The Panigale is not only the most advanced superbike Ducati have ever made, it also marks a move away from a piece of technology that has become almost as synonymous with Ducati as the desmo valve system.
Yep, by turning its back on belt driven cams and instead opting to run cam chains, the Panigale became the first V-twin from Bologna for 32 years not to need new cam belts every two years.
Sad as this may be to purists, the new superbike has had the effect of once again rekindling enthusiasm in Ducati sportsbikes – both old and new.
Sales of second hand Ducati superbikes are soaring as machines that were once unobtainable are now falling into the price range of enthusiastic buyers. But which are the models to go for?
|Ducati 916/996/998, £3,000 - £14,000
The first 916 Strada arrived in 1994 and made the world stand up and take notice of Ducati. Initially only available with a single seat, the Biposto quickly followed and later that year so did the homologation special 916SP with an uprated 916cc engine and Öhlins shock. While the 916 remained 916cc, the later 916SPS and limited edition Foggy Rep grew in capacity to 996cc. The 996 was launched in 1999 and featured revised styling, a 996cc motor and five spoke wheels. Alongside the stock 996 was the 996S with Öhlins suspension and the homologation special 996SPS. The 996R was launched in 2001 and featured the revised 998cc Testastretta motor, something that was introduced in the new 998 road bike in 2002. The dark green 998 Matrix was unveiled in 2004 to celebrate Ducati’s involvement in the film. The final 916-style Ducati, the Final Edition, was launched in 2004.
|Ducati 999, £3,500 - £12,000
Despite the 999 containing ground breaking technology such as the first CAN-Bus system on a bike and a sharper chassis with a more powerful 998cc Testastretta engine the 999 bombed. In 2005 Ducati updated the 999 by removing two of the vents at the front, giving it a more pleasing look, and also increasing power to 140bhp, but that wasn’t enough and after four years it was replaced by the 1098. The early 999s (identified by their grey frames and swingarms) come in stock and S version with the S gaining Öhlins suspension and 12bhp more power. The 2003 999R uses a 139bhp 999cc Testastretta motor with a bigger bore and shorter stroke. The updated 2005 999 models have painted frames, black swingarms and come in stock and S versions with both bikes making 140bhp and the S running Öhlins suspension and radial brakes. The 2005 999R makes 150bhp thanks to modifications to the motor.
|Ducati 1098/1198, £6,000 to £10,000
Powered by a brand new Testastretta Evoluzione motor the 1098 was a whole new generation of Ducati. Not only did it break clear of the self-imposed 1000cc capacity limit of the Testastretta engine, it did it using a silhouette that was very much 916 inspired. As well as looking good, the 1098 came packed full of technology with data acquisition as standard and a claimed 160bhp from the most powerful V-twin ever to leave Bologna. As with previous models the S version gained uprated chassis components but no power boost while the 2008 1098R broke new ground. As well as an 1198cc engine, the R was the first bike to have proper traction control. In its first update the 1098 grew in capacity to 1198cc and inherited not only the R’s capacity but also its traction control system. Later 1198 models came with a quick shifter as standard and there were limited edition Corse and SP versions with altered tanks and paint work towards the end of the bike’s production run.
|Ducati 748/749/848, £5,000 - £8,500
Alongside the larger superbikes, Ducati unveiled a range of supersport bikes in 1995. The first so called ‘baby superbike’ was the 748, which looked identical to the 916 but was powered by a smaller 748cc V-twin. Mirroring the 916’s development this was available in S, SP and SPS before a name change in 2000 saw the 748E become the base model, S uprated and R the homologation special. In 2003 the 748 morphed into the 749 and while early versions used a 103bhp motor with a new bore and stroke, it wasn’t until 2005 that the 749S gained a smaller 749cc version of the Testastretta engine with 116bhp from the 2003. The 749 also came in base, S and R versions but also the 749 Dark, which had black paint. The 848 appeared in 2008 using a smaller 848cc capacity Testastretta Evoluzione motor. Billed as an easy to ride superbike, the 848 became the 848 Evo in 2010 with small engine mods and monobloc brake calipers.