MCN’s 2018 Sportsbike of the Year, the Ducati Panigale V4S, is a stunner – if you have the minerals for it. Over 200bhp and MotoGP-derived designs created a hugely fast bike that can intimidate anyone short of a MotoGP test rider when you push it hard.
With the Panigale V4R established as a front-running WSB contender (and BSB champion), Ducati have a lot of experience with their new-age four cylinder superbike, and they’ve learnt how to get a grip on that fearsome performance. Moreover, the 2020 update isn’t just about giving elbow-dragging racers reduced lap times – Ducati say the lesser your track riding experience and ability, the more beneficial the changes.
The Panigale V4 2.0 was launched on Bahrain’s F1 circuit – which sounds glitzy (and it is), but the circuit is decidedly designed for cars, and has some fiendishly technical corners and complexes. Not the place for violent power or instability.
Watch: 2020 Ducati Panigale V4S video review
Thankfully, Ducati’s promise is delivered upon – rather than leaping toward the outside kerb, all the weight on the rear and the front doing as it pleases, as was the old bike’s habit in certain circumstances, it picks up more smoothly, and with less aggression.
As a result, you can ride the bike harder – more throttle, more exit speed, which you carry along the next straight. The new traction control algorithms catch spin earlier when it exceeds an acceptable level, so it doesn’t have to cut as much, too.
It makes for a smoother intervention you can learn to really play with and if you have the stones and judgement for it, it’ll happily spin up through the mid gears with a little lean and opposite lock on, with the computer exercising that final bit of subtle control. Stunning.
When you get to a corner, the suspension and geometry refinements make it even easier to hit your apex. Switch the ABS to Race Mode (controlling the front tyre only), and it’ll only intervene if you’ve really botched it. The Stylema calipers are still a benchmark – the only limit is your ability to brace and not slide forward, out of the seat and over the nose.
Do the wings help? Maybe. It’s more stable at speed, but it still weaves in the right circumstances. With the scope of the changes across the bike, it’s impossible to single them out as a definite contributor to the newfound manners.
What is noticeable is the reduced heat – more vents in the fairing duct heat away from the rider, and when the bike is at idle in traffic, the rear cylinder bank stops firing, and generating heat right underneath your most precious assets. It’s still toasty, but not unbearable as it was before.
The only criticism is that while it is undoubtedly more effective and safer for most people, if you’re expecting a real firebrand, it’s lost a bit of the wild edge the previous bike had.