FrontRunners: Rocket Technology

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    The small engines that brothers Adriano and Marcello Ducati of Bologna, Italy, attached to bicycles in the 1940s produced short bursts of exhaust that earned the vehicles the name Cucciolo (Italian for “little puppy”). A few years later the Ducati company (www.ducati.com) was making motorcycles that achieved 40 mph, and by the 1960s its Mach 1 road bike was reaching 60 mph. Now the company has introduced the Ducati 1098 Superbike, a 160 hp, 381-pound machine that soars to 175 mph. “Our street-bike engineers work closely with our racing people,” notes Michael Lock, CEO of Ducati North America. “In the end, all our technology originates on the racetrack.” The Superbike comes in three versions: the 1098 Biposto ($15,000); the 1098 S ($20,000), which features an enhanced suspension system and lighter wheels; and the red, white, and green 1098 S Tricolore ($25,000), which adds a race-bike exhaust system. . . . Those preparing to push a Superbike to 175 mph might consider wearing Esquad jeans (www.esquad-jeans.com) during the ride. The jeans, developed by motorcyclist and textile designer Pierre-Henry Servajean, are produced from a fabric that is stronger than leather but has the appearance and the breathability of denim. Servajean created the fabric, called Armalith, by weaving cotton thread with a high-tech fiber that originally was designed for bulletproof vests and spacecraft parts. During strength tests, the jeans survived 60 mph skids and lifted a 4-ton Hummer off the ground. Prices start at about $440 per pair.

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