We were finally able to get the all-new Panigale V4 S out to the race track for the TrackAddix Track Day at Raceway Park of the Midlands this past weekend. A variety of riders all got the chance to sample the V4 on the track, and all came away extremely impressed. The common theme was the rider would come back in from the track, take off their helmet, and the first words out of their mouth would be "Holy Crap!". Yes, this bike will do that to you. Whatever you were expecting for how much power it has, you would be underestimating it by a large margin, this is a FAST bike.
However the real beauty of the overall package is NOT how insanely powerful the new V4 Desmosedici Stradale engine is (and it IS insanely powerful), it's how smooth and well balanced the bike feels, how incredibly light and agile the handling is, and how easy this bike is to ride at any pace you choose. In contrast to pretty much every other big Ducati Superbike in history, this bike is perfectly happy "putting around" at a leisurely pace, and is equally happy with that or pushing at the absolute maximum pace. The engine builds smooth and constant torque from very low RPM's by Ducati standards, and just never stops until it's screaming at 14,000 RPM. To get this bike to wide open throttle in 2nd or 3rd gear takes FERROUS CAJONES! Luckily the full suite of electronics includes a very effective Wheelie Control circuit else it would be nearly impossible to keep from launching the front wheel 6 feet in the air on every corner exit.
The overall electronics package on this bike includes virtually every type of electronic control currently possible on a motorcycle. The end result is an experience where you are riding around on a 214 HP motorcycle in the same manner as you would ride around on a 114 HP motorcycle, all of the edges are smoothed out and the bottom line is you never notice the electronic controls. This is really the highest compliment that can be paid to an electronics package, if you don't really notice it, that means it's perfect.
Some of the standouts on this bike included the butter-smooth electronic clutchless up-shift and down-shift system, the coolest dash ever installed on a motorcycle, and the extremely impressive Öhlins EC 2.0 electronic suspension. We were blown away by how good this suspension is right off the showroom floor, it's on par with other bikes we've built specifically for the track with the highest quality aftermarket racing suspension. It's really "that" good.
Riding the bike on the street is really just as impressive due to everything mentioned above. This may actually be a REAL livable day-to-day sportbike from Ducati! Everything about the bike is just smooth and easy and setting the riding mode to less than the razors-edge Race mode really produces a completely different animal that will not beat you up like many Ducati Superbikes of years past would do if you choose to ride them through traffic and at a leisurely pace. Many of us remember the days of the snarling big twin with the dry clutch that would launch from the stoplight to a minimum 35 miles per hour, and there was no option to go slower without a lot of bucking, chugging, screeching and general unhappiness from the bike. In contrast, the V4 will bumble through the pit lane at the track at 10 mph like a Ninja 250, until you twist the throttle you really have no clue that you're sitting atop a booster rocket.
In the end it really all comes back to the absolute gem of an engine that Ducati has yanked directly from their MotoGP racing program and slapped into a street bike. There has never been an engine like this in a street bike before, sure there are other V4's out there, but not like this. It's on another planet. We can only hope that Ducati will continue to develop this platform and give us more of it in different bikes, and of different displacements. It's really the dawn of a new era for Ducati and we couldn't be more excited!
Be sure to make some time to come by Ducati Omaha to check this bike out and take it for a ride! Or come out to meet it at the next TrackAddix track day. We are absolutely positive you will be impressed!