Ducati Panigale V4: "It's Never Been So Easy To Ride A Ducati Superbike Fast"
“The new Ducati Panigale V4 is closer to a MotoGP race bike than any other production motorcycle.”
It's these words from the Ducati technical staff that underline the staggering performance figures of the new V4-engine superbike.
The 1299 Panigale - the V4's predecessor - is a stunning motorcycle in many regards, but it's also a flighty, busy thing to wrestle around a racetrack. It might have been agile to a new level, but you could bet it took its toll on you in the process.
In designing the new V4, Ducati’s engineers focus wasn't just performance, but making that performance accessible to everyone. It's what has driven most of the development behind this bike.
There are three variants to choose from; the V4, V4S and V4 Speciale; with the top Speciale model boasting 226hp and a weight of 188kg. The numbers are insane, but far from a fire-breathing, collarbone-popping animal, the new V4 is magnificent to ride and easier than ever to ride fast. And boy is it fast.
There's a lot that's gone into achieving this. The new bike has a revised chassis and of course, that new V4 engine at the heart of it all.
Stepping away from their beloved V-Twin is a big deal for Ducati. For decades the 90-degree two-cylinder layout has been at the heart of every Ducati superbike. But to get where Ducati wanted the bike to be, the more compact layout of a V4 was key.
One of the key stressed technical upgrades, is the use of a clever counter-rotating crankshaft to reduce overall gyroscopic forces. The effect is a bike that turns in with incredible ease, particularly for a 1,100cc machine.
Out on track, it makes the the V4 Panigale a very different machine from it's previous brethren. The chassis is just so intuitive in the way it turns and hunts down an apex, with no drama, no shaking of the handlebars or fighting back. You look, and it just goes.
Compounding the mechanical aspects of the bike, Ducati has pushed the bar even higher with the electronic assistance. The result is a bike with more performance than ever before, but one that doesn’t overwhelm the rider or make them feel as if one wrong move will send them hurtling through a fence.
There's even a slide control feature, which lets you choose just how far sideways you are happy for the bike to go before the safety net kicks in. It lends for some epic MotoGP moments.
Despite all the reports of a potential sale, Audi still own Ducati, and with a reputation for building some blisteringly fast cars that are also predictable and easy to drive, it's a pretty incredible moment to have that same feeling being delivered by a Ducati superbike. The feeling of being able to go incredibly fast without the threat of a hospital visit should you run out of talent.
The hardest bit about the Panigale V4 is trying to find a reason to fault it. If we’re being super fussy, the quickshift gear change is a little sluggish if you’re not precise with the lever. It got better over the ride, but you can't expect to be perfect after just a few hours on a new bike.
But apart from that Ducati has created - if not the impossible - then certainly the improbable. A 214hp bike (or 226 for the Speciale) that doesn’t try to eat you alive and spew your broken remains over the asphalt. Pretending to be Andrea Dovisioso has never been so easy.
If your wallet can take the hit, the Panigale V4 starts from £19,250. For more details visit the Ducati website.