Panigale handling has come a long way from the wayward 1199 original. That 2012 machine wobbled at the slightest hint of throttle and gave the impression you were about to set a lap record even when you were seconds off the pace. But with its friendlier chassis set-up and refined electronic rider aids the 1299 Panigale is a different beast. It still feels crazy-fast, but now it’s actually fast.
Unlike the Superleggera’s carbon chassis, the adjustable aluminium monocoque frame, swingarm, forged ali wheels, suspension and brakes are borrowed from the 1198cc homologation-special Panigale R.
It still takes a certain riding style to ride the Ducati quickly around a track, compared to any conventional superbike. It detests big steering, throttle and braking inputs and still shimmies in protest if you’re rough and clumsy. Instead it rewards with devastating corner speed and lightning-quick direction changes when you tickle the Final Edition’s controls and caress the big Ducati from kerb to kerb, to kerb.
On the brakes no superbike has the capability of scrubbing off speed with such unfettered, tricep-busting violence, with such stability, as a big Panigale.
The Final Edition’s V-twin motor doesn’t have sandcast crankcases or aluminium cylinder liners, like the Superleggera, but the rest is the same, from its high compression superbike-spec pistons, to its high-lift cams, lightweight flywheel and crankshaft with tungsten counterweights, titanium con rods, intake and exhaust valves, ported cylinder head, lithium battery and sexy WSB-style, Euro 4-friendly underseat exhausts.
Those titanium Akrapovic pipes are actually pretty quiet compared to the standard Panigale’s underslung exhausts, so noise restricted trackdays won’t be such a problem.
Electronic rider aids are taken from the 2017 1299 Panigale, which include ‘DTC EVO’ was first seen on the 2016 Anniversario model.
The 1299 Panigale S has the best power-to-weight ratio of any current full-production superbike and with its extra 12bhp the Final Edition takes that a step further with even stronger acceleration and a more demonic induction roar when you open the taps.
But giving away 23kg to the Superleggera, the Final Edition doesn’t explode forward with such bombastic alacrity on the throttle and without ‘the special one’s’ next generation electronics it doesn’t have such refined anti-wheelie, or slide control, either. But the Final Edition still has some of the best rider aids fitted to any road bike, which combined with its single-minded, racy chassis and all that power, will make it hard to beat on-track.
Build quality and attention to detail are flawless, which is what you’d expect from a 35-grand motorcycle and it’s all topped-off with that classy Italian tricolore paintjob.
When you compare the Final Edition to the Superleggera it’s a bargain. You get the same engine (almost) and an R-spec chassis and electronics for half the price. But 35-grand is still an eye-watering amount to spend on a motorcycle, no matter how special and in a head-to-head shootout you would never be that far behind on the £17,000 cheaper base-model 1299 Panigale.
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Like the best Ducati V-twin Rs and SPs the Final Edition bristles with specialness, from its forged ali wheels, Ohlins, monobloc M50 Brembos, to the carbon mudguard, hugger and heat shield. A riot of Inertial Measurement Unit-controlled electronics includes traction, wheelie and engine braking control you can adjust on the move, cornering ABS, three rider modes (Race, Sport, Wet), a quickshifter, autoblipper and datalogger.