Revealed: The highs and lows of riding over 8000 miles on Ducati’s red-hot Panigale V4
Neeves looks back on his year with Ducati’s stunner
Friday, April 20: I collect the V4 S from Ducati UK and as one of the first in the country it quickly draws a crowd; it’s something I have to get used to over the coming months. I take the back roads home and am blown away by its grunt, ride and sheer drama. And it’s so gorgeous I often find myself pulling over, just to gawp at it.
The right mirror stalk breaks as I brush past a hedge. I post a picture online and discover many Panigale owners have suffered a similar thing. Otherwise the only thing spoiling the V4’s looks is its clunky numberplate hanger. Two bolts later it’s in the bin. I replace it with an Evotech tail tidy, making the back look as amazing as the front.
I accidentally leave the ignition on and flatten the battery. I haven’t got a charger for the lithium ion battery so Ducati Peterborough save the day.
Nürburgring-bound. For such a track-focused bike the V4 S’s surprisingly refined and roomy and I manage 128 miles before the reserve light comes on. But my wrists are battered after a few hours. Packed with rapid, high-gear corners the Nordschleife must be the only place in the world where you can properly stretch its legs, burning through a tank of fuel in just 60 miles.
Brands GP trackday (MSVT). After the glow of the ’Ring I’m surprised to discover a different V4 S here. A combination of instant grunt and a super-stiff chassis ties the rear Pirelli Supercorsa SPS in knots every time I touch the throttle, no matter what I do with the suspension. It’s incredibly stable on the brakes and turns deliciously into an apex, though.
The quickshifter and blipper start working intermittently. The warning light comes on occasionally and finally stays on. Soon afterward I fit replacement Brembo brake pads, which are almost on their limit. The warning light disappears. Can it know when the pads are worn? I also fit BST Rapid Tek carbon wheels and a new rear Supercorsa.
A 3147-mile holiday to Croatia is a mix of pleasure and pain. Pummelled wrists and a fried backside are low points but some of Europe’s best roads on one of the most capable sportsbikes ever is very special. Carbon wheels give an even more sumptuous ride but the warning light reappears in Italian floods and the quickshifter has stopped working again.
Oil change service. The V4 S has very generous oil (7500 miles) and valve check (15,000 miles) intervals. I was in the middle of France when it was due, but doing it before I left would’ve been too soon. The quickshifter is restored and the dash lights are extinguished.
I go the fun way to work a final time. The cold, wet and greasy November roads are not what it was built for so I don’t feel bad giving it back. It still looks new and there’s not a stone chip in sight. Would I buy one? For trackdays and long distances, no, but for the sheer thrill of ownership and short road blasts, few motorcycles feel so special.