The designer of arguably the most successful sports bike of all time…
A stupendously high performing motorcycle, totally race focused and orientated. It was powered by the simple traditional Ducati L Twin Desmodromic Valve layout, superbly linear power delivery, with good power and torque available from low down the rev range. The other ‘sweet’ end of the bike is where the rubber hits the road, so to speak. Top suspension and a trellis chassis was the best handling motorcycles for its time.
It's predecessor, the 9996/8 of the late 90s single handedly forced Honda to rethink their sports-bike design strategy and include a race orientated v-twin to their production bikes in order to gain a World Superbike (WSB) to their silverware cupboard.
Pierre Terblanche has an impressive cv related to motorcycle design including the Ducati 888, Ducati ST Series, several Cagiva bikes, the Ducati Multistrada, Hypermotard, and his more recent design: the Royal Enfield Himalayan.
Several years ago I was privileged to take a ride on a 999s, both on road and on a track… well… the track bit was only for two laps on the short 2.4km Midvaal circuit.
First the road: the bike was sublime! Handling was incredible, acceleration and traction through the bends unbelievable. The rear-view mirrors were almost useless as I couldn’t glance and see what was happening behind me. It was best just to focus on the road, tear away from other riders and enjoy the feeling of total control. Those mirrors, sexy as they are, were simply ‘added on’ to make the bike street legal. A visceral experience of note, it felt like I didn’t breath for several minutes on that short ride.
Next the track: For me it turned out very disappointing as I was only out for a single lap on the short circuit, very much warming the tyres and feeling the bike out. On the second lap I decided to give the demo power full gas down he back straight, which is over a km long… Well, as I approached the end and throttled off applying the superb anchors (brakes), the bike kept going hard! The throttle was stuck!!! Fortunately I was quick enough to pull in the clutch and disengage the power. Fortunately, the bike handled well enough to get me through the long right-hand sweep. I limped back to the pit with the engine screaming. Switched off and climbed off with my heart pumping pure adrenalin.
The glitches which this bike and several of its stable mates suffered with was undoubtably it’s achilles-heal. My experience with the bike was short lived, it gave me both an adrenalin high and adrenalin fueled fear. Love it, not sure, forget it… never…
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