2010 Vyrus 987 C3 4V | Review


Italian Exotica

Mama Mia! Just reading the tech specs on this brutally powerful beast of a wonder machine has me choking on the homemade meatballs at the corner Italian restaurant. The Vyrus 987 truly can boast about its existence, as it is the world’s best power-to-weight Superbike hybrid and, with the Volumex supercharger, it is the world’s most powerful motorcycle, too.

The standard 987 C3 4V produces a staggering 184 horsepower and it only weighs a claimed 341 pounds with fluids.

In the autumn of 2009, Vyrus asked me what I’d want from the then-unseen 987. Vyrus asked me if I’d prefer a supercharged 211 horsepower version of the Ducati 1098R engine or not? Yes, was my answer, and in February 2010 the first 987 rolled out of the small workshop in Cerasolo Ausa in the Rimini/San Marino border area.

Just to give you an idea of just how exclusive these Superbikes are, I can tell you that Bimota runs a major operation compared to Vyrus. Each motorcycle is built and assembled to order. When you do buy one, you’ll be invited over to the workshop to handpick materials and colors from a very exclusive selection of exotic materials should you wish even more customization than the standard bike.

Vyrus owner Ascanio Rodorigo will walk you through the small warehouse part of the shop, taking notes of what you want. No two Vyrus motorcycles are the same. Acquiring a Vyrus adds you to a very exclusive motorcycle owners club.

Vyrus doesn’t keep test bikes for the press, so when I arrived at the Vyrus workshop I had no expectation of a ride. Luckily, I had my riding gear with me, I was granted a ride on a customer’s 987 C3 4V.

Rodorigo talked me through the test bike, and I soon understood that I was granted a road ride on what is a true race bike. All the 987s come standard with full-on MotoGP or WSBK like traction control. This means that, in addition to control of the different pre-programmed traction levels, you can add more or less intrusion while riding and benefit from launch control. However, this SBK did not have traction control installed.

The standard Pirelli Superbike slicks were in place on a set of 16.5 inch Marvic forged racing wheels, rather than the standard 17-inch wheels. The already super powerful Ducati 1198cc R version of the L-twin had full Zard race exhaust, adding another 10 horsepower to the fun. There I was, about to do a road ride on a full on 194 horsepower race bike with no lights or mirrors, and it wasn’t even my birthday.

Because the Vyrus is so extremely light, even fully fuelled it gives one horsepower per 1.8 pounds, ready to ride, and one horsepower per 2.8 pounds with me aboard. I have compared these figures to the Ducati Desmosedici RR, Suzuki Hayabusa, and BMW S 1000 RR, and the Vyrus wins the power-to-weight battle with or without a rider weighing around 200 pounds ready to ride-if you believe manufacturer-supplied spec sheets.

The riding position is very similar to that of Bimota’s Tesi 3D, which is the other exclusive hub-steered motorcycle available on the market. The seat has thin racing padding and, along with high foot pegs, I am pushed forward into a racing position. It would be madness not to have some weight over that front wheel. I felt quite big on the Vyrus 987. The 987 is minimal, as designs go, and rich in state of the art technology and handmade parts.

I set off through the Vyrus gates and up into the hills. I’ve been given very limited time on the bike–just a teaser, really. I do my best to wring out as much as I can from my opportunity. The massive power output is transmitted onto the 190mm Pirelli Diablo Superbike slick rear tire. Luckily for me, it’s a sunny and warm day but there’s nowhere here I can really open up so I resort to first gear to get a feel for the power (and empty a gear) on a short straight.

The acceleration is massive and brutal, as the big 1198cc Testastretta engine pours out torque and horsepower like nothing else can. It’s oh-so over-the-top on this stretch of road. In many ways, that’s exactly what Vyrus is about. Over-the-top genius engineering–no compromises and no cost spared with the best engine money can buy in Italy.

My little test ride was highly illegal, of course, as the bike had no lights, no mirrors, slicks and a noisy exhaust. This didn’t bother me one bit though, all I was thinking of was the fact that I was in the seat of one of the world’s most powerful and exclusive motorcycles.

I did approach the task with more caution than usual, as there was no chance for me to really get the slicks warm enough. There was no way I wanted to be responsible for €55,000 of Italian exotica ending up in a ditch.

While, I can argue as much as I like that what’s really spectacular about this 987 is the fairytale power-to-weight ratio, but it’s typically the hub steering everybody wonders about. I’ve had plenty of both road and track miles on Bimota’s Tesi 3D and the steering feels odd each time I get to ride one. While a conventional fork front end feels feather light to swing from side-to-side even at standstill, the Vyrus 987 has a rock solid front end feel as if you were to use a super-tight steering damper on another bike. Turning radius friendliness for town usage is non-existent.

The Vyrus 987 is purely built for speed and the amount of stability on this hub-steered front is hard to believe. The braking forces from the massively powerful Brembo monoblocks gripping from the bottom of the floating discs are separated from the suspension action. You can just stay on those brakes while the front swingarm and Ohlins TTX shock handles the bumps independently.

On the 987 you can concentrate more on your braking with the diving fork taken out of the process. This enables a very light carbon fiber headstock supporting the riders weight during heavy braking and the minimalist front cowling also in carbon fiber.

A distinctive air-intake tube in carbon fiber sits on the left side of the cowling feeding the large airbox under the fuel tank. More Ohlins goodness and a chunky aluminum swing arm handle the rear suspension. Everything is fully adjustable (suspension, steering angle, trail, foot pegs)

Holding the big brute of an engine in place connecting the two swingarms is the beautiful Omega frame machined from solid blocks of aluminium. There is very limited room for a powerful engine’s large radiator on a hub-steered vehicle, so Rodorigo and his Vyrus have come up with a special semi-under engine double radiator solution. This keeps the big water-cooled engine in good health while ensuring extreme narrowness inherent in L-twin designs. Again, though, the Vyrus 987 is not a road bike for rainy days, so best not think at all about all the grime those radiators would collect because it’s not going to happen anyway.

The 1198cc L-twin breaths out of a set of Zard underseat exhaust silencers with a little one-piece carbon fiber creation on top. With an extreme amount of horsepower and torque available, Vyrus has implemented full racing traction control on the 987. The dash is a well-informed Ducati 1198 one connected to the Vyrus spec ECU and electronics package. Vyrus will program one of the three riding modes especially for its customers, should one wish. First mode is full on sport, second optional, and third Rain.

Being a full-race system, you do have launch control, pit-lane speed limiter, and more/less pre-programmed buttons. The pit-lane speed limiter can be programmed to whichever speed you want. “Sir, would you like a 300 km/h cruise control limit for the autobahn, or a 50 km/h speed camera safety button?” It’s all there for you to play with, and a bit of a necessity for a motorcycle with a 211 horsepower potential on the racetrack.

“Pura fullya technologica” is a Vyrus motto and, translated to English, it means “pure crazy technology.” That’s precisely what the Vyrus 987 is. Vyrus takes the world’s most powerful production L-twin engine from Ducati, and then tunes it either with the ECU and race exhaust or with an additional Volumex super-charger. I didn’t get to try the supercharged version this time, but even in the most standard setting this bike kicks everybody’s tail–it’s simply the most powerful production bike in the world.

It’s as light as the lightest road supermoto and more powerful than the most powerful superbike for the road. Hub steering will always be special, and not many people outside of Ducati’s World Superbike teams have sampled this kind of power. The 2010 Vyrus 987 C3 4V is only for people with lots of money and an advanced level of riding abilities. Photography by Vyrus and Tor Sagen