Most of the journalists who rode the 2012 Ducati 1199 Panigale at the recent launch at the spectacular Yas Marina circuit in Abu Dhabi have now published their first reports. We thought we’d bring you a meta analysis of the collective thinking about a wholly fresh new approach to the iconic Ducati Superbike.
We surveyed the reviews posted by Ash on Bikes, Motorcycle.com, Motorcycle USA, Cycle World and Motorcyclist magazine to see if there was any consensus on Ducati’s radical new 1198 replacement. Each of the comments below are from these publications in the same order each time. We have chosen what we consider to be representative excerpts on engine performance, handling and overall conclusions. We have included any negative comments but as is usual in new model launch reports, the feedback is overwhelmingly positive. Look for more balanced reports to appear once the bike is available to be tested more formally. Naturally Ducati News Today will do our best to get our leg over this exciting new bike as soon as we can.
“Wind on the power at the apex and the drive out onto the next straight has you laughing maniacally, you can’t believe how much thrust combines with how much lean before the traction control even bothers to get out of bed.”
“Pulling the throttle hard at 5500 rpm is a little disappointing compared to the 1198’s lump, as the most oversquare bore/stroke ratio of any production motorcycle would lead one to think. But the mild disenchantment is entirely forgotten once past 7500 rpm when the Superquadro engine piles on revs with ferocity previously unknown from any V-Twin.”
“The powerband is more conventional in application, similar to that of an Inline Four. Low end thrust has been reduced but the engine spools up explosively fast for a Twin. Mid-range power is strong but still not quite as stout as before. Keep feeding RPM and you’ll be greeted with a rich, far reaching top-end power surge that feels more Inline than Twin.”
“The show really gets going after 7500, with drive near the 11,500-rpm limit fierce and accompanied by a bass-weighted-yet-strangely-high-pitched wail unlike any other Twin I’ve ever had the pleasure to hear. This is a really fast super bike.”
“Thumb the starter for more new sensations. The thunderous Superquadro is instantly identifiable as a desmo twin, but it sounds deeper at idle and nastier when revved. And with a bore/stroke ratio of 1.84:1—more aggressive than any other production bike, by far—the Superquadro loves to be revved out.”
“The Panigale’s agility will take your breath away, it makes other superbikes feel like lumbering beasts. Think supersport 600 and you’ll be about right, except for what happens when you turn the twistgrip of course.”
“Regardless of the barely altered geometry, the Panigale responds with eagerness the 1198 could only dream of. It’s less unwavering than the freight-train-like 1198 but not unstable. Its enthusiasm to tip into corners is due in large part to its higher and 1.26-inch wider handlebars that deliver more leverage, but credit also its lighter weight (415 lbs with its larger fuel tank full) and mass-centralization efforts that lower the inertia moment around its roll axis.”
“The S model we rode was fitted with electronically adjustable Ohlins suspension front and rear. With a push of a button the rider can adjust preload, compression and rebound settings without having to get off the bike. Calibration of the suspension proved to be good and the chassis resisted the urge to pitch fore or aft under heavy application of throttle or brakes.”
“As my pace rose at a slightly faster rate than my knowledge of the track, perhaps the most impressive thing was how easy it was to correct my lines midcorner, even while aggressively trail-braking, with no protest from the bike. All that work to centralize mass paid off in a big way.”
“Lighter makes everything righter, and deleting 22 lbs. improves everything from acceleration to braking to handling and stability. You’d never describe previous Ducatis as neutral or forgiving, but the Panigale is both. It feels almost twitchy at first. High, wide bars give lots of steering leverage, while a low center of gravity and even lower inertial moment make it dart into corners, especially at a slower pace. The chassis can be easy to upset when you move around, so you quickly learn to hang off less and use the ample available lean angle to turn, just like a MotoGP bike.”
“It even has a fault, a blemish to complete its beauty: the sidestand is quite hard to kick down. The perfect flaw.”
“Its windscreen provides only modest protection, and its clutch pack sticks out far enough to interfere with a rider’s right calf when at a stop. Heat from the engine might be excessive when ridden at low speeds, though likely no worse than the 1198 and probably better.”
“The 1199’s traction control system continues to use independent wheel speed sensors to determine when the rear tire is spinning. The updated version of the system employs eight levels of intervention based on information developed by the Ducati Corse racing arm. While we applaud Ducati at making the feature standard we continue to experience inconsistent results with it. With Level 3 selected it intervenes aggressively at times under requested throttle application, and at other times it doesn’t activate when the rider feels the back tire spinning excessively.”
“..although I could definitely use more fairing!”
“The Superquadro doesn’t have the same steam-catapult thrust at lower revs as its predecessor, but more manageable midrange makes it much easier to ride fast.”
“If I’m wrong and it turns out not quite to be a match for the BMW on a track… I’d want an 1199 Panigale just the same. As a motorcycle to live with, for the sheer pleasure of doing no more than owning it, then for the utterly involving riding experience it gives, and finally for the wild thrill of its performance, the Panigale is unsurpassed.”
“Simply put, Ducati’s Panigale astounded me with its sheer performance and its high level of refinement, plus it is mouth-wateringly stunning. The 1199 is a superb machine that had several jaded motojournalists considering buying one for themselves. It might even be the best sportbike ever made.”
“Ducati has neutralized some of the historically quirky traits without compromising the feel or fundamental character that is at the heart of the Italian brand.”
“Bottom line? If they aren’t already having emergency meetings in Germany and Japan about this new Italian superbike, they’d better get some on the schedule.”
“The Panigale is a brilliant update of the classic Ducati superbike, smoothing away all the hard edges and adding even more speed and soul.”
So there you have it. I’m sure you agree that the Ducati 1199 Panigale promises to be a re-writing of what it means to be a Ducati Superbike in a manner that is likely to catapult the new bike to the pinnacle of open class sports bike performance.