‘It con­tin­ues to push you, test you and ex­cite you...’

Performance Bikes (UK) - - RACE LEGEND -

WHEN I RODE the Panigale at the TT for PB, I was to­tally blown away by its en­gine, and just how strong it is. I’d stepped off my 220bhp su­per­bike and was stunned that a road bike could feel harder and faster, but it did. When I got to Don­ing­ton Park with it, I have to ad­mit that I went from be­ing in awe of it, to more than a lit­tle bit ter­ri­fied of it in places. It’s the first bike I’ve ever ridden, in­clud­ing race bikes, that made Don­ing­ton feel too small. But it’s not just about the sheer quan­tity of power that it pro­duces; it’s how it makes it, and how it com­bines with the elec­tron­ics to make it all ex­ploitable. You’ve still got to bring your A-game to it, though; it re­ally is some­thing else. I haven’t ridden any of the modern MotoGP bikes, but I imag­ine the en­gine at least in the Panigale can’t be far off what one feels like. It’s amaz­ing how the fir­ing or­der plays tricks with you. If I didn’t know, I’d never have guessed it was a V4. I’d have prob­a­bly said it was a V-twin.

I’m not a mas­sive fan of elec­tronic sus­pen­sion in gen­eral, but I have to say that the kit on both bikes is re­ally in­ter­est­ing. I sup­pose, in the back of my mind, I need to be 100% sure that what I’m feel­ing isn’t be­ing dis­torted or in­ter­fered with by a sus­pen­sion ECU, and those last two-tenths al­ways come on man­ual mode, so I’ll al­ways be scep­ti­cal of semi-ac­tive sus­pen­sion. But, equally, it was hardly hold­ing me back – I’d guess a lot of nor­mal track­day rid­ers will gain more from those pre­set track modes than I get from re­vert­ing to con­ven­tional ad­just­ment. I feel a bit sorry for Yamaha, and any­one else build­ing a su­per­bike – they’ve made a good bike bet­ter, and ridden in isolation it’s a stun­ning bike. But, over and above the lap times, just the way the Panigale feels makes it my favourite. You feel like you can get the mea­sure of every other litre bike af­ter a while, but the Du­cati con­tin­ues to push you, test you and ex­cite you. The Panigale V4 is the first bike that I’ve felt is prob­a­bly a bit bet­ter than me, which is ex­actly why it sim­ply has to be my favourite. I like a chal­lenge, and they don’t come big­ger than a road bike with more than one horse­power per kilo.

Rutter likes a chal­lenge. The V4 presents one...

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