There’s no fight more furious than at the top of the food chain. Michael Rutter wallops the best of the best to find the electronically-suspended apex predator
Ducati Panigale V4 S vies with Yamaha YZF-R1M for top superbike honours
SINCE THE FIRST WHISPERINGS a year ago of an all-new Panigale from Ducati, with a MotoGP-derived V4 engine, we at PB have been licking our lips at the prospect of what it might do to the Rutter Test leaderboard. Would it set a whole new benchmark and make the current crop of litre bikes look decidedly average, or would it barely move the dial and simply validate how we’ve never had it so good today?
Chris rode it at its official launch in Spain, Johnny rode it on the roads of Southern France, and Rutter rode one round the TT course... really fast. It left all three of them speechless.
Meanwhile, over at Yamaha, while everyone else was
distracted by Ducati’s force of nature, they were busy polishing the already brilliant R1M. The suspension got an upgrade to the very same second-generation semi-active Öhlins kit worn by the Panigale V4 S, and its electronics got a lot of attention, too, not that they really needed a wholesale rethink. The newly added autoblipper was much appreciated, though.
These two bikes represent the very top of the technological and performance food chain. There are no other production sportsbikes with as much power on tap, as much technical voodoo, and as high a specification. So, to bring some balance, we’ve brought along our very own, plain and simple Michael Rutter to see what they’ve got.
All the bikes we’re including in this year’s Donington Park Rutter Test wear Metzeler Racetec RR rubber. The K3 compound rubber provides a level playing field for our test subjects, and allows them to perform at their best.
186.33bhp • 202.2kg • £19,399 Gets a lot of small upgrades in the software department, and one big one in the suspension department. Evolution rather than revolution.
Each of our Rutter Test bikes is given the attention of James Harpham of K-Tech, to evaluate their standard settings, make adjustments, and set each bike up to allow the quickest possible lap. They’ll do the same for you, for just £45. www.ktechsuspension.com
DUCATI PANIGALE V4S
202.57bhp • 201.0kg • £19,649 Brand new, from the ground up. Only the Panigale name survives. Twin pulse, counter-rotating crossplane crank V4 motor is the headline feature.
Multiple TT, BSB and Macau GP winner Currently racing a BMW S1000RR, but was blown away by the V4 when he caned it round the TT for PB earlier this year.