The Ducati Desmosedici RR Was a Road-Legal MotoGP Race Bike

Aston Martin and Brough Superior’s upcoming superbike’s price tag isn’t the only thing that will make the motorcycle exclusive. It’s a track-only bike, so it doesn’t have to conform to any emissions or other regulations. And as the Ferrari F50 demonstrated, turning a racing machine into a road vehicle isn’t exactly easy. But as Ducati showed with the Desmosedici RR, it’s not impossible.

How MotoGP led to the Ducati Desmosedici RR

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MotoGP is essentially the Formula 1 of the motorcycle world, i.e. arguably the highest echelon of racing. And while the Ducati Desmosedici RR isn’t exactly a MotoGP bike, Cycle World explains, it does borrow a lot of racing tech. So, it’s not a stretch to call it a MotoGP replica, Motorcyclist reports.

A rear low-angle shot of a 2008 Ducati Desmosedici RR, showing the carbon-fiber swingarm and part of the V4 engine
2008 Ducati Desmosedici RR rear | Bring a Trailer

Roughly a decade before the modern V4 Panigale, the 2007 Ducati Desmosedici RR released with a V4. It’s a 998cc V4, Motorcyclist reports, which produces 180 hp and 77 lb-ft at the rear wheel. And that’s in road-going spec, Car and Driver reports. With a track-ready exhaust and ECU, it develops 197 hp and 85 lb-ft. And it’s not moving a lot of bike. Without fluids, the Ducati Desmosedici RR weighs just 377 pounds, RideApart reports. Even fully-loaded, it only weighs 425 pounds. Plus, it redlines at 14,200 RPM, Bonhams reports.

That low weight is thanks to more MotoGP technology. For one, the Ducati Desmosedici RR’s body panels and subframe are made of carbon fiber. It was the first road-legal production bike with forged magnesium wheels, Bennetts reports. And the gas-pressurized Ohlins fork and Brembo brakes are identical to the ones on the contemporary racer, reports.

Riding the next best thing to a road-legal MotoGP bike

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Although the Ducati Desmosedici RR’s V4 isn’t a MotoGP engine, it shares some of the same features. One of these is the so-called ‘Twin Pulse’ firing, Asphalt & Rubber explains, which uses the cylinders’ firing order to further force the tires into the pavement.

Despite its exotic materials and features, the Desmosedici RR has some road-friendly aspects. Its 6-speed transmission shifts easily, CW reports, and its splitter clutch is both forgiving and relatively easy to pull. And while the V4 makes a lot of power, it’s mostly at the top of its rev range. At street-going speeds, it’s no more difficult to live with than any other literbike.

The 2008 Ducati Desmosedici RR's handlebars and digital display
2008 Ducati Desmosedici RR handlebars | Bring a Trailer

But while the Ducati Desmosedici RR is technically road-legal, its “real home is the racetrack,” Car and Driver reports. The bike’s fully-adjustable Ohlins fork and rear shock, as well as a hydraulic steering damper, make for incredibly-sharp handling. It’s not quite as quick-steering as the MotoGP bike, Motorcyclist reports, but that’s to the Desmosedici’s benefit. And the brakes are very effective.

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Then there’s that V4. Below 9500 RPM, it’s relatively docile, if loud. Once you reach 10,000 RPM, though, “the power starts to get very intense,” MCN reports. Or, to paraphrase CW, explosive, with an exhaust note to match. With a long enough track, the RR can close in on 200 mph.

Getting one today

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The Ducati Desmosedici RR is a fairly rare bike. Ducati made only 1500 from 2007-2009; of these, the US received 300. And it wasn’t cheap; new, the Desmosedici cost $72,500.

A red-with-white-stripe 2008 Ducati Desmosedici RR on a rear wheel stand
2008 Ducati Desmosedici RR | Bring a Trailer

However, these bikes do occasionally pop up for sale. As of this writing, there’s a 3000-mile example listed on Bring a Trailer for $45,000. Another sold on BaT in July 2020 for $40,750; Bonhams auctioned another in 2017 for $41,400.

2 2019 Ducati Panigale V4 R motorcycles, one with red body panels and one with black carbon-fiber panels
2019 Ducati Panigale V4 R in red and carbon-fiber | Ducati

That’s roughly the same price as a brand-new Panigale V4 R, which has 221 hp, Cycle World reports. It comes with a few more features, such as traction control and stability control. But, while it may be fast, it’s not a MotoGP replica.

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