Are our eyes deceiving us? The new Ducati blends nicely into the portfolio of the Italian motorbike brand. However, while it may look like their other race machines, it’s missing the typical roar of an engine. The Ducati TK-01 RR doesn’t drink petrol but is powered by the new Shimano EP8 ebike motor. We’ve had the exclusive test of the new eMTB and can tell you how it rides on the trail.
Before we get into the review, we would like to tell you about our latest print edition. The E-MOUNTAINBIKE Print Edition 2020 is our third annual edition and ultimate test bible, with which we aim to help you choose the perfect eMTB. More than 250 pages of extensive buyers advice, tons of eMTB know-how as well as reviews of the 35 most exciting eMTBs and the 7 best motors. You’ll also find many helpful tips and a guide to the most exciting eMTB trends – all of this is wrapped in a high quality print format. Click here for more information or order it directly in our shop!
Most people will associate the name Ducati with high-performance motorsport race machines. However, a closer look at Ducati’s history reveals that before the first motorbike came off the production line, the brand had already produced a motorised bicycle in the 40s. Since then, a lot of things have changed. The TK-01 RR eMTB maintains a motorbike-like look, just in a more modern incarnation. Ducati are releasing their new TK-01 RR in collaboration with Italian ebike manufacturer THOK, whose TK-01 model it is based on. We are the first and only magazine worldwide to have been able to put a close-to-production prototype through its paces. We can tell you what the bike, equipped with the new Shimano EP8 motor, 630 Wh battery, MX wheel concept and new 180/170 mm travel Öhlins suspension, is capable of.
The Ducati TK-01 RR in detail
The TK-01 RR doesn’t just have the brand name emblazoned on its down tube but also features a moto-inspired look. The progressive design language indicates which path the Ducati TK-01 RR is conceived for: heading out of the city and into the wild. The bike has a thoroughly coherent colour scheme and even the saddle comes in matching colours and a Ducati logo. The whole thing elicits a real Italian race feeling. A wide mudguard on the down tube underlines the moto-esque look and simultaneously protects from mud and spray. Matching it, a small fender on the rear sits above the rear tire. One thing’s for sure. If you’re riding this bike, you’ll definitely be noticed!
If you’re riding the Ducati TK-01 RR, you’ll definitely be noticed!
The aluminium frame of the € 6,990 bike looks potent and its proportions are harmonious. However, examine it more closely and the prominently placed welds become more obvious. The best example of this is the chainstays which have welds running their entire length. The hefty design of the Ducati also results in a significant weight of the prototype: 26.38 kg! The bike is approved for a 145,5 kg load. That leaves 119 kg for the rider and other equipment.
Four cylinders and 16 valves? Not on this Ducati! The TK-01 RR motor
The performance of this Ducati isn’t measured in horsepower and rpm but in newton-metres and watt-hours. The Ducati TK-01 RR is propelled by the new Shimano EP8 motor which produces 85 Nm torque and has been neatly integrated into the bike. The mudguard on the downtube is even part of the battery cover, which conceals a 630 Wh battery, while the power button is cleverly hidden under the top tube. In contrast to the Ducati’s resplendent colours, a black and white Shimano SC-E7000 display is fitted to the bars.
The components of the Ducati TK-01 RR – Italo-bling that’s not quite thought through
Öhlins aren’t just the supplier for Ducati’s race machines but also deliver the suspension for this new eMTB. Up front, the new 180 mm travel Öhlins RXF 38 m.1 should generate good traction and offer enough reserves for hard hits. Matching it, an Öhlins TTX air shock controls 170 mm travel in the rear. Setup of the Öhlins suspension has a bit of a learning curve and is time-consuming, amongst other reasons due to the lack of a sag indicator. But once everything is dialled in, the fork in particular is stunning! For the tires, Ducati also rely on a partner from the motorbike scene, Pirelli. 2.6″ eMTB-specific Pirelli Scorpion E-MTB S tires are fitted with a 29″ model up front and 27.5″ at the rear. Unfortunately, the tires couldn’t convince us. They have very vague handling and the hard rubber compound delivers limited grip. When things get wet, the tires are completely overwhelmed. Solely good puncture protection is a given with such heavy tires, allowing you to experiment more freely with air pressure. Our test bike came with the old Shimano XT BL-M8000 brake levers and BR-M8020 callipers, though the production bike will come with the current models as soon as available. The Shimano XT drivetrain promises more than it can deliver as the cheaper Shimano SLX cassette and shifter detract from its performance. For the cockpit, Ducati spec an 800 mm bar from Renthal, yet another partner who Ducati already work with for their motorbikes.
Ducati TK-01 RR
Motor Shimano EP8 85 Nm
Battery Shimano 630 Wh
Display Shimano SC-E7000
Fork Öhlins RXF 38 m.1 180 mm
Rear Shock Öhlins TTX Air 170 mm
Seatpost KS-dropper post 125 - 170 mm
Brakes Shimano XT M8000/8020 200/200 mm
Drivetrain Shimano XT/SLX 1x12
Stem Ducati CNC alloy 50 mm
Handlebar Renthal carbon 35 800 mm
Wheelset Crank Brothers Synthesis Alloy 29"/27.5"
Tires Pirelli Scorpion E-MTB S, Smartgrip 2.6"
Size S M L XL
Weight 26.38 kg
Perm. total weight 145.5 kg
Max. payload (rider/equipment) 119 kg
Trailer approval no
Kickstand mount no
The geometry of the Ducati TK-01 RR
The Ducati TK-01 RR comes in 4 sizes from S–XL. The 453 mm chainstays across all sizes are on the long side, while the seat angle at 75.5°, 629 mm top tube and 464 mm reach in size L are comparatively conservative. In contrast, the head tube angle of 64.5° is quite slack.
|Seat tube||385 mm||415 mm||450 mm||495 mm|
|Top tube||582 mm||600 mm||629 mm||660 mm|
|Head tube||105 mm||115 mm||131 mm||149 mm|
|Chainstays||453 mm||453 mm||453 mm||453 mm|
|BB Drop||15 mm||15 mm||15 mm||15 mm|
|Wheelbase||1.212 mm||1.233 mm||1.265 mm||1.298 mm|
|Reach||423 mm||439 mm||464 mm||491 mm|
|Stack||623 mm||623 mm||638 mm||654 mm|
The Ducati TK-01 RR on the flats and uphill
On the flats, you sit comfortably on the bike with your weight balanced evenly between the hands and seat. The sensitive suspension irons out small impacts and delivers a generous amount of comfort on rides. The Ducati TK-01 RR is well-suited to relaxed cruising. Start climbing and you end up positioned far back over the rear wheel. Moreover, the rear sinks deep into its travel on steeper ramps, meaning that the front end has to be actively weighted to avoid lifting. Despite the long chainstays and the good traction of the suspension, you have to accept some compromises with the Ducati on the uphills. Flowing, shallower sections are easier to master, though the enjoyment is limited by the bike’s weight and sedate character. Pedalling out of the saddle, you can easily hit your knee or thigh on the wide top tube, which flares out to 8.3 cm. That didn’t cause us any pain but it does limit freedom of movement in favour of the styling of the bike.
The Ducati TK-01 RR on the downhills
Just standing there, the Ducati TK-01 RR promises to be a descending machine with its aggressive look and capable suspension. However, on the trail, it doesn’t manage to meet those expectations. The sluggish handling and high, 26.38 kg weight, limits it in many situations. In principle, the new 180 mm Öhlins RXF 38 m.1 fork and Öhlins TTX air shock should suit the bike well. The fork filters out small impacts, delivers good traction and its progression can be easily adjusted. However, when it comes down to it, the fork makes a convincing impression but the rear of the Ducati TK-01 RR ends up overwhelmed.
Through open corners, the high weight and lack of grip from the tires leave you drifting off-line in corners. Likewise, in technical sections and tight corners, the lack of mid stroke support from the rear suspension and the poor tires mean that an active rider will find limited enjoyment here. For fast downhill riding, this bike is too short and the Ducati feigns more high-speed capability than it can actually deliver. One further criticism: the TK-01 RR is not at all quiet. Alongside the clattering of the Shimano EP8 motor, the chain slaps against the aluminium frame because the chainstay protector is too short.
Tuning tips: Swap the tires and buy an outfit to match the bike
Ducati TK-01 RR conclusion
Prestige Italian eSUV: the Ducati TK-01 RR delivers an extravagant, moto-inspired look that will thrill fans of the brand at a price of € 6,990. If you’re looking for a status symbol that will get you noticed, you’re in the right place. Leisurely riders looking for a comfortable ebike and who like the Ducati’s look will get their money’s worth. However, you should be aware that the 26.38 kg weight makes the bike cumbersome to move around. For active and sporty riders, there are better alternatives available on the market that offer significantly better performance on the trail.
- Öhlins suspension
- extravagant Italo-racer style
- high weight
- tires provide limited traction
For more info, visit the Ducati website.
It's finally here: The E-MOUNTAINBIKE Print Edition 2020 is our third annual edition and ultimate test bible, with which we aim to help you choose the perfect eMTB. More than 250 pages of extensive buyers advice, tons of eMTB know-how as well as reviews of the 35 most exciting eMTBs and the 7 best motors. You’ll also find many helpful tips and a guide to the most exciting eMTB trends – all of this is wrapped in a high quality print format. Click here for more information or order it directly in our shop!
Words: Jonas Müssig & Rudolf Fischer Photos: Jonas Müssig & Robin Schmitt