MCN will be riding Ducati’s new 959 Panigale at its world launch at Valencia on Wednesday.
The new machine replaces the 899 Panigale, which is MCN’s 2015 and 2014 ’Best Sportsbike (Middleweight)’ award winner.
The 959 Panigale features a raft of changes, mostly to satisfy the upcoming Euro 4 regulations, which come into effect at the beginning of 2017. So, as well as a capacity, power and torque increase, the Ducati Superquadro engine is quieter and more efficient.
With its longer piston stroke, capacity is now 955cc (not 959 as it says on the tin) and with a raft of new engine internals, power is up from 148bhp to 157bhp and torque increased 6.2ftlb to 79.2ftlb.
Other upgrades include a new light-action slipper clutch, a wider fairing, a 1299-style seat unit and a 4mm lower swingarm pivot. The 899’s sexy underslung exhausts have gone and been replaced by something a whole lot clumsier-looking. The 959’s new Euro4-friendly, side-mounted shotgun exhausts account for a lot of the machine’s wet weight increase from 193kg to 200kg.
But if you don’t like the new pipes, the good news is you can buy a set of official aftermarket 899-style Akrapovic exhaust cans, or if you live outside of the EU the 959 still comes with the sexy stubby silencers.
Will the 959’s extra power and weight move the ‘baby’ Panigale more towards 1000cc sportsbike territory, or will it still have the 899’s sublime balance and delicate speed. Check back on Wednesday when Senior Road Tester Michael Neeves will give us his first impressions.
959 v 899 Panigale v Fireblade
Now the ‘baby’ Panigale has crept into the litre bike league, how does it compare to a similarly-priced 1000, like the Honda Fireblade and how has it changed from the 899?
Price (new in 2013): £12,495
Engine: 898cc L-twin
Bore and stroke 100 x 57.3mm
Electronics: Traction, wheelie and launch control, quickshifter, riding modes
MCN’s award-winning middleweight sports bike of 2013 and 2014. Offers the perfect balance of power, handling and has the beating of the Suzuki GSX-R750 and MV Agusta F3 800.
Price: £13,295 (£13,025 in red)
Engine: 955cc L-twin
Bore and stroke: 100 x 60.8mm
Kerb weight: 200kg (176kg dry)
Electronics: Traction, wheelie and launch control, quickshifter, riding modes, ABS.
Will the 959’s extra power and weight help or hinder the ‘baby’ Panigale’s famed power/handling balance?
Honda Fireblade ABS
Bore and stroke: 76 x 55.1mm
Kerb weight: 200kg
Although it’s fallen behind its superbike rivals in terms of power and electronics, the Blade is still a superbly balanced, fast, easy to ride 1000. It’s reliable, well made and always at the sharp end of the sales charts.