Monday, 28 November 2011

Ducati Panigale 1199 in the Flesh

Not many things would make me drive from Hampshire to Birmingham on an early Saturday morning in November - but The Ducati Panigale 1199 did.

My son-in-law (Ducati Diavel Carbon) and I (Multistrada Sport S) have come up with a cunning plan. First of all I should say that we have completely taken leave of our senses. I blame the Motorcycle News 'Inside Story'. I opened the article with nothing more than a level of curiosity: Did Ducati really intend to take their ill-fated monocoque MotoGP chassis to market in their new flagship sportsbike?

By the time I had read of the extraordinary goals that Ducati had set themselves, the single-minded way they went about achieving them - and the fact that they did.  The most oversquare motor in history, the bold almost frameless design - and then the mouth-watering but aggressive looks. Even if I didn't have a bike license I would have to buy one, so Chris & I made a pact.  But we had a problem.  For some reason the ladies (I think this is an English thing judging by some of my friends in the US) think that motorcycling - like marriage - should be monogamous.  You're only allowed ONE AT A TIME!

So as the Diavel and Multi (AKA Dick Dastardly & Mutley) are keepers, we decided to go joint on the Panigale.  Then that became an S, and then a Tricolore (by which time we almost might have decided to buy two stock bikes), but there you go, that's lust and bigamy for you. Quite what internecine strife co-owning and track-daying a £24k Superbike is going to create time will only tell.  I only hope that it doesn't generate a tale worthy of The Godfather.

So when we realised that we could actually swing a leg over one at the NEC Bike Show, we had to go (apart from anything, give our different shapes and sizes (6 ft and skinny in my case, 5ft 9 and stocky) would it fit us both?

I had heard the Panigale described as 'tiny' so I did wonder. I remember cocking a leg over the 916 not long after it arrived.  My best buddy told me I looked like a stick insect on a bicycle and that was it.  I quickly got off and decided in my case the 916 was for looking at, not riding. The Panigale is an armchair by comparison. It's small, but it is long (blame the long, long swingarm which means you can actually move around on the seat too).

Brilliant packaging (apparently the Kawasaki ZX10 does this well too - and so I can vouch for does the KTM RC8 - but I'm glad I haven't got a picture of me on the Aprilia RSV4. . .) with - relatively of course - high and wide bars and low pegs means it really does feel comfortable, with none of that super-focused bum-up head-down feel of the 916 (or Triumph's delectable Daytona 675). In fact my knees are much less 'fully scrunched' than they even were on my Speed Triple (allbeit with rear sets).

I had seen a lot of pictures, but I wanted to take a good look at the detail.  I though EMD readers might want to as well as most of the official shots go more for the glamour.   So here we go - some of the delectable detail on the Panigale, and some of the more interesting other European bikes at the NEC.

I love the way that Ducati have put the more sublime and advanced engineering features on display.  But am I the only one who wanted to take the silly plastic cover off as soon as I saw this? There is of course a carbon fibre accessory, but I think it just has to go.

Titanium Termignoni Exhaust System: Trend-setters again.  The 916 spawned a whole generation of under-seat exhausts, how many through-the-fairing ones are we going to see now? Genius - and reminiscent of the Dodge Viper.

Note cables for suspension servo motors (just like the Multistrada) on the S/Tricolore.

Adjustable linkage to vary progression rate of suspension for race/road. Threaded adjuster is to re-set ride height to compensate.

Brembos are very very neat.  Ducati has an exclusive on these so you won't be seeing them anywhere else soon.  Seem to bear a startling resemblance to the Brembos on Stoner's MotoGP-winning bike though (see below).

Now this is what you really want to do: Buy a Stock Panigale and turn in into Superstock race spec.  The pics below show some of these mods:

Carbon, Titanium Termignoni and rear-sets.

Carbon fibre exhaust heat-shield and hugger do make the plastic items on even the Tricolore look rubbish - guess that Ducati has to leave you something left to replace. . .

Check out insane short stroke, size of bores and valves.

Nice cut-out to show the Panigale 'frame' - or rather how the headstock is connected to the cylinder heads via the monocoque airbox.  Just one amazing example of the Panigale's many part dual-functionality (another is how the the fuel tank doubles as the 'lid' of the airbox.)

I must say - the attention to all details on the Ducati stand was exceptional. . .

I really like the seat on the AMG Diavel - no really. . .

KTM RC8 still has it.

As does new 690 Supermoto.

We liked the new BMW-authored Husqvarna Nuda

Spoken in a Crocodile Dundee accent: 'Call that a brake - THAT's a brake'  Check the secondary tubing - looks capable of carrying nothing more than - water?  Answers please to this address.  And check similarity of architecture to Panigale Brembos above.

Sweet new Triumph Speed Triple - wheels look light

New Triumph GS - sorry -  Explorer but with 135 bhp and a similar price-tag

Sorry, not for sale - amazing rotary-engined Norton race-winner from the nineties.

Yes, you can buy this one.

And 'no' don't think so - and 'no- neither do we'. . .

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