Ducati Building Aluminium Chassis As Parallel Project

Ever since Valentino Rossi ended the first Valencia MotoGP test in lowly 15th place on the Ducati Desmosedici, one-and-three-quarter seconds behind fastest man and former teammate Jorge Lorenzo, there have been calls for radical changes to Ducati's MotoGP machine. Those calls have only intensified as the season has progressed, the switch from the GP11 to the GP11.1, the destroked version of Ducati's 2012 MotoGP machine, having brought little improvement until a few key parts were introduced at Brno. 

The focus of much of the fans' anger and the paddock's scepticism has been Ducati's monocoque carbon fiber chassis. Ducati's radically different design has been pinpointed as the obvious culprit for the problems with the Desmosedici, with critics pointing to the success the Japanese factories have had with an aluminium twin spar chassis, as exemplified by Yamaha's Deltabox concept. If Ducati had an aluminium twin spar frame, the argument goes, they would at least be confronting the Japanese on equal footing.

Crucially, the criticism has come not just from outside of Ducati, but both Valentino Rossi and his long-time crew chief Jeremy Burgess as well. Both Rossi and his crew chief have called for Ducati to run a parallel project to design an aluminium chassis to test whether such a chassis would bring an improvement. By running two different projects in parallel, the argument runs, the pace of development of the Desmosedici could greatly increased as the data from the two projects is analyzed.

It appears that Rossi and Burgess are to get their wish. French journalist Thomas Baujard of the magazine Moto Journal has uncovered that Ducati are currently building an aluminium chassis for the Ducati Desmosedici. A Ducati engineer confirmed the news to Baujard at Brno. Construction of the chassis has been farmed out to a third-party chassis builder with many years' experience of fabricating aluminium parts. By contracting the building of the chassis out, Ducati are avoiding the pitfalls that prevented them from embarking on such a project earlier, and which team boss Vito Guareschi continually raised when confronted by Italian journalists: Ducati has never built an aluminium twin spar chassis and has no experience in manufacturing them, and so would be starting with a huge deficit to the Japanese factories.

Ducati Corse General Director Filippo Preziosi remained coy on Monday when he was quizzed about it by reporters. "We are exploring different solutions, though I don't think material is the key point," Preziosi said. He reiterated that the CF chassis was not a point of dogma for Ducati. "We are open-minded. We are ready to use what we believe is better." Preziosi pointed to the fact that Ducati abandoned their iconic V twin configuration for a four-cylinder when they entered MotoGP, explaining that the rules both at the time and currently push motorcycle designers towards the use of a four, whatever their natural preference for engine configuration. "Sometimes you use a solution, the right solution, depending what is writtten in the rules. So for me, we are are open to use what we believe is better."

The move comes after Ducati made a big step forward with the carbon fiber chassis at Brno. Ducati Corse brought a number of new parts to help improve the front end feel of the bike, which also allowed Valentino Rossi to move his position on the bike. The list of revised parts included fork bottoms and steering head bearings, Nicky Hayden told reporters on Saturday night, but they also included the inserts used in the carbon fiber steering head, a fact also uncovered by Moto Journal's Baujard. The aim of the revised inserts was to modify the contact between the steering head stem and the CF frame, altering the feel of the front end by changing the way that information was transmitted from forks through to the chassis.

The parts had given Rossi more confidence in the front end, he said on Saturday. The changes helped especially under braking, Rossi said: "When I brake, I feel more what happens on the front tire and I can force more the entry. So I can brake on the edge of the tire, which allows me to enter the corner a lot faster and make a better line." The modifications were a definite change for the better. "I think we improve some of our problems," Rossi said, "This is a small but clear step. We are still not competitive for the win, but we are more close."

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Unless I'm mistaken (which isn't unlikely), the Cagiva project was a half CF and half aluminium beam frame.

There have been several other examples of fully CF frames (Carbo-Teck, Lotus, Motoczysz), but none of them have had to prove themselves at this level.

Yes, I know they actually raced several seasons with an aluminum chassis and a CF tail section.

However, I believe their very first attempt was full CF, and it was quickly abandoned... just can't remember if it was two CF sub-frames a la the current Ducati, or a full length three part CF chassis.

That is a BEAUTIFUL bike. What year was that made? Exactly what was the model name? I want to Google it and see what images are available of it!

I found the photo I was thinking of, in John Bradley's The Racing Motorcycle: A technical guide for constructors-Volume 2 (fig 5.30, p 343).

Unfortunately the photo is B&W so it's a bit difficult to be sure, but it looks to be a fully carbon version.

BTW, anyone interested in frame design etc etc really, really should get a copy of this book.

Given the era this bike was designed in (i.e. trying to make frames as rigid as possible), the whole design concept would have been different to the current ethos. The idea of programmable flex wasn't on the cards at the time, hence the excessive chatter characteristic of many race bikes of the time.

Bimota also did a half CF, half alloy frame for the SB8R, but used alloy beams and CF swingarm mounts, again using the alloy for flex and the CF for rigidity. However I suspect this was as much an 'Italian exotica' marketing exercise as it was anything to do with functionality.

What I read was that they had a technical cross-over with Ferrari... for whom the big advantage of CF was that it was stiff and light. At the time (1990? 1991?) that probably seemed a good idea for a bike frame too.

Thank you for finding this out. Made me go back to a great time :)

It would be very interesting to know the firm that's constructing the frame. So the way I look at it, Ducati essentially be running a factory CRT. :)

Great information as usual David.

Ducati wouldn't technically be a CRT unless they sell their motor for 20k euro

re: "It would be very interesting to know the firm that's constructing the frame. "

guessing verlicchi...? in addition to trellis frames, i believe they also sub-contract works and production swingarms and frames for ducati, aprilia, BMW, buell, etc.

If I'm not mistaken, didn't Harris build the first "Deltabox", i.e. twin spar frame for Yamaha back in the 80's? It's not as if there isn't plenty of precedent for this sort of thing. I'm curious if Ducati had attempted an aluminum version of their current chassis. Meanwhile, they keep insisting the engine configuation isn't the issue, but I wonder if that is only because they consider it too much of a marketing/heritage cornerstone to throw out?

Good point. Taking on an outside firm for an experimental project is hardly re badging the Ducati and if successful having that concern as a development partner is hardly unusual or "cheating" either. It's smart when you are not a global corporation like Yamaha & Honda that can employ a depth of in house resources.
On your second point however I don't think the marketing/heritage aspect has any play in GP. I only hear fans making that connection. Within the rules of MotoGP they will develop anything that puts Italian red on the podium. Preziosi's latest interview was opaque on many things but was rather clear that they are not being dogmatic about employing what they traditionally or recently have.

re: "Preziosi's latest interview was opaque on many things but was rather clear that they are not being dogmatic about employing what they traditionally or recently have."

fingers crossed that it doesn't bite them in the ass...? the 999 debacle thankfully occured during a strong economy. mis-steps now in the niche business that is motorcycling can (and will be) no less than catastrophic.

Yamaha were building alloy beam chassis but using "special alloys" (I'd guess 7005 or similar). When they decided to lease their engines to privateers, Harris was one (along with Suter) who built a chassis for the motor, basically using the same design but with more readily available material (probably 6082). Yamaha were surprised that quite could results could be had with the cheaper metal, but I don't think the actual design was so much different until they went down the super-rigid-extrusion route.

But I could be wrong.

Here is Tadahiko Taira's 1984 YZR500, with a very beam-like frame
So if Cobas was first in 1983, Yamaha certainly didn't muck about in copying...

Earliest photo I can find of a Harris Yamaha is from 1990...


As David's pointed out elsewhere, Ducati need to reduce their V angle to get their weight forward. If they did that as well then it would be a twin spar V4, 60-degree, Italian motorcycle. I think I know someone who rides one of those, and I don't think he likes Valentino Rossi very much.

It's good news they are running a parallel project and I hope it gives them the feedback they need. Would love to see Ducati with a twin spar cf chassis as someone mentioned on another post.. I do however get the impression that it is only now that Ducati are finally pulling their finger out.. need to react much quicker in future. From the comments of the top guys at Ducati a few months ago and Presiozi you do get the impression that Ducati have a plan and aim as in WSBK to be the dominant brand with their own uniqueness. However this is far from easy as they found out in 2008, stealing a march is one thing maintaining a competitive advantage against such illustrious competition a different ball game altogether.. Still think they have the best team for it in Rossi and JB...
I wonder if Presiozi gave Furusawa's consultancy a call when working out the twin spar chassis.??

Man for anyone with tech interest in GP, what a fantastic season this has been. With the advent of the 1000cc version of the series next year and all of the associated testing and development, the CRT machines, the Ducati saga...so much to follow and so much to learn! I'm greatly enjoying the insight and education that I'm getting this season, thanks in large part to you David.

Well done!

I recall Rossi after the Valencia test saying that the Ducati was a real prototype unlike the the Japanese prototypes he had raced, describing them as an extension of their roadgoing superbike offerings. Yes,he was obviously not referring to the engine configuration in terms of Honda and Suzuki at any rate.
However, he made a valid point back then and if there is substance to the parallel development story over at Ducati Corse GP, it will be interesting to see how the options stack up against each other should they actually materialise.
Heaven forbid they try an aluminium monocoque. They may have the luxury of funding at present,but they don't enjoy a whole lot of time nor , crucially, contracted racer test time available between now and 2012 season.
Guareschi and Battaini can tour the tracks all day, but Preziosi needs data from his racers to push whatever they use that extra second up the grid.
As for the L-4 Desmo. That should remain intact.

"We are exploring different solutions, though I don't think material is the key point," Preziosi said.

Could it be they might try a more traditional frame, but using carbon fibre... The Third party supposedly building the aluminium frame may be doing so, just to give them a reference point to making a carbon fibre version...

Since we are all speculating...

An aluminium chassis can be made relatively fast.
Although changes to the stiffness of an existing CF design can be made by changing the lay-up schedule, a completely new design would need new high-pressure moulds machined out of metal... much longer process. So as an experiment, doing it first in alum. would be a good way to see if there was any benefit before tooling up for a carbon version.

I only remember Stoner going back and forth with aluminum and carbon fiber swingarms but not the entire chassis ?!

I had no memory of this, it sounds pretty close to what many people suggests here in the comments (aluminum monocoque) and indeed to the new 1199 superbike.
I am pretty sure that Casey never got to try this aluminum frame, at the very least he never raced it.

I know that when Hejira made their first CF beam frame the 'buck' was fabricated in wood, with laborious hand sanding taking place before they could make a mould off it. I guess they could use an aluminium frame as a buck, although I have been told that CF frames need to be designed from the ground up to suit the material. Testing an aluminium frame and then using that as a basis for a CF equivalent would probably not play to the strengths of CF as a material and may be another blind alley.

But I guess Ducati will be well aware of all these potential pitfalls.

I think that these days you'd want a metal mould to allow the lay-up to be pressurized to 5 bar or so via an internal bladder. Obvious way to do it is to just turn it out with a multi-axis mill straight from the CAD program. Given the equipment likely to already be in place, it would probably be cheaper than spending days sanding foam cores....

That would also allow you to cure it at high temperature, which will be necessary given the operating conditions it will experience. Last thing you want is for the epoxy to reach its glass-transition temperature and go floppy mid race.

Last thing you want is for the epoxy to reach its glass-transition temperature and go floppy mid race.
Maybe if Dorna brought in a mid race "floppy frame" spec into the MotoGP rules it would improve the racing. Given all the talk of the Bridgestones being too good and lasting the full race distance thereby taking away the excitement towards the end of the race as the tyres used to go off.

Just a thought.

I think as long as the bike is red, loud and says Ducati on the side they will still sell huge numbers of them in my fair country, the United States.

"Would love to see Ducati with a twin spar cf chassis as someone mentioned on another post"

... I think that they could build a lighter bike than the Japanese manufacturers and have enough length in the chassis to get the needed flex

they could, but the rules don't allow it. Minimum weight...

thanx for the timely read and distraction from work. :-)

Parallel development is costly, and may divide some of the focus found in a small factory. The dynamic of working with an outside firm will be interesting to follow once there is a public test. There will be lots and lots of data and very few seat of the pants evaluations. Rossi and Burgess have apparently "doubled down" on their ability to develop, not shying away and throwing stones.

This story, Suzuki's progress, and the racing has made this a very enjoyable MotoGP season for me. As they say during a break before the action - smoke'm if you got'em - Marlboro needs the money for that other frame.

I'll sound like a broken record here, but it seems like working on a telelever front suspension would be a better use of resources.

maybe they are, but that would seem to another variable to the problem space and make seeing a clear path forward even harder.

To back up the words of Baujard from Moto Journal, here's what have to say Michel Turco from rivals yet friends Moto Revue :

"Filippo Preziosi has already designed a new aluminium frame that will be manufactured in the coming weeks either by Suter, or FTR, two companies mastering that technology. Despite internal tension - Claudio Domenicali didn't want to hear about this choice, which will inflict a blow on the launch of the new Superbike actually inheriting a lot of technical solutions from the D16 - Rossi did obtain satisfaction."

Source : http://www.motorevue.com/site/les-reponses-de-michel-turco-a-vos-questio...
(second Q/A)

The article was published in the magazine and did not appear on the website. So I can't link directly to it, no matter how keen I am to do so.

Sadly, this is very common for print magazines and their relationship to the online world. An alarmingly large number of print publications are completely clueless about the internet, and regard it merely as something they need to have, while doing nothing interesting or useful with it. So instead of taking their brand online and continuing in the excellent tradition they have built up in print, they stick a website up and post throwaway articles on it. In the mid to long term, this will end up destroying them, as print declines and they are left only with an awful online reputation. It saddens me to see such outstanding reputations frittered away out of fear of change.

Can someone tell me which issue it was in? Went hunting at the supermarket yesterday but it didn't seem to be in either of the issues they had on the shelf...

Ducati's superbikes are not its bread and butter as far as I'm aware. It makes the everyday money selling Monsters and Multistradas. If the 1199 comes out with an aluminium stressed airbox I don't think it will mean a huge loss of revenue for Ducati. They should be brave and go with the new frame in MotoGP. The money will keep coming to them for their street offerings. Look at BMW - going nowhere in WSBK, selling R1200GSes like hotcakes.

if the MotoGP teams adopts a deltabox aluminum frame but if they end up with an aluminum monocoque it would actually be much closer to the 1199 chassis.

You're right that Ducati don't make their money from their sportsbikes but they are marketing their brand relying very much on their sportsbikes and success in competition.

Numbers for 7 months (jan-jul 2011) in Italy show that Ducati sells 3 times as many Multistradas as 848 and 1098 combined! The 848 is only their 7th most sold bike and the 1098 the 9th (n°1 Multistrada1200, n°2 Hypermotard796, n°3 Diavel).

re: "Ducati's superbikes are not its bread and butter as far as I'm aware. It makes the everyday money selling Monsters and Multistradas."

actually t-shirts, mouse pads, coffee mugs, etc.

i wonder if Verlicchi are making the Ducati aluminum frame? they made the buell firebolt frame. bmw r1200rt. ducati monster, morini & i am certain many others have benefitted from their expertise in protype & commercial solutions.

Antonio Cobas fabricated the first twin spar aluminium framed Rotax engined MR-1 in 1981 first raced at Assen in 82. Also had a rising rate linkage on the rear.

A big departure for Ducati next is the 90deg V, changing to a in line 4 with a crossplane crank ;-)

Call me an old-fashioned conspiracy theorist.. but, given the amount of negative publicity so far about the c/f 'two-frame' concept AND the sales push for the aluminium-version on the new Superbike, Ducati could claw back some credibility for the concept by trying a conventional frame and finding out that 'it doesn't offer any advantages'.

'Twill be interesting so see just how far this radical approach goes, but I for one won't be placing any bets on it being adopted.

but I'll buy into your take on this one Oscar.

Now the battle between Preziosi and Burgess/Rossi really begins.

So much for Rossi wanting to retain the Ducati's DNA and not wanting to turn it into a M1. Now all they need to do is get rid of that pesky second bank of cylinders.

Rossi must have a couple of M1's in his living room. I'd be pretty sure measurements have been taken.....

1. Variation from bike to bike - when ridden at warp speed by alien species, the bikes were (according to paddock rumors) up to 15% different (?) in response - thought to be due to the 20 odd bits of steel tubing requiring 40 welds ... remember maths? 99.6 % to the 40th power is approx 85% ... so the welds, tubing length, etc. would
all have to be pretty d*mn tight to provide the same response to chassis inputs.

Casey would complain that bike A & bike B when identically set up would not "feel" the same, nor produce the same lap times. This is an "issue" when bike A takes an unplanned excursion and you need to hop onto bike B to complete qualifying. Or when you're just trying to optizmize the setup and instead of one common setup for bike A & B, you're doinking around with 2.

note bene ... in the most recent Roadracing World & Motorcycle Technology, Tom Houseworth (Ben Spies crew chief) mentions that with MotoGP increments of set up change are often just 0.5 mm vs 5mm for World Superbike ... the MotoGP bikes are *that close* ..

2. The steel trellis takes up more space than the CF monocoque* frame.
The CF monocoque allows more space for airbox, etc., etc., etc.

3. CF allows more design freedom (shape, function - it's a frame, it's an airbox - it's both!) than steel tubing.

* Origin: 1910–15; < French, equivalent to mono- mono- + coque shell, eggshell (of uncertain origin)

make sense?

I think the problem comes down to the fact that it wasn't designed like a true trellis.

The conventional idea of a trellis is to triangulate everything. In that way, it's possible to work out all the stress-strain relationships by hand, if you have to... it really only depends on the length, angles and cross-sections of the tubes.

However a fully triangulated frame is far too stiff. So the sides were not laterally trianglulated and hence depended on the resistance of the tubes and welds to bending. That's a whole new can of worms, since if a joint is slightly mis-aligned, or the weld undercuts the base metal a bit, you could potentially change the stiffness... enough.

re: "I think the problem comes down to the fact that it wasn't designed like a true trellis."

bullseye. it's worked for 25 years. hell, they even brought back the SSSA and made IT work. proof perhaps that even discarded solutions can be made to work if simply re-examined and other techniques applied. there's the mixed ally/arc welded steel option as done by bimota and MV. part of this now exists within ducati's own current production. ie. new monsters, diavel, multistrada 12, etc. etc. there's quite a few options here that are being completely skipped over and ignored.

Check out the frame on a successful 250GP bike. The RSW250 Aprilia looked as though the frame wouldn't flex under nuclear attack. The RSA is a bit more slender but is still massively boxed around the head stem, as are the TZ250 and it's upmarket YZR cousin. KTM is the same, although it does have long spindly front mounts as per the current fashion.

In fact of all of them, the one with the least reinforcement looks to be the production RS250 Honda... which was never exactly reputed for its handling.

If you consider in addition that those frames are all made to hold together bikes weighing only 100kg, they are incredibly massive compared to the 4-stroke frames. It's pretty hard to belive the headstem moves much at all relative to the swingarm-pivot. And yet they went around corners quite effectively, thank you very much... to the extent that Jorgé Lorenzo's 2007 pole time at Brno is still a good second faster than Moto2, despite less hp.

So is it just the big lump of motor that needs to be allowed to bounce about a bit within the frame? I think a 250 motor weighs in around 25kg, while I'm guessing a Moto2 motor is more like 60 and MotoGP???

... you are not dealing with anywhere near the weight, speed, horsepower, demand for grip, tyre wear etc on a 250 compared with an 800. Therefore the issue of 'feel' is less crucial. You can generally punt around with less physical effort on a lighter, smaller bike, being a bit more blase, and it's not going to push the front as much etc

You bring up an excellent point, and my guess would be that a large part of it had to do with the flexibility of the Dunlop tire carcass. The 250 spec Dunlops i have seen could almost be turned inside out. Dunlop stiffened the tire construction substantially for moto2, which may partially explain all the chatter issues they experience.

Yep, I cut one in half once... a car race-tyre tech friend wanted to see how they were built. There was a hinge-point where the sidewall met the tread, it was very thin and very flexible. I also spent half a season trying to persade myself I could ride just a 250 as fast (no slower, maybe is better :) on 'stones. After falling down a few times I put a Dunlop back on and it was daylight again.

Reading Anders' wildcard blog, it was surprising to learn they made different tyres for Hondas and Aprilias... although agressive brakers on Aprilias sometimes used the Honda tyre. So presumably that means the Aprilia tyre was more flexy to compensate for the stiff chassis ?

Spent some time yesterday on the couch sheltering from the heat and looking at old photos of GP bike frames. Was reminded that the KR3 had the whole engine mounted on silentblocs... !

So here's an idea. The rider needs to be able to feels vibrations from the road-tyre interface. To get to him, they need to get through the tyre and the wheel, up the forks and into the clip-ons, so you want good transmission through those components (hence the trick of suspension tuning: filter some frequencies, pass the ones needed for feel).

Suppose for a thought experiment that the rider had really massive, 10kg bar-end weights. Probably that would kill the feel, since the vibrations transmitted up the forks would not have enough power to vibrate the bars with big weights attached.

Now back to reality. The steering head is attached to 60-70kg of engine. If it was attached with total rigidity, there could be a similar problem of loss of feel, since the vibrational energy wouldn't be enough to move the motor... that would leave only the movements around the steering head (ie turning steering mode). The rest would bounce off the sudden change in stiffness/mass ratio and be reflected back down the fork ... to cause chatter? So, the more you decouple the engine from the steering head, the more vibration you allow to reach the rider and the less you reflect to cause chatter. On a 250 or even moreso a 125 it doesn't matter so much, since the engine is much lighter anyway. On a 500 it starts to be an issue, and on a SBK or MotoGP or Moto2 it gets serious.

However, I remember Burgess describing when he started working with Doohan: first objective was to stop the bike wobbling. To do that, they had the front engine mounts made part of the frame, rather than a bolt-on plate: with too much flexibility, a bump could set up a low-frequency oscillation between the frame and engine, that could then turn into a tank-slapper (a feature also for the 916 Ducati, especially over the bump near the finish line at Phillip Island).

So I'm wondering if the real issue about chassis flex is not so much to make up for limited suspension performance at full lean, but to allow sufficient "feel-vibrations" to get to the rider's hands without being dulled by the dead-weight of the motor... but not so much that the bike tries to throw the rider off after hitting a bump.

That's the best theory I've heard yet.

I never bought into "limited suspension performance at full lean" idea.

In this level of motorsports you can't make any compromises towards marketing, it just isn't going to work, it will not win them championships.

So, I wonder if anyone can comment on the Britten here. I don't have any engineering or racing experience, but it seems to me that Ducati has built something very similiar to the Britten. That is using the engine as a fully stressed member, carbon fiber frame and swingarm (at least I think Ducati was using a CF swingarm...can't remember if they changed that). The Britten was a succesful racing bike, especially considering it was built with virtually no resources. Perhaps the comparison is difficult since the power output of the britten vs. ducati motor and tires, etc. drastically change the forces and the feel between the bikes. Could it be that perhaps ducati has not gone far enough with the chassis/suspension design? Maybe a telelever/wishbone suspension as per the britten would work better with this type of chassis solution?

This of course brings me to another point, that being my general feeling of disappointment that Moto2 chassis developers have not tried any new (or at least old new solutions)... where are the interesting solutions like the Britten, the Bimota Tesi, or the Motocysyz...I'd love to see that elliptical fork of his tested under some new racing conditions...


First, Andrew Stroud will tell you that the Britten chattered something chronic.
Second, it was successful at a much, much lower level than MotoGP.

As for Moto2, there were lots of alternative designs around in 2009. There was even the bizarre carbon exo-skeleton thing with a telelever front end. Did that thing ever get raced anywhere? There are some alternative designs still being tested in the CEV M2 class, the Bott for example.

Most of them didn't make it into Moto2, but quite a few did. There was the MZ tubular frame, the Bimota steel tube plus cnc-alloy version, and others.

For 2011, the only frames independent teams wanted were from Suter, FTR and Kalex. Motobi continue to run the TSR frame for de Angelis and Tech 3 have their own design. All of them are twin beam fabricated alloy structures with long tapered front engine mounts to provide vertical stiffness and lateral flex.


MZ were the only exception. Neuckirchner announced after testing he wasn't going to ride it and bought an FTR. West was also very unhappy to be riding the MZ frame and eventually got hold of what looks like a 2010 spec FTR.

So, the alternative designs were tried, and failed.

The Bitten was a successful race bike in spite of its handling, not because of it. It won races because it had good (and brave) riders, lots of power, very light weight and very low frontal area, and quite slippery (although unconventional) aerodynamics. On short tracks it out accelerated everything and on fast tracks it out sped everything. Braking, cornering, handling and chassis dynamics were always ordinary at best, and sometimes downright scary. The class(es) it raced in either had no minimum weight rule, or the rule was waived for them because they were a tiny team with no resources from nowhere, and everybody loved them. It wouldn't work in MotoGP.

And foreshadowed Ducati's 2007 season years earlier. Coming up with a design that allowed low weight and improved aero at the expense of handling. Braking was never a big problem area. Chatter was their main problem. Tim Hanna's excellent Britten book goes into the performance of the bike in detail. The team readily acknowledges that the front end was the weak point of the bike but also say that just as they were beginning to start understanding the dynamics of the system and make progress eliminating its shortcomings Jon started getting sick. Once he was gone there was no way to continue the project as the IP was locked away by his estate.

They relate that in a lot of ways John Britten's tendencies to redesign when problems were encountered was a hindrance to refining the front end small step by small step. They would try to sneak in work generating spreadsheets of how front end changes affected bike geometry that John didn't care about. Interesting how being revolutionary only helps so much, then you have to slug out the details. It also shows that without concerted development of alternative technologies we will never progress past current ones. Years ago very few bikes had telescopic forks but gradually as knowledge was gained the pendulum swung and now most bikes do. It would be incorrect to think that we can't learn more and the pendulum will shift yet again.


I find this all fascinating as I'm the last guy on the planet that would doubt the Burgess/Rossi combo in development. This is what finally got Ducati to change their minds, Burgess AND Rossi in their ear, telling them they need to do something. Burgess, having worked with in this paddock for decades with multiple World Championship winning riders, and Rossi who has won 9 championships on every level of machinery for three different mfr's, well it took this wall to convince Ducati they need to change and be open.

I know one thing at least. If Rossi and Burgess develop this 1000cc bike, in the end it will work. I wouldn't bet anything on when but they'll nail it if Preziosi keeps burning the midnight oil. The season is lost for them but Rossi/Burgess did come along at the right time. It will take Rossi, Burgess, their mechanics, Preziosi, the whole gang to fight with the Japanese. In '07 they nailed it due to Magnetti Marelli but the Japanese have closed or nullified the electronic gap, it's elbow grease time now.

re: "In '07 they nailed it due to Magnetti Marelli "

they nailed it in '07 because the japanese basically cheaped out and tried to get away with bringing knives to the proverbial "gunfight". a year of in-season testing (like ducati are currently doing) and multi-million dollar retrofits of pneumatic valves by BOTH big japanese manufacturers was an answer to the superior ports and the resultant V/E offered by desmo... not anything from mag-mar.

As Rossi stated on his commemorative t-shirt after his 3rd title ... it's the package. You don't win with a single factor.
Electronics were part of the equation but nonetheless the less competitive japs, the fantastic Bridgestones, the superior engine power and a very good year from Stoner.

During 07, Capirossi must had felt the Japs were competitive. Stoner probably was the only podium competitive Ducati in 07.

that the Ducatis blew the field away in 2007 and 2008, mostly due to their vast advantage in top speed, electronics and tires? All in all it was clearly a wonderful package.

Let's see, in 2007 Stoner champion, Capirossi 7th, Barros 10 th, Hofmann 13th, 1 bike in the top6 with Capirex (3 times world champion) only losing 4 positions and 63 points compared to the previous year (on the Ducati GP6), obviously the bike was the bomb!

2008 got even better with Stoner 2nd, Elias 12th, Guintoli 13th, Melandri 17th, 1 bike in the top10, they crushed the competition.
Melandri (1 time world champion, 1 time runner-up in MotoGP) switching from an uncompetitive 800cc satellite Honda in 2007 to the ultra competitive Ducati GP8 in 2008 only lost 136 points and 12 positions in the process.

Really, how sad that Ducati can not go back to their golden years of utter dominance of MotoGP as in 2007 and 2008...

The top speed advantage in 2007 is a myth.

Someone here successfully debunked it the other day with straight up facts and statistics.. which is far more research than I was prepared to do on the matter at the time.

But yes, it's blatantly obvious that Ducati have been a powerhouse since 2007. It has nothing to do with Stoner and everything to do with the bike. Even circa '07-'10 Rossi will tell you exactly that (but he won't say shit about it this year).

Bricktop, you bring the famed objectively of this site into question with every post. Are you seriously claiming that Ducati won the 2007 WC because of superior electronics? If you weren't so earnest, I would suspect you of being a troll.

I haven't been more excited and intrigued since my first Motogp race watching Kenny Roberts flying down the front straight after his victory at Laguna Seca with his TZ750's front wheel in the air - all the while with one hand on the bars and his other hand pointed skyward in victory. I still remember vividly the white smoke pouring off his front tire as he set it back down at about 140 mph. It doesn't get much better than that. It is unfortunate that the current economic woes all around us have invaded every area of life, and either completely killed or seriously hobbled the two-wheeled sport we so enjoy. Gentlemen, let us thoroughly enjoy every moment we get to see and hear things about GP frame materials, spec tires, new 1000cc motors, rider bickering, and the such. Helmets off to the guys who literally put their lives on the line race after race to be the best of the best, so you and I can conjecture, complain, cheer, and celebrate. Now a moment of silence - the lights are about to go out and the revs are up. Love it. Good stuff!

re: "The aim of the revised inserts was to modify the contact between the steering head stem and the CF frame, altering the feel of the front end by changing the way that information was transmitted from forks through to the chassis."

finally, they have gotten their first clue into what it's going to take to make a viable frame. BMW, defunct dymag and mondial would all tell them they are not even remotely close to exhausting all the approaches to C/F.

I am a motogp freak and techno-whatever lover: every detail of motorcycle racing excites me. The physics and engineering are of continual interest to me and I have learned a lot from reading News from here and elsewhere, esp. the comments that follow.

However you look at the development (which translates into "a Process") of the Ducati GP bike, Valentino and Ducati have been the TOP TOPIC of discussion with hardly a wink at the battle for #1 between Stoner and Jorge. The title race is barely even part of discussion on most blogs that I belong to.
+1 to Rossi as the ultimate spin doctor, and always finding ways to stay the focus of attention, whether directly or indirectly.

Maybe it is because the battle has seemed dead to most of us for about the last 5 rounds. Stoner and Lorenzo both know that barring shenanigans, Stoner is the 2011 champion. I assumed we all knew that too.

If they've got the resources, they can run 2 parallel development paths without compromise.

It doesn't seem they have adequate resources to do that, given the seemingly slow flow of new parts.

since senior Ducati management have kowtowed to the bleating requests of Messrs Rossi and Burgess to reproduce a M1.

So the current incarnation version 5 of the 2012 Desmosedici is let's say a second off the pace on average. Ducati expect to be able to build an aluminium framed machine and be ball park on times straight off the bat? I reckon it'd take them a good twelve months of development just to reach GP11.9 level. What is the point? If they want comparison look across the pit at HRC to know what can be achieved with a vee four and aluminium. They've just found a good small step solution in their elusive search for feel and to my mind given this is just the beginning of their CF development there is loads more to come. Well there would be if they didn't dilute their whole race development programme with a two fold approach. They're only a gnat's dick away at the moment with their existing design. Crazy.

There's been a misconception running for a few months or even years, that the monocoque D16 was fundamentally good - "look at Stoner !" - just had a few rough edges, and that Rossi & co just needed to work out some details to turn it into a winning bike. Somebody talked about 80 sec or something :)

Now everybody understands that this design needs a lot of groundwork, in order not to distort information from the wheels and to make the most of the Bridgestones.

Problem : Rossi & co don't know if they have that kind of time ahead of them. Will he still be up to speed in '13 ?
In other words, Preziosi technical beauty and Rossi's legend have conflicting agendas.

Rossi is no test rider. And the current MotoGP rules restrict so much parallel testing, that they almost ban serious innovation from being properly evaluated. CF monocoque just isn't the same as yet another deltabox or even a seamless transmission.
For this technology to emerge, we would need either a change in rules, or Rossi donating the end of his career to science.
Both unlikely.

The misconception is that the Ducati is inherently flawed and needs to be reinvented. Stoner proved the bike can win, but Ducati are re-engineering the GP as an insurance policy b/c interviewing dozens of riders, until they find the next Stoner, is not a high-probability strategy. Waiting for the next Casey is also not in-line with Ducati's or Marlboro's marketing strategy.

People need to stop the historical revisionism. The GP is a proven winner. Rossi can't ride it. End of discussion.

Rossi is not the source of verity in MotoGP. His opinion of the GP doesn't trump the results that Casey etched in the rulebook. MM is supposed to be a website for intelligent MotoGP discussion. This should be the one website where people don't hold the Rossi's opinion in higher regard that the incontrovertible data in the record books.

While I agree that Rossi's opinion should not override the cold hard facts, you've made a bold claim here yourself - that the Ducati is not inherently flawed. Stoner is a phenomenal rider, but he spent a significant amount of time NOT winning with the Ducati during his 4 years on it. In fact, he spent a lot of time either failing to challenge for the lead altogether or picking gravel out of his teeth.

The Ducati DOES need re-engineering, because they can't find a rider who is okay with no-apparent-reason lowsides. Stoner got tired of that duty and left. Rossi got a taste of serious injury and would rather perfect the package then play the "win it or bin it" game Stoner was stuck in.

What good is having a bike that only one very talented guy (with a specific riding style and something to prove) can win on if he crashes out or is mysteriously noncompetitive on a regular basis. I say, good for Ducati for recognizing the need for radical change.

What does rider availability have to do with engineering?

Preziosi designed a new bike after the 2007 season. Ducati Corse built it. Stoner rode it. Marlboro Ducati won races. As an engineering exercise, the monocoque design works. The bike has good geometry. It turns. It goes straight. The engine can handle the strain. It wins races in the hands of the right people. When did observational data become controversial? When the GOAT said that the bike was no good? Too bad, the data has already been logged.

I'm not ranting in defense of any person or any design philosophy. I'm ranting b/c one of the simplest issues in GP (the engineering integrity of the monocoque chassis) has been mottled beyond recognition by people who incorporate chassis-engineering into matters of human perception like corporate ethics or the political power of certain riders or matters of collective opinion.

Last year, Ducati dropped out of championship contention b/c they did a poor job mating the headstock to the new 2010 Ohlins forks. This year, the monocoque is fundamentally flawed, and the design never worked.

It is getting a bit out of hand.

Agreed, in many ways.

But the 800cc/monocoque Ducati doesn't work for anyone but Stoner. And Ducati doesn't have Stoner anymore. If your riders tell you, "I can't feel the slippage in the front well enough to know when it is about to go", you have a problem. Stoner complained about that, as has every other recent Ducati rider. Are you saying that every rider who falls on the Ducati should go look at the data and just stop falling because, after all, it really is a clever design?

This is prototype motorcycle racing. There are not supposed to be sacred cows. You are supposed to win, and win, and win some more, and whatever kind of machine you have to build to win, you build. As fans, we see deltabox frames winning, and monocoque frames failing to win. We hear rider after rider complain about the front end feel. Conclusions are drawn.

The monocoque design is cool, from an engineering standpoint. When it proves it can reliably provide racers with adequate feel, it should stay. There are mountains of schematics laying around that are really cool, from an engineers perspective, and not racing. Sometimes, their time has yet to come. Sometimes, their time came and went. In the case of the monocoque, perhaps it can't be used as a competitive option with 2011 MotoGP rules and regs being what they are.

You said that the 800cc Ducati wins in the hands of the right people. That is incorrect. It won in the hands of Stoner. Ducati's 800cc bike has 23 wins during Stoner's reign. All 23 are Stoner's. He is a great rider, but not the only one. Many great riders have had issues with that bike. And do you really believe that is impossible for a bike to only work for a single rider at the MotoGP level? There are only a few dozen people alive who can take ANY MotoGP machine to its limits.

Seriously, though - does it frustrate you more that fans with no engineering background are calling for an aluminum frame, or that Valentino (big time star) has the moxy to call for change at Ducati and Stoner (boring as a piece of bark) did not?

"As fans, we see deltabox frames winning, and monocoque frames failing to win.[...] Conclusions are drawn."

As fans, we see Honda and Yamaha winning for decades.
How did it go lately for Suzuki and Kawasaki deltabox frames?
How did it go for them to use the same concepts developped by Honda and Yamaha, did it do them any good?
Have they ever had a shot at winning the championship?
Could they regularly be in the top6 (remove the Stoner factor, I'm talking about Hayden by far the best "other" Ducati rider).

I don't think copying the mighty Japanese giants is the way to go, and Ducati knows that to succeed they need original solutions. You can't out gun the big guns.

This is why they gambled on Bridgestones in an era utterly dominated by Michelin.
This is why from the start they used a different engine configuration and frames completely different from the rest of the competition.
This is how they ended on the rostrum at their very first GP (both bikes in the top five...in Japan!).
This is how they won their first race at the 6th round of their first season.
This is how they won a world championship in their 5th season.

Obviously things are not looking good for them and they need to change, but that doesn't necessarily mean developing a red M1 (aka going the Kawasaki/Suzuki route) is the way to go.

"The right people" refers to Stoner and his team who have moved on to Repsol Honda.

Loris won on an 800cc Ducati. It wasn't the monocoque, and no one really remembers it b/c it was at the Motegi during a wet race that saw Stoner clinch the 2007 world title.

I have already explained that historical revisionism is beguiling. Casey won 3 of the last 6 races in 2010. Valentino Rossi says he wants a new design for 2011-2012. The punters conclude that Vale wants a new design b/c the carbon monocoque doesn't work. Really? That's interesting b/c the bike was winning races a few months before Vale put a leg over it.

Drawing the wrong conclusions, stops people from drawing the correct conclusions. After a widely held misconception infects the fanbase, there isn't much reason to discuss the carbon monocoque Ducati, is there? An inborn bias has already been established and reinforced, which means, unless you're CIA psy-ops, the monocoque is no longer a possible topic for discussion. Like Rossi vs. Stoner; don't click unless you have a fetish for the intellectually macabre.

one of the simplest issues in GP (the engineering integrity of the monocoque chassis)

You're kidding me?

Tell me, the bikes that can be clearly said to have failed: the various iterations of Kawasaki, including the one built by Suter, and the Ilmor.

Did they have poor geometry, not go straight, not turn? Just look at the history of frames: they were too flexible, then they were too stiff, then they chattered. At each stage they had to change to keep up with tyre , suspension and engine changes.

It's not enough that they work, or that they worked acceptably 3 or 4 years back. It's whether they work as well as the Honda and the Yamaha (which really has been the standard for the last 25 years).

I remember a journalist test at Valencia where RRW sent along (shock horror) a guy who was currently racing a SBK in the CEV... so he had some sort of idea. He said that possibly the Kawasaki was the least able of the MotoGP bikes, but other than that it was by far the best race bike he'd ever ridden. Its results were no worse than the results of the Ducatis not ridden by Stoner (actually better), so maybe if Stoner had ended up in Green, he would have won... would you then conclude that the Kawasaki was a successful bike?

I would conclude that Kawsaki have a winning design, and that the chassis works.

Was the carbon monocoque a winning design? Did it work? How am I suppose to answer these questions to keep the peanut gallery happy? No, b/c only Stoner won races with the monocoque? No, b/c the GOAT can't win with it?

The engineering integrity of the carbon chassis is one of the simplest issues in the entire sport. The reasons behind Ducati's abandonment of the carbon monocoque are much less simple, but it isn't b/c carbon monocoque's can't win races.


That's a bit extreme Phoenix.

Of course the CF works - not perfectly, not as well as a M1 or RCV but still a proven winner in the right hands. Not a bad effort by Mr Stoner given the thing had next to no factory CF chassis development during his tenure - in comparison to Honda's four plus frames a year. What version is Ducati up to now in 2011 by the way?

They've run around in circles flapping their wings screeching 'the sky is falling' have Messrs Burgess and Rossi a bit to date 2011 (why else would Ducati be following the path well trodden and kowtow to an aluminium beam chassis request), but now it sounds like in conjunction with the factory they might just be starting to get to grips with the current CF incarnation of the Desmosedici.

It's about now I'd actually like to start seeing Rossi finally perform on the damn thing just to see a little more egg on the faces of Chicken Little and Cocky Locky and justify the genius of Preziosi.

The reason Ducati are pursuing parallel development of an aluminum twin spar, and mulling the abandonment the carbon monocoque, is not a simple issue.

2007 and 2008 Desmos had a trellis frame just as the 990s did. The carbon frame didn't come into existence until the 2009 bike. A lot of the good results for the 800 came on the trellis frame (and Stones suited to the Desmo), not the carbon framed version. If you look at 09 and 10 the results are less than stellar.

Keep in mind that when Rossi says the solution for Ducati is a deltabox frame, he's merely thinking as a racer who can only win on what they are familiar with or with what they see their competitors winning on. He did much the same a few years ago when the M1 was getting smoked by the other 800s and he wanted Yamaha to develop a V4 to compete with Honda and Ducati. Yamaha stuck with the IL4 and have done rather well with it.

Did anyone notice during the Brno race that the Ducati reved lower than the Honda, Ducati never hit 18k where Honda did. Can't unfortunately remember which rider it was, if it was Rossi or not. Maybe it's the gearing, if not, and if it was Rossi maybe there is something to be analyzed to figure out if the GP12 will be a 1000cc or not.

"People need to stop the historical revisionism. The GP is a proven winner. Rossi can't ride it. End of discussion."

Hmmm ... last time I checked Rossi cant ride it, Hayden cant ride it, Randy De Puniet can't ride it, Loris Capirossi can't ride it, Hector Barbera can't ride it, Karel Abraham can't ride it, and the only year Stoner could ride it was back in 2007. End of discussion.

The record book shows, through 2010, Casey was able to win more 800cc races than any other rider. Despite illness and physical injury, he was still winning races on the monocoque chassis through the 2010 season. The monocoque works, and it does not need a major overhaul to be competitive. The GP needs to be overhauled so that Ducati can lease it to private teams, and so they can score results with their high-profile world champions.

I really don't care if Ducati change the bike or not b/c it's their bike, and I don't have an ideological predisposition to choose one design over another. However, the conventional wisdom (i.e. myth), about Ducati's lack of pace, is contrary to the results in the record book.

Journalists talk about the bad monocoque to sell papers and generate hits, and I don't begrudge them for it. However, the fans have no excuses when the record books are just a few clicks away. The monocoque is innovative and competitive, but it no longer meets Marlboro Ducati's business objectives.

Let's look at the record book, then; it is, after all, just a few clicks away:

Casey Stoner's win totals on Ducati in the 800 era:

2007 - 10 wins - steel trellis frame
2008 - 6 wins - steel trellis frame
2009- 4 wins - carbon mono frame
2010 - 3 wins - carbon mono frame

Total: 23 wins

Just for some proof of the trellis frame, check out this photo of the 2008 Alice Desmo at Indy - http://www.superbikeplanet.com/image/2008/MGP/indy/7/Sun17.htm

70% of Casey's wins on the Desmo came on the trellis-framed version. That leaves 30% for the carbon mono frame. Not exactly a stellar record, is it?

So let's stop propagating the myth that Casey won consistently on the carbon-framed Desmo.

The record is clear, Casey definitely won less races in 2009 and 2010.
However how does that tell you that it's because of the chassis?

What else changed in 2009...oh yes, Bridgestone exclusive tire manufacturer.
They switched from tailoring tires for Ducati to supplying tires that would suit the whole grid.
Changing 2 parameters at the same time makes it hard to conclude on the effect of said parameters.

Interestingly, if you look at the result of his teammates:

2007 - Capirossi 1 win, 4 podiums, 9 top 6 results, 7th in the championship (166 points)
2008 - Melandri 1 top 6, 17th (51 points)
2009 - Hayden 1 podium, 5 top 6, 13th (104 points)
2010 - Hayden 1 podium, 11 top 6, 7th (163 points)

2009 and 2010 don't appear worse than 2007 and 2008.
Although since Lorenzo arrived in 2008 that pushed back 1 place most of the MotoGP field, Hayden in 2010 almost equals Capirossi's 2007 season.
And Hayden learning year on the unfamous CF frame is way better than Melandri's learning year on the treillis frame.

'the only year Stoner could ride it was back in 2007'

Since Stoner won 10 races in 2007 on the Ducati and 13 since then on the Ducati, how does this equate to not being able to ride it? Ducati went from 3 wins, one 2nd and one DNF in its last five races of 2010 to one 3rd in its first eleven races of 2011.

Rossi is on record in his assessment that Stoner COULD ride the thing very effectively by adopting a high-risk riding strategy and utilising techniques that Rossi has stated he cannot readily learn. Your conclusion not only defies the facts but also denies the validity of Rossi's evaluation of Stoner's ability.

discuss, discuss ... yep, that's what we do!

ride, ride not ... Casey is the only person to date (most likely ever!) to win a MotoGP on the Ducati 800 cc bike. Was it easy to ride? no. Did it take a very specific technique? yes. Did the front end have "issues" for Casey? yes. Is the Ducati GP10/GP11 competitive? no.

A competitive bike can *facilitate / enable* a top class rider to achieve the podium and potentially win a race. When the class of riders able to accomplish winning consists of *1* person, the bike is not competitive.

The Yamaha was the most competitive bike of 2010, very competitive in 2011.
The Honda seems to be the most competitive bike of 2011, the Yamaha close behind.

Yes, the Duc was the heat in 2007; it's fundamental flaws were not resolved, other
bikes improved moreso in the intervening years (Honda & Yamaha); or not enough (Suzuki) or gave up (Kawasaki). Darwinism in action.

Life's unfair; oh well, "that's racing": The Ducati's problems weren't sufficiently addressed prior to Ro$$i's arrival at the land of the Red ..

I saw VR quoted as "I could ride it that way, but it's not ideal" (or close to those words). Some time ago (pre Duc) VR said (quoted) the one thing he fears is the high side, and tries not to get into that situation. I've wondered if VR considers CS's Duc style too high side risky. Equally he has indicated the feelless front end needs fixed.

Capirossi was qouted on MCN

“You feel nothing. You don’t feel the tyres and you don't feel the ground. I don’t know what is happening, I don’t have any feeling and I don’t know where the limit is. You try and think the feeling is not too bad but then you try a little bit more you lose the front. This is the biggest problem.

When you have a problem with the rear then you can control and slide but with the front you can’t do anything. And when you try harder the bike turns even less", added Capirossi.

Wasn't the Duc team manager qouted re VR " rather than risk his life, Valentino tries to get the bike fixed." ('get the bike fixed' isn't word for word: too long to find the quote.)

Just because the stated racers cannot win on the ducati means nothing
Rossi is the only consistent winner in motogp until now. factory bike= wins
But they are close to getting it to work I believe

As I have said before 3 years without fine tuning is not good enough.

Unlimited testing would help but as a rule there will always be a problem of some kind or another with all the makes it is top flight racing after all.

I am begging you not to get into the Stoner vs Rossi thing.

However, I think the rules have a lot to do with Ducati's problems. Too restrictive.

the ONE TIRE rule is a key piece of the puzzle, not the only one mind...

Ducati in 2007 had Bridgestones. And they were made hand in glove with and for Ducati.

Suited the bike dynamics.

the moment we saw other teams on Bridgestones, then following the one tire rule was when Ducati lost dominance. I agree only Stoner seemed to be able to get the best, but dominance was ONE year. but the Bridgestones went 'average' after being special.

the new one tire rules massively disadvantages doing anything DIFFERENT, and with that ENGINE layout they need DIFFERENT tires to go with that....

maybe all Ducati can do is move in line with what the rules direct, or do as now, fail.
Some rules are benign(to a degree all rules are restrictive granted, pls dont shoot), fuel, engine capacity, weight, but others are far too restrictive.. eg one tire rule.

It has been alluded to above and those with more knowledge than I possess may be able to bring some light onto this aspect. Or indeed completely debunk my thinking (that too is ok).

It would sure be great to know what Ducati is talking about behind closed doors at this time in Motogp history. To know where their money limits are, and to know what the available Ducati finances for Rossi and the development (or shelving) of the current set-up are. To know what the Duc Higher Ups are thinking and conjecturing about World Super Bike involvement, etc. It reminds me of a line in the movie 'Brother Where Art Thou' - "Damn, we're in a tight spot!". We'll just have to watch it play out. As one earlier poster said, in essence, "If it's red, loud, and says Ducati on the side, it really doesn't matter what type frame it has." I wish them the best.