When the specifications of a new engine first appear, we usually take the specs and claimed power figures with a few grains of salt. So when Ducati calls the 2012 1199 Panigale Superquadro's bore and stroke dimensions 'incredible,' we get skeptical.
The engine of the Ducati 1199 Panigale got a bore of 112mm – a full 6mm wider than the Ducati 1198. That's big, especially relative to the 60.8mm stroke, which is more than 7mm down from the previous Ducati 1198 Superbike. Those dimensions break fresh engineering ground, and the new Ducati engine was literally built around them. The 90-degree V-angle remains, but is rotated back 6 degrees to make the engine shorter. That rotation, along with the shorter stroke, allows the engine to move 32mm closer to the front tire for a more forward weight bias.
Big pistons mean big valves: 3.3mm larger intakes and 3.7mm larger exhausts. Big also means heavy – unless those valves are titanium, so titanium it is. Since big valves also put big stresses on the valve gear, Ducati's desmodromic actuation becomes even more necessary to prevent unwanted motion with aggressive cam timing and high revs. Cam and rocker faces get special finishes and coatings. In a break from Ducati's traditional toothed-belt timing, each cylinder/head pair has a roller chain turning a gear that in turn meshes with gear on the ends of the intake and exhaust cams. Few Ducati owners will miss replacing cambelts every 19,000 kilometers. To make the starting hardware smaller and lighter, a crafty decompression system uses a centrifugal mechanism on one or both exhaust cams to allow full compression once revs rise past tick-over. We looked to see if the cylinder heads were identical, but the requirements of the camchain tensioners dictate no – the front and rear head are unique parts.
The huge, oval throttle bodies topping each head have an 'equivalent diameter' of 67.5mm. Each carries two injectors: one under the throttle plate for best response and a showerhead injector above for top-end power. Throttle plates are controlled by independent ride-by-wire motors, with the rider free to choose between various Riding Modes depending on conditions.
There's plenty new in the vertically split crankcase, as well. Modern plain bearings support the crankshaft, creating a stronger, quieter bottom end. An efficient, geroter-type oil pump supplies oil at the necessarily higher pressure and volume. 'Wet' cylinder liners of Nikasil-coated aluminum slip into the cases.
The traditional Ducati dry clutch is gone, replaced with a more durable, wet, slipper-type unit, which is also quieter, though 'loud clutches save lives' advocates will miss their rattle. There's more distance between transmission-shaft centers to make room for bigger, stronger gears, and the transmission shafts are stacked to reduce engine length. Those big pistons can act as parachutes as they descend into the crankcase, so the Ducati 1199 uses a MotoGP-style vacuum pump to lower crankcase pressure and thus reduce pumping losses. Mounted on the right side of the crankcase is an oil-to-water heat exchanger plumbed directly into the oil gallery.