps to compensate for the gyroscopic effect produced by the wheels, letting riders flip the bike from side to side more easily. Apparently, it also makes a bike less prone to wheelies.
It’s nowhere near as fussy as you’d think in terms of maintenance, either, with standard full services only needed once every 15,000 miles. We’d bet oil changes will be half that, though.
This isn’t the end, though. An ‘R’ version aimed at track riders is on the way, with less than 1000cc, a higher rev ceiling and more screaming top-end power. It’s that version of the engine that will be the basis of the homologated race-spec version due to hit global circuits ahead of the 2019 season.