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Ducati Panigale V4S: MD First Ride

This is a report from our friends at Solo Moto from the world press launch of the Ducati Panigale V4 (including the Standard V4, V4S and V4 Speciale) at Valencia.  The report focuses on the model track tested, the V4S. You can find out the details of each model in our earlier story, as well as a video report we posted from the same press launch.

The name and essence is the same, and it even sounds like a v-twin. The new Ducati Panigale superbike, however, is a V4 displacing 1,103cc that we got to test at the Valencia circuit.

The new V4 proved effective on the race track, providing the rider with great confidence and pleasure. The new bike changes directions with the same agility as the old v-twin Panigale, but turns into corners in a more controlled fashion.


From 8,000 rpm, the new Panigale V4S I rode delivers enormous power … seemingly making the Valencia straights disappear. The new Brembo brake calipers have all the power you could want, but deliver it in a softer, more linear fashion without the huge initial bite we expected.

The wonderful quickshifter works seamlessly, both up and down … allowing you to bang two downshifts without the clutch when entering a corner. This new V4 is loaded with new electronic aids. A Bosch IMU works to control the 214 horsepower on tap, as well as the Öhlins “smart” suspension, ABS and traction control. Even relatively inexperienced riders, if they place their trust in the Bologna electronics, can ride the new Panigale fast … really fast!

The engine performance from the new V4 sacrifices nothing compared to the old v-twin, and, in fact, offers more. Still with excellent torque in the mid-range, the new engine pulls hard all the way to 14,500 rpm. Although two kilos (4.4 pounds) heavier than the old v-twin, the new V4 is shorter and more compact, allowing Ducati to position the new engine in a manner to improve weight centralization, and place more weight on the front wheel versus the v-twin. A new “Front Frame” utilizes the engine as a stressed member which, according to Ducati, decreases weight and improves handling.

The V4S we rode, as well as the Speciale, feature electronic Öhlins suspension, while the base model makes do with conventional Showa and Sachs units. The computer adjusts the suspension to your riding style and needs. It seemed to perform flawlessly, but you can also disable this function, and set the suspension to your preferences through the TFT 5″ color instrument screen. The range of adjustments are seemingly limitless, even allowing you to change the suspension response at different points in a corner, and at different lean angles.

Likewise, the brakes work with the IMU, as well as the traction control, considering lean angle and various forces affecting the bike to prevent wheel slip. The system even allows controlled rear wheel slip, which advanced riders can use both on corner entry and exit to their advantage.


Of course, there is also adjustable wheelie control, which worked effectively to allow hard acceleration at Valencia. All of these electronic aids are preset in each of three modes (Street, Sport and Race), but can be modified to rider taste.

The new V4 shares its engine bore size with Ducati’s Factory MotoGP bike, and it gives mere mortals a taste of the amazing performance MotoGP racers experience. It is a ride that provides enormous thrills, while still maintaining a sense of control. U.S. MSRP for the S model we tested is $27,495, while the Standard version is priced at $21,195 and the Speciale is $39,995. Take a look at Ducati’s web site for additional details and specifications.


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93 Comments

  1. silver says:

    Congrats to Ducati for doing something new and hitting it out of the park from the sound of things.

  2. Alex says:

    The horsepower numbers are pretty outstanding and great for the end user, but wait a minute there is supposed to be a world wide manufacturer’s agreement to not exceed 200 hp. Is Ducati breaking away from the pack?

    • Dave says:

      I’ve never heard of that agreement. There was one some time ago between the Japanese makes to electronically limit the top speeds to 189mph (Hyabusa, ZX14, etc.).

      • mickey says:

        Dave is right, model year 2000, gentleman’s agreement between all the manufacturers to limit top speed to 186 mph/300 kmph. All agreed except MV Augusta.

  3. WSHart says:

    Cool bike. Any idea what real world ownership costs, i.e., major and minor service intervals and their costs would be. Tires will be outrageous but that’s part of the price of bragging rights too.

  4. Steve says:

    If they can make three different versions, then why don’t they make an option for a higher handlebar… I’d love to ride a machine like this but I’m not going to do it in that position.

  5. Scotty says:

    Can all the other 4s go to 1100 now or is this thing not to be raced??

    • Scott says:

      Relax. The homologated race bike is 1000cc.

    • Norm G. says:

      Q: Can all the other 4s go to 1100 now(?)

      A: no.

      Q: or is this thing not to be raced??

      A: this (particular) thing is not to be raced.

      • xLaYN says:

        Oh come on N… why not… remember to good ol adage

        There is no replacement for displacement…

        You don’t want Kawi being beat on the street due to those 100 extra cc…

        Q: or is this thing not to be raced??
        A: this (particular) thing is not to be raced.

        What… is meant to be driven spirited like almost racing… like all the time…

        the Duc demands it

      • Bart says:

        I’m with xLa.

        We used to race overbored, high compression GSXR1100’s with pipes and big Mikunis. Absolute crazy animal bike down the straights, no front tire on the ground until 4th gear.

        Sure made up for my lack of skills into the corners back then! What a thrill ride.

  6. Troy F Collins says:

    Aside from the unabtanium Desmosidici V4…its good to see Ducati finally break their Duck(?) with a fully developed production model….

    I’m a bit miffed as to why they needed to go with 1100cc…..what direct comparison are they trying to avoid ?? 1000cc would be just fine thank you

    could it be the 1100 slots in better between the 959 and the 1199 ??

    • Dave says:

      When designing for ultimate performance, displacement can be an arbitrary number. Why bother inviting comparison with other bikes? Racing is almost invisible to the population at large. They’re doing their thing, just like the car makes do.

      • downgoesfraser says:

        Racing is very visible to the customer of this type of bike.

        • Dave says:

          “Population at large”. Many race fans will know all about this bike, very few of them will actually buy one. This is the two wheel equivalent a Ferrari customer.

          I met an MV Agusta owner who didn’t know how many cylinders his engine had.

          • Norm G. says:

            re: “I met an MV Agusta owner who didn’t know how many cylinders his engine had.”

            i met a crossplane Yamaha R1 owner who didn’t know what a crossplane engine was…? or that he even had one…? despite there being a sticker with the word “Crossplane” adhered to both sides of the bloody thing.

            see entry for MotoIQ (or lack thereof).

          • Scott says:

            I use my computer every day, but I could hardly tell you how big the hard drive is, or how much memory it has, or any of that stuff. I really don’t care. Does it take away from the experience of using it…?

          • Jeremy in TX says:

            It will when you run out of memory!

          • Norm G. says:

            re: “I use my computer every day”

            correct, for either business purposes in service to an employer or for menial tasks like surfing MD (not that MD is menial), online banking, typing a term paper for English Lit, etc.

            in contrast, the rabid gamer who comes off the dime to the tune of $5 grand on a Dell Area 51 gaming system with dual video cards, dual monitors, and SDD ram to play Halo online knows EXACTLY what’s “under the hood” of his fancy thinking box.

  7. John F. says:

    In the side profile photo with the fairing removed, I’m surprised how high the engine is mounted in the frame. Looks almost comically too high.

    What frame?

  8. dt175 says:

    it’s not really for us. it’s for Chaz…

  9. VLJ says:

    Looking at this thing, all I can think is, how did those guys lose so many wars?

    Same goes for the German, Austrian, and Japanese bikes, especially in comparison to the traditional American, Russian, and British bikes.

    Okay, to be fair, the Japanese only lost once. Overall, they have something like a 19-1 record. They’re like the New York Yankees of war.

    • Gary says:

      So let me get this straight. You are equating expertise in building sportbikes to success in waging historic land wars. Does that pretty much sum it up?

    • DeltaZulu says:

      In my opinion, that is a stupid analogy; war to motorcycles. Especially if you have ever been in battle. Plus, you may want to study history a bit.

      • Motoman says:

        I must agree with you DZ….

        • TimC says:

          (Bela Lugosi voice, as done by Alex Lifeson) “No sense of humor round here.”

          • DeltaZulu says:

            Yeah, because war is SOOOO funny…. especially if you’ve never been there, I guess. Plus, I am quite sure his analogy was not meant to be funny, just “cute” or “snarky”; take your pick. And, it was historically incorrect, on top of all that.
            Anyways, to my BIA, Semper Fi.

      • VLJ says:

        In my opinion, you wouldn’t recognize obvious sarcasm if it bit you in your trying-way-too-hard-to-find-reasons-to-take-offense ass.

        A military-minded SJW snowflake?

        Who knew?

        • DeltaZulu says:

          No punk, you were not going for sarcasm, you were trying to be “brilliant”, but when called out on your ignorance, you turned into the punk you are. When I am wrong about something, I simply accept it and move on. Would love to see punks like you in a real stress situation just to watch you fall apart…. and melt…..

          • VLJ says:

            “When I am wrong about something, I simply accept it and move on.”

            Here’s your chance. Prove your mettle.

          • motoman says:

            Think you got that backwards VLJ

          • VLJ says:

            Then think again. I know what I said, and why I said it. I was simply doing a tongue-in-cheek takeoff on the Bill Murray “We’re mutants!” skit from “Stripes” about America being 10-1 in wars.

            Are you really going to argue with me about my own motivations behind my posts? As in, you know better than I do about why I post something?

            Sorry, but no, you don’t, and all your feigned butthurt to the contrary can’t change that fact. You’re simply trying to be offended, like any SJW snowflake, and that’s on you, not me.

    • SmokinRZ says:

      I often look at it in a similar fashion, but more in terns of war materiel. It is a similar game, developing and manufacturing cutting edge machinery to compete against other countries. Unfortunately for us gear heads, the US and British find the services industries more profitable than manufacturing. I’m not sure what they do in Russia, but it was fun watching Falta on his CZ during the height of the cold war.

  10. Provologna says:

    20 years ago, per Motorcycle Consumer News (I know, the name implies someone or something that “consumes” motorcycles) posted braking specs. The all time winner over several years for shortest stopping length was always a cruiser, because it’s long wheelbase allowed such high ratio of forward weight transfer (to a super wide front tire) while maintaining rear wheel contact with the pavement. Kinda weird, no?

    Would love to see how this Duck fairs in such contest.

    • Random says:

      In the Diavel intro they said (at the time) it was the hardest braking bike among all Ducatis. Also read somewhere they calibrated the ABS to work before maximum possible braking because people were feeling sick when doing it.

      • Provologna says:

        I’m a sound/audio expert. Beyond a certain SPL threshold, sound causes the liquid in a human eye to resonate and blur vision. I experienced this first hand with my then-next door neighbor’s Big Dog. (I live in a western State not CA; the BD owner was disturbed when I told him my female ex-coworker in San Francisco owned a BD. He seemed to feel a loss of exclusivity.)

        I wonder if braking force might distort vision in a similar way.

        • Random says:

          I think it was more like roller coaster sickness, not loss of vision. But I know fighter pilots suffer from whiteout/redout from too much negative and positive G’s (much more than our bikes can reach fortunately).

        • Bart says:

          This explains why I can’t lower my lap times down even with more speed on the straights. I can’t see a darned thing when I pop up at a buck-eighty.

          Thanks, you saved me $27,495 plus freight & dealer setup charges.

    • CrazyJoe says:

      One of the reviews said the new brembo’s are way ahead of what they replace. Less abrupt much more controlable. They went on to say the bike overall was the best out there. I understand there’s going to be a Nakid version to.

      Just me but I wonder how brakes like this with its electronics would improve a long wheel base street bike.

  11. fred says:

    I could test one in north Arkansas to see how it does in the real world. Please

  12. Fmdbh says:

    I was born 30 years to soon!!!

    • Scott says:

      Right there with you…

    • Mick says:

      I bought a 916 in 1994, and a 610 Husqvarna on the same day. A typical 33 year old with nothing but a high school education would never be able to afford to do something like that today.

      We have failed those you came behind us.

      • mickey says:

        Maybe you need more than a high school education in most cases to be able to afford exotic European machinery, but I bet at 33 though most responsible high school educated people could afford a typical Japanese sportbike and dirt bike today…what are we looking at under $20K?

        My son is 39, some college (but no degree) and owns a nice house, a new Accord, a Yamaha FJ-09 and a Ducati Monster 696.

        If you teach them not to quit school, that nobody is going to give you anything, to work hard every day for what you want, don’t have kids before you can afford them, and don’t buy stuff before you can afford it, you haven’t failed them.

      • Dave says:

        The price of the bikes hasn’t changed so much as the cost of living in every other respect. The 916 was wildly expensive at $15k, you can get bikes that make it seem like a moped for the same price today, despite inflation.

  13. Jabe says:

    The very thought of riding this beast has chills running down my spine. Wow.

  14. Frank says:

    Nice that bikes like this are still being made and that they can be bought by all of us…if we’re so inclined and have the $’s.

  15. mickey says:

    Undoubtedly a beautiful motorcycle and utterly useless in the area of the country I live in. Never expect to see one on the road here. Maybe something to own in Southern California.

    • mickey says:

      I probably shouldn’t have said utterly useless, but it would be difficult to ride the bike to anywhere near it’s potential on the street here.

      • Pacer says:

        99% of us can’t use it’s potential on the track either. Lol

      • MGNorge says:

        I think that can be said about any of the more powerful bikes. It would be like trying to make an F1 car streetable and then using all its capabilities.

      • Speaking for myself, it would be comical if I had to buy a bike so downstream, performance-wise, that I could ride it anywhere near its potential and survive. Thankfully I don’t have to justify each bike purchase with any sort of demonstration of skill. Ha ha.

  16. Sean says:

    Gorgeous. No way I would own one unless I had $30K just laying in the corner, tons of time and $$$$ for track days. I could never see living with this bike as a daily rider.

  17. Bill says:

    Absolutely gorgeous bike! But… after witnessing how utterly cantankerous and unreliable the v-twin Panigale of a riding buddy was on a high speed 6 day ride, I can only hope that the v4 has eliminated the glitches and gremlins that plagued the v-twin. Not sure that these sexy Italians are up to the rigors of hours of tank draining, high rpm thrashing like the Japanese 4 cyl bikes seem to take in stride. Nothing sadder than watching 7 or 8 riders waste hours on the side of the road trying to figure out what’s wrong with the Duc this time. Still want one, though.

  18. Delmartian says:

    In the side profile photo with the fairing removed, I’m surprised how high the engine is mounted in the frame. Looks almost comically too high. I’d like to compare that photo with an Aprilia RSV4 or Honda RC213V-S setup.

    • DP says:

      It looks that way, does it. That may be by part because it has oil sump underneath and secondly and probably mainly, with higher up engine the center of gravity is higher, adding to agility in corners. My guess.

      • TF says:

        I have always thought a lower COG was the goal in getting a bike to transition and change direction quickly. It certainly is in the off-road world.

        • Jim H. says:

          To a degree, but low COG is not as important as you might think. I remember when Honda moved the gas tank on the 500 Grand Prix bike in 1984, I believe. The tank was moved to bottom, and exhaust were routed above motor. Seems like they found that COG was too low, and the bike didnt settle into corners, and was not as good leaning in and out of turns.

        • Norm G. says:

          re: “I have always thought a lower COG was the goal in getting a bike to transition and change direction quickly.”

          nein, that’s car world engineering and dynamics. the more you lower the CoG in a single-track vehicle the more it steers/handles like a lorry… err… truck.

        • TimC says:

          See Norm’s answer. Different worlds. Interestingly, in one of Kevin Cameron’s books several chapters cover the desirability and quest for low CoG and his little explanatory notes are like “there I go again boy was I off” etc.

          (For those unaware his books are collections of past writings in CW so instead of editing or expurgating where he was wrong, he simply admits it.)

          Oh and to expand this is why you hear “mass centralization” instead of “low CoG” a lot these days.

        • Jeremy in TX says:

          The goal is typically to centralize the center of mass, dirt bikes included.

          • TF says:

            If you lift a vintage dirt bike off the ground (after you’ve fallen off it) and then do the same with a modern bike, It’s very obvious that the COG has been lowered.

            Just studying the geometry of a modern dirt bike, it’s obvious that the mass has been designed lower in the frame. What I did not consider is that there are limits due to the need to maintain ground clearance.

            Hence, I guess the COG was too high in vintage times and it has since been optimized by being centralized?

    • Mark says:

      Sometimes they have to raise the engine UP in order to get the mass in line with the roll center. Yamaha did it with the R1 a few generations ago. Not sure, just a guess.

    • RonH says:

      I believe the optimal center of gravity for cornering is at a centerline drawn from axle to axle. That way there is less effect leaning from side to side. As mentioned by Mark… the roll center.

      • Scott says:

        It’s going to be higher than the axles.

        Picture running a barbecue spit through the bike and rider from front to rear and then spinning it. You want as much mass above that line as below. And the closer to the spit you can locate all that mass, the faster you can spin it.

        They have computers to figure out where that roll center needs to be, but on the Panigale V4 I’m guessing it’s pretty close to where the crankshaft is…

    • Norm G. says:

      optical illusion perhaps…? i honestly don’t see anything oddball other than the kit raised on the paddock stand with copious amount of shine (lack of shadow) coming from the floor underneath.

      also might be something in the absence of a full frame. if you see any pics of an RSV engine either in chassis or standalone, i think you’ll find THAT’S the king of all “high mounted engines”, but even that’s because the 65 degree angle of the V conspires to push the throttle bodies and airbox UP. there’s simply less room between the cylinders than in a 90, but be damned if it isn’t a miracle of compactness.

      • Random says:

        Re: miracle of compactness.

        I find it incredible just having an engine with two banks of cilinders and still having space to put two suspended wheels around it.

        On an unrelated note, I don’t think that frameless is a good definition for the current chassis engineering, if you realize now the engine IS the frame too.

  19. Austin ZZR 1200 says:

    drool

  20. Just what I was thinking. Heck, I might be able to keep up with the A group on that thing.

  21. Trpldog says:

    Bring me my brown pants.

  22. Gary says:

    Here’s hoping Ducati quickly adapts the engine to a more conservative chassis. I’d love the idea of a V4 Multistrada.

    • TF says:

      Long live the 11 degree Testastretta!

    • Norm G. says:

      re: “I’d love the idea of a V4 Multistrada.”

      but then you and all the other “Billionaire Cheapskates” would HATE it come first service.

      not that this free-lunch mentality applies to you Gary (in Gary Indiana) but i tell those people upfront it’s THEIR OWN FAULT. for not only did they know what the kit was when they bought it…? but they also had 7,500 miles to budget for the first service. when we FAIL in our responsibility as motorcyclists (notice i didn’t say consumers) we don’t then get to go on the net and act like a “petulant child” to hide and cover it over. what they’re really trying to OBSCURE is they can’t afford the vehicle, and were likely living above their means before they even bought said vehicle. hey i get it, i was once “young and dumb” too.

      good or bad, every vehicle made by man has a “cost of ownership” attached to it. be it a Nissan Leaf, an 80K GVW Detroit Diesel, a Cessna 150, or a Honda riding mower (much to our chagrin) the cost is never ZERO.

  23. Tommy D says:

    Yes we all want at least one track day on the thing. There goes my 401K…