It’s 30 years since Ducati launched one of the most iconic motorcycles of all time and, to celebrate, they’re introducing a limited edition of their current flagship superbike.
Commemorating the legendary 916, the Panigale V4 SP2 30° Anniversario 916 will be a limited run of 500 individually numbered motorcycles featuring a special livery inspired by Carl Fogarty’s 1999 World Superbike Championship winning 916, not to mention a super exotic spec sheet to match the £37,195 price tag, £9200 more than the V4 S upon which it is based.
For that you get a machine with lashings of stunning carbon fibre and billet aluminium parts. The Panigale V4 SP2 30° Anniversario 916 gets a cool race style fuel tank cap machined from billet, carbon fibre MotoGP style air ducts to cool the front brakes, as well as an exhaust heat shield, double profile aerodynamic wings and front mudguard, all in carbon fibre.
Also made from carbon fibre are the five-spoke wheels, which give a 1.4kg weight reduction over the forged aluminium Marchesinis found on the V4 S and are 3.4kgs less than the wheels on the ‘base’ Panigale V4. The resulting unsprung weight reduction should lead to a more agile motorcycle which is less tiring to ride at speed. And it is fast, very fast, with over 215bhp on tap.
Brembo Stylema R calipers and the cooling ducts are mated to the Brembo MCS master cylinder, giving a braking set-up as good as any you’ll find on a road legal bike, while the STM EVO dry clutch is also top of the range and should help recreate that jangling dry clutch soundtrack for which the 916 was famous.
Other Gucci bits found on the SP2 include billet aluminium adjustable footpegs, which allow the riding position to be adapted to riders of all shapes and sizes and facilitate the quickshifter equipped gearbox to be configured in either a road or race configuration, for those who prefer a one up, five down pattern.
The latest special edition follows in the tyre tracks of a 25th anniversary Panigale V4 which came out in 2019. While we’re expecting most Panigale V4 SP2 30° Anniversario 916s to wind up in private collectors living rooms, we imagine a few will find their way on circuit as one of the ultimate track day bikes. Handily, for those riders, the bike comes with a track kit to remove the numberplate and mirrors and a datalogging system.
Why the Ducati 916 is so iconic
Unveiled at the Milan Motorcycle Show in November 1993, the 916 looks as fresh today as it ever did. Slender, lean and featuring thoroughly modern design elements like the single sided swingarm, twin projector headlights and under seat exhaust, the Massimo Tamburini penned masterpiece set the blueprint for a generation of sportsbikes. On looks alone, the 916 would be a timeless classic. That it would also become one of the most successful race bikes of all time made it a two-wheeled icon.
Developed by chief engineer Massimo Bordi, the 916cc motor was an evolution of the one found in the 888. Classic Ducati, it was a 90-degree L-twin with desmodromic valve actuation. The sound, allied to that of the dry clutch, was as distinctive as the look, although (if truth be told) it wasn’t the greatest road bike. The racy ergonomics didn’t lend themselves to anything approaching comfort, while the limited steering lock made it difficult to ride in traffic. The standard model made a claimed 114bhp, a little down on contemporary rivals like the original Honda CBR900RR FireBlade and Yamaha’s 20-valve YZF750R. The Japanese bikes were faster, cheaper and easier to ride on the road, but the bright red Ducati was the poster bike of the generation. And rightly so, it looked gorgeous and won pretty much everything it entered on track.
Carl Fogarty won the 1994 world superbike title on his 916, a feat he repeated the following year. He won again in 1998 and 1999, with his final championship winning machine providing the inspiration for the Panigale V4 SP2 30° Anniversario 916’s livery, including the fitting number one on the front fairing.