A single-cylinder race-bike, the Ducati Supermono was a product of the Ducati golden era that saw the creation of the 916 and the original 900 Monster, aesthetically and mechanically, this was a time when Ducati could do no wrong. Designed by Pierre Terreblanche, the Ducati Supermono clearly influenced his later SS models, though they couldn't hope to top this single's very delicate, classical beauty.
And this remains a fast bike, particularly for a 550cc single. With a four-valve desmodromic head and enviable engine balance, the Ducati Supermono develops an impressively smooth 75 horsepower at 10,000rpm, enough to push well over the 220km/h range. But the bike remains a study in engineering economy and light weight. It is tiny, with carbon and magnesium keeping mass to a minimum.
At 118kg, about the same weight as a Honda CBR-150R, it weights less than many contemporary, aluminum-framed motocross bikes.
The product of a creative race shop with time and trick parts on its hand, the Ducati Supermono was built in a very limited run of just 65 bikes between 1993 and 1995. The one I touched was number four. Imported into France, it contested a handful of races with French motocross and supermotard racer Stephan Chambon on board.
It now belongs to a former Ducati dealer and racer of the marque's older single-cylinder machines. The Ducati Supermono is fantastic to ride, so light, and with a beautiful engine. We told that the Ducat Supermoto was difficult to start, and that it wouldn't run below 7000rpm, but it's fine. You could short-shift at 6000rpm if you wanted to, though you wouldn't go very fast. The Ducati Supermono is peaky but only if you take into account just how powerful it is at the top-end.
At just 1960mm long, with a wheelbase of 1390mm, the Ducati Supermoto was apparently designed for racing jockeys, a problem for most riders: 'in order to make the bike comfortable for someone of regular size you'd have to cut the tail and do something about the footrests. Even then, there's a limit to what you could do because the thing's just so tiny.