The riding position is completely different to Ducati superbikes of old and there’s a far shorter stretch to the bars than before, which keeps you more in control. It’s incredibly light and has the kind of Fireblade-like stability the 1198 could only dream of. With the S model’s electronic riding modes, you can alter the electronic suspension’s settings, power, throttle response, engine braking and traction control on the move. This lets you have the Panigale smooth, docile and comfortable on motorways, or sharp, responsive and fiery on your favourite road, or track. New Brembo monobloc brakes (with discs spaced out 15mm to catch the cooling airflow) are incredible and can be used to the max, thanks to the stability of the new chassis design.
The new ‘superquadro’ (or super-square) 90° V-twin engine has an extreme 106mm x 67.9mm bore and stroke measurement and revs to high-heaven, thanks to its desmodromic valve system, which is now operated via chains, instead of belts. It has new vacuum die-cast crankcases, new pistons and the sump, clutch and cylinder head covers are made from magnesium alloy. The engine has a decompression device, which allows a smaller, lighter starter motor and battery. It has a new gearbox, a wet slipper clutch and a ride-by-wire throttle system for the first time. The Panigale is obscenely fast, but controllable, the throttle response is smooth and the power delivery linear. The 1198’s excess of lowdown torque has been tempered, which makes the 1199 more controllable under hard acceleration.
Forget the old myth that Ducatis are unreliable, because they just aren’t anymore. Modern-day Ducatis are as dependable as Japanese bikes and don’t cost a fortune to service. With the Panigale now using chains instead of belts, major services has doubled from 7500-miles to 15,000. Build-quality is superb.
For a shade under twenty grand when new, the Panigale S is expensive in anyone’s books, but if you can afford it, you’ll be getting a lot for your money. The base model, which has everything except electronically-adjustable suspension is more affordable.
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This S model comes with a bewildering array of equipment as standard. It has Ohlins electronic suspension (the standard model has 50mm Marzocchi forks and a Sachs rear shock), an adjustable rear suspension link, Brembo monobloc brakes, traction control, riding modes, electronic engine braking control, a slipper clutch, a quickshifter, magnesium and titanium engine parts, a Thin Film Transistor mult-function dash, optional racing ABS and new Pirelli Diablo Super Corsa tyres with a 200/55 section rear.