Ducati: Leaner and Meaner

The famed manufacturer squeezes more horses into its slimmed-down motorcycle

Superbike 848

Ducati

Ducati upped the ante, unleashing a bike with an 849cc engine that weighs no more than competitors in the 600cc range. In fact, the Superbike 848 weighs 44 pounds less than its 749cc predecessor. To shed pounds, Ducati uses vacural molding, a fabrication process that inhales molten alloy directly into die casts to create a seamless piece of aluminum. This eliminates the need to fasten multiple pieces with welds and bolts that weaken a structure and add weight.

Vacural molding lightens the engine casing and produces a more rugged throttle body, the part that delivers air to the cylinder heads. As in last year's 1098 model, Ducati uses a low, wide throttle body, which allows the cylinder heads to be more compact, and thus lighter.

The single-sided aluminum swing arm (Ducati's signature rear-wheel suspension) is made of multiple components. But the company reinforced the joints to make it stiffer than previous swing arms, so it finally matches the feel of a traditional double-sided suspension.

Boasting 134 horsepower, this 370-pound Italian stallion achieves a power-to-weight ratio not seen since Rocky Balboa's early years.

Less is More

Compact cylinder heads [left] and single-sided rear suspension [right] reduce weight.Ducati