Used Bike Review: Ducati 1199 Panigale
Ducati 1199 Panigale Review
Just south of 200 BHP of Desmodromic goodness…
Ducati have long established themselves as arguably one of the most illustrious motorcycle manufacturers, they seem to have the knack of repeatedly releasing bikes that raise the bar that everyone else trying to reach. The 888, the 916…icon after icon. In 2012 Ducati revealed their latest creation and were so proud of it, they named it after the northern italian neighborhood where they are based, Borgo Panigale. The heart of the bike is the signature desmodromic “Superquadro” motor which is knocking on the door of 200 BHP, interestingly the engines actually displacement is 1198.16cc, for marketing purposes Ducati decided to round up the name of the bike to 1199, though factually incorrect.
The Panigales construction was unheard of on a production bike at the time as it is effectively frameless, sporting a clever system where the engine itself is the chassis of the bike. Ducati then bolted cast aluminium sections to hold the tank, forks, clocks and the swing arm directly onto the engine. Very clever stuff.
For suspension, we have fully adjustable forks up front from Marzokki, and at the back we have offerings from Sachs which are again fully adjustable along with an adjustable suspension link. On the S model the sachs unit is switched out for an Ohlins setup that can all be adjusted electronically. For slowing down all that power we have Brembo monobloc calipers up front which are sat on 330m floating discs with optional ABS which is linked to the different riding modes, though I will get to that shortly. What is clever is the front and rear brake are linked, so if you’re heavy on the front brakes a touch of the rear brake will be applied automatically to help keep the bike stable.
The Panigale is absolutely packed with technology, we’ve got an electronic quick-shifter, traction control, electronic suspension on the S variants, ABS and three different riding modes: Wet, Sport and Race which alter not only the influence the rider aids have on the bike, but also the power that is available to use.
As with a few of the other bikes I’ve had chance to review, a huge thanks goes out to JD Motors and their sister company JD Comps for loaning us their bike for the day.
On the road:
It’s almost a shame to stop looking at the bike and get on it, from the moment you turn the key and the start-up sequence shows on the TFT screen, you already know you’re going to enjoy it. A few lazy spins of the starter motor and the 195BHP engine roars into life. As soon as you pull away and get your feet on the pegs its incredible how small and compact the bike seems, it feels as though you’re looking over the screen and straight down at the front wheel. Slower riding through towns and villages is an absolute breeze, which isn’t what I expected. The clutch is light and the bike is generally very well behaved. However, once the road opens up it all starts getting a bit silly.
The throttle is more of a warp drive on this bike, the noise it makes and the way it picks up speed is incredible, a quick flick of the foot and the quick shifter throws another gear at you without loosing any momentum. It’s quite unusual to ride being that it’s a twin but in every way other than the incredible noise, it feels more like an inline four and just loves to rev.
Everything feels so incredibly compact, it’s so easy to flick in and out of corners and is very confidence inspiring. The controllable engine braking and slipper clutch work lovely on the road but would be even better on the track.
I pull in for a coffee on the outskirts of the Lake District and quickly draw the attention of a passer-by, there is no mistaking that the Panigale is a very special bit of kit.
After a little chat, I got back on the bike and was again instantly reminded of how small it feels. It really feels more like a supersport 600cc machine, which is incredible when you realise the bike is actually double that capacity.
In all honesty, after spending the afternoon with this bike I was absolutely lost for words – It is a phenomenal piece of engineering. I only wish I could get the bike on the track to really see how much I could push myself. One thing is for sure, this bike has far more to give than 95% of riders would be able to use, myself included. What is really nice is the bike doesn’t intimidate you, it’s easy to ride around town and easy to ride as fast as you feel comfortable.
Gone were the days where Ducati had a name for being unreliable, this thing will be as dependable as any of the Japanese bikes. Ducati have replaced all of the belts that put fear into the hearts of previous owners with chains and main services are now nicely spread out.
The 195 bhp desmodromic v-twin engine is incredible. It was ridiculous amounts of power which is useable all the way through the rev range, paired with the factory quick-shifter straight line blasts are breath-taking.
Fully adjustable forks, rear shock and steering damper along with an adjustable suspension link at the back. The bike remains planted and holds itself beautifully into corners. The S variant has an electronically adjustable rear unit which I haven’t tested yet.
Radial monobloc calipers from Brembo sat on semi floating 330mm discs and the 245mm disc at the back paired with the factory ABS are more than up to the job.
Great build quality and attention to detail throughout, as you would expect with a brand such as Ducati. The Panigale is a work of art and is as beautifully to look at as it is to ride.
This bike must be close as you can get to a near perfect riding experience – at least on the road. The looks, the soundtrack and the performance will put a smile on time after time.