You can read all you want, watch all the videos you want, but you simply have to experience the Panigale V4 in the flesh to have any appreciation of the quality and attention to detail on this bike.
Ducati’s flagship bike is the Panigale, and it has always featured the iconic V-twin engine. Over the years the engine capacity has gradually gone up. There was still room to extract more power from the V-twin, but for that the engine had to grow even more. In fact, it did grow to 1262cc in the Ducati Multistrada. The Multistrada is, however, a large, chunky adventure bike. The Panigale is sleek and elegant, and Ducati decided to endow it with a more compact V-four. Moving away from that iconic engine was a big step for Ducati. The V4 has been in development in their MotoGP bike, and now it has made its way into a production bike for the first time.
The previous Panigales were built for the track, but the brief for the V4 was to give the public an accessible superbike. Something that would make an average rider look good. As a result the V4 makes it easier for experienced riders to go faster. To achieve this, the V4 has been showered with electronic aides to assist rides in almost all aspects of riding. Traction control, ABS and even wheelie control are all accessible through the full colour LCD instrumentation and navigation switches on the handlebar.
The engine delivers 214hp (160kw) and even though the engine is heavier than the one it replaces, Ducati still managed to keep the weight of the bike below 200kg. With the aftermarket Akrapovičexhaust system, you can crank that figure up to a staggering 226hp. Speaking of exhausts, the Italian flair is evident in the way the entire system was crafted in such a way that all four pipes converge in the muffler under the bike. That way there is no unsightly muffler obscuring the view of the rear wheel.
To see the Panigale in all its compact glory was one thing, but riding it was a revelation. When you press the detonate button, the engine gives a few labored cranks before it fires into life. The sound is still the V-twin sound, but once the revs rise above 7000rpm, the entire tone of the engine crescendos and then you had better be holding on tight. The quick-shifter does a fantastic job at swopping cogs, and down-shifts are accompanied by a brief blip of throttle.
The much anticipated Panigale V4 ushers in a new chapter for the Italian brand and you realise just how far the goalposts have been moved by one bike.
Words – Brian Cheyne, Pictures – Ducati