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Rome. Colosseum. Wine. Venice. These are the things that probably come to mind when someone utters ‘Italia’. For us, and almost every petrolhead around the world, it is different! Ferrari. Lamborghini. And of course, Ducati. There’s a particular reason behind that. When it comes to vehicles, it is different. Some look to drive volumes, some chase perfection but Italy? No.
For Italians, it is a passion to be pursued. For Italians, it is a deity to be revered. For Italians, it is more art than science. But according to what Da Vinci said, they both go hand in hand. We have ridden our fair share of Italian superbikes and now, xBhp has a Streetfighter V4 too, a perfect example of Borgo Panigale’s zeal! But the one we are going to talk about today is much more special.
This particular specimen has never been ridden. It still had the lamination on the speedo as it is supposed to be on a brand new motorcycle. But guess what, it will never be ridden either. It is meant for a museum. We had goosebumps when the motorcycle was being unloaded, and then, being unwrapped. Too much to take? Let us tell you the name.
Ducati Desmosedici RR. Yes, the Ducati Desmosedici RR. The last time we saw this motorcycle, was in World Ducati Week 2014. It is one of the rarest motorcycles on the planet and perhaps the closest you can get to an actual MotoGP prototype. Even getting to see this motorcycle in flesh, to feel its focus, and to be in its presence; is a feeling that is hard to describe in words.
This motorcycle, as we mentioned, is rare and one that collectors would give an arm for. But what makes it so special? So in 2001, Ducati announced that they were working on something that would spell their comeback to MotoGP. In 2003, the Ducati Desmosedici debuted in MotoGP and its outright speed blew everyone’s minds. Ducati knew that they had a winner on their hands when Loris Capirossi took it to its first victory at the 2003 Catalunya GP.
It was a stellar season considering it was their first one. But in 2004, Ducati made an announcement at the World Ducati Week; and it sent shockwaves through the motorcycling fraternity. Their Desmosedici racer was coming to the road! A street-legal production version called Desmosedici RR. A road-going version of the first Desmosedici to set racetracks on fire- the Desmosedici RR made nearly 200 bhp of power from its 989cc Desmodromic 90° V4.
Imagine that kind of power propelling a motorcycle that weighed 171 kg (dry)! This phenom of a motorcycle was limited to 1,500 units and preference was given to the owners of the Ducati 999R, another homologation special. The specimen we had with us was number 0860 out of 1,500. And it is because of this rarity and that it was meant for a museum, we could not ride it. But we did get to start it up!
The sound it makes… it is heaven, a mechanical symphony like no other; so loud, so brash, so Italian, so… Ducati. Considering it is practically a MotoGP racer with headlights and stuff slapped on to make it road-legal, you might think it is quite advanced. Well, it is. The engine is a masterpiece. This motorcycle made nearly 200 bhp in 2007! But in terms of rider aids, you get a shift light and that is it. Not even traction control.
The Ducati Desmosedici RR or D16RR, as it was called due to its 16-valve system, is a bare motorcycle. It is as raw as it gets and that is why it is quite difficult to ride. At least the fortunate people who have ridden it believe that. But that is what it is all about. You ride it if you are a good rider and that is what we love about it the most.
If you look at the bike, you will see that the exhaust is where the rear seat should have been. No, we are not talking about under-seat exhausts, it is practically sitting on the tail. This is an extremely powerful motorcycle and predictably, the exhaust gets really hot. So the tail section is made of a ceramic-carbon fibre composite to deal with that.
Another peculiar thing about the Desmosedici RR is the 16” rear wheel which takes bespoke Bridgestones! But for the most part, people swapped them out with 17 inchers as the bespoke tyres came at a maddening price! The wheels themselves though are magnesium ones from Marchesini, a first for its time.
The Desmosedici RR was available in two colour options; Rosso GP or the Team Version which had white stripes on its fairing and came with the sponsor decal kit. Being a replica of the Ducati’s MotoGP racer, the GP6, it came with a racing kit that included a race-only exhaust system, a slip-on muffler, a race ECU with tuned fuel and ignition mapping.
It is mind-boggling to get to see a motorcycle like this. Special, rare, and something only Italians would do and yet, compared to the same Italians, it feels so dated. Do not get us wrong, this motorcycle has cemented its place in history but it is from nearly 15 years ago. Our Streetfighter V4 is powered by a similar larger capacity engine. In fact, its Desmosedici Stradale may very well be a successor to the D16RR’s engine.
While the Streetfighter V4 is brimming with technology, the Desmosedici RR is bare and does not even have traction control. In 2007, it took a MotoGP replica to make 200 bhp and the Streetfighter V4, well, simply makes 200 despite being a production motorcycle and a naked one at that! Imagine how much power the MotoGP prototypes of today make. It is all just a reminder of how far we have come. But it is also a reminder of where we started.
Phew! Ducatis are special, that we know for a fact. And this is a special Ducati. It cost forty thousand pounds when it was launched but today, it goes for over eighty thousand! Not that people will be willing to sell it but still, it is good to know that for the most part, it is out of reach in a monetary sense.
But if you just want to witness this very special motorcycle in the flesh though, you can, thanks to Euro Cycles India. It will be a part of a sports activities resort in Lucknow where it will be on display soon. So, you know where to catch one if you want to. In the meantime, we will now try to do our best to get to ride one… or try at least. Anyway, here are some more photos for you to drool at.