I’ve just finished my first riding session on the 959 Panigale (on Pirelli Diablo Super Corsa SC2 race rubber) and it’s more of the same from Ducati’s ‘Super Mid’ machine...in a good way.
Without putting it back to back with the 899, it’s hard to notice the 2% improved power to weight ratio, or the extra torque, but it should be more obvious on the road when the throttle isn’t on the stop everywhere.
The 959 doesn’t accelerate viciously like a superbike and here at a big track like Valencia it doesn’t feel crazy-fast, either. But, getting the best out of the 899 and this new 959 is all about letting go of the brakes early and carrying corner speed like a Moto3 racer. The faster you flow through corners, the better it feels.
Agility is between a 600 and a superbike, electronics and quickshifter is superb and the Brembos work well, although not on par with the 1299’s earth-stoppers. We’ve got another three sessions to explore the 959’s voracious appetite for corners and if it’s anything like the 899, it’ll get better lap after lap.
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 The 899’s sexy underslung exhausts have gone and been replaced by something a whole lot clumsier-looking.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. Today we find out.
2016 Ducati 959 Panigale: 157bhp, 79.2ftlb, 200kg, TC, ABS, quickshifter, riding modes, 1299 styling tweaks. £13,295 (or £13,025 in red)