The Ducati Desmosedici's Carbon Fiber Frame

Here at, we are not given to recycling press releases. They are freely available both on the teams websites, and on many other news websites (though some make the effort to turn the press release into a story, and others state baldly that the information is just a press release). But sometimes, we are sent a press release that we are sure our readers would be interested in as well.

One such release landed in our inbox this morning: A background story from Ducati explaining a little bit about the Desmosedici GP9's carbon fiber monocoque chassis, and some of the design decisions which lay behind it. We hope you enjoy it:


Ducati Desmosedici GP9 Carbon Fiber Monocoque Chassis

The most significant innovation of the DUCATI DESMOSEDICI GP9 is the monocoque frame in carbon fibre composite.

The technical selection of this type of frame is the next step in the advancement of the bike that has undergone previous major developments in its GP3 and GP7 versions.

The concept of the engine casing has been the guideline of the DESMOSEDICI project. The objective is to create a chassis set-up in which each element carries out a specific function, to obtain the desired rigidity with as little weight as possible, thus attaining maximum efficiency.

The engine, the main frame, the rear sub-frame, the rear suspension system (comprising swing-arm and linkage) and the front suspension system are the main components of the bike.

The basic idea is to abandon the classic concept of the chassis as the element that connects all other elements, in favour of a design in which the engine is the central element to which the main frame, rear sub-frame and rear suspension system are individually connected.

The GP3 was unique in having a rear swing-arm that was attached solely to the engine. In particular both the swing-arm pivot and the suspension linkages were connected directly to the engine without any attachment to the main frame.

The GP7 featured a main frame that was totally detached from the rear sub-frame. Basically the engine was the central element of the bike. The main frame was used as link between the engine and the steering head. The rear sub-frame linked the engine to the seat and to the footpegs and controls. The two frames, main and rear sub-frame, that were still linked to each other on the GP3, were now only attached to the engine on the GP7, meaning that they were smaller and lighter.

On the GP9 the main frame is formed to connect the engine to the steering head. The main frame now also incorporates the air-box in one single construction. This monocoque construction allows the air-box to function efficiently within the main frame.

Choosing to utilise the carbon fibre composite technology to create the frame means that, on the one hand, one can mould the piece into the desired form without incurring enormous equipment costs and, on the other hand, varying levels of rigidity and torsional characteristics can be attained simply by altering the type, the number and the directional orientation of the carbon fibres, using the same equipment.

In testing carried out up until now the GP9 guarantees greater precision and stability in breaking and on entering corners. We maintain, however, that only by using it to race on the various world circuits will we be able to properly evaluate the potential of this technical solution. Employing the said technical solution in competition at the maximum level is the only way to effectively assess it in all its aspects.

Ducati Desmosedici GP9 Carbon Fiber Monocoque Chassis

Ducati Desmosedici GP9 Carbon Fiber Monocoque Chassis 

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it's simple sick! total innovation and out-of-box thinking. <3 ducati

the does MotoGP matter thread.....

When this inevitably trickles down to production bikes (I'll guess 2013), you'll know why MotoGP matters.

this is total...PORN. I have to go now....

This has been done before, by several people, so nothing new here. John Britten did almost exactly this on his V1000 which he built more than 15 years ago. A pretty impressive machine, weighing 138 kg with a v-twin producing over 160 bhp.

read again, they are able to control flex direction by how they lay the fibre. that is brilliance!

the britten was awesome, but i doubt he could take CF this far

I wonder how the steering head is held in the carbon structure? I know the cycling industry battled galvanic reaction between carbon and aluminum and it seemed that some sort of barrier coating was needed. But then, I am sure it is probably a ti alloy that is being used...

A brave departure from convention by Ducati.
The explanation of the technology sounds a lot like what Pete Goss said about the Team Phillips catamaran.

Well, parts of it.
Fuel in the upper frame
airbox where tank was
Oil in the swingarm

Honda motocross (late 80s?)
Fuel under seat where airbox traditionally is
Air filter where tank was
rear brake arm had linkage to make rear suspension squat on braking


Just because Britten had a "similar" concept of chassis design & used CF doesn't mean it "has been done before." Having seen the Britten movie (have you?) his methods be polite...crude.

Modern CF designs rely on FEA to determine cloth, resin & orientation of fibers to determine the desired rigidity/compliance. Britten did some amazing things considering the time & his limited resources..but his CF work was primative & in no way comparable to this structure.

Wright Bros. to Raptor

15 years after a private individual "did it". You seem to ignore the fact that the limited use of carbon by the factories was pretty crude too. And while Wilbur and Orville didn't create the Raptor, they certainly "did it", way before any taxpayer funded 'skunk works' and 100+ years of evolution allowed. Okay, so maybe it hasn't been done before, but it probably wouldn't be done yet without those crazy pioneers like Britten.

Innovation is cool, but it'd be interesting to see the cost difference from a conventional frame to CF frame.

Very nice work by Ducati. I was wondering what they would do under a 'one bike' rule if Stoner crashed in morning warm-up, as sometimes you can't tell whether CF is structurally compromised when it has suffered an impact - but of course they can just fit new components to solve that problem.

Honda has applied for patents on this style of two-piece frame, rumours are that it will appear in the next generation VFR (2010?).

As for Britten, the methods may have appeared crude, but the proof of the pudding is in the eating, and his bikes wiped the floor with the competition, including Ducati's best.