NCR LEGGERA 1200 SPECIAL
Eating Lite: Atomic number 22 is on the menu
BIG MOTORCYCLE COMPANIES ARE LYING TO you. How else can you explain the Grand Canyon-like gap between their "claimed" dry weights and the reality of our own certified Cycle World scales? This practice of fudging the figures to get a favorable amount is ridiculous. To get those dry—like no fuel, no oil, no coolant, no fork or shock oil and not even a drop of
One company that shoots straight and hits the target time and again is Italy’s NCR. Back in 1967, when the company was born in Borgo Panigale, it got its start turning production Ducatis into over-the-top racing works of art. NCR’s belief that everything can be improved upon, made lighter and pack more performance rings as true today as when Mike Hailwood rode a Ducati 900 NCR to victory in the 1978 Formula One World Championship at the Isle of Man.
If there is one thing that defines NCR it is weight, specifically the lack thereof. When your company is tied at the hip to the Poggipolini Group—specialists in components and fasteners made from exotic metals such as titanium, magnesium and aeronauticsgrade aluminum for Formula One and MotoGP racing—“light” is the mandatory mantra.
Someone, somewhere, always has to push the limits. Thankfully that’s the case over the course of human history, or we’d still be beating our dinner over the head with a big stick and eating it raw. So when we rolled this $140,000 “customized” NCR Leggera 1200 Special (which once, in a land far away, used to be a Ducati Hypermotard) onto the CW scales with NCR principal Joe Ippoliti looking on, it came as a surprise only to us that the street-legal machine registered a feathery 295 pounds! The dry weight for the already ridiculously waiflike standard Leggera 1200 reads 347 lb. on the specification sheet. Considering that latter figure is 73 lb. less than our last Ducati Hypermotard S test unit, it’s almost inconceivable how NCR pared another 52 lb. from the machine you see here.
Ippoliti describes the necessary efforts to reduce this Leggera 1200-based machine to the absolute limit of lightness: "The major difference is that every single bracket, every holder and every bolt on this Leggera is titanium, including the shock-mount bolts.
The swingarm is constructed from machined billet, sheet and gussets in Grade 9 titanium [alloyed with 3 percent aluminum and 2.5 percent vanadium]. The swingarm alone required 23 jigs to assemble and then weld together and is very difficult to work with due to the material’s hardness.”
Extreme measures had to be taken to shed 125 lb. from what in stock form is already lightweight. The billet Ti sidestand shaves 2.2 lb. alone. Using a single ceramic-carbon Brake Tech disc up front was made possible by the bike’s low weight and the Monobloc Brembo’s powerful bite. Custom c-f BST wheels further lower weight, unsprung especially.
Carbon-fiber bodywork with an altered tailsection and front fender features a clearcoat tinted to produce an amazing blue hue, while allowing the weave’s beauty to peek through.
A Schedoni Alacantara seat has accommodations for a passenger hidden under the rear cowl.
Riding the Leggera on the street was nerve-wracking at first; I didn’t want to wad up this Porsche Turbo-priced beauty. But with a power-to-weight ratio better than that of most current liter-class repli-racers (other than the BMW S1000RR or Ducati 1198 S Corse), it was impossible to restrain myself from riding it hard, especially after I figured out that it was ridiculously easy to pull wheelies in any of the first four gears. When told of my immature behavior, Ippoliti just smiled. He clearly knows what a bike like this is for.
You don’t charge $140 Large for a motorcycle without hot-rodding the hell out of the spinning bits. NCR starts with a billet stroker crank and then casts new cylinders to accommodate the 102mm, high-compression Pistai pistons that are attached to billet titanium connecting rods; everything is balanced and blueprinted, of course. NCR race cams, titanium valves, Ducati superbike alternator, magnesium engine covers and c-f valve covers contribute to an engine that is 26.4-lb. lighter than stock.
A curved oil cooler provides significantly more cooling capacity than the stocker, which is necessary because this bike makes 110.2 hp and 85.2 ft.lb. of torque, 30 and 16 more, respectively, than the showroom-stock Hyper. Capping the 45mm-diameter Zard titanium headers, the shorty MotoGP-style megaphone blares a loud soundtrack.
If NCR is an air-cooled artist, then this Leggera 1200 Special is one of the company’s true masterpieces. And if you think, like I did, that there can’t possibly be a market for bikes such as this, then you, too, are mistaken. NCR moves around 15 of the $76K Leggera “base” models a year. My God, people, where did I go wrong?!