Ducati has announced the return of the controversial 999 Superbike today in the form of the limited edition 999LE. Just 999 examples will be manufactured in a special ‘Imola Platinum’ color scheme, each individually signed by designer Pierre Terblanche.
Although the styling remains true to the original bike as revised in 2005, the running gear is revised and updated to take into account the progress in the Superbike range following the release of the 1098 and 1198 models.
The 999LE is based on the 999R chassis with Ohlins suspension, light weight Marchesini forged rims and lashings of carbon fiber but features a 155bhp 1,099cc engine from the Ducati Streetfighter. The final 999R produced 150bhp from its 999cc engine. In keeping with recent trends towards acknowledging Ducati customers’ desire for more comfort with models such as the Multistrada 1200, the 999LE features clip-ons 15mm (0.6″) higher and foot-pegs 10mm (0.4″) lower than the original bike. The unique color dubbed ‘Imola Platinum’ harks back to the silver 750SS racer that Paul Smart famously took to victory 1972 at Imola. It is not dissimilar to the color of the limited edition Ducati 916 Senna.
Pierre Terblanche was a very controversial figure at Ducati designing some very beautiful bikes such as the Supermono, the Sport classic range and the Hypermotard, along with some questionable work such as the 999 and the original Multistrada. The 999 sold so poorly that it nearly put Ducati out of business!
So why bring it back albeit in limited form? It seems the company believes that time has softened the impact of the original Avant Garde styling so much so that many Ducatisti now favor it over the current, safer (from a design point of view), 1198 range which is inspired by the Tamburini 916.
“The 999 was a fantastic Superbike and the Terbalanche styling is undergoing a renaissance amongst Italian bike fans.” said Claudio Domencali, General Manager of Ducati Motor. “The 999LE is our tribute to Pierre’s foresight and styling genius.”
Ducati may well be right if response to Terblanche’s Moto Guzzi V12 Le Mans concept is anything to go by. And it may also be prescient since the designer is now working at Piaggio group, which rumor has, it could be a merger partner for Ducati.
Pricing and timing of availability has not yet been announced but with just 999 available, interested parties should waste no time in contacting their Ducati dealer.
UPDATE: Yes this was an April Fool’s Post!! Hope you enjoyed it