Ducati’s eagerly anticipated new sportsbike has been unveiled, with the company claiming that the new 214bhp Panigale V4 is the ‘closest thing possible’ to their race winning Desmosedici MotoGP bike.
The Panigale V4 marks a major departure for the Italian company. Barring the limited edition MotoGP-bike-for-the-road Desmosedici RR of 2007, Ducati’s sports bikes have always featured a trademark L-twin configuration powerplant.
The new Panigale replaces the outgoing 1299 V-twin model and is both Ducati’s first mass produced V4 and their first production bike to feature a twin spar aluminium frame.
Both of these are, of course, taken from the Desmosedici GP17 racebikes campaigned by Andrea Dovizioso and Jorge Lorenzo in the MotoGP championships. Unlike the 1000cc race bikes, the new road bike runs an 1103cc motor. Developed in partnership with Ducati Corse, the company’s semi-independent race shop, the Desmosedici Stradale (Italian for Street) unit is a 90° V4 with Desmodromic timing. Like the GP bike it has an 81 mm bore (the maximum allowed by MotoGP rules) with a longer stroke specified to boost low-to-mid rev torque and reduce maximum revs so that the power is easier to handle. The class leading maximum power comes at 13,000rpm. Despite the momentous power output, Ducati has specified service intervals of 7500 miles, with valve clearance inspection only necessary every 15,000 miles.
As we’ve come to expect from a modern sports bike, the Panigale V4 comes equipped with racetrack derived electronics that include all kinds of power modes and traction control settings.
There are actually three versions of the Panigale V4 available. All share the same engine specification and the £19,250 standard version is certainly not lacking. It comes with Showa front suspension, Sachs rear shock and cast alloy wheels. The Panigale V4 S runs Ohlins’ electronic suspension front and rear, and saves 1kg (174kg dry versus 175kg dry) thanks to Marchesini forged aluminium wheels. It costs £23,895. The solo seat Panigale Speciale (of which only 1500 will be built) adds a spangly paint scheme, carbon fibre components and a bunch of track parts that includes adjustable levers and foot pegs. The Speciale can also be fitted with magnesium wheels, an artful Akrapovic race exhaust system that increases power and datalogging equipment. The Speciale costs £34,995 and will go on sale in March, while the others are expected to be in showrooms by January.
For all of the V4’s track credentials, Ducati has confirmed that it will continue to race with the outgoing 1299cc V-twin in world superbikes in 2018, as all major race series set a 1000cc capacity limit for four-cylinder bikes, but we are expecting to see a 1000cc racing homologated ‘R’ version appear some time in the coming year to allow the V4 to compete in the various worldwide superbike championships.