Ducati Unveils Prototype Electric Racing Bike – Will A Street Legal Model Soon Follow?
In October, in a surprise announcement, Italian high-performance motorcycle icon Ducati revealed it was resuming supply electric racing bikes for the FIM Enel MotoE series, the two-wheeled compatriot of the Formula E motor racing league with unexpected popularity.
Electric motorcycle maker Energica had supplied the MotoE racing bikes; this company, also based in Italy, started manufacturing high-performance electric bikes in 2014 and produces a trio of popular street machines. Today, just two months after announcing its involvement in MotoE, Ducati unveiled what appears to be an early but very mature draft of its electric racing bike, called the V21L. Ducati is due to send electric racing bikes to the grid starting in the 2023 season. Ducati does not offer an electric motorcycle approved for the street, and never has.
What Ducati offers, of course, is a wide range of high-performance petrol motorcycles, the next level of which includes some of the fastest, most powerful and most technically sophisticated machines available for street bikers. The fact that Ducati quickly popped up with the V21L – which appears to be well advanced in development – may be a sign that they’ve been working on an electric street bike for some time now.
Ducati hasn’t released any specs or hardware information for the V21L, but a series of photos indicate the bike is now largely track-ready, with Ducati rider and test rider Michele Pirro extorting it on the circuit. from Misano in Italy. It certainly looks the part, with a carbon fiber fairing and bodywork, an Öhlins front fork and rear shock, a sophisticated double-sided swingarm and what could be a carbon fiber reinforced monocoque frame. aluminum sub-sections. If anything was missing (apart from the lights and indicators) it would be a gear lever and the characteristic support fins found on Ducati’s formidable Panigale V4 machines, which exceed 200 horsepower in the street version and over 230 ponies. on the track. .
“The bike is light and has good balance already,” the test rider and Pirro rider said in a press release. “In addition, the connection of the accelerator in the first opening phase and the ergonomics are very similar to those of a MotoGP motorcycle. If it hadn’t been for the silence and the fact that in this test we decided to limit the power output to just 70% of performance, I could easily have imagined that I was driving my [race] Bike.”
Like any motorcycle manufacturer that wades through the electric ocean, Ducati has its work cut out for it. Electric motorcycles are still in their infancy, despite years of development by pure players like Zero Motors and Energica. At this point, Harley-Davidson is the only legacy motorcycle maker (and perhaps the most unlikely) that currently offers a full-size electric production machine, the LiveWire.
As electric scooters gain in popularity, the growth curve for electric motorcycles has been slower due to their perceived drawbacks, especially in terms of range and charging times, compared to gasoline-powered bikes. In terms of performance, electric motorcycles are broadly comparable to gasoline motorcycles because of their prodigious torque and streamlined transmissions. Battery capacity remains the most difficult technological issue for electric vehicles of all types, but especially for motorcycles with their small form factor and weight sensitivity. New battery technologies will eventually solve these problems.
Indeed, in terms of performance, future electric motorcycles will eventually dominate their gasoline-powered ancestors, just as electric cars now outperform gasoline-powered machines in almost every area. Ducati is clearly aware of the obstacles that lie ahead. “The biggest challenges in developing an electric racing motorcycle remain related to size, weight and battery life,” Ducati said in a press release. “The objective of the project is, in addition to better performance, weight control and the regularity of the power delivered during the race, obtained thanks to the attention paid to the development of a cooling system adapted to the objective. “
And make no mistake, a streetbike will result from the efforts to build a racing bike. “Ducati’s experience in the FIM Enel MotoE World Cup will be a fundamental support for product R&D,” the press release continued. “The goal is to create, as soon as technology allows, a Ducati electric vehicle for road use that is sporty, light, exciting and capable of satisfying all enthusiasts.
Hopefully technology will ‘allow’ it soon, and if Ducati has a lineup of aces up its sleeve, it could debut alongside the racing bike in 2023. If it looks and looks like the carbon-coated V21L, Ducati could do it. have another blow on their hands in the electric future.