New Bikes

Ducati Panigale V4 review: first thoughts

'Ducati’s done a great job of making this monster of a bike feel really manageable, light and easy to turn.'

ALAN Dowds has been testing the new Ducati Panigale V4 at Valencia in Spain. 

Here are his first thoughts, straight after riding: 

'The choice of Valencia was quite surprising as the launch track. It’s a fairly tight technical track, maybe better suited to 600s than litre bikes. And the new V4 is actually an 1100… Ducati say they chose this capacity to give the bike a torquey delivery like the big V-twins, rather than a peakier four-cylinder feel. That, plus the ‘Twin pulse’ layout (it’s like two 360° parallel twins arranged at 90° to each other) gives it a very ‘twin-ish’ sound and feel. Imagine the crossplane crank R1 and you’re somewhere near.

'So – a 214bhp 1100 V4, at a tight and twisty track – how does it do? Really well is the obvious answer. Ducati’s done a great job of making this monster of a bike feel really manageable, light and easy to turn. Part of that is the electronics of course  - and it’s great to have the advanced traction control and ABS ready to step in should you need it. But the basic bike is very friendly, and in the early sessions here, I quickly got myself up to speed with the track. Brakes are predictably awesome, the new Brembo Stylema calipers and 330mm discs hauling you down from 170mph with supreme ease.'

Al was also set to ride the accessorised version of the Panigale V4, with the official Akrapovic race pipe and remap adding 12bhp and saving 7kg – and with a set of Pirelli SC1 slicks spooned onto the Marchesinis. Read about that in his full review, coming soon. 


"it’s like two 360° parallel twins arranged at 90° to each other"

That's like Honda's old droners, this is a very different beast with its 70 degree separation between crank throws - not the obvious choice, either.

You can hear it sounds like a twin, but not a 90° - in fact it really does sound much closer to the old rolling rumble of the Rotax / Aprilia twin, which was a 60 degree design. Ducati did of course experiment with a droner in MotoGP, both in the usual Honda-like setup and with simultaneous ignitions (so it was more like a 90° V-Twin) - they probably abandoned it for the same reason Honda did this year.

The big question is why 70 degrees and not 180 like Honda? The answer is probably a mixture of the desire for a brand-relevant sound without sacrificing too much of the benefit of rephasing in the first place. By which I mean a 180° crank in a 90° V4 has the same piston phases as a cross-plane inline four. If we believe Yamaha's motivations for choosing that ("inertial torque" and "signal to noise"), then (around) 65 - 70 degrees is the next best choice.

Contrast Aprilia's 65 degrees in the V separated by 180 degrees in the crank with Ducati's 90° separated by (ideally) 65°, and with Honda's 90° separated by 180° (= cross-plane; best). The Aprilia is at a huge disadvantage if Yamaha are correct.

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