Road Test

Ducati Panigale V4 S Real World Review

We spent two weeks with Ducati’s stunning new Panigale V4S Superbike to find out what it’s like to live with on a day to day basis

Details
Manufacturer:
Ducati
Category:
Sportsbikes
Overall
4.5
Average: 4.5 (1 vote)
The fastest and most technologically advanced motorcycle I've ever ridden

RACEBIKES for the road are something that most manufacturers strive for, win on Sunday sell on Monday is how the saying goes. And it’s a very romantic idea, the sun is blazing, the roads are smooth, flowing and free from all traffic. But on the daily commute and back in the real world, a racebike for the road is about as enjoyable as a four-year-old attempting your root canal surgery. While drunk.

Surprising then that the ride back from Ducati’s Silverstone HQ after picking up their latest 214hp machine was nothing short of revolutionary, and for all the right reasons. I’m not implying this is the most comfortable and user-friendly motorcycle on the planet. But it’s most definitely not the most uncomfortable or difficult to ride every day either…

Price

Sitting in the middle of the Panigale V4 range, the S model comes in at £23,895. A PCP deal can be had for around £250 p/m (with a £5k deposit) which means you can have a slice of Dovi’s 2014 MotoGP race bike sat in your garage for the price of a new Ford Focus. Tempting isn't it.

The base model Panigale V4 – which lacks Ohlins suspension and instead runs Showa electronic suspension – comes in at £19,250. While the range-topping V4 R – which is 999cc as opposed to 1,103cc and built to homologate the bike for WSBK and BSB – comes in at £34,995 and despite its smaller capacity, when compared to the rest of the range, makes 217hp.

Engine

At the heart of the V4 is an engine that’s DNA can be traced back to the MotoGP machine that Andrea Dovisiozo pedalled to fifth place in the 2014 world championship. At 1103cc and 90°, the V4 features a counter rotating crank that turns the opposite direction to the wheels. Now, I’m not the fastest or the bravest rider, but I know what I’m doing with a bike and I know how fast I can push. When I read about the counter-rotating crank, I immediately thought it’ll be the kind of gimmick that only 1% of the fastest riders would notice. And while i can;t put my finger on exactly what the counter-rotating crank does for the handling, I did find the bike to be extremely nimble, flicking from ear to ear with almost telepathic ease. Most bikes pushing 200kg need a bit of a heave over into faster corners, but the V4 S almost goads you on into the apex – an effect that’s magnified in the lower gears.

Thankfully for Ducati purists the engine has lost none of it’s v-twin charm as it pops and burbles around town, desmo sound and dry clutch rattle in full effect. But when you get out of the town and onto a decent clear road, the Panigale V4 S changes its mood distinctly and will fire you at the next corner like nothing else you’ve ever ridden. There is 124Nm (91lb-ft) of torque available, seamless, brutal and neck bending torque. The bike disregards where in the rev range you are, it’s so linear and once above 8k rpm it’s a struggle to hook the next gear quick enough – to say that the V4 S’ engine is breath-taking is a serious understatement.

Suspension

Keeping the Panigale’s stable of ponies pointing the right way is top spec Öhlins NIX30 43mm adjustable forks, with electronic compression and rebound damping via the Öhlins EC 2.0 control module. At the rear, there is an Öhlins TTX36 shock featuring the same electronic adjustment and control system.

The ride back from Silverstone was spent in Sport mode (the mid-level option for fast road and track riding) and the plushness of the bike was simply mystifying. Yes, compared to a big tourer it’s firmer but it’s not jarring or thrashy in any way and even the worst potholes the A43 could muster were dispatched with surefooted confidence. Not what you expect from a bike with such scalpel-sharp characteristics and sporting heritage.

Once I’d got my head re-calibrated to the Panigale V4 S’ mind-melting acceleration, I set about playing with the suspension settings. Along the fast and flowing A5 back to Hinckley, I tried to put the bike into a slightly softer than stock setting - I’m generally a tad lighter than most sportsbike riders. Quickly navigating the menus through the TFT dash is easy, and you’re greeted by large, clear pictograms of the bike with blue arrows notifying you of the adjustment you’re making and how it’ll affect the handling. It’s a system that Ducati have used for a while now and it makes it so easy for somebody who might not be technically savvy or knowledgeable about suspension to get the bike dialled into their liking.

Ultimately, the system allowed me to tailor the bike to my weight, riding style and comfort preference, all in the time it took me to drink a cup of tea. No c-spanners required and zero technical knowledge of the black art of suspension setup was called upon. And for the rest of the Ducati’s time with me, I didn’t adjust a thing.

Braking

Upfront the V4 S wears suitably slinky looking 330 mm semi-floating discs and radially mounted Brembo Monobloc Stylema (M4.30) 4-piston callipers. At the rear is a 245mm two-piston Brembo caliper. At the adjustable span Brembo lever, the front brake has exceptional bite in the first 10mm of operation. It's firm but not intimidating and works as well slowing from 100mph as it does in the Tesco’s carpark. Under the hardest braking, you’ll be making use of the deeply scalloped sides and gripping your knees against the tank for all your worth as the stoppers on the Ducati are more than up for the task of sending you over the bars.

The Bosch controlled braking system features cornering ABS EVO which is switchable and tuneable to your desires. With little intrusion even in wet conditions, I didn’t really feel any need to alter it from the base settings, but should you feel the need, the process is as simple as the suspension adjustment mentioned above.

Equipment

This bike is a tech-geeks dream, built for the digital age of motorcyclists with stunning levels of adjustability that are all fed to you through a stunning looking 5” TFT dash.

The system includes:

Riding Modes, Power Modes, Bosch Cornering ABS EVO, Ducati Traction Control (DTC) EVO, Ducati Wheelie Control (DWC) EVO, Ducati Slide Control (DSC), Engine Brake Control (EBC), Ducati Power Launch (DPL), Ducati Quick Shift up/down (DQS) EVO, Full LED lighting with Daytime Running Light (DRL), Ducati Electronic Suspension (DES) EVO with Öhlins suspension and steering damper, Quick adjustment buttons, Lithium-ion battery, Auto-off indicators, Auto tyre calibration.

This bike is smarter than and more advanced than anything that’s come before it, but the best thing is – it all works seamlessly and for most of the time, you wouldn’t even know it was there.

The traction control is smooth and the adjustments to it are accurate to the parameters selected. The suspension is like being able to adjust the forks and shock on the fly, a millisecond before you hit that bump! The quickshifter is precise and well set up, with ample ‘blips’ on the downshifts and smooth upshifts (when in sport mode) once you’re up to speed. It’s a revelation that this bike is so fast and so powerful yet so user-friendly in the real world – and that’s thanks to the electronics. Not something you could have said about a Ducati twelve years ago is it!?

Comfort

Another pleasant surprise after spending a thousand miles with Ducati’s Inter-County-Ballistic Missile is, it’s fairly comfortable. Seat to peg is as good as any sportsbike I’ve ridden while the reach to the bars is good but still with just enough wrist pummelling to remind you it's an Italian sportsbike. Naturally, it’s a bike that works best at speed, where the tucked riding position and constant movement around prevent discomfort, but even on a couple of 200-mile mooches along the motorway, I found the V4 S to be usable, if not quite as comfortable as some of its competitors.

Verdict

As bike’s go, the Panigale V4 with it’s Stradale engine and electro wizardry is a watershed moment in motorcycle concept and design. It’s a glimpse into what can be done if you take the best of a track bike and mix in some real-world questions. It’s faster than most owners will ever be able to exploit and more comfortable than Ducatis of old, yet still has 15,000-mile major service intervals and a two-year warranty. Granted, it’s also more expensive than some of its superbike stablemates but, you don’t hear Bugatti Veyron owners moaning about the price of their cars, do you?

There are a couple of things I’ll miss about the Ducati V4 S, the first being just the feeling of riding it – and not the brain out B-road blasts to the speed limit and beyond. Because you don’t need to do that to fall in love with V4, even a pootle through town or a zip through the lanes at normal speed feels exciting. The Ducati Panigale V4 S is all about the theatre of motorcycling and riding one is more of an event than simply a journey.

The other thing I’ll miss is being able to walk away from it and taking that final look over my shoulder to see that aggressive face staring back at me… Well, until August anyway, when we get the keys to its bigger, badder brother – the Panigale V4 R!

Ciao mate – it’s been a blast!

Ducati Panigale V4 S (2019) specs

PRICE

£23,895

Engine

Desmosedici Stradale 90° V4, rearward-rotating crankshaft, 4 Desmodromically actuated valves per cylinder, liquid cooled

Displacement

1,103 cc

Bore X stroke

81 x 53.5 mm

Compression ratio

14.0:1

Power

157.5 kW / 214hp (211 bhp) @ 13,000 rpm

Torque

124.0 Nm (91.5 lb-ft) @ 10,000 rpm

Fuel injection

Electronic fuel injection system. Twin injectors per cylinder. Full ride-by-wire elliptical throttle bodies. Variable length intake system

Exhaust

4-2-1-2 system, with 2 catalytic converters and 2 lambda probes

Gearbox

6 speed with Ducati Quick Shift (DQS) up/down EVO

Primary drive

Straight cut gears; Ratio 1.80:1

Ratio

1=38/14 2=36/17 3=33/19 4=32/21 5=30/22 6=30/24

Final drive

Chain; Front sprocket 16; Rear sprocket 41

Clutch

Hydraulically controlled slipper and self-servo wet multiplate clutch

Frame

Aluminum alloy "Front Frame"

Front suspension

Öhlins NIX30 43 mm fully adjustable fork with TiN treatment. Electronic compression and rebound damping adjustment with Öhlins Smart EC 2.0 event-based mode

Front wheel

3-spokes forged aluminum alloy 3.50" x 17"

Front tyre

Pirelli Diablo Supercorsa SP 120/70 ZR17

Rear Suspension

Fully adjustable Ohlins TTX36 unit. Electronic compression and rebound damping adjustment with Öhlins Smart EC 2.0 event-based mode. Aluminium single-sided swingarm

Rear Wheel

3-spokes forged aluminum alloy 6.00" x 17"

Rear tyre

Pirelli Diablo Supercorsa SP 200/60 ZR17

Wheel travel (front/rear)

120 mm (4.7 in) - 130 mm (5.1 in)

Front brake

2 x 330 mm semi-floating discs, radially mounted Brembo Monobloc Stylema® (M4.30) 4-piston callipers with Bosch Cornering ABS EVO

Rear brake

245 mm disc, 2-piston calliper with Bosch Cornering ABS EVO

Instrumentation

Last generation digital unit with 5" TFT colour display

Dry weight

174 kg (384 lb)

Kerb weight

195 kg (430 lb)

Seat height

830 mm (32.48 in)

Wheelbase

1.469 mm (57,8 in)

Rake

24,5°

Front wheel trail

100 mm (4 in)

Fuel tank capacity

16 l - 4.23 gallon (US)

Number of seats

Dual seats

Riding Modes, Power Modes, Bosch Cornering ABS EVO, Ducati Traction Control (DTC) EVO, Ducati Wheelie Control (DWC) EVO, Ducati Slide Control (DSC), Engine Brake Control (EBC) EVO, Auto tyre calibration

Standard equipment

Ducati Power Launch (DPL), Ducati Quick Shift (DQS) up/down EVO, Full LED lighting with Daytime Running Light (DRL), Ducati Electronic Suspension (DES) EVO with Ohlins suspension and steering damper, Quick adjustment buttons, Lithium-ion battery, Auto-off indicators, Marchesini aluminium forged wheels

Additional Equipment

Passenger seat and footpegs kit

Ready for

Ducati Data Analyser+ (DDA+) with GPS module, Ducati Multimedia System (DMS) and anti-theft

Warranty (months)

24 months unlimited mileage

Maintenance (km/months)

12,000 km (7,500 mi) / 12 months

Valve clearance adjustment (km)

24,000 km (15,000 mi)

STANDARD

Euro 4

CONSUMPTION/EMISSIONS

41mpg - CO2 165 g/km

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