Math Says The World's Most Powerful Single-Cylinder Engine Is Probably Just A Dyno Queen

Photo: Ducati
Photo: Ducati

Ducati, maker of high-performance engines with fancy valvetrains, has a new high-performance engine with a fancy valvetrain. The unique feature with this one is that it’s a mere single cylinder, lopped off of a twin-cylinder Panigale, which Ducati claims to be the most powerful thumper on the market. That’s true, based on pure horsepower, but I posit that it doesn’t matter — and that the rider may not even notice.

The new Ducati Superquadro Mono engine makes 85 horsepower, 10 more than the previous leader from Husqvarna. Of course, as any tuner will tell you, those peak numbers don’t matter much — it’s area under the curve that you really feel. Interestingly, though, Ducati gives us a lot more information than just those peak figures. From Ducati’s site:

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  • 32.48 lb-ft at 3,000 RPM

  • 37.12 lb-ft at 4,500 RPM

  • 46.4 lb-ft at 8,000 RPM

  • 77.5 horsepower at 9,750 RPM

Given that horsepower is just a function of torque and RPM, we can calculate out the rest of the values for these specific RPMs:

Screenshot: Google Sheets / Steve DaSilva
Screenshot: Google Sheets / Steve DaSilva

Then, graph those points, smooth the lines out a bit, and we get something resembling a dyno chart. It’s worth noting that this is based on formulas applied to limited data, and likely won’t match a real-world dyno graph, but it’s a helpful visual when thinking about these numbers compared to other competitors.

Screenshot: Google Sheets / Steve DaSilva
Screenshot: Google Sheets / Steve DaSilva

Compare this to a dyno run from the now-dethroned fastest thumper, the KTM 690 Enduro R (and Husqvarna 701 bikes), and you’ll notice some similarities. The torque curves on both bikes have near-identical shapes, and the numbers themselves are even similar — once you take drivetrain losses into account, the Ducati is likely less powerful across much of the rev range.

The Ducati single is, by peak horsepower, the most powerful single-cylinder currently offered in a motorcycle (or it will be, once the motorcycle featuring it is revealed this coming Thursday). Yet, across much of its useful rev range, it likely won’t feel much faster than a Husqvarna 701 or KTM 690.

Peak numbers are fun, but you’re never going to keep a bike pegged at peak horsepower for a full track lap. When you’re talking about variable rev ranges, the area beneath the curve — how much torque and power you have to play with everywhere — matters more. In that respect, the Ducati appears to fare no worse than other high-powered thumpers. It’s just not much better, either.

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