The Panigale has represented the flagship end of Ducati’s sportsbike range since 2012, when the 1199 Panigale was released. With a stressed-engine chassis design, and bevvy of electronic rider aids, the 1199 confirmed Ducati’s place at the cutting-edge of bike design.
Named after Ducati’s home town of Borgo Panigale, there have now been several versions of the bike and the most recent homologation special, the Ducati Panigale V4 R, will line up in both BSB and WSB in 2019.
Being the top-drawer bike from an exotic, Italian manufacturer, Panigales don’t come cheap. But you can pick up the older models for a lot less than the £34,995 Ducati are asking for the R.
- Engine: 1198cc 8v Superquadro V-twin
- Power: 195bhp
- This one: £9980 – 7948 miles
In 2012, a Yamaha R1 produced just shy of 158bhp and weighed 206kg, a Suzuki GSX-R1000 produced 182bhp and weighed 203kg and a BMW S1000RR produced 193bhp and 204kg. It’s easy to see that a 195bhp bike weighing just 188kg would turn some heads against this backdrop.
The original Panigale wasn’t just about mad power, either. Ducati opted to move away from their traditional trellis frame in favour of a stressed-engine design and crammed it with electronic wizardry to ensure that it would be stable, fast and rideable in the corners.
- Engine: 898cc 8v V-twin
- Power: 148bhp
- This one: £8399 – 14,700 miles
Shortly after the 1199, Ducati released the 899 Panigale, a smaller-capacity machine to replace the outgoing 848. Despite being the little brother to the 1199, the 899 is still a formidable machine with light, accurate steering and plenty of power on tap.
- Engine: 1285cc 8v V-twin
- Power: 196bhp
- This one: £12,499 – 5528 miles
The 2015 version of the Panigale received a capacity increase that boosted power a little, but the main advantage it brought was increased torque. This, coupled with clever electronic suspension and a taller screen made for a more useable bike on the road. The 1299 is less ferocious than the 1199 was, but that makes it easier to live with.
- Engine: 955cc 8v V-twin
- Power: 157bhp
- This one: £9795 – 10,487 miles
Ever-tightening emissions laws meant that the 899 looked to be going the way of the dodo and so Ducati had to go back to the drawing board.
The Euro4-compliant ‘shotgun’ exhausts are a bit of an eyesore to some, but the 959 Panigale is a great bike overall with small tweaks refining the groundwork laid by its predecessor.
- Engine: 1103cc V4
- Power: 211bhp
- This one: £20,250 – 2101 miles
Ok, so it’s incredibly expensive for a motorbike. But to put it in context, you can own the fastest production sportsbike MCN have ever tested and our 2018 bike of the year for less than the price of a new Ford Mondeo.
The V4 S is special for many reasons. At release, it was the most powerful naturally aspirated production motorbike ever, had the most advanced electronics in the world and was the first mass-produced Ducati motorbike with four cylinders.
Possibly the most astonishing thing about it is how useable it manages to be on the road. MCN Chief Road Tester Michael Neeves had a V4 S on long-term test in 2018 and said: "It has first class legroom, for a superbike, an acceptably comfy seat and for most part, the weight on your wrists can be relieved with a cushion of wind speed.
"I never tire of it’s incredible corner-entry poise and grip, or the bassy growl from an engine that started life in Dovi’s 2014 racer and the way it delivers its power. It has a multitude of characters: soft at the bottom, bursting with grunt in the middle and topped off with such a ferocious top end it’s hard to hang on."