The Ducati Panigale V4 sets a new superbike benchmark

With lots of power and all-new frame, the new Ducati Panigale V4 should set a new benchmark for production superbikes.

The V4-powered superbike has been designed using lessons learned in MotoGP; Ducati has kept weight down to a reasonable 175 kg dry/198 kg wet, and bumped output to 214 hp. That means a power/weight ratio of 1.1 hp/kg, despite the heavier V4 engine configuration.

Ducati was partly able to pull this off because of the new “Front Frame” design, which, like previous Panigales, relies heavily on the engine as a stressed member, holding down structural duties as well as providing horsepower.

The new 1,103 cc engine has a counter-rotating crankshaft, twin-pulse ignition, and makes its peak horsepower at 13,000 rpm. Peak torque output (91.5 lb-ft) comes at 10,000 rpm. There’s a six-speed gearbox with up/down Ducati Quick Shift as standard, and a hydraulically-controlled wet multiplate clutch.

Ducati says that, with factory hop-up parts (titanium Akrapovic exhaust), it’s easy to get the engine to 226 hp.

As with every modern superbike, there are multiple riding modes programmed into the V4’s computer brain (Race, Sport, Street modes). Of course, the bike comes with a comprehensive safety package as well; a six-axis Inertial Measurement Unit allows Ducati to include cornering ABS (front wheel only), a drift control, traction control, wheelie control, launch control, and even an engine brake control. The bike also has a pre-set for the Ducati Data Analyser, if you want to pore over your lap data, as well as the Ducati Multimedia System. Presumably, all this is controlled through the new five-inch TFT dash.

In the suspension department: Ducati runs the V4 Panigale on fully-adjustable 43 mm Showa Big Piston forks and Sachs monoshock (also fully adjustable). There’s a Sachs steering damper as well.

Brakes are new Brembo Stylema units, with monobloc calipers. The headlights are LED units, the fuel tank capacity is 16 litres, and standard colour is Ducati Red with grey frame and black wheels.

Along with the new Panigale V4, there are two other sub-models, the Panigale V4 S and Panigale V4 Speciale.

The V4 S is basically the same as the standard V4 (engine, brakes, most of frame are unchanged), but the suspension is upgraded to Ohlins NIX-30 forks and TTX36 shock, as well as an Ohlins steering damper. This is all kept under control of the Ohlins Smart EC 2.0 electronic suspension brain. There’s also a set of Marchesini aluminum forged wheels, a lithium-ion battery, and a cast magnesium alloy front sub-frame. That brings weight down to 174 kg dry, 195 kg wet.

As for the Speciale, it comes with all the upgrades of the S model, but also has carbon-fibre fenders, machined  top yoke, an Alcantara seat, adjustable footpegs, brake lever protection, and a mix of some other parts that are either aimed at improving track performance or impressing your friends who have an obsession with billet and carbon-fibre. The Akrapovic titanium full exhaust system is stock, as is a racing windshield, the Ducati Data Analyser, a paddock cover, and more.

All bikes meet Euro4 specs; Ducati has not announced which are coming to Canada, or when, or at what prices.


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