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Ducati Desmosedici RR: a bike with a definitive purpose

By Arv Voss, March 14th, 2009

Mention "Ducati" in a crowd of sport bike enthusiasts and you've got most everyone's attention. Drop the name "Desmosedici RR" and you've gotten everyone's undivided attention.

The Desmosedici RR is an incredible machine -- it's derived from the Desmosedici GP6 Grand Prix Racing MotoGP Ducati Corse that was ridden by Loris Capirossi and Sete Gibernau in the 2006 MotoGP World Championship.

The 2009 Ducati Desmosedici RR is a faithful, street-legal replica of the GP6. It is essentially the first MotoGP bike to be built with the street in mind, but with a slight detuning from the all-outrace version, and with the integration of streetable electronics.

The bike has a singular, definitive purpose: to go fast. The bike rockets from 0-60 mph in 2.43 seconds in unofficial tests. Top speed is 196 mph only due to gearing limitations.

Power comes from Ducati's D16RR 989 cc DOHC, 16-valve, Desmodromic, liquid-cooled, L-4-cylinder with gear driven crankshafts, with four 50 mm Magneti Marelli throttle bodies and 12-hole "microjet" injectors above and with manual idle control (choke).

The potent motor makes 200 horsepower. The torque generated amounts to 85.55 lb. ft. Connecting rods, valves with CrN surface coating and keepers are all Titanium. Rocker arms are case-hardened and super-polished. The crankshaft is high-strength forged steel. Rounding out the use of exotic and lightweight materials are: the RR58 high-performance aluminum alloy pistons, cylinder heads and 4-gallon fuel tank, and the magnesium wheels, generator, timing and cam covers, clutch lever and oil sump. Final driving force reaches the rear wheel via a chain, through a 6-speed cassette type transmission with a hydraulically activated dry multi-plate slipper clutch.

The bike is an engineering marvel that features a host of innovative technologies and exotic materials. Production is limited to only 1,500 with a base price set at $72,500.

In addition to its inherent engineering achievements, the Desmosedici RR is a rapid transit mobile art form. A rear-wheel stand and race graphics are included with each. The full fairing and bodywork are fashioned from carbon fiber with the fenders left unpainted.

The Desmosedici rides on Upside-down Ohlins FG353P front 43 mm forks, pressurized, with preload, rebound and compression adjustment, and TiN coated sliders, and rear Ohlins rear shock, with rebound, low/high speed compression adjustment, and hydraulic preload, rebound and compression adjustment. Tires are specially formulated Bridgestones: 120/70 R17 up front, with a 200/55 R16 rear mounted on 7-swirl-spoke GP6 design Marchesini forged and machined magnesium staggered wheel widths.

With a bike that is capable of such high speeds, braking is equally important, and the Desmosedici RR comes to a halt courtesy of two Brembo radial "monoblock" calipers with four 34 mm pistons clamping on two semi-floating 330 mm x 5 mm discs up front, and 240 mm fixed disc, caliper with two 34 mm pistons in the rear.

My test bike was number 162 of 1,500 and the out-the-door price was estimated to be roughly $80,000, after factoring in dealer prep, destination, taxes and registration.

SUMMARY: First of all, let me set the scenario. I'm a cruiser guy at heart, and I'm also 6'4", so right off the bat, I don't fall into the ideal ergonomic form for such a machine. Basically, I guess you could say that I'm not worthy, or the proper fit for such a machine.

The Desmosedici RR is intimidating. As already stated, it is a street-legal MotoGP race bike. It ranks far above the capability of the non-expert professional racer. It is a beast.

The throttle is hair trigger, delivering awesome power output almost by simply thinking about it. The clutch is however tame enough and adjustable. The bike is exceptionally compact and lightweight, rendering it as not the most comfortable ride in the world for a large rider with long legs.

It's not a bike that's intended for long cross-country jaunts. The suspension is, by necessity, stiff in order to achieve the required stability and handling characteristics. I was rather out of place somewhat resembling a pretzel astride this beautiful piece of machinery -- visualize here, a gorilla on a mini-sport bike. Nevertheless, I felt privileged to have had the experience of riding a bike with such capability and raw power.

The Desmosedici displays a positive steering response with minimal effort and turns in quickly. Minimal effort, in fact, is encouraged to avoid trouble. I was wearing a new pair of Alpinestars S-MX-4 boots that were on the stiff side, since they weren't broken in yet, so shifting was a little difficult with my big feet -- in my contorted position. Proper throttle application is key to avoid keeping the front wheel in the air, which results in steering difficulty; roll on quickly and with gusto, and you can feel the front wheel begin to lift. Brake application is equally a factor. Finesse here is a virtue if not a necessity.

Riding for any length of time resulted in sore neck muscles due to holding my head up at an unnatural angle, while trying to look forward from my unrelaxed riding position. My wrists also became strained from upper body weight pressure. Essentially, riding the Ducati Desmosedici RR is an exercise for not the young at heart, but rather the genuinely young, with supple and more flexible bodies more compact in stature, and befitting the bike.

Bottom line, the Desmosedici RR is an extremely capable bike for extreme sporty types with a healthy spending income.

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