It looks like Ducati is about to return to market with a single-cylinder engine, decades after the Italian company’s last thumper ended its limited-run production. Check out the spy shot below, which appeared in Motorrad magazine:
Motorrad says that photo was taken in Sicily, where this bike was presumably out on the street for R&D purposes. Or was it a guerilla marketing campaign? Ducati sure isn’t going to say either way…
We do know that Ducati has been working on this engine for quite some time. Almost a year ago, the guys over at Motorcycle.com uncovered government paperwork that showed Ducati had a 659cc liquid-cooled single-cylinder engine coming to US streets. That engine would come with four-valve heads and secondary air injection… and that’s pretty much all we know.
At that time, MO staff figured we’d see the bike unveiled in 2022. That didn’t happen, but now, as you can see in the photo above, that machine looks very much ready to go. There still isn’t much info to go on there, but it is most interesting to note the weird architecture of that engine—could that be a V-twin that’s had the front cylinder removed, to be replaced by a counterbalancer? Back in 2019, Suzuki filed a patent for an engine using a system like that. Maybe Ducati is dusting off some V-twin engineering and recycling it?
The last Ducati single
It’s worth noting that Ducati’s last single-cylinder engine was the Supermono (unless you count the Borile B450 Scrambler, which was reportedly built with Ducati parts, and probably inspired Ducati’s own Scrambler series… ). The Supermono had a production run from 1993 to 1995. It was basically a Terblanche-designed factory special that Ducati built for (as the name implies) Europe’s Supermono race series. It made 75 hp at 10,000 rpm, heady numbers for a single in the mid-’90s! And it used a dummy con-rod for counterbalancing, just as Suzuki’s patent showed in 2019, and as that spy photo above seems to indicate.
None of this means we are guaranteed such a bike in 2024, but we would be surprised if we didn’t see a concept bike on the show circuit this fall, maybe even a production machine.