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

Motorcycle News (UK) - - CONTENTS - Michael Neeves, Chief Road Tester Ron Haslam Elite in­struc­tor, Thun­der­sport GP1 racer, and TMAX owner

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.

1103 miles

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.

1333 miles

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.

1527 miles

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.

2409 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.

4825 miles

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.

4960 miles

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.

8120 miles

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.

8467 miles

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.

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