1 year ago

RideFast Dec 2019

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  • December
  • Ducati

This simple device gives

This simple device gives the Panigale V2 state-of-the-art electronics, which includes a cornering ABS package that has the rear-wheel slide feature. And yes, you can disable ABS on the rear wheel, and rear-wheel lift mitigation for the front wheel… as it should be. The six-axis IMU also enhances the traction control feature, letting the rear wheel slide when you are on the gas, with confidence and control. With that comes a separate and distinct wheelie control system, which is a welcomed addition to the v-twin superbike. Sadly, there is no separate slide control feature. But, other electronics include Ducati’s engine braking control feature, which is useful on the Superquadro engine (we prefer Level 3), and the up/ down quickshifter, which was absolutely flawless during our testing time. Lastly on the electronics front is the new 4.3” TFT dash, which should be familiar to anyone who has ridden one of Ducati’s bigger bikes recently. Though not as big as the 6” units that are coming out now from other brands (see: KTM and BMW), it still gets the job done reasonably well. Other enhancements for the the 2020 model year include a thicker seat (+5mm), which keeps the seat height the same, but narrows the leg gap when your feet are on the ground. As you might have noticed, the single-sided swingarm has been added for the first time since the 848 to “middleweight” machine from Ducati, and of course the “double layer” fairings are inspired by those on the Panigale V4. Ducati says that the front-wheel weight bias has increase by 1%, to 52/48. Our European readers will be happy to hear that the exhaust has been changed for 2020 as well, with the underslung design homologated for all markets, not just the USA, which means saying goodbye to the ugly shotgun unit that came on the Ducati 959 Panigale. The biggest change though is the one most overlooked one by the common rider, and that is the 955cc v-twin engine. Making now 153hp this 5hp increase to the peak power figure comes in spite of Ducati shipping the Panigale V2 as a Euro5 compliant motorcycle. With the more stringent emission standards that are here and also coming down the pipe, OEMs will be struggling to maintain power numbers, without adding displacement. Ducati on the other hand has found a way to make the “mini” Superquadro engine quieter and more powerful at the same time, which isn’t easy to do. To achieve this, Ducati used a more efficient air intake into the airbox, and employed new injectors that have a higher flow rate and different angle of injection. As you can see then, this is really the Ducati 959 Panigale evolved further to become the Ducati Panigale V2…but the Italian brand has made these evolutions in very key areas of the motorcycle, and they are more than their sum when it comes to real-world value. How It Rides After describing the the changes for 2020, I could probably keep this review quite short. The Ducati Panigale V2 is exactly what it is. It is a Ducati 959 Panigale with V4 clothing. It is the old model, but with more and better electronics. It is the “cheaper” offering in the superbike line, but now with a single-sided swingarm. If you reduce the Panigale V2 to those thoughts though, you do a disservice to what Ducati has achieved with this motorcycle because at its core, the Ducati Panigale V2 is a track bike for the track day connoisseur. The 153hp Superquadro v-twin engine has a meaty powerband from 9,000 rpm to 11,000 rpm that gives you a big window of operation when it comes not only to track riding, but also on the street. The torque curve is so flat, that you actually lose the acceleration rush that comes from a rumbling engine finally waking up. This can make it a little tough to tell where you are on the rev range from the butt dyno, but makes the machine very smooth to operate, and it doesn’t try to wheelie when ever the throttle rotates more than one degreee. For a criticism, that smoothness does venture into the subdued at points, but I would graciously take that over the inverse, which is part of the ethos surrounding the Panigale V2. As you would expect with the six-axis IMU and the lower horsepower engine, the electronics really work in concert with the machine, thanks to the work Ducati has made in its development with the Panigale V4. Because the 955cc v-twin engine doesn’t breath the same fire as the 1,103 V4, you see the interventions from the traction control and wheelie control less often, which gives you more of the impression that you are riding the machine, rather than the computer making your lap time. “The power delivery is enough to excite, but not overwhelm; the handling is solid though not sharp; and the components are sufficient but not flashy. Is this the latest a greatest? Not quite, but its very close…and very approachable. Most importantly though, the Ducati Panigale V2 is fun to ride.” This make the two-wheeled experience more enjoyable, and because of the power figures, you don’t fatigue as much on the bike. Despite the workout that is the Jerez circuit, with its plethora of heavy-braking zones, the Ducati Panigale V2 feels like a bike I could ride all day. Ducati has left no stone unturned on this mild update to the machine (let’s call it the third-generation of the “middleweight” Superquadro machines), but yet the chassis remains unchanged. The monocoque frame on the 959 always worked a bit better than it did on the 1299 version, again because of the power differences between the machines, so this obviously remains true. Coupled with fully adjustable Showa BPF forks and a Sachs rear shock, the chassis feels good on the track, though it isn’t as precise in its cornering and turning as say some of the 600cc inline-four bikes on the market. Road-going riders might see this as a positive trade off, however, with the Panigale V2 more supple for canyon riding. Riders might scuff at the “low-spec” Brembo M4.32 calipers on the front-end of the Panigale V2, but the braking system put together by the Italian brand is more than sufficient to get the job done. Intriguing to our eye was the fact that Ducati has put the a 180/60 sized rear tire on the Panigale V2, which provides ample grip when leaned over, though at the cost for a slower roll speed. It would be interesting to see what a 180/55 option feels like on the Ducati, and if this would help improve the slightly sluggish handling of the v-twin superbike. Slightly tighter in its ergonomics than the Panigale V4, the bike at times does feel a little cramped, especially from the torso up on this 6’2” rider, but at the end of a long day at the track one does clearly benefit from the 5mm thicker seat. All-in-all, the Ducati Panigale V2 feels like a robust package for track riders…and it should, since Ducati has been perfecting this motorcycle for several generations now. The power delivery is enough to excite, but not overwhelm; the handling is solid though not sharp; and the components are sufficient but not flashy. Is this the latest a greatest? Not quite, but its very close…and very approachable. Most importantly though, the Ducati Panigale V2 is fun to ride. We spent five sessions on the Panigale V2 (which is more than normal at a press launch), and I still wish Ducati had given us more, as I wasn’t done enjoying this bike for the day…and that’s the true test of any motorcycle. Yeah, But Would You Buy It When I look at the space for this odd segment, four bikes come to mind. There is the Ducati Panigale V2, obviously. But, there is also the stout MV Agusta F3 800, the newly released Triumph Daytona Moto2 765, and the venerable Suzuki GSX-R750. Despite starting this segment so many years ago, sadly Suzuki has yet to bring a meaningful update to the GSX-R750, though there have been creditable rumors. So while it is in the space, it is not sensible to throw its keys into the ring as a reasonable competitor against the Ducati Panigale V2. The other two bikes, however… For the Triumph, it will be a game of wait-and-see, as the British brand hasn’t released figures on pricing just yet. Rumors peg the limited edition machine at close to R350,000 MSRP, however, and if that its the case, then the Moto2-inspired machine will have some difficulties. 36 RIDEFAST MAGAZINE DECEMBER 2019 RIDEFAST MAGAZINE DECEMBER 2019 37