The Best Superbike Ever?
When the designers and engineers at Ducati where given the brief for the 1199 Panigale, they had quite the task on their hands. The powers that be wanted 10kg less weight and 25hp more making the Panigale the highest performance Ducati Superbike of all time. Let's just say they didn't fail to deliver.
This is the first Ducati Superbike to be given a name rather than just the engine capacity. Ducati named the bike after the Borgo Panigale area of Bologna, a territory of Italy famous for it's passion for motorsport and also the original home of Ducati. Their aim is to forever immortalise the area by naming the new superbike after it.
Ducati's Superquadro that sits at the heart of the Panigale is the most powerful twin-cylinder production engine on the planet. With its over-square bore and stroke ratio it boasts 195bhp and torque to 98.1 lb-ft (13.5kgm) which can be controlled by switching modes to deliver the power appropriate to the rider's style and environment. The engine is lighter and crafted to fit beautifully into the bike to give the machine the best weight distribution and strength.
The Ducati and Ducati Corse engineers have painstaking developed this engine to give the most power possible, increasing engine speed and enhancing breathability with the incredible bore and stroke of 112mm x 60.88mm, giving the Panigale it's 195bhp.
Ducati's unique Desmodromic system which actuates valve closure mechanically with the same method and accuracy as it opens means that the engine can put up with the extreme stresses of work it is put through. This enables steep cam profiles, radical cam timings, large valves and high operating speeds. Controlling these large valves on the Panigale has led Ducati's engineers to develop a new combined chain and gear-drive arrangement rather than the original belt drive concept giving much needed strength and precision.
The transmission has also had an overhaul with an increase in dimension between the centres of the six-speed gearbox shafts giving the engine larger diametre, stronger gears. Also the Panigale boasts a new 'wet', oil-bath clutch similar to that of the Multistrada and Diavel. The clutch assembly features a 'slipper' function and progressive self-servo mechanism that compresses the friction plates when under drive from the engine. This increases the friction efficiency of the plates as well as giving a rider-friendly light clutch feel.
The Panigale is put together in a very different way to normal motorcycles. Ducati's engineers have worked hard to hit their goal of lowering the weight by 10kg, they've done this by merging multiple parts into one compact and lightweight component. The Superquadro engine is used as a stressed member of the chassis, attached to this is a short and strong monocoque made from die cast aluminium. The monocoque is so simple and small but does a number of jobs attaching engine to tank as well as housing the airbox. This is a beautiful, clever design that keeps the weight down.
The Panigale makes use of incredibly lightweight 50mm Marzocchi USD Forks that feature hard Anodized aluminium sliders. These are fully adjustable and again work towards lowering the weight of the whole machine.
The rear suspension is also fully adjustable and made by Sachs. One of the interesting things about the set up is the shocks positioning. Situated on the side of the bike rather than in the centre making room for the rear cylinder head, the shock is much more accessible enabling easier adjustment.
Of course the Panigale has electronic adjustment that can be made either using the pre-set Riding Modes or through the independent mode where the rider can use their own personal settings.
With a machine of this power and speed it was always important to design a braking system that delivers smooth effective control. Twin Monobloc calipers each with four 30mm pistons grip 330mm discs on the front and a 245mm disc with a 2-piston caliper on the rear give epic braking performance. The optional ABS system fitted to the Panigale provides a varied selection of braking options through the different Riding Modes so the user can pick what best suits the conditions.
The Panigale is a gorgeous looking machine. The fairings are sculpted to the bike to keep everything tight and sleek. This bike is driven by performance but Ducati have not failed to keep their sense of style. The headlights are mean looking and the clean lines follow right through to the pointed rear end. It appears minimal and yet you look at it and feel its power and speed. The single sided swing arm and having the exhaust tucked underneath keeps the rear end clean and free from clutter. It really is a fantastic looking bike.
So all in all the Ducati Panigale is a motorbike built for performance. The most powerful superbike ever crafted by the Italians has got to be their most impressive creation yet. I'm sure it will be a wonder on track and provide much enjoyment for those lucky enough to ride one on the road.
Ducati 1199 Panigale
- Price: £14,595
- Engine: Superquadro: L-twin cylinder, 4 valve per cylinder, Desmodromic, liquid cooled
- Gears: 6
- Power/Torque: 195bhp/98.1ftlb
- Top Speed: 186mph
- Rake/Trail: 24 degreees/100mm
- Wheelbase: 1437mm
- Wet weight: 189kg
- Seat height: 825mm
- Tank Capacity: 17 litres
Visit www.ducati.co.uk to find out more
19.02.13 - Big Ed