Just two months ago, Ducati announced they’ll be taking the reins from Energica starting in 2023 as the sole supplier of racing machines for MotoE (MotoGP’s electric-only cousin). It was an unexpected announcement to say the least, especially considering Ducati hadn’t produced a single electric prototype of any kind, yet alone teased any sort of production model. Well, it looks like they knew something the rest of the world didn’t as earlier this week the boys from Bologna trotted out their new V21L MotoE prototype to turn some hot laps for the cameras at Misano World Circuit.
The new machine, currently christened the Ducati V21L, certainly looks the part at first glance. No official specs or details on the bike have been released at this time, but if the Ducati MotoE prototype is any indication of things to come, we’re in for a treat for the 2023 season.
What We Know About The Ducati MotoE Prototype
Ducati’s stated goal in their development of a new MotoE machine is “..to make electric motorcycles that are high-performance and characterized by their lightness.” Judging by the carbon fiber monocoque chassis, swingarm, and tail section of the V21L, we’re going to go ahead and wager Ducati has every intention of raising the performance bar in every way over the outgoing Energica Ego-based machines.
Carbon fiber bodywork and carefully placed heat shielding prevent any serious speculation on what sort of motor/battery combo lies within the V21L, but we spied a few hints on the Ducati MotoE prototype that give us an idea of what the finished product may look like. For instance, a forward-mounted radiator tells us that the V21L motor/inverter is running liquid cooling. A low-slung Ohlins rear shock is also present, sporting a rising-rate linkage just behind the machine’s single-speed reduction gearbox.
Ducati’s long-standing test rider, Michele Pirro (who also races Ducati’s Panigale V4 R in the CIV Superbike Championship and occasionally makes an appearance as a wildcard on the Ducati Factory Racing MotoGP team) got the honor of putting the V12L through its paces around the track. After wrapping up the photo ops, Pirro shared some first impressions of the new machine.
“Testing the MotoE prototype on the circuit was a great thrill because it marks the beginning of an important chapter in Ducati history. The bike is light and already has a good balance. Furthermore, the throttle connection in the first opening phase and the ergonomics are very similar to those of a MotoGP bike. If it weren’t for the silence and for the fact that in this test, we decided to limit the power output to just 70 percent of performance, I could easily have imagined that I was riding my bike.”
What To Expect From The Ducati MotoE Production Bike
Ducati hasn’t given any indication that a homologation of the V21L will ever hit showroom floors, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing, especially for race fans. That’s because unlike the Energica bikes that will finish out the 2022 season, Ducati’s MotoE machine won’t be tied in any way to a production model, which gives them free rein to build a proper race bike from a clean sheet.
This gives MotoE a chance to step into the ring of serious performance, ditching the steel trellis frames and oil-cooled motors of the outgoing models for something more exotic. Something a bit more in line with the kind of unobtanium we see on the track of every MotoGP race.
Ducati is putting a lot on the line here. The current performance bar set by Energica is roughly 150 hp, 220Nm of torque, and far from featherweight. With more and more “electric-only” vehicle mandates coming out in developed nations around the world, the future of racing is undoubtedly electric. If Ducati succeeds in this endeavor, we’ll get a proper glimpse at things to come, and if we’re lucky, some serious trickle-down tech from their racing program will bring the electric motorcycle community one giant leap closer to the performance and range figures we so desperately need.