Are you ready?

Du­cati’s Pani­gale re­place­ment is the be­gin­ning of a new su­per­bike chap­ter

Motorcycle News (UK) - - News - By Richard New­land DEPUTY ED­I­TOR @MCNNEWS mo­tor­cy­cle­news

See what Du­cati’s new V4 will look like - start sav­ing

With spec­u­la­tion rife that ev­ery­one from Har­ley­David­son to Tri­umph to var­i­ous In­dian twowheeled giants, are lin­ing up to buy Du­cati from the be­lea­guered post-diesel­gate Volk­swa­gen Group – we shouldn’t for­get that the re­ally im­por­tant news is the im­mi­nent ar­rival of their new V4 su­per­bike.

Driven by the firm’s de­sire to re­cap­ture their World Su­per­bike dom­i­na­tion, and in sup­port of their re­cent re­newed fo­cus and resur­gent suc­cess in Mo­togp, the new V4 will be a road bike evolved from the track – rather than a road bike turned racer.

The firm’s Pani­gale has been a ram­pant suc­cess in show­rooms, and no slouch on the track in the hands of Shane Byrne and Chaz Davies, but the race depart­ment needs ac­cess to more than the cur­rent 1198cc V-twin Pani­gale R can muster. With that bike al­ready de­vel­op­ing an im­pres­sive 193bhp in road trim – and a claimed 215-plus bhp race-ready – the firm has to be chas­ing a tan­gi­ble step-up, which can’t come from weight loss, so has to come from power and con­trol. The like­li­hood is that we’ll see more like 205-210bhp in road trim, but over 230bhp for race teams.

With the Pani­gale R’s enor­mous 112mm pis­tons slap­ping away at 11,750rpm (116mm in the stocker, redlin­ing at 10,500rpm), the Su­perquadro is al­ready at its outer lim­its for bore and rev ceil­ing har­mony. More revs mean more power, and that’s far more achiev­able with multi-cylin­der en­gines – but an in­line four is too or­di­nary for Du­cati, hence the move to a V4.

One ver­sion, or two?

All the in­di­ca­tions sug­gest that we’ll get two engine ver­sions across a three-bike range. The cur­rent R is 1198cc, while the base and S mod­els are 1285cc – and we ex­pect Du­cati to con­tinue this tried and tested route. What is be­yond any doubt is that there will have to be a 1000cc ver­sion in or­der to com­ply with rac­ing reg­ula- tions for four cylin­der bikes, and that those same reg­u­la­tions will force the re­lease of a road-go­ing ho­molo­ga­tion ver­sion. Fur­ther still, this means that the new R model will have to cost less than 40,000 Eu­ros (circa £35,500) to com­ply with World Su­per­bike rul­ings.

The race teams may force an­other sig­nif­i­cant point of dif­fer­ence, too. While all three test mules spied so far have fea­tured the sin­gle-sided swingarm we’ve come to ex­pect on Du­cati’s flag­ship (ever since the mas­sive 1098 climb-down in a post-999 world) – there’s a chance the R will boast a twin-spar item. Why? Race teams want it; the V4’s power will be con­sid­er­ably in­creased over the Pani­gale which is harder to tame with a sin­gle-sided swingarm; and both the Mo­togp bike and the orig­i­nal Des­mosedici road bike also had con­ven­tional swingarms. The fact that we’ve seen two dif­fer­ent test mules, each with dif­fer­ent ex­hausts and shock po­si­tions, sug­gests this is very likely to hap­pen.

Race teams want more tor­sional con­trol and tun­ing flex­i­bil­ity, and the weight of a sin­gle-sided swingarm that’s beefy enough to cope with 225+bhp could well give them some sleep­less nights. In con­trast, road bike buy­ers want the sin­gle-sided look that has come to de­fine Du­cati’s flag­ship su­per­bike. Add this to the move back to­wards a more sub­stan­tial frame knit­ting the engine to the head­stock, and the new bike looks set to mark a re­turn to more con­ven­tional con­trol.

Chicken or egg?

The base road bike and the S model are ex­pected to be un­veiled at the Mi­lan show this Au­tumn, while the R model ho­molo­ga­tion spe­cial could be as much as a year later. Du­cati’s WSB rac­ing boss Paolo Ci­a­batti con­firmed: “We will race with the Pani­gale in 2017 and 2018,” while Du­cati CEO Clau­dio Domeni­cali con­firmed that the V4 “would ab­so­lutely race in WSB”.

In terms of price, we’d ex­pect the new base model V4 to cost around £19,000, with the S model ar­riv­ing at around £23,500. The R, when it even­tu­ally ar­rives for 2019, seems likely to bust the £30k mark.

‘We should see this bike make 210bhp in road trim and 230bhp in race trim’

Du­cati’s new V4 has been spied in se­cret tests The new V4 will be a game-changer on the road and on the track

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