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Sir Duke - Ducati MotoGP Replica mk2

The advent of MotoGP has bought new royalty to road-going specials.

QB Carbon has sworn its allegiance with this Ducati Desmosedici replica worth a king's ransom - Superbike Magazine July 2003

Time was when, if you wanted a true road-going race replica, you didn't have much inspiration beyond the superbike class. That was all well and good for a while but 916s with a 'Foggy' sticker kit stopped looking special. Even the WSB bikes can often look, well, a bit ordinary.

The greener grass was GP500. Always more exciting, higher tech, every rider's aspiration but a bugger to reproduce. The MotoGP four-stroke era, along with the rapid progress of road bikes, has meant a new dawn for road specials. The most switched-on-after-market parts manufacturers have realised this and sticker kits are giving way to fully moulded body-kits.

Leading the revolution is QB Carbon, a company with a history of making trick parts, heavy race involvement and a passion for special bikes. Owner John Merrill began in industrial plastics, but the love of bikes saw QB grow as an increasingly distracting and successful side project. Realising the potential in a Ducati MotoGP replica for its huge Ducati owning customer base QB started work last August on the Desmosedici kit.

QB Carbon Ducati MotoGP Replica Desmocedici

Bike owner Terry Hand, boss of trick bit purveyors RedTec, has a long standing relationship with QB Carbon and put forward his Ducati 996R to be the test mule for the first body kit. "I just wanted a good looking, quick road and track bike," understated Terry. This bike has cost £40,000 to build. And Terry confesses that may be a conservative estimate.

The rest of the bike took shape as Terry let John Hackett Performance loose on the engine and chassis. Check out the spec box for the full, mouth-watering list but suffice to say that quality was never compromised for the want of spending the equivalent of the Gross National Product of Peru. When you are dropping two and a half big ones on something a gratuitous as a magnesium swingarm, it's clear that second best isn't an option.

In much the same way as the stunning body kit dominates the visuals despite the multitude of trickery, it's the engine that eclipses the rest of the mechanical experience. The 996R motor, now in the 999S, is a potent lump that usually makes around 130bph in standard trim. This one has been fully blue printed and gas flowed, the crank's been balance and it wears the 60mm titanium exhaust from Neil Hodgson's 2002 WSB machine.

Other highlights are the gorgeous BlackStone Tec carbon wheels and the JHP radial brake conversion, both of which overshadow exotica like magnesium yokes and Brembo billet master cylinders.

The instant impression you get from this bike is that it doesn't feel like a 996 to sit on. That is, it's pretty comfy in a 999 kind of way. For that we have QB's seat unit to thank. It very subtly lowers and flattens the seat enough to take more of your weight on your backside and off your wrists. The 999 doesn't really handle much different to the 998 but feels like is does because you're so much more relaxed in the seat. This body kit gives the same effect. QB expects many customers to be 748-998 owners wanting to freshen their bikes without the expense of upgrading to a 749-999. The body kit certainly achieves that, but goes further by also delivering the main benefit to your riding experience that would be gained by changing bike.

The second impression is just how smooth and easy the bike is, given the tuning that has been done. power is utterly butterly from idle and remains uncannily linear all the way to the redline. The suspension set-up is very hard and the bike is rolling on well abused Michelin Pilot Race 2s. This is fine for Terry's fast group track day terrorism but a bit dodgy on the road so it's a few miles before a chance comes to crack it open.

Wow is the only word I manage for several minutes. Even in second its wants to flip my lovely new Texport suit right down the Tarmac. In first gear, the bike wheelies on less that half throttle. In second, huge monos are but a tweak of the wristgrip away from as low as 4,000rpm. Hold it open from low down and as the bike accelerates past 75mph the front comes right up all on its own. This is the fastest twin I've ever ridden. In fact, this is one of the best engines full stop I've ever ridden. GSX-R1000s feel sleepy compared to this. Even more incredible than the sheer quantities of power and torque is the manner with which it's produced. An amorous milkman couldn't deliver as seductively as this. As well as being a pussy cat at low speed, it's every bit as forgiving at higher speeds and revs. On track it would be almost impossible to beat with any production-based four cylinder road bike. Few bikes have equal chassis and none make the required volume or spread od power to match the corner exit abilities of the Desmosedici replica.

To be honest, we weren't able to really give the chassis much stick, because the Race Pilot 2s wouldn't. Stick that is. Road riding simply doesn't get enough heat into the carcass. The bike would have worked far better on the road with some bog stock street rubber. Given that the potential £40k damage bill is about £39k bigger than it would take to get me sacked I chose riding like a gaylord to be the better part of valour. It turns quick and feels well balanced, though. Undoubtedly the BST carbon wheels lend a hand there. The radial brakes were more progressive than the hard biting split-pad Brembo originals though this is as much down to having little heat in the race-spec pads as anything else. We may get a chance of a track session later in the year and will update you then.

Instead, we just had a blast pulling third gear wheelies off little crests at 100mph and monoing as far as possible down every generous nottinghamshire straight. When a bike can make an unbalanced individual like me look like i can wheelie it must be good. It still gives me goose pimples thinking about that power.
The highest praise we can give the QB Carbon MotoGP kit is that it felt like a production bike. nothing fell off despite several hundred wheelies which is surely an improvement over standard. After a day's riding on the road, my wrists weren't knackered either.

The best news of all is that a bike like this needn't cost £40k. a secondhand 998S uses the same engine but costs £10,000. the most effective extras - the engine tune and carbon wheels - will set you back £6,000. This body kit is carbon fibre but glass fibre kit, using a standard tank, is a more palatable £1,116. Add paint at £900 and you have a bike with all the looks, all the power and most of the handling for less than half the total of this example. Still not cheap, but so very special.

QB Carbon Ducati GP Replica

The Dream The Reality

  • Ducati 996R £18,500

Engine

  • Blueprinted,gas flowed, balanced crank. All by AJ Racing £2,000
  • DB Tronics engine management, and dyno set up by JHP £500
  • 60mm Termignoni factory titanium exhaust (ex-2002 WSB) £3,000
  • Factory slipper clutch £650
  • Vented engine and clutch covers £250


Chassis

  • Ohlins road/race forks with JHP radial conversion £1,800
  • PVM radial calipers £1,500
  • Brembo GP discs £600
  • Brembo GP billet clutch and brake master cylinders £650
  • BST carbon wheels £2,250
  • Michelin Pilot Race 2s £250
  • Magnesium yokes £1,100
  • Magnesium swingarm £2,500
  • Ducati Performance rear-sets £350
  • Assorted titanium fasteners £350

Bodywork - All by QB Carbon

  • Tank, fairing panels, seat unit, airbox, duct tubes, fenders £3,500


Total £39,750

QB Carbon Bodywork

QB Carbon spent seven months moulding the body kit in clay and perfecting the mountings. The headlight was the hardest part as it is moulded with a snug sitting counter-sink for a production look. A simple hole would have been easier but self-defeating. This kit will go straight on any 748, 916, 996 or 998. There are kits for the 999 and MV nearing completion. Each kit is a day's work to make. The carbon tank is three day's worth.