I’ve fallen for the 1299 S and grudgingly accept part of its brilliance is the way its mad, clattering V-twin and suspension are moderated and managed for me by gyros and sensors and a very smart ECU. But today I’m at Rockingham to see if its electronic rider aids make my riding experience better on a racetrack. I put the Panigale into Race mode and start cycling through menus.
Ducati quick shift (DQS)
The Panigale’s clutchless, throttle-pinned upshift is stunning. The downshift/autoblipper, however, is too distracting. I dramatically fail in the five laps I have available to test each function to keep my hands away from clutch and throttle and leave all the work to the bike. Sometimes the ECU prevents me going from second gear to first and at least once a lap the computer and I get in a tangle.
Verdict: upshifter: yes, downshifter: no thanks.
Ducati wheelie control (DWC)
I only realise how much I’m using this function when I switch it off. The front wheel snaps up out of slow corners, forcing me to back off. When I set it to a high setting (level 7) the wheelie control is too abrupt and equally abortive. Using the quickshift up/down buttons that allow you to change DWC (and DTC and EBC) on the move, I reduce DWC to its default position 2. The long and low computer-generated wheelies the Panigale pulls are beautiful indeed – and allow me to keep it pinned.
Keep DWC? Yes, please.
Engine braking control (EBC)
With EBC switched off, I also realise how much more I have to think about braking, downshifts and engine revs – leaving me less brain space to deal with the corner ahead. After just 3000 miles on road and track, I’ve become reliant on it.
So yes to EBC, too.
Ducati traction control (DTC)
I turn it up to max (level 8) and it interferes everywhere, its yellow light blinking almost as I open the throttle. I reduce it every lap to level 2 when I rarely see or feel it interfering. What I do, however, is add more throttle and more throttle earlier than I would dare without TC. It works as a safety net and makes me braver – so brave that the Panigale’s rear Bridgestone’s RS-10 tread pattern is smeared bald in an afternoon.
A definite yes to traction control, too.
Yes to rider aids: 3; No: 0.5. But to make me truly happy I need everyone else to turn off their electronic rider aids. Thanks.