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Ducati 1199 S Panigale: Mere Mortals Fear It

By Arv Voss, December 29th, 2012

After just coming off Ducati's phenomenal Diavel, which I fell in love with, riding their 1199 S Panigale proved to be tough. Don't misunderstand, the Panigale is an incredible machine, too, as it weighs less than the Diavel, pumps out more horsepower and is an absolute work of art. But it's really not meant for mere mortals.

The Ducati Panigale is more at home on a track or controlled course. Essentially, it is a Moto GP ride that just happens to be street legal. The Panigale is most happy in much higher rev ranges than your average street bike, and the riding position is certainly better suited to riders who are in their prime, or at least south of age 25 with a physique that is trim and pliable.

Being under 6'4" in height is also a plus for mounting the Panigale. It's an extreme all-out, solo sport bike whose Superquadro motor puts out a whopping 195 horses at 10,750 rpm along with 98.1 lb.-ft. of torque at 9,000 rpm.

The chassis of the 1199 Panigale represents an innovative and progressive step forward in motorcycle design, blending multiple parts into single lightweight components. For the first time, the Trellis frame has transitioned to a revolutionary cast aluminum monocoque skeleton that was developed in an ultra-competitive racing environment. Utilizing the Superquadro engine as a stressed member of the chassis, serves not only as a frame, but also integrates the airbox, which houses the throttle bodies along with the fuel circuit, complete with injectors. The airbox compartment is capped off by a light aluminum tank.

Visually, the 1199 S displays the aura of a serious, all-out race machine with its full fairing constructed of smooth, painted carbon fiber. The nose is fitted with an integrated flyscreen and the narrow, horizontal twin headlights are integrated into the front air intake ducts. The solo seat is deep set and sleekly shaped and the tail-piece is accentuated by the relocation of the exhaust system and a full LED rear light.

The heart of the Panigale is a liquid-cooled L-Twin cylinder, 8-valve Desmodromic affair, with a Mitsubishi electronic fuel injection system featuring twin injectors per cylinder, full ride-by-wire elliptical throttle bodies and a 2-1-2 exhaust system with catalytic converter and 2 lambda probes and twin stainless mufflers with aluminum outer sleeves. The Superquadro is the world's most powerful L-twin engine, which delivers its driving force to the rear wheel through a six-speed sequential manual transmission with straight cut gears, a ratio of 1.77:1, and a self-servo wet multiplate clutch with hydraulic control.

Power delivery is controlled by the rider selecting one of three pre-set Power Modes that is best suited to his or her riding style and/or the riding conditions via a left grip switch. Modes include: Race; Sport; and Wet. Race is the most aggressive mode and delivers maximum performance levels and power output. Sport is next up in power delivery and the DTC consists of 8 levels of Traction Control based upon rider style and pattern, and is able to monitor wheel spin and traction, applying it automatically as needed. The Wet mode maximizes control and minimizes power output in less than ideal road conditions where traction and stability are at issue.

My test 1199 Panigale was the S version finished predominantly in Ducati Red (or Rosso to be correctly Italian), priced at $22,995. Riding the Ducati 1199 S Panigale can prove to be an awesome experience for the right person -- more specifically, a pro racer or young, agile expert. Size matters, too. I'm not a racer, nor a nimble youngster anymore either, and I'm too tall and long-legged to be really comfortable aboard this bike, despite its incredible capability.

The bike is exceptionally well-balanced and impressively maneuverable. There are certainly more comfortable bikes to ride, but few are more impressive in design, performance and technology. The Panigale tempts one to surpass his or her limits. Be wise, and overcome that temptation and be safe out there. Considering a track school would be wise with the acquisition of this race bred machine.

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