Se­duc­tion on Two Wheels

The Pani­gale V4 re­places the iconic 1299 at the top of the Du­cati su­pers­port range


The Pani­gale V4 re­places the iconic 1299 at the top of the Du­cati su­pers­port range. This rad­i­cally re­designed bike lives up to its rac­ing her­itage, and is nim­ble, quick and awe­somely pow­er­ful

Back at the begin­ning of the year, Du­cati Mo­tor Hold­ing S.p.A. in­tro­duced a new mo­tor­cy­cle to its al­ready im­pres­sive line up—the Pani­gale V4. Not sur­pris­ingly, there is a lot to take in on the new mo­tor­cy­cle. One of the most im­por­tant fea­tures is that it has the first main­stream pro­duc­tion V4 en­gine from Du­cati, sur­pass­ing the ‘big V-twin’ con­fig­u­ra­tion, which made the firm a con­tender in the two-wheeled mo­tor­sport world. With the bike’s power to weight ra­tion of 1.1 hp/kg, this bike sets a new stan­dard in the su­pers­port pro­duc­tion bike seg­ment. Port­fo­lio re­cently had a chance to test this new ul­tra so­phis­ti­cated Ital­ian su­pers­port. The name ‘Pani­gale’ is a ref­er­ence to Borgo Pani­gale, site of the Du­cati fac­tory out­side Bologna. Many don’t re­al­ize that the iconic mo­tor­cy­cle builder started business in 1926 when An­to­nio Cava­lieri Du­cati and his three sons founded So­ci­età Sci­en­tifica Radio Brevetti Du­cati in Bologna to pro­duce radio com­po­nents. Even after nu­mer­ous bomb­ings, the com­pany man­aged to sur­vive World War II and after, fo­cused its re­sources on build­ing en­gines that could at­tach to bi­cy­cles. They achieved mod­er­ate suc­cess and took the ob­vi­ous next step – de­vel­op­ing mo­tor­cy­cles. In the 1960s, Du­cati earned its place in mo­tor­cy­cling his­tory by pro­duc­ing the fastest 250cc road bike of its time, the Mach 1. In the 1970s it be­gan pro­duc­ing its large-dis­place­ment V-twin mo­tor­cy­cles (V refers to the place­ment of the cylin­ders), and in 1973, re­leased a V-twin with the trade­marked ‘desmod­romic valve de­sign’. To­day, the com­pany is owned by Ger­man au­to­mo­tive man­u­fac­turer Audi through its Ital­ian sub­sidiary Lam­borgh­ini, which is in turn owned by the Volk­swa­gen Group.

Ital­ian Stal­lion

The new Pani­gale V4 is truly an im­pres­sive bike to be­hold. Its de­sign is sleek and min­i­mal­ist. How Du­cati man­aged to tuck a V4 en­gine into the cen­ter frame is in­deed an en­gi­neer­ing marvel. As you would ex­pect this bike comes with a star­tling ar­ray of oro­tund statis­tics. How­ever, the one that re­ally sticks out is its 214hp en­gine. Du­cati’s not only made a four-cylin­der en­gine to re­place the older, two-cylin­der 1299 V-twin Pani­gale – it has also given it a huge in­crease over the com­pe­ti­tion. Mo­tor­cy­cle com­pa­nies like BMW, Aprilia, Honda and oth­ers have their su­pers­port en­gines be­low the 1000cc mark, but the V4 Pani­gale mocks all other bikes with its hefty 1103cc dis­place­ment. With 214hp it means this bike is more like clamp­ing your legs around a rocket rather than an Ital­ian su­per­bike. Du­cati engi­neers ex­plain that the larger dis­place­ment is “to boost low-to-mid rev torque and re­duce max­i­mum revs so that the power is eas­ier to han­dle”. Trans­la­tion: more power means you don’t have to choke the throt­tle. This en­gine just isn’t a re­place­ment for the V-twin; this new en­gine has a char­ac­ter all its own.

Se­duc­tive Power

The en­gine reaches its peak power at an eye-wa­ter­ing, cam-slap­ping 13,000rpms. Those rev­o­lu­tions are enough to send a nor­mal au­to­mo­bile en­gine into a fa­tal ca­coph­ony of ex­plod­ing parts that end up on the scrap heap. The power of this ma­chine is to­tally se­duc­tive. Some rid­ers claim it’s not that scary, and that you feel to­tally in con­trol at all times – with its flaw­less fuel in­jec­tion, and a real pro­gres­sive, con­trol­lable feel at the throt­tle. Other rid­ers find this beast more like a buck­ing bronco that seems un­tam­able, which is its charm – raw power. When we tested the bike we found it to be a top per­former but a bit ter­ri­fy­ing. The Pani­gale V4 en­gine is the only mo­tor­cy­cle in the sports seg­ment with an ‘L-shaped’ 90° V con­fig­u­ra­tion. It’s also the only en­gine to use tech­nol­ogy such as the counter-ro­tat­ing crankshaft and twin pulse ig­ni­tion. All in all, these mod­i­fi­ca­tions have a pos­i­tive im­pact on bike dy­nam­ics, mak­ing it more ag­ile dur­ing changes of di­rec­tion, fast and stable on the straight and helps cre­ate eas­ier out-of-the-cor­ner torque han­dling.

Bike-Rider In­te­gra­tion

For road rub­ber, there’s a new 200/60 rear tire, and a load of op­ti­mized frame and com­po­nent tweaks to give even more grip all round. It is a won­der of en­gi­neer­ing how the frame takes all the torque be­ing rammed through it dur­ing each cor­ner and throt­tle twist. The front is good too, with its Öh­lins fork and hefty brakes that still al­low for a lot of road feel to come through. To con­tain all the torque, Du­cati de­vel­oped an all-new frame where the power plant it­self has a load bear­ing func­tion. Called Front Frame, it’s more com­pact and lighter than a perime­ter frame. The Front Frame has al­lowed de­sign­ers to cre­ate a bike that is slen­der in the tank-seat merger zone, while en­sur­ing nearly per­fect bike-rider in­te­gra­tion. To­gether with the de­sign, and use of su­per light ma­te­ri­als, the new frame keeps the curb weight down to an in­cred­i­ble 195kg. A lighter frame ul­ti­mately means a faster bike.

Com­puter Con­trol

The new Pani­gale V4 also has the lat­est Bosch six-axis in­er­tial plat­form. This sys­tem’s ad­vanced elec­tron­ics works to­gether to in­crease ac­tive safety and dy­namic ve­hi­cle con­trol stan­dards in all rid­ing sit­u­a­tions. The com­puter has a say in sus­pen­sion and brak­ing, much like you’ll find in mod­ern su­per­cars. The bike also has new ad­di­tions such as con­trolled drift dur­ing brak­ing and ABS Cor­ner­ing on the front wheel only. Good when you want to burn the rear rub­ber. The six-speed gear­box is spe­cially de­signed for the Des­mosedici Stradale en­gine and fea­tures a ro­tary gear sen­sor to en­sure op­ti­mal op­er­a­tion with Du­cati Quick Shift (DQS) up and down. A sen­sor as­sesses the po­si­tion of the gearshift drum and, con­se­quently, of the gearshift forks, with ex­treme ac­cu­racy to en­sure pre­cise gear changes. The shift­ing sys­tem re­stores torque trans­mis­sion only once the gear change has been com­pleted, pre­vent­ing un­due gear mesh stress so shifts are al­ways com­plete, pre­cise and swift. In our test the shift­ing was ac­cu­rate and pre­cise. In con­clu­sion this Ital­ian su­per­bike is a win­ner. It rides like a dream, is scary pow­er­ful, has a su­perb elec­tronic suite, and looks like a sexy Ital­ian so­cialite in high heels. So what’s wrong? Well, us­ing the so­cialite anal­ogy you’ve got to pay for this level of per­for­mance and styling, it’s not cheap. The price in­clud­ing COE is a cool S$86,000,which means it’s out of reach for many as­pir­ing petrol heads. But if you want Ital­ian cool­ness with abun­dant power, and can af­ford it, this is your bike.

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