The last Panigale
Final Edition of a famous name signals the imminent arrival of V4 Ducati superbikes
‘Ducati are testing a new V4 – visually evolved from the Panigale’
THIS TRICOLOUR DELIGHT is the new, £35,000, Ducati 1299 Panigale R Final Edition. It’s essentially the fully-adjustable chassis from the 1199 Panigale R that Ducati make to meet World Superbike rules, with the mighty tuned-up engine from their super-swank Superleggera (see page 47) – the most powerful production Ducati twin ever. This means it has a dimesnsion-shifting 209bhp at 11,000rpm and rubber-rippling 105 lb.ft of torque, in an endlessly adjustable package with components from the toppest of drawers and a wet weight of just 190kg. Using conventional race-spec Öhlins suspension, a high-level pipe as on Chaz Davies’ race-winning World Superbike and more electronic whatnots than we have space to list, the Panigale Final Edition is only available in the red, white and green colour scheme. Though the production run won’t be limited, each bike will be numbered. They should already be in dealers. Which is all very nice. However, it’s the choice of name that’s far more interesting than the titanium con-rods and mind-boggling rider aids. You know, the Final Edition bit. Yes, this is the last-ever big Panigale. Far more significantly, this may also be the last big Ducati sportsbike to use a V-twin engine. ‘With the 1299 Panigale R Final Edition, Ducati pays tribute to the twin-cylinder engine,’ says the Italian factory. Their first road-going V-twin was the 750GT of 1971, and led to iconic machinery including the 900SS. Liquid cooling and multivalve heads brought us the 851, the bike which won at the very first WSB round in 1988 and was the blueprint for a series of epic sportsbikes – 916, 999, 1098, and the current 1299. Red V-twins have won 330 races in WSB and 17 manufacturer titles, and have come to define the brand. Think Ducati sportsbike, think booming big twin. But the FE is the last in the line. This ‘homage to the great Ducati supersport tradition’ is because next year’s range-topping sportsbike will have twice as many cylinders. Ducati are testing a new V4 – visually evolved from the Panigale, with a similar underbelly exhaust and single-sided swingarm, it will use lessons from their Motogp missile. Going from the spy shots we’ve seen of it being tested on the road and at Mugello circuit, the V4 will have something closer to a regular frame too, rather than the monocoque of the outgoing twin. Expect it to be 1000cc – partly because it’s the WSB displacement limit for a four-cylinder engine, and partly because that’s the size of the Grand Prix bike. Unless they go for a lower-stressed, larger, more flexible road version, and just stick to 1000 for a race homologation special. Of course this doesn’t mean an end to the twins used in every other bike that Ducati produce. Their latest motors are refined, flexible, clean, sound good, are easy to package and easily match multi-cylinder rivals. They’ll keep that boom that’s the firm’s signature. Expect to see a V4 at the EICMA show in Milan at the start of November. Meanwhile, if you want a new Panigale, get your wallet out.