Exclusive Worldwide First Test!

Uber Babe Meets Uber Bike
Janelle Perzina tests the
new Ducati 999S 03 Superbike

By Janelle Perzina
Official SBK FastDates.com and Team Ducati Corse World Superbike Girl

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.

The 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?”

Always the 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.

(Editor's 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).

Curb appeal. 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!).

Ducati has now announced for sale the 2003 year 999R model (see details in the Pit 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 form.

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 consuming enough!

The only 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.

The 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 between boyfriends.

Continued on Page Two

Added bonus! Janelle and Ducati 999S FastDates.com Screensavers
Click on the links to these pics and then save to your computer hard drive.
You'll find more pictures and a profile feature of Janelle in Meet the Models and in Members Corner.
1). Janelle's Curb Appeal   
2). Janelle on the 999S  
3). Janelle - Decissions!

Jannelle tests the 999S: Page OnePage Two

Return to Ducati 2003DucatiPit Lane News

Ducati's new 999 Superbike
Technical changes,
factory rider's impressions
Engineer Andrea Forni, head of the Ducati Vehicle Testing Department summarizes the fundamentals behind the Ducati 999's improved "dynamic response".

How would you describe the dynamic characteristics of the Ducati 999 compared to the traditional handling of the models produced by Ducati?
"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 or road.
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, with exemplary
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 of stability."

What were the basic design choices of the Ducati 999's frame and chassis?
"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. These include:
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 mm

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 upwards.
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 Ducati 999?
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 stretches.

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."

Ducati Performance 102 DB Race Exhaust System
Update 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.

The complete 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.

Needless to 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.

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