Let Du­cati V4 roar into your heart

Albany Extra - - Motoring - Stu­art Wood­bury

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.

Pic­ture: Mar­que Mo­tor­ing

The new V4 is be­yond fast.

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