It’s a sad fact for speed freaks that superbike sales have slipped in recent years, while things like naked and adventure bikes are on the up.
So can one of the most exciting, talked-about motorcycles this year - the Ducati Panigale - reignite our passion for all things very fast?
Ducati certainly hope so and have thrown the kitchen sink at the new flagship superbike.
It has the most powerful engine ever fitted to a Ducati road bike, it’s as light as a feather and packed with electronics and pre-set riding modes, which at a touch of a button give you differing levels of throttle response, power delivery, traction control, ABS, engine braking and with this S model, suspension settings, too.
To find out how it compares against its main rivals, we brought them all together for a shoot-out. Unfortunately, due to reasons beyond our control, the new Yamaha R1 and Suzuki GSX-R1000 didn't make it to Sicily.
We rode all the bikes on Pirelli’s ultra-fast Pergusa circuit in Sicily and on the twisty roads near Mount Etna. The riders are regular MCN Road Testers Adam Child, Bruce Dunn, Michael Neeves, Pirelli test rider and Italian Superstock front runner (Ducati 1198) Alfio Tricomi and former World Superbike champ Neil Hodgson.
We used control tyres for all the bikes, as to test the bikes and not the tyres. For the road we selected the road-going Pirelli Diablo Super Corsa SP and for the track the racing Pirelli Diablo Super Corsa SC2.
We left all suspension settings stock (for practical reasons given the number of bikes and different riders), although selecting the Ducati’s different riding modes automatically change the Ohlins electronic suspension by default.
The table below shows how the bikes match up on the spec sheet, but how will they compare on the road and track? To find out, read our eight page test in the latest issue of MCN.
||Electronic rider aids|
Aprilia RSV4 APRC, £16,499
|Liquid-cooled, 999.6cc, 78mm x 52.3mm, 65° V4, DOHC, 8v. Six gears. Fuel injection, ride-by-wire throttle.
||Twin-spar aluminium frame and double-sided swingarm. Adjustable headstock, engine mounts and swingarm pivot.
||Eight-way adjustable traction control, three-stage anti-wheelie/launch control, quickshifter. Three riding modes (Track, Sport, Rain), dual road/race dash.|
BMW S1000RR Sport, £13,655
|Liquid-cooled, 999cc, 80mm x 49.7mm, inline, four-cylinder, DOHC, 16v. Six gears. Fuel injection.
||Twin-spar aluminium frame and double-sided swingarm.
||Traction control, four riding modes (Rain, Sport, Race, Slick), ABS, quickshifter.|
Ducati 1199 Panigale S ABS, £19,750
|Liquid-cooled, 1198cc, 112mm x 60.8mm, ‘Superquadro’ 90°, L-twin, DOHC, 9v, desmodromic. Six gears. Fuel injection, ride-by-wire throttle.
||Die-cast aluminium monocoque incorporating airbox, steering stem – engine is stressed member. Single-sided die-cast aluminium swimgarm.
||Eight-stage traction control, electronically adjustable suspension, threeriding modes (Race, Sport, Wet), quickshifter, electronic engine braking control, combined ABS.|
Honda CBR1000RR Fireblade, £11,300
|Liquid-cooled, 999.8cc, 76mm x 55mm, four-stroke, in-line four, DOHC, 16v. Six gears. Fuel injection.
||Aluminium twin spar frame and double-sided swingarm.
Kawasaki ZX-10R ABS, £12,999
|Liquid-cooled, 998cc, 76mm x 55mm, four stroke, in-line four, DOHC, 16v. Six gears. Fuel injection.
||Three-stage traction control, three power modes and ABS.
||Three-stage traction control, three power modes and ABS.|
MV Agusta F4 RR Corsacorta, £17,999
|Liquid-cooled, 998cc, 79mm x 50.9mm, four stroke, in-line four, DOHC, 16v. Six gears. Fuel injection.
||Tubular steel trellis frame, single-sided aluminium swing arm.
||Eight-stage traction control, two power modes.|