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1299 Panigale S
There are few bikes I can think of more visually striking than Ducati’s 1199 Panigale. It’s as much a motorcycle as a piece of art - in many eyes a perfect balance between form and function.
But I think it’s just got prettier. And better.
To some, the new 1299 Panigale may look much the same as the old model but it’s had some noticeable visual tweaks, which include a new wider front fairing with more aggressively styled air intakes, a new tail unit, a larger screen and a new seat.
However, perhaps of more interest is the new engine, which is an even more oversquare version of the last Superquadro motor. The bore size was already an enormous 112mm on the 1199, but it’s been increased to 116mm which gives the engine its larger 1285cc capacity. The 1299’s pistons are now roughly the same size as a small dinner plate. Enormous.
Ducati claim 205hp at 10,500rpm and 106.7ft.lb of torque at 8,750rpm - that’s 10hp more than the 1199 and an extra 10% of torque too.
It may be boring to list off electronics but the new 1299 has an arsenal of them and they play a vital role in how the bike feels. As on the 1199, you get traction control, riding modes and Engine Braking Control (EBC), but there’s now wheelie control, a quickshifter that allows clutchless upshifts AND downshifts, and cornering ABS, too.
Dig a little deeper for the S model and you get semi-active Ohlins suspension front and rear, and an electronic steering damper added to your rider aid armoury. The S version also gets lightweight forged aluminium wheels and LED headlights, and is the model we rode at the International press launch in Portimao.
For those who don’t know Portimao, the circuit is full of off-camber blind corners, hairpin turns and heavy braking zones in steep downhill sections. It’s physical, and if you crash, it’s likely to be a fast one.
And yet, somehow, the 1299 Panigale made the track feel about as intimidating as a pillow fight.
You see, the 1199 had a reputation for feeling twitchy and stiff, making it difficult to ride quickly on track. The new bike, despite a noticeable increase in power, is far more user-friendly. It no longer punishes rider error. The change in feel comes from a slightly sharper steering head angle and a lower swingarm pivot point which has transformed the bike. The 1299 is not just a more powerful 1199, it offers a completely different riding experience.
That experience changes further depending on which rider mode is selected. There’s three to choose from: Wet, Sport and Race - each offering a completely different setup with varying levels of power. Unless the heavens have opened and you’ve already worn your tyres down to the belts, you’ll probably be more than happy to give Wet mode a miss and leave it in Sport. You still get 205hp but the power delivery is significantly softer and the electronics are much more eager to lend a helping hand. Throttle response and power delivery in Race mode is much sharper with last-chance traction control preset as standard.
Most of the journalists on the press launch left the bike in Race. If you like setting up your own machine, all the electronics are individually adjustable via a simple control system on the left handlebar.
What quickly became apparent while hustling the bike around Portimao is the newfound torque. For one reason or another, riders all too often get their knickers in a twist over big horsepower figures, but I think they’re missing the point. Yes, it may pump out a few more horses on the dyno, but it’s where that extra power has gone that’s important. The 1299 has kept the fast-revving nature of the 1199 engine but comes with boosted grunt across the entire rev range. You no longer have to keep it on song in the upper echelons of the powerband - power is now everywhere.
You can short-shift and pull fourth-gear power wheelies to your heart’s content. In fact, the front end was heading skywards even in sixth at 150mph over a small crest just short of the main straight.
Following in the footsteps of Ducati’s 1098 line-up, the 1299 displays confidence-inspiring levels of stability just about everywhere on track. Put the bike on its side and it’s there to stay. It feels planted throughout turns but remains completely responsive to mid-corner tweaks if you need to tighten up your line.
Perhaps most impressive is the bike’s stability on down-shifts. Some might call it cheating but with the 1299’s well set-up slipper clutch, Ducati’s EBC system and the automatic throttle-blipper, it’s almost impossible to get the bike out of shape on corner entry. Even with the powerful Brembo M50 brakes on full attack, you’ll find it hard to get much more than a wiggle out of the back wheel.
Many will say electronics take the skill and fun out of riding, but it's an argument that I just don't buy. They let you safely explore performance that previously felt impossible to exploit.
One of the features that makes the 1299 such a good bike to ride is its lack of weight - Ducati claims it tips the scales at 190kg wet. It doesn’t matter how fast you’re riding, the new Panigale changes direction with unrivalled urgency. It’s one of the most quick-steering motorcycles I’ve ever ridden. And what’s best is the manner in which it rewards faster and smoother riding. At slow speeds the 1299 can occasionally be found guilty of feeling noncompliant. However, turn up the wick and ride within the 1299’s performance window and it starts to make all sorts of sense. The suspension feels more plush, the quickshifter works faster and the bike is much more eager to slice through corners with unmatched precision.
Standard fitment tyres are Pirelli's Diablo Supercorsa SPs, tried and tested rubber with silly amounts of grip on track. Our test bikes were shod with a stickier, more track-biased compound of the Supercorsa which highlighted just how hard you could push the 1299. Even with the rear shock firmed-up fully in Race mode, there was loads of feel from the rear on corner exit. Even after six sessions, when the tyres started to go off, the electronics package and feedback from the bike made it easy to lay down rubber on corner exit with long, predictable powerslides . And unlike the 1199, the 1299 can now be fitted with any tyre or have its final drive ratio changed without upsetting the bike's electronic brain.
Some Ducati's have been known to throw in an occasional false neutral but I didn't miss a gear all day. The gearbox is slick, precise, and has oodles more feel compared to BMW's 2015 S1000RR. There's always a definitive thunk as the box slots a new gear, eliminating any need to have a quick nosy down at the bright TFT dash to see if you're in the right gear.
It may sound cliche but the Panigale is also so much more dramatic than the RR, or any of the Japanese superbikes currently on the market for that matter. There's absolutely no denying: the Ducati looks incredible. I doubt many non-bikers would stop in their tracks to take a second glance at the S1000RR. Ride the 1299 through a town centre and you'll be the centre of attention for all the right reasons.
Ducati's reputation for poor reliability and frequent servicing intervals has long been a thing of the past now too. Valve clearance adjustments for the 1299 are at 15,000 miles, the same as any Japanese inline-four superbike.
If I were choosing, I'd buy a standard Panigale without the electronic suspension and use the left-over cash to bolt on the official 1299 Akraprovic exhaust system. It makes a world of difference to throttle response, engine pick-up, and gives the Panigale a sound that matches its fierce looks.
Model tested: Ducati 1299 Panigale S
Price: £16,695 ($18,836) for the base model, £20,795 ($23,461) for the S
Engine: 1285cc L-twin
Power: 205hp @ 10,500rpm
Torque: 106.7lbft @ 8,750rpm
Kerb weight: 190kg
Tank capacity: 17 litres
Seat height: 830mm
Availability: April 2015
From our friends at Visor Down
TECHNICAL ANALYSIS: DUCATI 1299 PANIGALE
At the EICMA show last fall, one of the technical highlights for me was how Ducati extracted an extra 100cc of displacement from the Panigale V twin. While the supercharged Kawasaki H2 and H2Rs certainly were impressive, I believe Ducati’s increase in displacement to 1299cc actually was a harder path toward more power. This was confirmed during a discussion I had with the young and brilliant Dr. Marco Sairu, who is the boss of Ducati’s Engine Project Department Management. We were standing in front of a display showing internal parts of the new 1299cc “Monster Panigale.”
Here, supported by the technical analysis of Dr. Sairu, I will detail the philosophical approach to the radical over-boring that has created the 1299 Panigale. I will start from the beginning, and I apologize if I return to concepts that I have already expressed in my previous story about the Ducati 1299 Panigale when it was unveiled at EICMA.
Over-boring an engine that already sports a very big bore is unusual. But in this case, it follows within the basic parameters of the whole Panigale project, in which the dimensions of the engine are tightly interfaced to those of the whole bike. The engine is the basic element of the frame structure, and its dimensions are a non-negotiable factor, at least until Ducati decides that it’s time to completely re-design the whole bike.
As we know, the Ducati Panigale 1199 was conceived around the most radically over-square bore and stroke measurements ever adopted on a road worthy twin-cylinder motorcycle engine: a 112mm bore and a 60.8mm stroke. Therefore, it was only natural to expect that any increase in displacement would come from lengthening the stroke, a proven way to gain torque and flexibility.
But this stroking procedure was not possible on the Panigale because the engine was conceived as a racing engine, extreme in every conceptual detail, with outer measurement that were as tight as possible to keep the L-shape 90-degree V-Twin compact enough to fit in a chassis with a short (agile) wheelbase and correctly biased front weight distribution.
This explains why the 1199 engine has 110.1mm conrods, which translates to a not-too-generous 1.8:1 rod-to-stroke ratio, given the wild bore size and the engine’s ability to rev well past 11,000. But this was vital to make the engine as compact as possible. To keep overall dimensions the same as on the 1199, stroking would have meant further shortening the rods. This would have caused a massive increase of secondary imbalance, plus more high-frequency vibrations, piston side thrust, and friction. By no means is this a technically refined solution. And let’s not forget that the Ducati 1199 already was the strongest twin-cylinder engine to ever power a street-legal motorcycle.
Dr. Sairu, however, confirmed that the public demanded more flexibility and a better power delivery at lower rpm, in the best tradition of Ducati’s V-twins. With the stroking option rejected, Dr. Sairu and his team took on the over-boring challenge. With the bore increasing from 112mm to 116, the most significant move is an appropriate increase in valve size to keep overall efficiency at the same level reached with the smaller version. But in this case, that principle of efficiency was sidelined and Sairu’s technical team focused on optimizing fluid dynamics to obtain the best possible cylinder filling over the broadest possible range of revs using the 1199’s 46.8mm inlet and 38.2mm exhaust valves. Valve lift is also unchanged, with 16mm inlet, 14.3mm exhaust.
The result? A massive increase of torque starting at low rpm, and a solid horsepower increase with only a marginal loss of less than 300 rpm at the top end. It’s a terrific result that translates to significantly improved tractability and torque at all rpm. Just what the ultimate Ducati V-twin demands.
A) The new Ducati 1299 Panigale V-twin is visually identified by the extended ribbing on all covers. This reduces resonance to help the bike meet the more stringent noise pollution standards in a number of European countries. The general look is cleaner and very purposeful. The complete engine weighs a claimed 135.6 lb., only 2.2 lb. more than the standard 1199 unit, which is no longer in production. (Only the race-ready 1199 R is in production.)
B) The comparison between the 1199 and the 1299 torque/power curves tells all. As expected, the 1299 makes massive torque, peaking at 106 pound-feet (144Nm) at 8,750 rpm. The strongest increase is between 5,000 and 6,000 rpm. Despite its “worsened” valve size to bore ratio, the 1299 puts out more torque than the 1199 from 4,000 to 11,000 rpm, thanks to good volumetric (and thermodynamic) efficiency
From our friends at Cycle World
You'll Love To Hate The New Batch Of Ducati Scrambler Customs
There was never any doubt that Ducati would get the Scrambler into the hands of customizers before it even went on sale. This is the result. Let the flame wars and/or lovefest begin.
Ducati gave three shops the first crack at customizing the new Scrambler, all from Italy and all debuting this week at the Verona Motor Bike Expo. Ducati picked the usual suspects, with Deus Ex Machina, Mr. Martini, and Officine Mermaid ripping apart different versions of the Scrambler to show off the potential of Ducati's new entry-level ride. Here's what they came up with.
Full Throttle by Deus Ex Machina, Milan
Deus' Milan outpost is responsible for the most imaginative and polarizing of the trio. The Scrambler was stripped to the frame before new aluminum bodywork was crafted, including a single-piece tail and a headlight/fairing combo "inspired by speedway bikes". The asymmetrical front mud-guard stays true to Deus wackiness, but the custom pipes should be part of the Scrambler catalog, stat.
Urban Enduro by Mr. Martini, Verona
A cafe-style Scrambler was a given considering Ducati didn't offer its own version from the factory, but Mr. Martini's selection of the Urban Enduro model for the base is a bit confusing. Despite the lowered bars and new front fairing, it comes across as oddly upright, but the riding position has been shifted thanks to some new footpegs. Mr. Martini also shifted the rear suspension and made a custom tail, then topped it off with that high-mount exhaust everyone's been asking for.
Classic by Officine Mermaid, Milan
Officine Mermaid went the other direction with a Classic, stripping it to the bone, then adding knobby tires to upside wheels (21-inch in front, 18-inch in the rear), an under-engine exhaust, metal mudguards, a new rally-style headlamp, and a spotlight on the side. The whole thing comes across as kind of rough, which is exactly what they were hoping for with the stripped and hand-brushed metalwork.
From our friends at: lanesplitter.jalopnik.com
MotoCorsa's TerraStrada, sister of the infamous TerraCorsa, is almost complete thanks to our friends at Twisted Throttle
Stelvio Pass - Italy
The Austrian Empire first etched the road through the Stelvio Pass in 1820, and it hasn't changed a lick in the intervening 193 years. There are a total of 60 hairpin switchbacks scarred up and down the mountainside like a hyperactive Richter scale, and 48 of those sit on the northern side of the pass. Each one is numbered, and in 1990, Sir Stirling Moss himself ran off the road during a vintage rally. If this one's challenging enough to put Moss off his game, it's good enough to give you a run for your money. Trust us.
From our friends at Road&Track