To place this in phrases readers not intimately acquainted with Ducati’s historical past can relate to, the controversial transfer to a V4 is akin to Porsche’s abandonment of air-cooled engines, or the electrification of hypercars. The 1,103-cc V4 shares a format with Ducati’s unique MotoGP race bike. In contrast to the extra typical 180-degree crankshaft discovered on V4-powered bikes such because the Aprilia RSV4, the Ducati employs a 70-degree crank pin offset and a twin-pulse firing sample that makes it run like two back-to-back V-twins, firing with a 1-2 pulse alongside one financial institution, a short pause, then one other Three-Four pulse. Shut your eyes, and it sounds bit like a Ducati V-twin, however with a barely much less irregular and staccato rhythm. The sound is deep, daring and acquainted — associated, however not precisely the identical.
To be truthful, there have been V4 Ducatis, however they weren’t manufacturing fashions: the limited-production Desmosedici RR (which was basically a road-legal spinoff of the 2007 season MotoGP bike) and the 1960s-era Apollo prototype (an ill-fated would-be Harley-killer, of which solely two had been constructed).
The powerplant’s distinctive options, corresponding to a counter-rotating crankshaft that reduces the gyroscopic impact of transferring elements to assist the bike nook whereas lowering the tendency to wheelie, are additionally derived from the corporate’s MotoGP bikes. All in all, the brand new V4 produces 214 horsepower (or a shocking 226 hp with the non-compulsory Akrapovic race exhaust), and 91.5 lb-ft of torque on the crank.
For some automotive perspective, that is almost double the power-to-weight ratio of a La Ferrari, bringing this bike’s efficiency per pound nearer to Components 1 automotive territory than any street-legal four-wheeled automobile. Whereas it produces incrementally extra energy (+9 hp) and barely much less torque (-2.7 lb-ft) than the outgoing 1299 mannequin, this one revs to 14,500 rpm within the first 5 gears and 15,000 rpm in sixth, spreading its torque extra evenly throughout a broader rev vary. The result’s a motorbike that is simpler to journey, and extra crucially, simpler to journey quick.
The Panigale feels slim and compact, with a 32.Four-inch seat top that may really feel a bit tall for shorter riders (however is typical for a superbike). The cockpit view is dominated by an up to date 5-inch TFT display screen that makes use of a brand new interface, managed by way of a extra logically organized set of buttons and toggles on the left handgrip. Scroll by means of the settings and you may handle a seemingly infinite variety of variables, from traction management and wheelie management to engine braking and lean-angle-sensitive ABS thresholds. Personalised settings can fortunately be saved and recalled; there are such a lot of, you may need your preferences dialed in and preserved.
Out of pit lane and onto the observe, the Panigale pulls forward with a deceptively low-pitched engine notice and a long-legged stream of energy. Whereas the outgoing twin had a wild surge of low-end torque, the brand new mill feels extra progressive and linear. When my intuition and ears advised me it could be time to consider shifting, I glanced on the tach and noticed solely eight,000 rpm. Since redline does not come till 14,500 rpm, which means I’d have left a substantial 6,500 rpm on the desk (or 5,000 rpm till peak horsepower at 13,000 rpm).
You may short-shift the Panigale on a racetrack, however that’d get you mowed down by quicker visitors. Keep on it, and there is a meaty stretch of midrange torque and an keen climb to redline that caps off a wide ranging rush of energy. Whereas the clutch is required when partaking first gear, Ducati’s so-called Fast Shift system eliminates the necessity for the left lever when shifting wherever between second and sixth. Merely kick the foot lever up and the subsequent gear engages; faucet it down, and rev matching brings the engine on top of things for the gear beneath, enabling clean mid-corner shifts similar to any run-of-the-mill, paddle shift-equipped supercar.
With 14 turns in simply lower than 2½ miles, Valencia is a surprisingly technical observe for this high-powered superbike (a larger-scale observe corresponding to Circuit of the Americas, as used for the 1199 Panigale R, may need been a extra apparent selection). However tackling Valencia’s first nook, a pointy left-hand hairpin, reveals this 430-pound bike modifications path simpler than you would possibly anticipate. Mid-corner monitoring feels stable and steady, and the bike responds reassuringly nicely to steering inputs thanks partially to Ducati’s new aluminum body. Weighing solely 9.2 kilos, the twin-spar setup mounts on to the engine, which is tilted 42 levels backward for a decrease middle of gravity. The body’s relationship to the engine provides added torsional stability for enhanced really feel. The powerplant, by the way, can be used as an anchor level for the rear suspension and swingarm.
Flick by means of the esses, and it takes appreciable self-control to not leap on the throttle too early: The ability comes on with such immediacy, it is simple to throw off your rhythm should you prematurely faucet into the torque curve. Nonetheless, should you do twist the throttle earlier than it is time, the traction management system seamlessly steps in to avoid wasting your bacon from sliding; your line could be botched and you might find yourself within the gravel, however until you do one thing exceedingly dumb, you need to be capable of preserve the shiny aspect up. The system will be set to considered one of eight positions, 1 being the least restrictive. At Three, there is a bit much less fury coming from the engine throughout nook exit, however the 2 setting wakes up the bike sufficiently, enabling sufficient rear tire sliding to execute simply controllable drifts.
What does the #1 setting — the closest to fully disabling traction management — really feel like? I did not handle to strive it. However a fellow journalist (who occurs to be a former AMA Professional Superbike racer) later described the setting as “f***ing perky”). For sure, all digital programs (together with a “slide by brake” system, which allows you to again the bike right into a nook by dragging the rear stoppers) will be disabled. I dipped as little as degree 2 (with zero being off), leaning on the rider aids to maintain my slick Alpinestars leathers and carbon-fiber AGV Piste GP R helmet (to not point out my pores and skin and bones) intact.
Carry sufficient velocity into the ultimate nook and path vast sufficient to kiss the rumble strip, and also you’re rewarded with a staggering blast of acceleration because the rear Pirellis hook up with the nice and cozy pavement beneath. Although there’s much less of a bent to elevate the entrance finish in contrast with the 1299, the nostril nonetheless climbs and lightens sufficient to wobble because the torque transfers by means of that tiny contact patch of rubber on the tail. I wrestled the grips to remain onboard, hanging on with arm power because the Panigale charged forward, upshifts punctuated with the shotgun sound of unspent gas combusting by means of the exhaust. On the finish of the half-mile straight I noticed an indicated 278 kph (172 mph) earlier than I used my higher physique as an airbrake and grabbed a bunch of entrance brakes. Squeezing the lever arduous sufficient clamps the Brembo monoblock Stylema stoppers down sufficient to make the rear finish of the bike elevate, a mirrored image of the sheer stopping energy and front-end grip the Ducati is able to delivering. As soon as you’ve got scrubbed off 100 mph or so, it is a vast left, one other quick straight after which that hard-lefter to begin the loop over again.
Two prevailing sentiments dominated my periods aboard this blood pink weapon: exhaustion and aid. Exhaustion as a result of, nicely, regardless of its refinements in ridability, there are inherent bodily challenges to leaning 430 kilos of motorbike by means of 14 turns each 2.5 miles, ones that invariably result in stiff wrists, sore muscular tissues and spent core power. The aid comes as a result of each secure arrival again into pit lane, whether or not a number of corners had been botched or the knee-dragging proceedings had been aced, is an effective one. One stunning commentary was, at the very least through the 78 diploma F situations, I did not really feel Ducati’s important engine warmth from the seat.
The 2018 Ducati Panigale V4 places a shiny pink exclamation mark on the concept velocity worshipers are savoring a golden age of horsepower and expertise. You do not have to be a motorbike particular person to note that, regardless of fierce competitors from the Japanese massive 4 (Honda, Kawasaki, Yamaha and Suzuki), Ducati’s V4 continues to be a relative efficiency worth. Its entry value of $21,195 – or $26,995 for the V4 S mannequin with the trick electronically managed Öhlins suspension – is basically the going charge for a wise Korean sedan.
We’ll at all times love our automobiles right here at Autoblog, however we now have a gentle spot for bikes that mix race-bred efficiency and bleeding-edge expertise, whereas delivering mind-blowing bang for the buck. By that prism, the Ducati Panigale V4 delivers a shocking package deal that departs from custom whereas adopting a reassuringly raucous (and appropriately future-friendly) powerplant, a four-cylinder full of sufficient soul to atone for the lack of the beloved twin.
!function(f, b, e, v, n, t, s) (window, document, ‘script’, ‘//connect.facebook.net/en_US/fbevents.js’); fbq(‘init’, ‘174181139752304’); fbq(‘track’, ‘PageView’);