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Two years after the "red-volution", Ducati has advanced and improved every model in the Superbike family. Updates include not just restyling, but a whole series of major chassis and engine improvements to ensure that the 749 and 999 continue to lead the way in Ducati's concept of sports motorcycles, making them more aggressive, faster and more competitive than ever. The new 999 has already been defined as "simply the best V-twin".
It is innovative enough to stand apart from the competition. It is born to race. It is born to win.
The world's most exclusive, most successful twin has donned new clothing. The new 999 is closer than ever in looks to the bikes that dominate so many SBK championships worldwide. And its characteristic tubular trellis frame now embraces an engine that was the exclusive reserve of the S series in 2004. This means that the 124 HP 999 of last year now produces an incredible 140 HP. The 999 is also lighter and boasts a new fairing that is more aerodynamic, as well as a new race-inspired swing arm that is derived directly from Ducati's legendary racing machines. Ducati's answer to the growing demand for ever more powerful, ever more race-inspired sports bikes has hit this already tumultuous market segment like a bombshell. Ever since it was introduced two years ago, the 999 has inspired exponential growth in the Superbike scene and proved a fantastic success on the world's racing circuits. In these last two years the 999 has been continuously updated with sophisticated technical solutions that have kept it constantly in front of the competition. Now, twenty-four months after the bike's introduction, these race-inspired solutions have been applied to the production machines, even to the most basic model in the 999 family that acquires an even more unbeatable price to performance ratio as a result. The 2005 model 999 has improved in looks, running gear and above all engine more than any other production bike.
The result is a machine that is perfectly in line with Ducati's tradition of making production motorcycles as close as possible to official world championship bikes in looks and performance without renouncing the many details that guarantee excellent road-going ergonomics. Ducati is convinced that a real thoroughbred sports motorcycle need be neither demanding to ride nor uncomfortable. So with all its Superbikes, and with the latest 999 in particular, Ducati is intent on proving that comfort counts just as much as engine power and chassis efficiency.
The engine is the most evident area of innovation, as the spec of the new 'basic' 999 shows. The old deep sump Testastretta twin has been replaced in favour of the shallow sump unit, formerly reserved exclusively for S series machines.
The S series has always been the link between pure production bikes and pure race machines. The increase in power is dramatic and is one of the most important aspects of this extraordinary evolution (though there are many other important aspects too). The already impressive 124 HP from only a year ago has increased to a fantastic 140 HP (at 9,750 rpm) in the new entry level 999. But this is not all. Apart from becoming more powerful, the world's most famous 90 degree twin has also become easier to ride and more fun, because the 10.4 kgm of torque of the previous version has risen to 11.1 without the slightest change in maximum torque engine speed, which remains 8,000 rpm. This tangible boost to performance has not spoiled the environmentally friendly nature of the new engine, which still complies with Euro 2 emission control standards.
The power increase has been achieved by major improvements to an already advanced engine. The new engine features new cam profiles specially designed for a higher power and ventilated belt covers designed to reduce timing belt running temperature and consequently belt stress. Compression is up, and a new type of phonic electronic timing wheel has been introduced to give a more accurate pick-up signal and improve coordination between ignition timing and fuel injection timing at all engine speeds. Another important point is the shallow sump, already used with success on the 999 and R. This sump ensures perfect lubrication of all internal engine parts even under extreme riding conditions like the acute angles of lean, hard acceleration and fierce braking typical of circuit use.
Details that make all the difference
The timing belt covers
The covers have been replaced by a pair of dynamically cooled belt covers. The horizontal belt cover features an air scoop connected to the front of the fairing and protected by a sponge filter.
This ensures effective cooling at speed and adequate air circulation all around the belt housing. Warm air is extracted by a Naca outlet at the top of the vertical belt cover.
This solution gives not only efficient cooling but also superior protection for this delicate area of the engine.
The deep sump
Deep sumps have been used on racing Ducatis for some time. The only difference between the racing sump and that used on the basic 999 is the fact that the production sump is die cast rather than sand cast. The sump's special design ensures that the oil pump distributes the right volume of oil under all conditions, on the road and on the track.
The CAN bus electrics
When the 999 was first introduced two years ago, Ducati was the first motorcycle manufacturer to apply a solution that has already revolutionised electrical systems in the automobile industry.
CAN (Controller Area Network) technology has enabled Ducati to simplify and drastically reduce the size of the wiring harness. The CAN electric system has only two control nodes, one being the instrument panel and the other being the engine management ECU. These nodes are interconnected by a limited number of wires, giving a dramatic reduction in weight. The CAN network cable over which the digital signals are transmitted is made up of only two wires, and makes more efficient use of the sensors located at various positions on the bike, avoiding unnecessary duplication.
The frame and double-sided swing arm
Ducati's traditional high strength steel tube trellis frame is universally renowned for its lightness and rigidity, and continues to prove to be the best solution in all Ducati Superbikes. Of all production motorcycles, this is the only frame that allows riders to select up to five different footrest positions as well as modify the angle of rake of the steering head. Unique steering stem eccentric allows owners to set steering head angle to 23.5 or 24.5, extending trail from 91 to 97 millimetres.
The adjustable steering head combines with a new steering damper to guarantee advanced control under all conditions. The new damper features a special fitting that permits it to function correctly irrespective of steering head angle. All these little details add up to make Ducati's production superbikes exceptional sports motorcycles, perhaps the only machines that provide sufficient adjustment to enable all owners to customise setup and ergonomics to match their riding styles as well as all road and track conditions. These pace-setting details are complemented by another innovation, the double-sided swing arm, exactly like the one fitted to the bikes ridden in the World Superbike Championship. For the looks of the new 999 the result is stunning. The already eye-catching tail area with the characteristic high rear cowl and exhaust silencer now looks even more aggressive. On top of improving looks, the new box section swing arm with reinforcement plate on the left underside has led to real improvement in the 999's ridability. This new swing design has improved the swing arm's rigidity to weight ratio without changing its basic dimensions compared to the previous series. All pivot points, from the swing arm shaft to the suspension mounting pin and rear wheel spindle have remained at exactly the same positions. Despite an overall reduction of 500 grams in the weight of the swing arm (including adjustment sliders) torsional rigidity is up by 27 percent. Tests have shown that torsional rigidity has also been improved by 16 percent.
Like its predecessor, the basic model of this latest edition of the 999 reconfirms its faith in Showa suspensions. The front fork is an upside down 43 mm unit with TiN coated stanchions for ultra-smooth surface and perfect damping action. The new box section swing arm is linked to a shock absorber that is compression and rebound adjustable just like the front fork.
The 2005 999 introduces a number of major improvements in style aimed primarily at making the production 999 resemble the race machines more closely than ever. The bottom and top fairing sections have changed in size and volume and now afford better aerodynamic protection at high speeds. The most interesting aspect is doubtlessly the larger and more rounded cockpit fairing, with no upper airflow ducts, and a higher, stronger Plexiglas screen, as previously used on the 999 Factory. The bottom fairing sections have changed shape. The latest fairings are very similar to those fitted to the 2004 999R. They are more streamlined and their lateral airflow deflectors are more enveloping and feature a more rounded profile developed by extensive wind tunnel testing. Add to this a new front mudguard that provides far better protection and reduces turbulence. These modifications have been derived directly from Ducati's experience in the World Superbike Championship and are most effective under extreme riding conditions, when they ensure enhanced rider protection and improved aerodynamics at the same time. The reduction in CxS value achieved with this latest design completes a ten year cycle that began with the glorious 916 and has brought tangible benefits in the form of motorcycles that not only look great but are unbeatably effective on the race track and in everyday road riding. In addition to the positive effect on aerodynamics, the major fairing innovations also go a long way towards improving comfort, something that Ducati has always believed to be of primary importance. Perfect ergonomics play a fundamental role in safety as well as efficiency when riding at the limit. A rider who is comfortably seated on a motorcycle that is a perfect match for his stature can not only achieve excellent performance but can maintain it for extended periods of time without fatigue. On the new 999 this has been achieved by the new cockpit fairing and higher screen that more effectively shield the rider's helmet and shoulders, deviating the air that would otherwise create turbulence. The cockpit fairing is wider too, with new die cast aluminium mirror mountings.
In addition to better protection, safety is improved by ensuring better visibility from the mirrors, essential for road riding.
Improvements to various sections of the fairing have also led to a reduction in weight.
The fairing on the 2005 999 is made from Terblend. This new high-strength polymer has allowed Ducati to reduce thickness even in complex forms. The result is a weight saving of 1,200 grams, equivalent to about 13 percent of the total weight of the old fairing.
Another distinctive feature of the new 999 is its graphics. Traditional Ducati red obviously remains the main colour for the production bikes, but now comes in new colour schemes for the single and two seat versions. The red fairing and tank are complemented by a red frame in contrast with the black wheels and anodised aluminium heat shield that protects the exhaust silencer behind the seat. This solution is clearly inspired by the 999R, the most highly tuned machine in the family, which has already been presented in the United States and will soon arrive in Europe too. The new 999 will also be available in the brand new colour total black. This colour option, however, will be restricted to the two seat versions.
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