Suspension, brakes and riding position are all carried over from the 899 Panigale, but Ducati has lowered the swingarm pivot by 4mm to improve traction on track and stability on the road. The shock is 2mm longer and the wheelbase is 5mm longer, but the 24° rake and 96mm trail remain the same.
The ride quality is excellent and there’s lots of spece and legroom to move around, even for taller riders. The joy of riding the 899 Panigale and now the new 959 quickly is to do all of your work in the corners and it has a sweet-handling chassis to oblige. Let go of the brakes early, roll through the turns as fast as you dare and watch brightly-painted apex kerbs flash by like strobes, like a big Moto3 racer.
Coming out of the bends, there’s so much feeling for grip that you can get the 959’s throttle to the stop pretty much the second you’ve lifted up it from full lean. But the bars can kick in your hands under hard acceleration, especially over bumps and during fast direction changes with its lower back end.
Like the 899 Panigale the unchanged Brembos don’t have the power and consistency you’d hope for and aren’t as strong as those fitted to the 1299. They never cause any scares, but could be better.
Power is up a claimed 9bhp to 157bhp and torque is increased by 6.2ftlb to 79.2ftlb over the 899 model. It’s the first of Ducati’s Superquadro motors to pass Euro 4 regulations, so expect the 1299 to follow next year. The 100mm bore remains the same, but the stroke is increased from 57.2mm to 60.8mm.
The reworked motor has ribbed aluminium cylinder heads (to reduce noise and increase strength), pistons with a reshaped crown, high-flow air-filter, upgraded lubrication system, a secondary shower injector above the throttle butterflies (which kicks in just below 9000rpm) and a quieter cam chain.
Gone are the 899’s sexy underslung exhausts and instead Ducati has fitted shotgun-style twin pipes to meet the tough Euro 4 noise and emissions laws. Pipe diameter is also up from 55mm to 60mm, the same as the 1299. Countries outside the EU will still get the old 899-style pipes.
A slipper clutch (the 899 didn’t have one) lets the 959 freewheel more into corners when you’re banging down through the gears. It's also servo-assisted to give a lighter lever action.
Despite the 959’s extra capacity, power and torque, service intervals remain an impressive: 7500-miles for an interim service and 15,000-miles to check valve clearances. Build quality is up there with the best, as are the tasty satin metallic white and gloss red paintjobs.
The 959 Panigale is priced on par with most Japanese and European V4 and inline four-cylinder superbikes, but it’s a lot cheaper than Ducati’s big 1299 Panigale range.
Just like the 899 Panigale before it, you get a lot of kit for your money like traction control, racing ABS, riding modes, a quickshifter, a multi-function dash, Brembos, Pirellis and fully-adjustable suspension.