Ducati, ahead of the launch of its 2015 1299 Panigale, gave Wheels24 the opportunity to have one last fling with the outgoing 1199. We accepted - and subjected the Pani to our usual test routine.
SWANSONG FOR A SUPERBIKE: Dries van der Walt got to grips with the outgoing Ducati 1199 Panigale, ahead of the launch of the 2015 1299 Panigale. Image: DRIES VAN DER WALT
Ducati, known for its exotic, high-performance motorcycles, originated in the Italian city of Bologna as a manufacturer of radio components in 1926. In the 1930's, the company opened a new factory in Borgo Panigale, a district in the city of Bologna, for which Ducati’s current range of superbikes is named.
It was only in the 1950's that Ducati branched into motorcycling with a 50cc engine for a motorised bicycle.
HISTORY OF AN ICON
When it was launched in 2011, Ducati claimed that the 1199 Panigale was the world's most powerful production twin, capable of 143kW/132Nm for a kerb weight of only 188kg. Its claim was reinforced by test results from an independent magazine which recorded a 0-100km/h sprint in 2.98sec, a standing quarter-mile in 9.91sec (topping at 235 km/h) and a final top speed of 286km/h.
IMAGE GALLERY: 2011 Panigale 1199
The one thing I realised during the 2014 Bike of the Year testing was that Ducatis and I just get along. The Panigale seems perfectly sized for my frame, making it one of the most comfortable superbikes I have ridden. There is a little more to it than just comfort – the Pani is an easy bike to live with. I would have expected an exotic bike to require some patience with its idiosyncrasies but the 1199 showed none during the test period.
Riding it, whether on the back roads around the Cradle of Humankind,on the highway between Johannesburg-Pretoria highway or for a quick trip to the local shop, was always fun.
The instrument panel is quite comprehensive and includes track-related accoutrements such as a stopwatch with lap timers. It also shows the state of rider aids such as the anti-lock brakes, traction control and engine map settings, all of which are easily adjustable via a handlebar switch. A light sensor allows the display to invert itself from the daytime black-on-white scheme to white digits on a black background for riding after dark.
WHAT A SOUND...
The Panigale, like most Ducatis, has a glorious, addictive engine sound. It's a loud machine but not in the obnoxious way of some cruisers – the Pani drew as much favourable response from bystanders for its sound as for its looks. The V-twin rumble at low revs transforms into an ecstatic howl near the rev limiter, leaving few in doubt of the brand of the bike that has just zoomed past them in a red blur. The sound is one of several characteristics of the bike that seem to conspire to seducing you into going fast.
Going fast is one thing the Panigale enjoys thoroughly. A careless launch sees it rapidly raising the front wheel but also leaving virtually everything else behind. Yet despite its power, the 1199 is remarkably manageable in traffic. It is not overly fond of low revs but it is much more flexible and tractable than you might think. However, if you let go of the reins, the Ducati rewards you with a sharp burst of power above 8000rpm that is sustained until the rev limiter kicks in.
FUN ON THE ROAD
With performance like this you need sure-footed handling and that’s an area in which the Panigale shines. It's a tremendously stable bike which never seems to lose its composure, irrespective of how hard you throw it into a corner. There is a right-hand sweep on my daily route which is a lot of fun to take. It requires some caution though because there are several bumps right on the apex that have caused me to have some hairy moments.
Even these the Panigale took in its stride with little more than a mild head-shake, as if to show its disapproval of my imprudence.
The 1199 Panigale is sold with a three-year or 90 000km warranty. The automaker also offers an appreciable discount on practically-new demo bikes and in the case of the 1199 Panigale this amounts to a whopping R29 000 off the new price.
Going this route makes owning a Panigale much more accessible.
The 1199 Panigale has very few vices (one its thirst for fuel) and it is hard to see how the upcoming 1299 will improve on an already competent package. Rest assured that we have already added it to Wheels24's review list for the new model and we’ll share our findings with you as soon as we can lay our hands on one.
Model: 1199 Panigale
Type: Four stroke, 90° V-twin cylinder, DOHC, desmodromic 4 valve/cylinder.
Maximum Power: 143kW @ 10 750rpm
Maximum Torque: 132Nm @ 9000rpm
Fuel supply system: Mitsubishi EFI, Full ride-by-wire elliptical throttle bodies
Fuel type: Unleaded 95 Octane RON
Fuel consumption: 6.7 litres/100 km (actual)
Type: Six-speed, wet multiplate slipper clutch with hydraulic control
Final drive: Chain
Overall length x width x height (mm): 2060x745x1177
Kerb weight: 184kg
Fuel tank: 17 litres
Front: 2 x 330mm semi-floating discs, radially mounted Brembo Monobloc M50 four-piston callipers
Rear: Single 245mm disc, two-piston calliper
Front: Marzocchi 50mm pressurised and fully adjustable upside-down fork with hard anodised aluminum lightweight slider
Rear: Fully adjustable Sachs unit. Adjustable linkage: Progressive/flat. Aluminum single-sided
WHEELS & TYRES
Tyre, front: 120/70 ZR17 Pirelli Diablo Supercorsa SP
Tyre, rear: 200/55 ZR14 Pirelli Diablo Supercorsa SP
PRICE: R228 000