First ride: Ducati 1299 Panigale R Final Edition
WHY DUCATI'S 1299 PANIGALE R FINAL EDITION IS THE ULTIMATE R
It's a Panigale ‘Greatest Hits’ compilation
The £34,995 1299 Final Edition R isn’t an ‘R’ in the WSB homologation special sense of the term (the motor is too big), it’s more the V-twin superbike’s leaving cake, made lovingly with ingredients borrowed from the cream of the current Panigale range. It’s the Bologna firm’s final hurrah before the arrival of the new V4 next year.
Electronic rider aids are taken from the current 1299 (‘DTC EVO’ was first seen on the Panigale Anniversario last year), the adjustable aluminium monocoque frame, swingarm, forged ali wheels, suspension and brakes are borrowed from the 1198cc homologation-special Panigale R and the cherry on top is the 209.5bhp 1285cc Superleggera-derived motor.
It’s reassuringly expensive
It costs almost double what you’d pay for the not-exactly-slow 197bhp base model 1299 Panigale, but if you consider it’s half the price of the carbon fibre Superleggera the swansong Ducati seems better value…well, sort of.
Big speed guaranteed
Like all big Panigales you have to keep the motor on the boil and dance through the close-ratio gearbox for maximum momentum. Without the Superleggera’s carbon chassis or the Panigale R’s sandcast engine cases the Final Edition is only half a kilo lighter than the base model 1299 and S, but with all that power on tap it leaps off corners like a maniac and shortens straights like they’ve been shrunk in wash.
The 1299 Panigale S has the best power-to-weight ratio of any current full-production superbike and with its extra 12bhp the Final Edition takes that a step further with even stronger acceleration and a more demonic induction roar when you open the taps.
But giving away 23kg to the Superleggera, the Final Edition doesn’t explode forward with such bombastic alacrity on the throttle and without ‘the special one’s’ next generation electronics it doesn’t have such refined anti-wheelie, or slide control, either. But the Final Edition still has some of the best rider aids fitted to any road bike, which combined with its single-minded, racy chassis and all that power, will make it hard to beat on-track.
The Final Edition’s V-twin motor doesn’t have sandcast crankcases or aluminium cylinder liners, like the 5.5bhp more powerful Superleggera, but the rest is the same, from its high compression superbike-spec pistons, to its high-lift cams, lightweight flywheel and crankshaft with tungsten counterweights, titanium con rods, intake and exhaust valves, ported cylinder head, lithium battery and sexy WSB-style, Euro 4-friendly underseat exhausts.
Those titanium Akrapovic pipes are actually pretty quiet compared to the standard Panigale’s underslung exhausts, so noise restricted trackdays won’t be such a problem.
Handling fit for Chaz and Shane.
Panigale handling has come a long way from the wayward 1199 original. That 2012 machine wobbled at the slightest hint of throttle and gave the impression you were about to set a lap record even when you were seconds off the pace. But with its friendlier chassis set-up and refined electronic rider aids the 1299 Panigale is a different beast. It still feels crazy-fast, but now it’s actually fast.
It still takes a certain riding style to ride the Ducati quickly around a track, compared to any conventional superbike. It detests big steering, throttle and braking inputs and still shimmies in protest if you’re rough and clumsy. Instead it rewards with devastating corner speed and lightning-quick direction changes when you tickle the Final Edition’s controls and caress the big Ducati from kerb to kerb, to kerb.
On the brakes no superbike has the capability of scrubbing off speed with such unfettered, tricep-busting violence, with such stability, as a big Panigale.
It’s still the king of bling
Like the best Ducati V-twin Rs and SPs the Final Edition bristles with specialness, from its forged ali wheels, Ohlins, monobloc M50 Brembos, to the carbon mudguard, hugger and heat shield. A riot of Inertial Measurement Unit-controlled electronics includes traction, wheelie and engine braking control you can adjust on the move, cornering ABS, three rider modes (Race, Sport, Wet), a quickshifter, autoblipper and datalogger.
Build quality and attention to detail are flawless, which is what you’d expect from a 35-grand motorcycle and it’s all topped-off with that classy Italian tricolore paintjob.
DUCATI 1299 PANIGALE R FINAL EDITION
Engine 1285cc 8v L-twin
Frame Cast aluminium airbox chassis
Seat height 830mm
Suspension Fully adjustable 43mm Ohlins NIX30 forks and single Ohlins TTX36 shock.
Front brake 2 x 330mm discs. Brembo M50 four-piston radial caliper.
Colours Red (Ducati Corse)
Available Tricolore (red/white/green)
Kerb weight 190kg (168kg dry)
Tank capacity 17-litres
Pictures by Markus Jahn