Ducati Panigale V4 S

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As good as the hype?

Here marks a brand-new chapter in Ducati’s history. Mark the date, for the Panigale V4 S is about to steal your focus and attention. All £24,035 of glorious, red, Italian sports machinery. Don’t be immediately put off by the price, after all a PCP deal of £255 per month (37 months at 7.1% APR with a £5872 deposit) will see one of these MotoGP-derived road-going motorcycles in your garage. And, how much is that McLaren Senna by the way…£750,000? It certainly makes the Ducati look a reasonable bet to satisfy those with thrill-seeking ways.

Ducati began their press conference by telling us, “With a new engine, frame and electronics the riding experience will be closer than ever to a race bike.”

 

 

Easy to say but did it live up to expectations? Nope, it completely annihilated them and then took those expectations to a quiet place and battered the beejezus out of them. Boy does this thing shift, stop, handle and grip. Let me start by saying this; the new Ducati Panigale V4 S is one of those bikes that once ridden makes you a better human being.

Its feline-like prowess and agility as demonstrated at the International Press Test held at the Circuit Ricardo Tormo in Valencia really puts the ‘cat’ in Ducati – and a very powerful one at that with 214hp @ 13,000rpm hammering your senses. The feeling of coming through the last corner, picking the bike up and, while using some of the outside kerb, ripping the throttle back to the stop, clicking the quickshifter into third, then fourth, then fifth and feeling the monstrous V4 spinning so fast beneath as the clever electronics keep the traction in check as well as both wheels on the ground as it applies maximum power. Yeah, that feeling is one I’ll keep replaying each time I close my eyes.

 

 

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Latest generation digital unit with 5″ TFT colour display

 

A lot of the talk since the official announcement of the liquid-cooled 1103cc 90-degree Stradale motor back in September was around the age-old pinpointing of power. It was only a few years back when 200+bhp motorcycles were introduced to the world and here we were all of sudden trying to comprehend 214hp (translating to 211bhp) in a road bike. But while the headline figures might often be price and power, sometimes weight, it’s the ability of the Panigale V4 to feed the power, stop it again and handle the corners in such a refined manner while at the same time making you feel like your eyeballs are going to burst with its ferocity which is the very clever part. Ducati have created a demure lunatic.

 

 

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The ‘S’ version is fitted with a top spec Öhlins TTX 36 shock absorber

 

Not-so-humble beginnings

Back in 1988 Ducati bought us their first V-twin (or L-twin as they preferred to call it) sports bike; the 851. Harnessing a 95bhp, water-cooled 4-stroke, 4-valve desmo engine, the bike was introduced initially as a racing prototype and was an instant success winning the second ever WSBK race in ‘88 and then the title in 1990. It’s successes were put down being grippier in the corners with the ability to punch out of them faster than its more powerful rivals.

A V4 race bike didn’t appear until 2003 when the Desmosedici four-stroke bike MotoGP initially under the guidance of Lois Capirossi and Troy Bayliss who went on to finish fourth and sixth in its debut season. Ducati have raced the V4 configuration since, yet here we are having waited 15 years for a V4-based production road bike from Ducati. You could say; it’s been worth the wait.

The new Stradale engine has been inspired by the Desmocedici MotoGP engine, “the V4 configuration was the most ideal for what we were searching for”, said Ducati CEO, Claudio Domenicalli.

 

 

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Specially developed Pirelli Diablo Supercorsa SP tyres keep the 211bhp in check

 

It’s been rotated backwards by 42 degrees (like MotoGP) and has the same 81mm piston bore too, the maximum permitted by MotoGP regulations. It didn’t need to be amended, after all its peak power is made at a whopping 13,000rpm. The engine is still a stress member of the chassis and doesn’t require a balancing shaft which is beneficial for weight saving, after all with two extra cylinders over the 1299, the Panigale V4’s motor weighs just 2.2kg more, at 64.9kg. To put that into context, the brand-new cast aluminium front frame (based on GP technology), sub-frame and single-sided swingarm weigh a total of 11.2kg. The magic, also derived from its MotoGP genes (specifically the GP15), and seen for the first time on a Ducati road bike is a crankshaft which rotates in the opposite direction to the wheels, reducing the gyroscopic effect leading to less wheelies, faster turning and a quicker change of direction.

The new bike has a more racing focused weight distribution than the 1299 Panigale S and 1098 S and has 10mm higher foot pegs than the 1299 for extra ground clearance for optimum lean angles – which says something about how the technology has developed to keep the bike and rider the right way up.

 

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A more race focussed weight distribution than previous bikes allows MotoGP levels of lean

 

And that includes a new generation of Electronically adjustable Ohlins NIX30 43 mm fully adjustable forks and TTX36 shock unit accompanying the Smart EC 2.0 which continuously analysed the bikes behaviour for optimal performance, from grip, weight transfer, brake support, turn-in geometry. While the Bosch Cornering ABS EVO system is split into three modes to ably accessorise each riding mode – front only, slide by brake, road/low grip.

That tech is in turn supported by a pair of superb new boots from Pirelli. Their Diablo Supercorsa SP tyres (rear: 200/60 ZR17. Front: 120/70 ZR17) have been created especially for the Panigale V4 and have a new compound, tread design and slick shoulders offering a better contact area, aided by a 16mm wider diameter at the rear and 1mm wider on the front.

 

 

Taming the beast

Trundling down pit lane for the first time and the four sounds similar to a twin, burbling away thanks to the characteristics of its firing order. The first session I spent in the ‘Sport’ riding mode, one of three and in between Street and Race, while I got used to the bike and circuit. All the settings can be manually over-ridden using the two menu function buttons on the left handlebar via the new 5” hi-res TFT dash but with the traction light warning me that some mph’s were being soaked up, I soon switched to ‘Race’ which keeps wheels on the ground while somehow applying all of the bikes vast array of clout.

The power of the V4 is extraordinary – the speed at which it generates the forces to propel both it and you along is astonishing and thank goodness the upgraded Brembo-assisted brakes are equally as powerful and ably assist the accompanying engine braking, demonstrating a willingness to slow just as excited as it is to launch out of each corner. If you play cricket, golf or even football the exciting bit is smashing the balls as hard as possible hoping it goes in the right direction. A tap for a single run, a putt or a backwards pass don’t give you the same thrill. Thankfully Ducati has found a way to offer the permanent feel-good moments throughout any ride with a stunning concoction of metal, aluminium, plastic and electronics. Who knew motorcycle riding could be this rewarding.

 

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The accuracy of the bike’s turning capability made me grin, or possibly gurn, inanely at every corner during the first track session. It has a knack of being able to hit a spot on an apex the size of a kitten’s lip, is easy to manage and is fast without having to fight with it. During every track day I’ve ever done, I’ve always come away thinking ‘I could’ve taken so-and-so corner much better’. The same goes for every section of the Circuit Ricardo Tormo on this day and because the bike had everything under control, I wasn’t sure where the limits were, nor did I fancy finding them. With the security blanket of its advanced Öhlins Smart EC 2.0 suspension and steering damper, Cornering ABS, Slide Control, Traction Control, Wheelie Control and other magical wizardry, my bravery was boosted with every extra angle of lean or twist of accelerator.

It offers a sensation like no other road bike. Ferociously quick with 214hp at your beck-and-call yet smooth in its application. The huge rev range makes a big difference compared to the twin though it sounds very similar. Stood in pit lane listening to the throng of V4s thunder past at full chat and you’d be forgiven in thinking it was a World Superbike.

The inertia from the twin cylinder version from the barky jolt in acceleration and then again in engine braking is nullified with the four-cylinder version.

 

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The way it spins-up pummelling through the revs from 7500 to 13,500 in what feels like the blink of an eye genuinely takes your breath away – a 15-minute track session proves how unfit I am. But let’s come back down to earth for second – is this hyperbike usable on the road? In a world that seems to get stupidly more health & safety conscious and liability-laden, here we have a piece of extraordinary engineering capable of doing extraordinary speeds with extraordinary grip. It has a power to weight ratio of 1.10 hp/kg, compared to the 1299 Panigale S of 1.03, for goodness sakes, so those inevitable car vs bike videos are going to make interesting viewing. It’s a testament to the ambition of Ducati’s engineers and their partners in Bosch, Pirelli and Ohlins because the evolution in the way the electronics look after you, making the Panigale V4 an easier bike to ride fast. Simple to say and even easier to realise the extremity of its potential ability on track but here is a machine whose power is delivered and then taken away in a comforting, reassuring and stable manner that can be transferred to road riding. Sure, like all sports bikes the riding position accentuates weight onto wrists but you don’t buy a 214hp motorcycle to ride to Tesco. Although if you did then you’d be the envy of all the shoppers.

The overall package has taken some of the very best engineering and technological developments from the red bikes of MotoGP gods Andrea Dovizioso and Jorge Lorenzo and their WSB counterparts in Chad Davies and Marco Melandri and applied them into a road bike. Yeah, a bike for the road, with Desmo service intervals of 15,000 miles. Barely believable but also the stuff of dreams for track day hero’s.

 

 

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Panigale V4 S makes 1.10hp/kg compared to the 1299 Panigale S’ 1.03hp/kg

 

Adding some bling

Just when I thought it couldn’t get any better, I was invited to ride an even more special bike; the Ducati Panigale V4 accessorised version. Replacing the treaded tyres for SC1 slick Pirelli’s and the stock exhaust for a full titanium racing Akrapovic system including a remapping of the wheelie control and traction control algorithms removed 7kg yet added an extra 12hp up to 226hp.

Oh my. The pre-warmed extra sticky rubber took the already excelling grip to a new level while the extra power to weight ratio (now 1.20 hp/kg) was a sensation that my brain could scarcely comprehend. There comes a point where my ability becomes null-and-void, it’s all about hanging on. Literally. Physically. It begs the question, how extreme will motorcycle engineering become?

Domenicalli added, “This new engine and bike is really taking the company to a new dimension”. He’s not wrong. I feel like a better human being.

 

 

 

Ducati Panigale V4 Variants Explained

 

The main features on the standard Ducati Panigale V4 are:

  • fully adjustable 43mm Showa Big Piston Forks
  • fully adjustable Sachs monoshock
  • Sachs steering damper
  • Electronics package with six-axis Inertial Measurement Unit (which measures roll, yaw and pitch angles) includes:
    • ABS Cornering Bosch EVO – three levels
    • Ducati Traction Control EVO includes the new ‘spin on demand’ feature
    • Ducati Slide Control – with two settings
    • Ducati Wheelie Control EVO
    • Ducati Power Launch – three levels
    • Ducati Quick Shift up/down EVO
    • Engine Brake Control EVO
    • Ducati Electronic Suspension EVO
  • The two direct-access buttons on the left-hand switchgear can be set to adjust either traction control, wheelie control, slide control or engine braking
  • 3 x riding modes (Race, Sport and Street)
  • 16 litre aluminium tank
  • 5” full –TFT dashboard
  • Full LED headlight
  • Two seater configuration kit
  • Braking system with new Brembo Stylema monobloc calipers
  • Pirelli Supercorsa SP tyres (200/60 at the rear)
  • Pre-setting for Ducati Data Analyser + GPS and Ducati Multimedia System

 

While on the V4 S the same features apply except:

  • Suspension and steering damper with Öhlins Smart EC 2.0 system
  • Öhlins NIX-30 forks
  • Öhlins TTX 36 shock absorber
  • Öhlins steering damper
  • Aluminium forged wheels
  • Lithium-ion battery
  • Cast Magnesium alloy front sub frame

 

And on the V4 Speciale the same features as the V4 S except:

  • Carbon fibre front/rear mudguards
  • Machined-from-solid top yoke with identification number
  • Alcantara seat
  • Dedicated handle grips
  • Adjustable foot pegs
  • Carbon fibre heel guard
  • Carbon fibre swinging arm cover
  • Racing articulated levers
  • Racing fuel tank cap
  • Brake level protection

Supplied kit:

  • Full racing titanium Ducati Performance by Akrapovič exhaust system
  • Racing screen
  • Plate holder removal kit
  • Machined-from solid mirror replacement plugs
  • Ducati Data Analyser+ GPS (DDA + GPS)
  • Bike cover
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Ducati Panigale V4 Technical Specifications

 

  Panigale V4 Panigale V4 S Panigale V4 Speciale
PRICE £19,390 £24,035 £34,995
Engine Desmosedici Stradale 90° V4, rearward-rotating crankshaft, 4 Desmodromically actuated valves per cylinder, liquid cooled Desmosedici Stradale 90° V4, rearward-rotating crankshaft, 4 Desmodromically actuated valves per cylinder, liquid cooled Desmosedici Stradale 90° V4, rearward-rotating crankshaft, 4 Desmodromically actuated valves per cylinder, liquid cooled
Displacement 1,103 cc 1,103 cc 1,103 cc
Bore X stroke 81 x 53.5 mm 81 x 53.5 mm 81 x 53.5 mm
Compression ratio 14.0:1 14.0:1 14.0:1
Power 157.5 kW / 214hp (211 bhp) @ 13,000 rpm 157.5 kW / 214hp (211 bhp) @ 13,000 rpm 157.5 kW / 214hp (211 bhp) @ 13,000 rpm
Torque 124.0 Nm (91.5 lb-ft) @ 10,000 rpm 124.0 Nm (91.5 lb-ft) @ 10,000 rpm 124.0 Nm (91.5 lb-ft) @ 10,000 rpm
Fuel injection Electronic fuel injection system. Twin injectors per cylinder. Full ride-by-wire elliptical throttle bodies. Variable length intake system Electronic fuel injection system. Twin injectors per cylinder. Full ride-by-wire elliptical throttle bodies. Variable length intake system Electronic fuel injection system. Twin injectors per cylinder. Full ride-by-wire elliptical throttle bodies. Variable length intake system
Exhaust 4-2-1-2 system, with 2 catalytic converters and 2 lambda probes 4-2-1-2 system, with 2 catalytic converters and 2 lambda probes 4-2-1-2 system, with 2 catalytic converters and 2 lambda probes
Gearbox 6 speed with Ducati Quick Shift (DQS) up/down EVO 6 speed with Ducati Quick Shift (DQS) up/down EVO 6 speed with Ducati Quick Shift (DQS) up/down EVO
Primary drive Straight cut gears; Ratio 1.80:1 Straight cut gears; Ratio 1.80:1 Straight cut gears; Ratio 1.80:1
Ratio 1=38/14 2=36/17 3=33/19 4=32/21 5=30/22 6=30/24 1=38/14 2=36/17 3=33/19 4=32/21 5=30/22 6=30/24 1=38/14 2=36/17 3=33/19 4=32/21 5=30/22 6=30/24
Final drive Chain; Front sprocket 16; Rear sprocket 41 Chain; Front sprocket 16; Rear sprocket 41 Chain; Front sprocket 16; Rear sprocket 41
Clutch Hydraulically controlled slipper and self-servo wet multiplate clutch Hydraulically controlled slipper and self-servo wet multiplate clutch Hydraulically controlled slipper and self-servo wet multiplate clutch
Frame Aluminum alloy “Front Frame” Aluminum alloy “Front Frame” Aluminum alloy “Front Frame”
Front suspension Fully adjustable Showa BPF fork. 43 mm chromed inner tubes Öhlins NIX30 43 mm fully adjustable fork with TiN treatment. Electronic compression and rebound damping adjustment with Öhlins Smart EC 2.0 event-based mode Öhlins NIX30 43 mm fully adjustable fork with TiN treatment. Electronic compression and rebound damping adjustment with Öhlins Smart EC 2.0 event-based mode
Front wheel 5-spokes light alloy 3.50″ x 17″ 3-spokes forged aluminum alloy 3.50″ x 17″ 3-spokes forged aluminum alloy 3.50″ x 17″
Front tyre Pirelli Diablo Supercorsa SP 120/70 ZR17 Pirelli Diablo Supercorsa SP 120/70 ZR17 Pirelli Diablo Supercorsa SP 120/70 ZR17
Rear Suspension Fully adjustable Sachs unit. Aluminum single-sided swingarm Fully adjustable Ohlins TTX36 unit. Electronic compression and rebound damping adjustment with Öhlins Smart EC 2.0 event-based mode. Aluminium single-sided swingarm Fully adjustable Ohlins TTX36 unit. Electronic compression and rebound damping adjustment with Öhlins Smart EC 2.0 event-based mode. Aluminium single-sided swingarm
Rear Wheel 5-spokes light alloy 6.00” x 17” 3-spokes forged aluminum alloy 6.00″ x 17″ 3-spokes forged aluminum alloy 6.00″ x 17″
Rear tyre Pirelli Diablo Supercorsa SP 200/60 ZR17 Pirelli Diablo Supercorsa SP 200/60 ZR17 Pirelli Diablo Supercorsa SP 200/60 ZR17
Wheel travel (front/rear) 120 mm (4.7 in) – 130 mm (5.1 in) 120 mm (4.7 in) – 130 mm (5.1 in) 120 mm (4.7 in) – 130 mm (5.1 in)
Front brake 2 x 330 mm semi-floating discs, radially mounted Brembo Monobloc Stylema® (M4.30) 4-piston callipers with Bosch Cornering ABS EVO 2 x 330 mm semi-floating discs, radially mounted Brembo Monobloc Stylema® (M4.30) 4-piston callipers with Bosch Cornering ABS EVO 2 x 330 mm semi-floating discs, radially mounted Brembo Monobloc Stylema® (M4.30) 4-piston callipers with Bosch Cornering ABS EVO
Rear brake 245 mm disc, 2-piston calliper with Bosch Cornering ABS EVO 245 mm disc, 2-piston calliper with Bosch Cornering ABS EVO 245 mm disc, 2-piston calliper with Bosch Cornering ABS EVO
Instrumentation Last generation digital unit with 5″ TFT colour display Last generation digital unit with 5″ TFT colour display Last generation digital unit with 5″ TFT colour display
Dry weight 175 kg (386 lb) 174 kg (384 lb) 174 kg (384 lb)
Kerb weight 198 kg (436 lb) 195 kg (430 lb) 195 kg (430 lb)
Seat height 830 mm (32.48 in) 830 mm (32.48 in) 830 mm (32.48 in)
Wheelbase 1.469 mm (57,8 in) 1.469 mm (57,8 in) 1.469 mm (57,8 in)
Rake 24,5° 24,5° 24,5°
Front wheel trail 100 mm (4 in) 100 mm (4 in) 100 mm (4 in)
Fuel tank capacity 16 l – 4.23 gallon (US) 16 l – 4.23 gallon (US) 16 l – 4.23 gallon (US)
Number of seats Dual seats Dual seats Single seat
  Riding Modes, Power Modes, Bosch Cornering ABS EVO, Ducati Traction Control (DTC) EVO, Ducati Wheelie Control (DWC) EVO, Ducati Slide Control (DSC), Engine Brake Control (EBC) EVO, Auto tyre calibration Riding Modes, Power Modes, Bosch Cornering ABS EVO, Ducati Traction Control (DTC) EVO, Ducati Wheelie Control (DWC) EVO, Ducati Slide Control (DSC), Engine Brake Control (EBC) EVO, Auto tyre calibration Riding Modes, Power Modes, Bosch Cornering ABS EVO, Ducati Traction Control (DTC) EVO, Ducati Wheelie Control (DWC) EVO, Ducati Slide Control (DSC), Engine Brake Control (EBC) EVO, Auto tyre calibration
Standard equipment      
  Ducati Power Launch (DPL), Ducati Quick Shift (DQS) up/down EVO, Full LED lighting with Daytime Running Light (DRL), Sachs steering damper, Quick adjustment buttons, Auto-off indicators Ducati Power Launch (DPL), Ducati Quick Shift (DQS) up/down EVO, Full LED lighting with Daytime Running Light (DRL), Ducati Electronic Suspension (DES) EVO with Ohlins suspension and steering damper, Quick adjustment buttons, Lithium-ion battery, Auto-off indicators, Marchesini aluminium forged wheels Ducati Power Launch (DPL), Ducati Quick Shift (DQS) up/down EVO, Full LED lighting with Daytime Running Light (DRL), Ducati Electronic Suspension (DES) EVO with Ohlins suspension and steering damper, Quick adjustment buttons, Lithium-ion battery, Auto-off indicators, Marchesini aluminium forged wheels, Carbon fibre front/rear mudguards, Machined-from-solid top yoke with identification number, Alcantara® seat, Dedicated handle grips, Adjustable foot pegs, Carbon fibre heel guard, Carbon fibre cover swinging arm, Racing articulated levers, Racing fuel tank cap, Brake level protection
Additional Equipment      
  Passenger seat and footpegs kit Passenger seat and footpegs kit Ducati Performance by Akrapovic Titanium full-racing exhaust system, Racing windshield, Machined mirror block-off plates, License plate mount removal plug, Ducati Data Analyser+ (DDA+) with GPS module, Paddock bike cover
Ready for Ducati Data Analyser+ (DDA+) with GPS module, Ducati Multimedia System (DMS) and anti-theft Ducati Data Analyser+ (DDA+) with GPS module, Ducati Multimedia System (DMS) and anti-theft Ducati Multimedia System (DMS) and anti-theft
Warranty (months) 24 months unlimited mileage 24 months unlimited mileage 24 months unlimited mileage
Maintenance (km/months) 12,000 km (7,500 mi) / 12 months 12,000 km (7,500 mi) / 12 months 12,000 km (7,500 mi) / 12 months
Valve clearance adjustment (km) 24,000 km (15,000 mi) 24,000 km (15,000 mi) 24,000 km (15,000 mi)
STANDARD Euro 4 Euro 4 Euro 4
CONSUMPTION/EMISSIONS 41mpg – CO2 165 g/km 41mpg – CO2 165 g/km 41mpg – CO2 165 g/km
Source Michael Mann
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