Ducati Supermono

‘Sounds of Singles’

With Phil Aynsley


Ducati began its motorcycle history with a single cylinder motor, the Cucciolo, in 1946 – and they continued making them until 1974, although their Spanish affiliate Mototrans kept production going until 1982.

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Ducati ‘Sounds of Singles’ Supermono

Then, in 1992, a new single appeared – the Supermono!

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Ducati Supermono

Ducati Supermono PA Supermono

The brainchild of Massimo Bordi the Supermono was intended for the highly competitive Sounds of Singles race class (there were however later rumours of a road going model being developed, even one with a supercharged motor! Sadly nothing came of this and the only road going Supermonos available are Alister Wager’s offerings (link).

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Ducati Supermono

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After several years of development it was first displayed (with a 487cc capacity) at the 1992 Cologne Show and went into limited production the following year. Only 40 of original 550cc bikes were made in 1993-1994, with a further 27 572cc versions in 1995.

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The Ducati Supermono was only produced in very limited numbers and now fetch $200k at auction!

Ducati Supermono PA Supermono

Bordi’s ingenious concept saw him basically using the bottom half of the 888 Corsa V-twin with the vertical cylinder’s (modified) conrod connected to a pivoting lever which rotated on a pin fixed to the crankcase.

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The powerplant was based on the bottom half of the 888 Corsa V-twin

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He called it “doppia bielletta” (double conrod) and it provided perfect primary balance eliminating the single’s vibration without using counterweights. A small bulge in the top of the crankcase was the only exterior sign of the system. Unlike the 888 motor plain main bearings were used.

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It featured “doppia bielletta” (double conrod) providing perfect primary balance

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The water pump was driven from the exhaust camshaft. A dry clutch, six-speed gearbox and Weber fuel-injection completed the engine specifications.

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Ducati Supermono

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Due to the camshaft timing being more radical than the 888’s the power band was much narrower – 8,000 to 10,500rpm – with the motor not really running under 4,000rpm.

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Taken in the Ducati museum, 2000

Claudio Domenicali (now Ducati’s CEO) designed the tubular steel chassis which was constructed at Cagiva’s Varese factory. The swingarm was by Verlicchi and Pierre Terblanche penned the fabulous bodywork.

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Ducati Supermono

Ducati Supermono PA Supermono

Unless you have the opportunity to stand next to one it is hard to comprehend how small the Supermono is. The wheelbase is 1,360mm and the seat height only 760mm. As a guide, with the bodywork removed, I measured the top of the rear shock as only knee high (about 550mm)!

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Ducati Supermono 572

The 550cc version made 78hp (crankshaft) at 10,000rpm and weighed 122kg dry, while top speed was 232km/h.

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Ducati Supermono 550

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Ducati Supermono 550

The 572cc version used a 2mm larger diameter piston (102mm) with the same 70mm stroke as the earlier model. Power was up to 81hp at the same 10,000rpm.

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Ducati Supermono 572

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Ducati Supermono 572

The 572cc model also used a twin outlet muffler, 10mm longer rear shock, slightly different front forks and modified electronics. The bike I photographed is No.02 of the second (’95) production run and was originally exported to the Netherlands before finding its way to the USA.

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Ducati Supermono 572

The Supermono was highly competitive in races around the world. Notable results were Robert Holden’s second at the IOM in 1994, followed by victory the next year (fastest lap 111.66mph).

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Ducati Supermono 572

John Barton finished second in 1997 and third in 2000. Well known bike journalist Alan Cathcart won both the Japanese and British Supermono Championships as well as the 1994 Singles event at Bathurst on the 550 seen here (No.09 – imported by Frasers and photographed in 1993 before it first raced in the hands of Roy Leslie).

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Ducati Supermono 550

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Ducati Supermono 550

The Supermono was eventually overpowered by larger engined competition but remains a very highly sort after bike with prices approaching US$200,000 when one makes a rare auction appearance!

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