One of this year’s most interesting stories in motorcycling is Ducati’s takeover of the Moto-E electric GP series. This makes Ducati the first major OEM to build a full-on electric superbike, and people are keen to see what it’s all about—and over the weekend, Ducati finally dropped some major details.
The short version is: This is a technologically advanced machine with horsepower slightly behind previous-gen litrebikes, and a massive battery, with lots of carbon-fibre to off-set that battery’s weight.
The longer version: Ducati says the new V21L makes a maximum of 150 hp and 103 lb-ft of torque. Because we know you’re wondering, that’s about 30 hp more than a current Yamaha R6 GYTR supersport, and 12 hp more than a Triumph-built Moto2 engine. It’s still behind the last generation or two of 1000 cc superbikes, but the instantaneous torque should make up for a lot of the peak power deficiency.
The V21L’s motor is powered by an 18 kwh battery pack, with 1,152 individual 21700-size cells packed into its case for a massive 110 kg weight. Yikes. That’s even heavier than the old Energica MotoE racebike’s battery, with less power stored, in theory. The V21L battery operates at 800 volts, and thanks to a 20 kwh onboard quick-charger, it can get to 80 percent charge in 45 minutes.
Overall, the V21L weighs 225 kg, which is 27 kg less than the previous Energica bikes. No doubt racers will appreciate the weight loss, and likely Ducati will be able to trim even more pork as they actually race these machines and learn what they can tweak for performance.
Part of the reason for the lowered weight is carbon-fibre—a lot of carbon-fibre. This strong-but-light material is used for the battery case, which is a stressed member of the frame, with other chassis components directly bolted on, just like you’d see with a modern superbike engine. The swingarm and forward frame sections are aluminum, though.
The battery and motor have separate cooling circuits, which should hopefully avoid any embarrassing overheating problems mid-race. The last thing Ducati and MotoGP officials want is a toxic racebike meltdown in front of tens and thousands of fans.
Apart from the high-tech powertrain, much of the rest of the bike uses systems and equipment familiar to performance-oriented motorcyclists. Of course there is an electronics suite with traction control, slide control, adjustable output mapping, and so on. The running gear comes sourced from Ohlins, with TTX36 shock and NPX 25/30 forks. Brakes come from Brembo, with extra-thick front discs with internal cooling fins, and GP4-RR M32 monobloc four-piston calipers.
As for a price tag: Who knows what this is costing Ducati and MotoGP. But, someday, this tech will trickle down to consumers, and when that happens, be prepared for sticker shock. The future won’t be cheap when it gets here.