Swansong for a superbike
Panigale is a tremendously stable bike irrespective of how hard you throw it into a corner
DUCATI, ahead of the launch of its 2015 1 299 Panigale, gave Wheels24 the opportunity to have one last fling with the outgoing 1199.
We accepted and subjected the Pani to our usual test routine. When it was launched in 2011, Ducati claimed that the 1 199 Panigale was the world’s most powerful production twin, capable of 143 kW/132 Nm for a kerb weight of only 188 kg.
Its claim was reinforced by test results from an independent magazine which recorded a 0-100 km/h sprint in 2,98 sec, a standing quarter-mile in 9,91 sec (topping at 235 km/h) and a final top speed of 286 km/h.
The one thing I realised during the 2014 Bike of the Year testing was that Ducatis and I just get along. The Panigale seems perfectly sized for my frame, making it one of the most comfortable superbikes I have ridden. There is a little more to it than just comfort — the Pani is an easy bike to live with.
I would have expected an exotic bike to require some patience with its idiosyncrasies but the 1 199 showed none during the test period.
Riding it, whether on the back roads around the Cradle of Humankind, on the highway between Johannesburg and Pretoria, or for a quick trip to the local shop, was always fun.
The instrument panel is quite comprehensive and includes track-related accoutrements such as a stopwatch with lap timers. It also shows the state of rider aids such as the anti-lock brakes, traction control and engine map settings, all of which are easily adjustable via a handlebar switch. A light sensor allows the display to invert itself from the daytime black-on-white scheme to white digits on a black background for riding after dark.
What a sound …
The Panigale, like most Ducatis, has a glorious, addictive engine sound. It’s a loud machine but not in the obnoxious way of some cruisers — the Pani drew as much favourable response from bystanders for its sound as for its looks. The V-twin rumble at low revs transforms into an ecstatic howl near the rev limiter, leaving few in doubt of the brand of the bike that has just zoomed past them in a red blur. The sound is one of several characteristics of the bike that seem to conspire to seducing you into going fast. Going fast is one thing the Panigale enjoys thoroughly. A careless launch sees it rapidly raising the front wheel but also leaving virtually everything else behind. Yet despite its power, the 1 199 is remarkably manageable in traffic. It is not overly fond of low revs but it is much more flexible and tractable than you might think. However, if you let go of the reins, the Ducati rewards you with a sharp burst of power above 8000 rpm that is sustained until the rev limiter kicks in.
Fun on the road
With performance like this you need sure-footed handling and that’s an area in which the Panigale shines. It’s a tremendously stable bike which never seems to lose its composure, irrespective of how hard you throw it into a corner. There is a right-hand sweep on my daily route which is a lot of fun to take. It requires some caution though because there are several bumps right on the apex that have caused me to have some hairy moments.
Even these the Panigale took in its stride with little more than a mild head-shake, as if to show its disapproval of my imprudence. The 1 199 Panigale is sold with a three-year or 90 000 km warranty. The automaker also offers an appreciable discount on practically-new demo bikes and in the case of the 1 199 Panigale this amounts to a whopping R29 000 off the new price.
Going this route makes owning a Panigale much more accessible.
The 1 199 Panigale has very few vices (one its thirst for fuel) and it is hard to see how the upcoming 1 299 will improve on an already competent package. Watch the space as we share our findings with you as soon as we can lay our hands on the 2015 model. — Wheels24.com
The fastest in 2014, the Ducati 1 199 Panigale is about to be replaced by an even better superbike.