DUCATI 899 PANIGALE (2013 - 2016) Review
- Bridges the gap between revvy 600 and powerful superbike
- Advance electronics and decent reliability
- Plenty fast enough with exceptional handling
At a glance
|Owners' reliability rating:|
|Annual servicing cost:||£190|
Overall ratingNext up: Ride & brakes
You used to be able to count the number of truly great 'sportsbikes for the people' on one finger: the Suzuki GSX-R750. But in 2013 another one arrived: the Ducati 899 Panigale.
Back then the size of sportsbikes was dictated by racing, so all the development went into making screaming 600s (and 675s) and 200bhp-plus superbikes.
But you can’t get close to using a 1000 properly on the road - they’re just too fast and most of us don’t have the skill to ride one to the limit on a trackday either, no matter how many electronic systems they’re packed with. And there are no longer any road-legal 600 supersports in production for the UK market.
Thankfully there’s a middle ground. Like the iconic GSX-R750, the Ducati 899 Panigale offers the rev-tastic excitement of a supersport machine with just that bit more grown-up performance. It’s blindingly quick but it doesn’t have so much power that you can’t hold on to the bloody thing. It’s the ultimate trackday bike.
The outer edges of the 899’s handling envelope is reachable by mortals, unlike a superbike’s, but only on a track. The front end is packed with so much feeling it invites you into corners at speeds you have to re-adjust your brain for, and corners faster than anything with a headlight.
Unlike its big brother, the baby Panigale doesn’t pump and shimmy its rear end when you’re hard on the throttle either. The 899 Panigale makes you dizzy with excitement, not sick with superbike fear.
The Ducati is sensational on the road, too, with plush suspension and a surprisingly roomy riding position. There are three perfectly judged electronic modes, letting you have varying levels of power, throttle response and ABS, and it features the best traction control system fitted to a Ducati. The racy quickshifter works just as well pottering about as it does flat-out on-track. It’s sublime.
Ducati 899 Panigale a step forwards
The 2013 Ducati 899 Panigale was a step forward from the 848 it replaced, and littered in rider aids like traction control, ABS, EBC (Engine Brake Control) all as standard plus a quick-shifter.
The ergonomics are more rider-friendly than the 848, it’s easier and more forgiving and it looks stunning mirroring the line of the original Panigale. But, more importantly, the 899’s quicker and lighter than 848 too. Despite it being more rider friendly the 899 is still a formidable track weapon.
During 2014 MCN ran a Ducati 899 Panigale for a year on long-term test. We found it unutterably joyous experience, and spent over £5000 personalising the bike as the year went on. It was so good, in fact, that MCN Editor Richard Newland called it one of his "best bikes of all time".
And right in the final week of 2014, the 899 Panigale was named MCN's Middleweight Sportsbike of the Year. In 2016 the 899 Panigale was replaced by the higher-displacement Ducati 959 Panigale.
Watch MCN's Ducati 899 Panigale first ride video here:
Ride quality & brakesNext up: Engine
Following in the footsteps of the 748, 749 and the out-going 848, the 899 has evolved to a point where it’s actually bigger than the Italian firm’s original 851/888 superbike and almost as big as the all-conquering 916.
Visually identical to its big brother, the 1199 Panigale, except for its double-sided swingarm and the smaller 180/60 x 17 rear tyre, the 899 is packed with the latest electronics, a new 'Superquadro' engine and some of the best brakes in the business.
Ducati have shed 5kg over the 848 due to the lack of frame and other weight savings and it shows. The steering is light and accurate, apexes are hit with pin-point accuracy. There’s lots of legroom for tall riders like me, the bars are widely spaced - not too low, and you can see clearly out of the mirrors.
The fully, multi-adjustable suspension (Showa front, Sachs rear) has a lovely plush feel and it works perfectly both on the road and track – really impressive.
No matter how hard you twist the throttle, the 899 just accelerates with utter stability and no wiggling from the hips. And that rear Pirelli Diablo Rosso Corsa digs in so hard the traction control very rarely chimes in.
The ride is on the stiff side of plush, but the suspension offers lots of control in return, but the ride is still acceptable for a road bike. If the 1199 Panigale was this well-balanced and easy to ride, it would be the undoubted superbike class-leader.
Braking stability is second to none. It’s almost impossible to get to the limits of the monobloc Brembos, especially with ABS and you’re always left thinking you’ve braked too early. Even the factory Ducati superbike team say braking power and stability is the Panigale’s best asset - a product, we reckon, of its stiff 'airbox' chassis.
How does the Ducati 899 Panigale cope on track?
The Ducati inspires you to ride all day long. Take the 899 to a trackday and you’ll want to do every lap of every session.
The 899 begs you to take it by the scruff of the neck and ride the wheels off it. The engine loves to be revved - it accelerates strongly off the corners and sears along the straights in a seemless wave of booming V-twin anger, tempered by quickshift-assisted smoothness.
Unlike its bigger 1199 Panigale brother, nothing you do with the throttle upsets the balance of the chassis. The 899 doesn’t bounce, weave or misbehave in a straight line, or in the corners. It still has Ducati’s famed mid-corner poise and it loves to be railed around a bend with big lean and corner speed. But it’s agile through chicanes and tight corners now, thanks to its new chassis layout, the leverage from the wide bars and its relatively narrow rear tyre.
You can now choose to ride the Ducati in two ways around the track. You can either flow with it, using sweeping lines and big corner speed, or scratch – making a point-and-squirt 'V' of all the corners.
Like on the road, the 899’s braking power and stability are so exceptional it’s impossible to out-brake yourself, unless you simply give-up, chicken-out of a corner and go straight on.
Electronics aren’t the reason the 899 is so good - it’s such a well-balanced bike anyway, but they’re the cherry on top. Braking stability is helped by a slipper clutch and adjustable electronic braking control (which gives less engine braking in the Race mode we’re using) and at the other end, the TC is so refined you wouldn’t know it’s there, if it wasn’t for the lights on the dash flashing when the rear wheel is slipping.
Product review: BST carbon-fibre wheels for Ducati 899 Panigale, £2287
Tested by: Richard Newland
Time tested: 4500 miles
What’s good? Everything but the price. And let’s be fair here, the price is actually entirely reasonable for the quality of construction, and the incredible difference they make to every mile you ride – it’s just a big chunk of cash.
But I’m evangelical about these BST rims. I’ve used them on a variety of bikes over the past 10 years, and have never been disappointed by the performance they deliver. Whether you’re on road or track, the significant reduction in unsprung mass dangling at the end of your fork and swingarm really is revelatory. I currently have these rims fitted to my 899 Panigale long-term test bike, and it’s been one of the most dramatic transformations I’ve felt from the BSTs. The 899, already no oil tanker, now feels like a 250GP bike for the road. It turns hard with the barest of inputs, the engine drives with more aggression, and braking forces are much greater. Why? Because there’s far less inertia to deal with. There’s less mass to accelerate, less rotational energy to decelerate, and because of the lower mass there’s also less gyroscopic effect trying to hold the wheels upright and on their preferred axis.
I hear lots of concern about durability and strength, and can only say that I’ve never had a problem with either. I ride in all weathers, and they look like new after a quick wash – in fact they weather better than stock wheels. I’ve changed multiple sets of tyres, and never had problems with the rims either.
What’s not? If your bike is already wearing a lovely set of super-light rims as standard, then you’ll feel less benefit, but if you’re on heavy cast wheels (like the 899 is), you’ll be blown away.
- Contact: www.bikehps.com
- Quality rating: 5/5
- Value rating: 4/5
EngineNext up: Reliability
The Superquadra engine has a revised bore and stroke and, like the big Panigale, is a stressed member forming part of the monocoque construction. Claimed power is 148bhp, eight more than the old 848, with 73ftlb of torque. There’s a nice spread of power. It isn’t peaky like the 1198, pulls hard from 6000rpm right through to the redline at 10,700rpm.
There’s no horrible clattering and lurching at low speeds, which you have to control with the clutch, like you get on big Ducati superbikes though. The V-twin rush is smooth from the off, then builds, sending you like a bullet into the horizon, like a cartoon. Best of all, this is a machine where the ride-by-wire throttle actually works properly.
The system allows the 899 to have three riding modes (Rain, Sport, Race), with varying levels of throttle response, traction and engine braking control, ABS and power.
In Sport the power delivery from a closed throttle is flawless, like carbs or a well-sorted fuel injection system. Ride-by-wire is an area lots of manufactures struggle with, but Ducati has it cracked.
Reliability & build qualityNext up: Value
Showa forks control the front, Sachs at the rear and Brembo (via Bosch ABS) the brakes. The standard of components used is high and so is the level of finish, as you’d expect from Ducati. Ducati's reliability issues are now a thing of the past, service intervals are much longer than in the old days.
Ducati 899 Panigale owners' reviews on MCN
We've currently got 7 Ducati 899 Panigale owners' reviews on the site, with an overall score of 4.6 out of 5 stars. The feedback says that serviving and maintenance costs are where it falls down, but the 899's reliability seems strong seven years after its launch.
Value vs rivalsNext up: Equipment
You get a lot for your money: it’s littered in rider aids and you’re buying into an exclusive brand. The 899 is good looking, sexy, exclusive and shouldn’t depreciate too quickly.
Focussing on the rival GSX-R, despite being as low-tech as sportsbikes could be, there was still no keeping the GSX-R750 down. It won our middleweight sportsbike group test of 2012, beating the MV Agusta F3 800 and old Ducati 848 Evo Corse SE, thanks to its perfect balance of power and weight.
Moving onto the Triumph Daytona 675, it punches well above its weight. The closest rival to the Panigale is the R model with its Öhlins suspension, Brembo monobloc brake calipers and a quickshifter.
But what's the best? The 899 Panigale offers the most in terms of friendliness, character, speed, poise and comfort – who’d have thought you’d ever hear that about a big Ducati sportsbike?
The Suzuki’s engine and easy-handling make it a joy to live with, as does the price, but it’s not sharp like a sportsbike should be anymore. Bringing up the rear on the road is the Triumph, purely because it doesn’t have the oomph of the bigger bikes, but ride it hard and it’s all over the others.
Watch the 899 Panigale take on the Suzuki GSX-R750 and Triumph Daytona 675R in our video test:
ABS is standard as is Ducati’s very clever DTC, traction control direct from the 1198 superbike. There’s also Ducati’s EBC (Engine Brake Control) which controls engine braking and prevents the rear wheel from locking up.
Additionally, there are three rider modes: Race, Sport and Wet, plus a quickshifter, all as standard. Shame they’ve had to revert to a conventional swing-arm rather than a sexy single-sided item, though.
Elsewhere, the LCD racing dash is easy to read (although not in colour like the big 1199 Panigale) and the racing quickshifter works well at low speeds. Once you’re moving you never need to use the clutch on the way up, which makes riding a lot less tiring.
|Engine type||8v V-twin|
|Frame type||Monocoque Aluminium|
|Fuel capacity||17 litres|
|Front suspension||Fully adjustable Showa 43BPF|
|Rear suspension||Fully adjustable Sachs|
|Front brake||2 x 320mm discs|
|Rear brake||245mm disc|
|Front tyre size||120/70 X 17|
|Rear tyre size||180/60X17|
Mpg, costs & insurance
|Average fuel consumption||40 mpg|
|Annual road tax||£96|
|Annual service cost||£190|
|Used price||£8,800 - £25,000|
17 of 17
How much to insure?
|Warranty term||Two year unlimited mileage|
Top speed & performance
|Max power||148 bhp|
|Max torque||73 ft-lb|
|Top speed||170 mph|
|1/4 mile acceleration||-|
|Tank range||151 miles|
Model history & versions
- 2013: Model launched.
- 2016: replaced by Ducati 959 Panigale.
MCN Long term test reports
MCN Awards 2015: Best Middleweight Sportsbike
This has been one of the busiest years for the MCN road test team in recent memory, and it’s been a long time since we’ve seen the thick and fast introduction of so many exciting new bikes. 2015 has seen the arrival of great new adventure bikes, cruisers, retros, 125s, A2 licence-friendly machi…
Owners' reviews for the DUCATI 899 PANIGALE (2013 - 2016)
7 owners have reviewed their DUCATI 899 PANIGALE (2013 - 2016) and rated it in a number of areas. Read what they have to say and what they like and dislike about the bike below.
Summary of owners' reviews
|Ride quality & brakes:|
|Reliability & build quality:|
|Value vs rivals:|
|Annual servicing cost:||£190|
Annual servicing cost: £150
Absolutely love it. Best bike I have ever ridden or owned. Excellent fun, puts a huge smile on your face and makes you feel 'special'.
Great brakes, handles like a dream. I'm 6ft3 and have no issues.
Loves being revved!
No issues, great finish.
Annual service is around 150-160 which I really don't think is bad for a Ducati.
What more do you need?
Annual servicing cost: £250
Great bike. Can't see anything else on the road right now I would upgrade to.
Perfect mid range for me.
Really think the battery could last a bit longer.
Annual servicing cost: £166
You just have to look at it to see its best feature... drop dead gorgeous!! Also fantastic to ride, sounds soo good past 8,000 revs! I thought the quickshifter would be overkill for a road bike but I wouldn't be without one now - brilliant! Tested back to back against a 2014 Fireblade and I just couldn't wait to get off the Blade, sounded like a washing machine on spin cycle! By comparison I did over 110 miles on the demo 899, didn't want to get off it, ordered a new one as soon as I got off !! This is the best bike I've had in over 30 years of biking.
Brakes are very good, progressive, with good feel. Ride quality is not bad for a sports bike, still gets a bit upset on very bumpy roads, but that's more due to the rubbish standards of the roads here than any fault with the bike. Its dead comfy for a sportsbike and I'm almost 6 foot tall, 1,000 mile weekends are no problem.
You can't possibly need more, all my mates have Fireblades, BMW S1000rr's and its right in with them no problems, if you get left behind on one of these its your riding skills that are lacking, no shortcoming on the bikes behalf. If you do ride it it a half steady manner its amazingly economical too, I've seen as high as 54 mpg on the trip meter, also very easy to keep clean.
I've done almost 8,000 miles on it in one year, not a single problem..nothing at all, its been perfect. Ducati quality is second to none, all top quality parts used throughout the bike.
Ducati have put a lot of effort into servicing costs on this bike, chain driven cams etc. The service costs are visible on the workshop wall so you have no nasty surprises. Cheaper to run than the KTM I had before it.
Its what I call a "Complete" bike, its finished as it comes to you, you don't need to fork out for a exhaust pipe or a hugger, screen etc. I put some Evotech rad guards and tail tidy on and that's all it needs, a ventureshield paint protection kit is a good idea as well. It has quite an appetite for rear tyres, I put its 4th one on at 7,300 miles, the Pirelli Rosso Corsa's don't last more than 2,500 miles, so I'm trying some Michelin Supersports Evo's this time, fabulous grip from them! The 180/60 rear limits your choices somewhat.
Its just a wonderful, beautiful machine. Does everything I need it to do. My first Ducati and wont be the last.
You couldn't stop quicker if you crashed into a wall!
Its a perfect amount of power. Don't buy one if you just want to drag race everyone as its not the fastest, but it wasnt built for that. You will mince most people on s1000rr round the corners.
Quality is proper good, more special than a jap bike.
After first service, everything still spot on.
quickshifter is ace.
Buying experience: Ducati Glasgow were excellent.
Annual servicing cost: £180
no let down with bad dealer network
looks and brakes awesome but that's about it :(
ran out of puff always felt you wanted more
mirrors went loose was told they had a fault. glue inside comes unstuck, messed me about over 12 weeks telling me parts on order and saying give us a ring again in 4 weeks, got me so down with dealer i took it and sold it before anything else went wrong never had any problems with any jap bikes ever never buy one again
Buying experience: from a dealer paid £13500 with extras never go to that norfolk dealer again
Having owned various bikes over a period of some 30+ years of riding, I traded in my 848 evo for a 2nd hand 899 Panigale. The 899 is a huge step change in handling, smoothness and overall rideability to the 848. Don't get me wrong - I loved the 848... I owned 2 of them! But the 899 is a bigger leap forward than the previous range of 848/1098/1198 was from the 749/999. People call this the 'baby' Panigale, but at 900cc it does everything.... and more that most mortals can use. Go for the bigger one if you want, but I reckon this is the best tool in the real world... for me at least.
Excellent and oh-so-easy handling which is much easier than the 848. Bumps and undulations are absorbed much easier than the kick-in-the-backside of the 848. Lean it over and then lean it a bit more and it's super steady everywhere. ABS brakes are soo powerful - without upsetting the bike. They just seem to pull the bike down into the road in a very controlled and confidence-inspiring way.
Loads of power. Very smooth and linear power delivery. Deceptively quick.
Quality looks excellent - apart from some slight corrosion on the brake connectors. Otherwise, the paint and finishing looks superb everywhere. Having said that I have had a Ventureshield covering applied to keep it looking good and chip-free.
Haven't owned it past a servicing interval yet. I understand that without belt changes it should be cheaper to service than the 848 - but that isn't really a consideration when buying one of these.
ABS, Traction control, Fly by wire throttle. All can be customised to suit in 3 different power settings. Quickshifter is brilliant. Has Pirellis as standard which in the dry are fine - I will probably change to Michelin Super Sports when they are worn.
Buying experience: Bought 2nd hand from a dealer. Great service. Paid £11500
Having put 2k miles on mine, I can honestly say its the best bike I've ever ridden. It makes you feel special, riding it is an utter joy, it has the perfect amount of power and the delivery is smooth. It sounds amazing, you get a nice little pop between shifts throught the excellent quick shifter and it burbles on the overrun, love it. The best thing about this bike I think is the handling and the brakes, both are as you would want it to be. Stops on a dime and its effortless to throw into a corner, at any speed. Well done Ducati, well done.