Let Ducati V4 roar into your heart
Changing over to a V4 engine from the traditional V-twin for which Ducati is renowned will no doubt upset some purists.
But, fear not, ride the new V4 and if you don’t instantly love it, you don’t know what a pure, raucous motorcycle should be.
Have you ever dreamed of a hotblooded Italian supermodel — here’s your chance to caress one, ride one and fall in love with one!
The benefits of the 90-degree layout that Ducati has chosen is that you get the low-end torque and the mid-range of a V-twin with the absolute eyeball-rolling power of a four cylinder up high.
Have a look at MotoGP: the Ducatis have mega amounts of power compared to the rest of the field.
This means they’re also usually coming on to the straight faster as well, using the combination of having massive torque in the low to mid-range and the immense power of the four up high.
Ducati sees the 90-degree V4 layout as the pinnacle of motorcycle engine sports performance. It’s no coincidence that a V4 engine is used in the Desmosedici MotoGP bikes.
The 90-degree V layout evens up first order forces naturally without having to resort to a balancing countershaft which increases weight and drains power, to eliminate vibration.
The key benefit is better reliability and mechanical efficiency on an engine that revs as high as 14,000rpm. It is just one of many advantages that make this configuration the most technically refined possible.
The 90-degree V4 is also far smoother to use than the outgoing V-twin. Gone is the crankiness and having to ride it over 3000rpm all the time; the V4 will happily idle along at low rpm.
One thing that hasn’t gone, though, is the heat that gets pumped out. Your backside doesn’t get as hot as on the V-twin, but your inner thighs get hotter than a solarium with heat tubes.
Not a problem when you’re riding more than 60km/h but, idling through traffic, get ready for a roasting.
On normal road bikes, the crankshaft turns in the same direction as the wheels. In MotoGP, instead, counter-rotating crankshafts that run in the opposite direction are widely used.
Ducati engineers have borrowed this for the same reasons that first saw it applied in competition. Its benefits stem from two aspects of physics: gyroscopic effect and inertia — improving handling and improving acceleration.
The factory claims the bike is the class leader for power, and all you have to do is ride the Panigale V4 to know that it is indeed ballistically fast. As much as in-line four cylinder litre sportbikes (and in fact the outgoing Ducati V-twin) are mega fast, they simply don’t have the immense levels of power as the V4 from the word go right to the redline.
I’m tempted to say this engine will be too much for just about anyone on the road. And the sound! Oh my, just like a MotoGP bike.
Weighing 64.9kg, the Desmosedici Stradale V4 engine is a mere 2.2kg heavier than the 1285cc Superquadro twin it replaces.
That is not at all noticeable when riding. Compared with the outgoing 1299 Panigale, the V4 has reduced rake on the front — 24.5 degrees versus the outgoing 24 degrees — and a longer swing arm. This adds up to a much more stable motorcycle.
Due to the V4 configuration, the side-mounted shock of the V-twin Panigale had to go, so the designers at Ducati came up with a more traditional up and down mounting of the shock but with a very clever banana-shaped bracket that bolts to the back of the engine and the shock. It all works very well and keeps the bike as slim as can be.
As I mentioned, technology is at a new level with the introduction of the Panigale V4 S. No other motorcycle on the market offers what the V4 can. Want to set up the suspension for entry, mid corner and exit? You can on this bike, although this can be changed only in Race mode.
Sport and Street modes offer “normal” electronic control.
The next level of adjustment is an event-based control system. What this means is that the parameters are constantly changing as you ride along.
The suspension and steering damper are controlled by the second-generation Ohlins Smart EC 2.0 featuring, among other things, the new Objective Based Tuning Interface, which is where you can change the suspension for different parts of the corner — amazing stuff. Simplicity is one thing Ducati wanted with the new Panigale V4. Previously you’d have to dig into the menus where you’d be faced with a million and one different options.
This is now much more userfriendly (still with massive amounts of adjustment if you want it) but a simpler “harder/softer” styled menu for different parameters.
Two buttons on the left hand switch block control all adjustments.
The Mode/Enter button is where you can dig deeper into the available adjustments and/or change through the Race, Sport, Street modes.
The Select button is for “on-thefly” adjustments.
Things like traction control, wheelie control, ABS (although that needs to be changed at a standstill), engine braking, slide control, quickshifter and the electronic suspension can be changed easily whereas before you’d be digging into menus for ages.
Normally, most bikes’ electronics can be worked out within a couple of days but such is the extent of the electronics available on the Panigale V4 that Ducati gave me an owner’s manual so I could read it and get a grip of what’s on offer.
As you may know, most owners manuals come in two or three languages in the one book — not for the Panigale V4.
There are 333 pages all in English, which is a lot of information to absorb, so me trying to tell you every little detail is beyond the possibilities here.
The benefits of the 90-degree layout that Ducati has chosen is that you get the low-end torque and the midrange of a V-twin with the absolute eyeballrolling power of a four-cylinder up high.
The new V4 is beyond fast.