Ducati Supermono: A truly absurd Sound of Singles machine

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Fred Teifeld

At grassroots level racing there are dozens of classes that compete on a given weekend. Move up to club racing and the number of grids shrinks. Professional racing? Very few people compete at such a level. Sound of Singles racing, positioned somewhere in the middle of this pyramid of participation, features single-cylinder bikes. Still, it’s a class that never quite caught on here in the U.S. the way it did in other parts of the world. But because of that popularity elsewhere, a small handful of stateside track riders who were interested got access to one of the most potent little moto packages of the 1990s: The Ducati Supermono.

Fred Teifeld

The Supermono was built specifically for a class, but not to meet homologation requirements like many other hardcore machines of its ilk. What we have here is an experiment in form and function. With Pierre Terblanche’s design rendered carbon fiber, packed with all the tech a rider of the early 1990s could want, this rowdy single-cylinder has the potential to flat out embarrass riders aboard more traditional inline-four supersports. A scant 277-pound dry weight being thrust forward by 78 horsepower tends to dominate.

The engine is a liquid-cooled, 12:1 compression, 550cc thumper. One big piston chugs fuel from a computer-controlled throttle body with two injectors. Power peaks at 10,ooo rpm but the rev limiter does not stop the party til 11,000, so be sure to pay attention to the dash as you are running through the GP pattern gearbox; it can be easy to miss your shift thanks to a well-designed balance shaft that keeps the whole thing from shaking apart at those crazy piston speeds. With a 2.8-inch stroke, the piston is doing nearly 5000 feet per minute at the rev limit. That is V-10 Formula 1 engine territory.

A machine like this might pack a mountain of power, but it core strength is still that of momentum. The Supermono’s highly tunable Öhlins suspension bits front and rear connect the chassis to a set of magnesium wheels. Big brakes help rein it in quickly, but riders in the know understand the advantage of only just brushing the brakes before tipping in, letting the suspension and slicks stick the bike to the track and let it sling around corners.

Stare at the Supermono long enough and you’ll likely start to notice more than a little similarity to the famous 916. Technically, though, the 916 shares similarity with the Supermono, since the latter was birthed in 1993—one year prior to the introduction of the V-twin superbike. History has looked very kindly on the 916, but the Supermono has stayed more under the radar. Part of that could low volume, with just 67 examples built, but more likely is that the Sound of Singles class never got much traction in North America.

If this is the Ducati of your dreams, you best snag this one up for grabs on Stratas Auctions before it’s gone. As of this writing there are three days left on the listing, with one bid of $25,000—below reserve and well shy of Stratas’ $150,000 – $175,000 estimate. It most certainly deserves its day in the sun, especially if that day is on a race track with a crowd getting an earful of the sound from this thumping single.

 

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