Worldwide First Test!
Babe Meets Uber Bike
Perzina tests the
new Ducati 999S 03 Superbike
By Janelle Perzina
Official SBK FastDates.com and Team Ducati Corse World Superbike
January 1st 2003: I’d just flown back into
LA, my body black and blue and bruised from spending Christmas
week with my family back in Minnesota. Every day I had been out
snowmobile riding (and cross country racing) with my brothers
and friends, and I’d crashed more than once. I hate going
slow on snowmobiles, especially with fresh snow falling every
day and the weather was really warm, just 10 degrees below freezing!
The only bad thing about snowmobile riding in Minnesota is that
there’s no where to ride to but from one red neck bar to
the next. I was definitely looking forward to getting back to
LA and doing the Sunset Strip club scene on News Year’s
eve with my girlfriends.
Casting Call from my Agent
No sooner had I arrived at my West Hollywood condo when the phone
rang and it was my favorite riding buddy and FastDates.com Director
Jim Gianatsis, asking me if I want to test the new Ducati 999S
Superbike for Pit Lane News.
I said “Like
Yeah, totally dude! But who do I have to, ahhh... date?”
gentleman, Jim explained he had gotten hold of the first new 999S
model off Ducati’s production line, which had been flown
to the States for a famous rock star. But the singer was no where
to be found when the bike arrived in Los Angeles, possibly vacationing
at the Betty Ford Clinic for the holidays? So our inside contact
at Ducati hooked us up with the new bike to test, SoCal canyon
style, before anyone else at the beer swigging wheelie addicted
British sportbike press, or the kiss butt American moto press
could get their greasy Dainese’s on one.
note: British rock singer Robbie Roberetson has been braggin that
he still gotthe first 999S in the states, but we got ours 2 weeks
sooner than he did. American Ducati didn't get their press pool
bikes until April, meaning you might see their testsin print sometime
in June, 6 months after FastDates.com broke it's exclusive world
wide first test).
Hard core sportbiker and supermodel Janelle Perzina will be one
of our official SBK FastDates.com Calendar Girls at Laguna Seca
World Superbike 2003. Look
for her under Neil Hodgson's umbrella on the grid.
With me being
the owner of a 2001 model Testastretta 996R (which I love to death
and roll it into my bedroom at night where it sits draped in my
lingerie during the week, waiting for the weekends), Jim knew
I was wet to wrap my long legs around a slender new 999 and give
it a try. Essentially the 999S is comparable to the 996R in that
both use the same 998cc new generation Testastretta 100mm bore
x 63.5mm stoke engine rated for the street at 136hp, and which
in race form Troy Bayliss took to the 2001 SBK World Superbike
Championship. It is very interesting that the new catalytic equipped
999S still produces the same base power as the 996R
My 2001 996R
which retailed at $30,000 came with Termignoni race canisters
and a new computer chip in the packing crate that upped the horsepower
to 140. For the new 999S which retails at $23,000 you’ll
have to spring an extra $3,200 bucks for the Ducati Performance
Accessories titanium race exhaust system with CPU module, but
they promise us an 8% additional power increase on the 999S up
to 147hp. The new asymmetrical exhaust system featuring different
length and diameter header pipes from each cylinder must really
work well. The new 999S also comes with full Ohlins suspension
front and rear, just like the the previous R and SP models. So
the new 999S-03 offers real value for the price compared to the
R models (a cheap Ducati!).
now announced for sale the 2003 year 999R model (see details in
Lane News - New Bikes section) which differs from the new
S in that it’s oversquare 104mm bore 999cc Testastretta
engine (same as used in the 2002 998R) is rated at 139 hp (up
3 hp over the 999S) with the stock catalytic muffler. In race
form the 104mm engine can turn higher rpms and make more peak
power, but in street tuning the 104mm engine produces a slightly
narrower powerband than the 100mm bore 998cc S motor, so the S
is perhaps slightly easier to ride and just as quick in stock
Hi zoot Ohlins
suspension with lots of little knobs to twiddle, fully adjustable
footpegs, shifter and brake pedals, and swingarm pivot height.
As if picking my riding gear apparel before riding wasn't time
other differences between the 999S-03 model and the upcoming 999R-03
are lighter weight carbon fiber bodywork and a magnesium instead
of aluminum headlight module for a 199 kg / 439 lbs versus 193
kg / 425 lbs weight savings, and the newer style Ohlins forks
with radial brakes. You’ll have to decide if the $7,000
price difference (or just $3,500 difference if you buy the optional
Titanium Race Exhaust for the S model) is worth it for you.
new Ducati 999 - a face only a mother could love. Janelle, on
the other hand, we all can love.
If Looks Could Kill
If looks could kill I’d be a double 00 British Secret Agent
and the 999 would be the prom wallflower that never gets a dance.
Honestly boys, the 999 is butt ugly in the face, just like that
rich old Hollywood producer at Spagos who keeps trying to pick
me up. Why Pierre Terblanche didn’t give the 999 a beautiful
faired-in headlight nose like the old 998 or the new factory 999
Superbike or MotoGP bike is the question the print moto journalists
don’t have the balls to ask. But the reasoning has to do
with wind tunnel testing and the front fairing scoops help reduce
front end drag, similar to the panier scoopps on the leading edge
of the side fairings. From the side the bike almost looks do-able,
while it really does have a nice butt you just want to squeeze!
(Not suprisingly, the slender new chassis looks really good
when you’re following someone else like Janelle riding it
-Ed). Over time though, you will come to like the new 999's
styling more than the old bike.
What else can I tell you about the 999S that you haven’t
been reading about in all the 999 base model tests the past 6
months? Besides the upgraded track quality Ohlins suspension and
13 more horsepower than the base model, the S and R model bikes
get the origional Testastretta's engine cases with the deep sump
oil pickup to prevent oil starvation during wheelies, hard braking
and acceleration. Why the new base model 999 Superbike gets the
older style shallow sump cases probably isn't for economy of manufacture,
but for future use on other street bikes where ground clearance
and easy serviceability is more important. Only Ducati knows for
sure, but we will tell you about a problem in fitting optional
exhaust systems because of this, elsewhere in this article.
One thing the magazines did forgot to tell you is the new 999
comes with a new anti theft system ignition system with flashing
red indicator light on the dash linked to the main ECU computer
and includes a micro chip imbedded ignition key just like my Mercedes.
So a stolen bike can’t be started unless its returned to
a Ducati dealer for reprogramming. Cool. Other cool stuff includes
a 2 year warranty with roadside breakdown assistance anywhere
in America just like my Mercedes, which is great when you’re
on Page Two
bonus! Janelle and Ducati 999S FastDates.com Screensavers
Click on the links to these pics and then save to your computer
You'll find more pictures
and a profile feature of Janelle in Meet
the Models and in Members
1). Janelle's Curb Appeal
on the 999S
3). Janelle - Decissions!
tests the 999S: Page One •
2003 • Ducati
new 999 Superbike
Engineer Andrea Forni, head of the Ducati Vehicle Testing Department
summarizes the fundamentals behind the Ducati 999's improved "dynamic
How would you describe the dynamic characteristics of the Ducati
999 compared to the traditional handling of the models produced
"The dynamic response of the Ducati 999 reflects the tradition
of the Bolognese motorcycling manufacturer in the field of sports
motorcycles, and moreover improves some of the features that have
won the fame of our
Superbikes over the decades.
First of all, the directional stability is at peak levels, giving
the rider the reassurance of solid, safe steering,
even in the most critical sport riding conditions on the track
On uneven stretches taken at top speed, around curves on the track
or highway at full momentum and down hills at maximum throttle,
the front of the bike follows the direction decided by the rider,
This without triggering steering oscillations, an undesirable
side effect of the "extreme" chassis of many late generation
sport bikes selected for maximum agility, even to the detriment
What were the basic design choices of the Ducati 999's frame and
"Our new Superbike maintains that unique stability that all
Ducati's have, but it also improves some basic requirements of
the super sport motorcycles thanks to specific design decisions.
1) lowering the rider's seat level by 15 mm (6.9")
2) lengthening the swing arm by 15 mm
3) reducing the distance between the seat and handlebars by 10
Was lowering the seat level done just to improve comfort?
This modification was not made, as one may think, just to achieve
greater comfort; it significantly influences the dynamic response
of the vehicle as well.
In fact, lowering the rider's seating level, implies lowering
the whole center of gravity, which is significantly affected by
the position the rider assumes on the motorcycle."
Why does the special positioning of the center of gravity on the
Ducati 999 greatly improve its dynamic response?
"In the first place, lowering the center of gravity produces
a reduction of the shift in load during braking and acceleration.
The result is a smaller tendency of the bike to pull up when accelerating
violently (which reduces the performance during acceleration at
lower gears), while the rear wheel tends less to lift during intense
braking (an impediment to vehicle decelerations)."
Does the swingarm length affect stability during braking and acceleration
of the Ducati 999?
Definitely. A longer swingarm produces a variation in how the
static loads are divided up on the wheels, increasing the share
of weight weighing on the front and therefore limiting the pull
So the excellent torque delivered by the Testastretta can be maximized
even in the lowest gears without the
front wheel losing contact with the ground too easily.
The rider will always be guaranteed the greatest cohesion with
his course. A long swingarm also improves the stability when braking
because it increases the bike's wheelbase (distance between the
front wheel shaft and the rear wheel shaft). This increase ensures
a reduction in the shift in load
when accelerating strongly.
In fact, the loss of grip of the rear during hard braking is countered
by the limited transfer of load, although a good part of the weight
is concentrated in the front of the Ducati 999. As a result, the
motorcycle doesn't "wag".
What are the parameters that assure the superb handling of the
Lowering the whole center of gravity of the rider-motorcycle unit
has beneficial effects on handling as well. In fact, the Ducati
999 is a motorcycle that bends over with little effort and extreme
rapidity, demonstrating an enviable pace, even on the most tortuous
But how can handling and stability co-exist? The modifications
described above were obviously "calibrated" in order
to enhance the benefits without encountering the natural contraindications?
"For handling purposes, the potentially negative effects
due to the increase in the wheelbase are widely compensated for,
and exceeded, by lowering the center of gravity.
In addition, getting the rider closer to the center of gravity
also reduces the moment of total inertia of the
"rider-bike" assembly with respect to the roll axis,
making the variations of the bike's tilt faster and making it
possible to take curves in rapid succession at high speeds and
with minimum effort.
But didn't all these modifications to improve the dynamic response
of the Ducati 999 negatively
affect riding comfort?
"Lowering the seat level reduces the tilt of the torso with
respect to the vertical and consequently the load weighing on
the rider's wrists.
A very similar result is obtained through limiting the seat-handlebar
distance. In this case, too, a part of the weight of the rider's
torso is shifted from the wrist to the pelvis.
The overall result is less fatigue on the arms, with clear benefits
on comfort, allowing a better and constant physical condition
of the rider, indispensable for extreme riding."
advanced ergonomic solutions.
On the new Ducati Superbike, the rider can adjust, according to
his riding style and physical structure, all parameters of the
chassis (rake, height of rear), suspension (spring preload, rebound
damping, compression damping of front and rear) as well as the
position of the foot pegs (lengthways and in height) and the seat
(lengthways on the single-seat version).
The goal of the ergonomic adaptability is one of the greatest
results achieved with the Ducati 999."
Performance 102 DB Race Exhaust System
4/01/03: While still waiting for the Ti Race Exhaust
System to arrive from Ducati Performance, I went on ahead and
bought the first available Stainless Steel 102DB Race Slilencer
System for the 999 Part #9646303B. The System comes complete with
a larger diameter front cylinder header pipe, carbon fiber heat
shield for the silencer, hi-flow air filter baffles, and a new
recalibrated CPU module to take advantage of the free flowing
straight-through race silencer.
Kit retails at $1,500. Kinda pricey like shopping on Rodeo Drive,
but worth it if it lands you an invitation to a Playboy Mansion
party, so to speak! The race silencer is 10 pounds ligther than
the catalytic converter muffler it replaces, which works out to
$150 per lb. Expensive, but still cheaper per pound than any other
lightweight part you can bolt on the bike. I can't speak for Ducati's
claimed 8% power gain, particularly because my poor mechanic (I
love you, Jim!) spent all night trying to install the kit, but
couldn't get the new header pipe to fit and clear the engine sump
and swingarm. We figured out that Ducati screwed up and let Termignoni
design this Kit on a base 999 model with its new short sump Testrastetta
motor. The header pipe will not clear the deep race sump crankcase
of the 999S and 999R Testastretta engines. We were the first to
find this out and promptly called our Ducati management friends
in Italy and America to let them know, but everyone had just been
fired. Eventually we got a call back from someone who still worked
at Ducati to say they would design a new Kit to fit the 999S model,
but not to hold our breath to get a proper fitting header pipe
replacement any time soon. We also question if the CPU unit is
calibrated for our higher performance engine.
say, 2 weeks after our call to Ducati they issued a worldwide
dealer notice that the Race Slilencer System for the base 999
Part #9646303B won't fit the 999S.