The Panigale V4 enjoys the second generation version of Öhlins semi-active EC suspension. Like having an invisible man with an invisible screwdriver constantly twiddling your adjusters, in theory it means the bike is perfectly set up in any scenario. It’ll soften itself off mid-corner in a 30mph hairpin but also provide the support needed though fast corners. The brakes redefine what you think is possible. There is so much power, so much feel through the new Brembo Styelma calipers as they bite on gigantic 330mm discs, that the limit is your own ability to brace yourself against the deceleration. As you move closer to the front brake’s capability your forearms shoulders start to suffer. The stability on the brakes is astounding, too – you just need to go to the gym to make the most of it.
The same bore as Ducati’s V4 MotoGP motor and a longer stroke means a capacity of 1103cc and a claimed 211bhp, equating to around 198bhp at the rear wheel - it’s the most powerful naturally-aspirated production bike there has ever been. Midrange power is strong and as revs rise, this builds into a crescendo of noise, drama and almost-incomprehensible forward thrust. Things are kept a little calmer thanks to a counter-rotating crank, which runs in the opposite direction to the wheels, reduces the bike’s tendency to wheelies and aids the machine’s agility, too.
As you’d expect with a bike over £20k, build quality is flawless. All the materials used are top-notch and the level of design, right down to tiny details like footrests and handlebar clamps, is class-leading. Paint is thick, panel gaps are perfect. This is a premium product. It’s too early to comment on the bike’s reliability, but the whole premise of going to a four-cylinder concept was to allow higher revs without compromising reliability. With the knowhow Ducati have gleaned from their V4 MotoGP concept it should deliver that dependability.
This is never going to be cheap. Insurance costs are terrifying if you’re young (under 30 years old we'd say), live in an inner-city or have lots of points. But older, low-risk riders will be fine. Running costs are going to be high, but should be doable if you can afford the bike in the first place. Minor services are annual or every 7500miles, while the dreaded Desmo service isn’t until 15,000 miles. With chain-driven cams, there are no belts to change like on pre-Panigale V-twin Ducatis. Tyre costs will be high – with so much power you’ll kill a rear tyre in a single fast trackday and may fail to get more than 2000 miles from one on the road.
Insurance group: 17 of 17 – compare motorcycle insurance quotes now.
A six-axis inertial measurement feeds data to the traction control, wheelie control, launch control, lean-sensitive quickshifter, semi-active suspension and cornering ABS. It has an amazing TFT dash, enough modes and settings to keep you amused for years, it even comes with GPS datalogging if you want. The suspension, brakes, wheels and the rest of the running gear are all top notch. It waits for nothing – this is apex of superbike technology.