While Ducati’s Panigale series of superbikes are truly awesome machines – we found this out riding the Ducati 959 Panigale – there is little to differentiate the base, ‘S’ and ‘R’ models in the line-up, save a little sticker on the front cowl. All the magic and wizardry is hidden under the same Ducati red fairing, inside the engine.
What if I told you, there was a way to put a Superquadro engine on display, aside from the obvious route of getting a Ducati Monster, of course? That is what French custom outfit Ortolani Customs has done, taking the Superquadro engine from a 2014 Ducati Panigale 1199 S, and showing the engine, steampunk style.
Typically, Panigale Superquadro V-twin engines don’t lend themselves to being exhibited, naked, as Ortolani Customs – located in St Andre de la Roche, outside of Nice, France – found out. The plethora of tubes, pipes, cables and wires, while making for expedited maintenance, tends to make things somewhat untidy.
For Ortolani Customs, taking the Ducati Superquadro engine – which functions as a stressed member in frame – presented a different set of problems. It was not possible to just hang a new fuel tank and bodywork off a frame, so every piece had to support its own weight, as well as the weight of the rider and another other equipment.
The use of aluminium for the bodywork raised another set of issues, as it was intended for the metal to be polished to a mirror-finish. Easy enough to do with steel, but aluminium is soft, and shows any mistakes made during forming and polishing rather too easily.
Each sheet of aluminium used on the Ortolani Panigale Racer is hand-worked, beaten, formed and polished, says a pipeburn.com post. The fuel tank, made as a seamless piece, carries both fuel and the Racer’s electronics components, and covers the engine’s airbox.
Additional bodywork consists of two pieces – the fore section covers the radiator and hides the external accessories for the engine, while the rear section forms the tail-piece and seat. The rear light slips neatly into the folds and curves of the bodywork, giving the Ortolani Racer a sleek, almost organic look.
At the front, a neatly bi-furcated headlight houses the intake tract in its lower half, again minimising the amount of external bodywork and adding to the smooth lines of the bike. Down below, a full-system Akrapovic exhaust in titanium does the job of getting rid of waste gases, and doing nothing to distract from the lines of the Racer.
While the factory-fitted braking from Brembo, with its famed M50 Monobloc callipers, is no slouch, Ortolani saw fit to… well… fit a pair for carbon-fibre ceramic brake discs straight off the Desmosedici GP-series racebike. This, of course, makes the Racer a track-only special, as it would be very difficult to get the carbon-ceramic discs up to working temperature on the street.
A large chin fairing piece finishes off the look of the Ducati 1199 S Racer by Ortolani, hiding the oil-cooler and the bottom half of the Superquadro twin. In Malaysia, the 2017 Ducati Panigale 1299 S retails for RM190,000, including GST.