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Ducati Mike Hailwood 900e

(by Ian Falloon, Mar 2022)

Ducati Hailwood 900e



Falloon on what may turn out to be Pierre Terblache's most successful creation

I was fortunate to visit Pierre Terblanche at Ducati when he had just presented the prototype 900 MHe. Now this is one of most desirable of modern Ducatis.


Pierre Terblanche’s concept motorcycle, the Mike Hailwood Evoluzione of 1998, took everyone by surprise and was the undoubted star of the show. None were more surprised than the Italian press, so often party to inside information at the factory.


“Over the summer I left Bologna and completed this project in England,” Terblanche says. “Ever since Mike Hailwood won at the Isle of Man in 1978 I have wanted to build my own interpretation of those magnificent NCR racers.”


Terblanche went to AKA design in Hitchin, north of London. Here, over an eleven-week period, he worked with a three-dimensional model on the computer and constructed a full size clay model. The idea behind the Evoluzione was to recreate the NCR racers of the late 1970s.


While using an air-cooled two-valve fuel injected 900 Supersport engine as a basis, the engine was tidied externally through the use of sump covers to hide the oil cooler and lines, with the ignition coils on the camshaft bearing supports on the cylinder heads. The engine had polished engine cases reminiscent of the earlier “round-case” Ducatis, but apart from the clutch was that of a standard 900 Supersport. The clutch was one of the more special components on the bike. Weighing a mere 800 grams, it was a slipper design with three plates and a diaphragm spring by Poggipolini and Zornik.


The tubular steel frame was a special construction by the Dutch company Troll, placing the engine as far forward in the frame as possible while retaining the same offset as the normal 900 Supersport with a 23.5 degree steering head angle.


Though a twin shock swingarm in the style of the original Hailwood Replica was initially considered, this was discarded for a tubular single-sided swingarm with Öhlins 125 Grand Prix shock absorber, and modern 996 fork. The wheelbase is still a very short 1420mm.


Wheels were Marvic, the rear being 6.00 x 17 inches with a 200/50-17 inch tire. To minimise unsprung weight a single 305mm disc was used at the front. The disc was a product of Mislav Zornik and constructed of Selcom, a carbon silesium combination.


Using only a single front disc enabled the other brake calliper mount to be machined off the fork and a single-sided stainless steel bracket installed to locate the front mudguard. Production versions however used twin discs.


One of the more advanced features was the one-piece fairing and fuel tank. Designed to keep as much weight on the front wheel as possible, this unit was a nylon polymer, rotationally moulded and heated while rotated.


The rear indicators were in the exhausts, with gases exiting through a Super Trapp-style exit. The Valeo headlight too was quite small, being only 80mm in diameter. Other unique features were the voice-activated ignition system and television rear vision camera. Here were several other features which didn‘t make it into production


The Mike Hailwood Evoluzione also represented a new path for Ducati. As Terblanche says, “This is really an extension of the Harley factory custom idea. Here we take basically a standard bike and alter it in such a way as to create a completely new expression. My idea was to get away from complexity and carbon-fibre. I also wanted to capture the feel of the racing bike, that is why it is elemental, with very clean lines.”


Pierre Terblanche breaks the motorcycle into four distinct elements. The engine, frame, wheels, and bodywork. “Thus it becomes a custom,” he says, “and every component looks good.”


Ed’s note: The production versions saw light from 2001 – see our feature on the SportClassic range.




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