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First look: Ducati 1199 Superleggera

The Italian motorcycle manufacturer Ducati on Tuesday revealed a first look at its striking new 1199 Superleggera. 

The 2014 bike is being billed as the most powerful model in the Ducati line, and the specs suggest that's no idle boast.

The Superleggera is super light ("leggera" means "light," in Italian), with a dry weight of under 350 pounds, and super powerful, with a claimed 200 horsepower. It is based on the 1199 Panigale R, and features the Bologna factory's Superquadro engine.

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Ducati says that combination of horsepower to pounds, achieved in part by the use of many carbon fiber, magnesium and titanium parts, gives the Superleggera the best power-to-weight ratio of any production motorcycle in the world. Ever.

It will be one of the most expensive, too, as well as one of the most exclusive. The Superleggera will retail at $65,000.

The Superleggera began as an attempt by Ducati engineers to make the lightest motorcycyle possible, says Dominique Cheraki, general manager of Ducati North America. When they'd finished, they'd shaved more than 40 pounds off the Panigale -- so much, Cheraki says, that it probably would not meet the minimum weight requirement to race in the Superbike category. 

After they'd knocked the weight off, they began trying to increase the power. The result, per Cheraki, is "the best Ducati ever built."

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Only 500 of the limited-edition Superleggera will be manufactured. Cheraki says 75% of them have already been sold -- since owners of Ducati's exotic Desmosedici R and Desmosedici RR, owners Cheraki calls "the true Ducatisti," got right of first refusal on the new machines.

The Superleggeras will get their first public showing at the EICMA Motorcycle Show in Milan, Italy, in November, and will begin to be delivered to U.S. customers in late spring 2014.

Will there ever be a more affordable, entry-level version of the Superleggera? "We have one already," Cheraki says. "It's the 1199 Panigale."

Price point for that: $18,995.

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