This summer I’ll be glimpsing into the world of the well-heeled as I get to live with 24-grand’s worth of Ducati Panigale V4 S.
It's swept its superbike rivals to one side in MCN tests this year and of all its competition it's the fastest, most powerful and quickest around a track. It's undeniably impressive, but owning a bike is a lot different to flat-out road testing and day-to-day the Ducati manages to be a comfortable and cossetting, as it is crazy-fast.
There’s loads of legroom, the seat doesn't punish my backside, the bars aren’t too low and the tall standard screen works a lot better than the tiny efforts you get on just about every other superbike.
Electronic Ohlins suspension helps the V4 glide over bumps in ‘Street’ mode, but toughens in ‘Sport’ for more support and fun in the corners. With its twin-pulse firing order the new backwards-spinning motor sounds just like a V-twin and clatters a bit like one at walking pace, but it’s so much glossier, more refined and involving.
Ok, so getting to the side stand with your boot is almost impossible, the mirrors are a constant blur, unless you pull the clutch in and there’s a fair amount of heat pumping out from the rear cylinders, which will be more of a problem when we eventually get a summer. But it’s all a small price to pay for such a masterpiece, which mamages to look both prettier and more evil the more you get used to it.
I’ve already made two mods: one good and one annoyingly bad. The good one is a new Evotech tail tidy (£154.17, www.evotech-performance.com) which gets rid of the oak tree branch-sized number plate hanger, to reveal the sexiest back end in biking. Best of all, it takes just two bolts and about 30 seconds to remove it. You can spend hours dismantling bodywork to fit tail tidies, so this is good news.
The Evotech's cast ali components have to be assembled, which takes less than half an hour and the finished product has an equisite quality befitting of the V4. It uses the standard indicators, number plate light and wiring. The whole operation takes less than an hour and the end result looks fantastic.
One modification I wasn't planning on was snapping the right mirror off. Pushing theV4 backwards on to my drive, it brushed up against some bushes on the way and snapped the mirror's slender stalk. Bugger.
Trips planned to the Nurburgring and Croatia are in the diary, as is an MSVT trackday at Brands Hatch GP on June 4. It’s one of my favourite circuits and I can’t wait to glide around its magnificent curves, but the Ducati is so loud I’m worried about it passing the 102db noise limit. Fingers crossed it won't be early bath.
I’ve loved getting to know my Ducati, riding it on short blasts and taking in bits our new MCN250 road test route. It’s so beautiful it takes me 10 minutes to walk away from it every time I park up. I’m alread dreading the day it goes back later in the year.
Now what’s the PCP on a new V4...?