This right here is what we’ve been waiting for since the very first details were released for the 2012 Ducati 1199 Panigale. Not since the introduction of the BMW S1000RR
in 2009 has a sportbike garnered so much anticipation and excitement from the motorcycle world. When our man Waheed rode it in Abu Dhabi for the 2012 Ducati 1199 Panigale First Ride
, he left impressed with the sexy red beast but not entirely sure is could take down the mighty Beemer. Ducati supplied us with its more expensive ($22,995) and higher spec S model, as we would have to wait even longer for a standard model. Since we wanted the best each manufacturer had to offer, we had no objections.
From the ground up the 2012 Ducati Panigle is an entirely new model. Both the chassis and the engine are unlike any that the Italian factory has offered to the public. Check out the 2012 Ducati 1199 Panigale First Look
for all the technical details, but here are the Cliff Notes: The new powerplant of the 1199 is an oversquare design named the Superquardro. Ducati hails it as the most powerful V-Twin in production today. As for the chassis, the Superquadro is an integral part of it as well, being a stressed member with a monocoque aluminum frame attached to the cylinder heads. This allows the Panigale to be the lightest Superbike on the market. It tipped our MotoUSA scales at 426 pounds with a full tank of fuel.
The Panigale's TFT multi-colored display is one good-looking unit but not all is perfect with the high-tech unit. The display looks trick but it is very busy and figuring out how to make changes on the fly could be easier.
The first thing riders notice when jumping on the Panigale is the departure from the extreme forward-set riding position from the previous model. It’s still aggressive but not as uncomfortable as before. The layout is more conventional with a comfortable reach to the bars and more legroom than all the other bikes except for the KTM. Our testing crew loved the slim feel and all agreed the comfort is at a whole new level for Ducati. If not for the extreme under-seat heat that comes of the exhaust header that cooked our legs and backside whenever we were moving slowly, it would have rated right at the top.
“The Panigale is beautifully balanced, narrow and super light,” says our woman test rider, Lori Dell. “It’s not a commuter bike for sure with all that heat that comes from under the seat.”
First seen on the Diavel, Ducati’s TFT display is one of the best looking dashes in our test. The multicolored readout is easy to read and packed with every bit of information the rider needs. The shift light, or lights we should say, is super cool as the whole outer area of the meter lights up to signal an upshift.
“The Ducati’s meter has insane styling with a technologic advantage,” comments stunter Ernie Vigil. “Everything is adjustable electronically; it’s really pushing the the envelope of what’s possible.”
There are a couple of annoyances with the meter that kept it from being the best in the test. First, is as the rpms move across the display the single digit for each 1000 revolutions enlarges to allow you a quicker glance to seevwhat speed the Ducati’s mill is spinning. The problem is when the engine is spinning at 500 rpm increments the enlarged number jumps back and forth between the higher and lower. At speed it looks like some sort of warning light and distracts the rider. The other issue is when the sun is directly on the meter it can be difficult to see.
Turning the throttle on the Panigale S is nothing short of impressive. The power delivery from the Superquadro heart of the Duc
The 1199's Superquadro enigine likes to be reved more than previous Ducati Superbike poweplants. 165 hp? Really?
builds slower off the bottom than you might expect but then comes on strong all the way to 11,000 rpm. Riders accustomed to the previous generation of Ducati superbikes will have to adjust their riding style accordingly and use the revs rather than torque, but we think this is a good thing and will appeal to more riders. We ranked the 1199 just behind the BMW in engine power.
Leah put it simply, “The Panigale is 100% raw power; this bike does what it was engineered to do.”
Raw power needs raw fuel, and the 1199 uses more of it than any other in this test. Over the course of our test, the fuel economy averaged out to just 24.81 mpg. That gives the Panigale a range of only 111.7 miles with its 4.5-gallon tank. So you will be visiting the pump often, but it will give you a chance to chat with all the adoring fans of the Ducati’s good looks. Every time we stopped it drew interest from passers-by. It isn’t even a contest in the appearance category with a win by unanimous decision.
Ernie put into words what we all thought, “It has by far the most intense styling out of the bunch. The bike looks amazing; it should go down as one of the best looking bikes ever. Amazing, truly a work of art.”
Strapped down to the dyno, the Ducati’s 1199cc V-Twin kicked out the second highest horsepower rating at 165.54 and the most torque with 85.6 lb-ft. combine that with its ultra-light weight and you get one hell of a rush when the trigger is pulled. On our less than ideal test strip the Ducati rocketed down the quarter mile in 11.37 seconds at 139.7 mph. That’s not the result we expected from the Panigale, but getting a good run was difficult with the front wheel clawing at the sky. Zero to 60 times also suffer the same result with a best effort of 3.887 seconds.
Slowing down the Ducati was a joy with excellent brakes courtesy of Brembo. Just as every other mega-spec ride in this
There is no denying the aggressively styed Panigale is on e of the better looking bkes in the Supebike Smackdown.
shootout the monobloc calipers do the squeezing of twin 330mm discs with superior feedback and feel, but these are the new M50 calipers and are said to be more rigid yet lighter. From the solid feel from the lever to the herculean stopping power, our test team loved the stoppers on the Panigale, rating them second to the BMW’s phenomenal units. Out back the feel wasn’t as spectacular but definitely above average. On the real world skidpad the 1199 stopped in 131.8 feet, just 9.5 inches longer than the Beemer.
On the highway the Panigale is taut, but not uncomfortable. It tracks straight and true on and off the gas no matter the surface, but you know it’s not happy in this element. Up on Palomar Mountain the 1199 begs you to turn the road into a race course, as you want to go fast to exploit the sharp handling. Any slower and it feels a bit twitchy and rough around the edges. The upgraded electronically adjustable Ohlins NiX30 fork and TTX36 rear shock allow for constant contact with the Pirelli Supercorsa SP tires and the asphalt for extraordinary feel. The more aggressively you ride the better it gets, and there’s the rub. It’s not as well behaved as the BMW when the pace is sedate.
“It’s like a bratty thoroughbred, needy and misbehaved until in its element,” declares Lori. “Then it becomes a different bike, a focused and immaculate racing machine.”
The 2012 Ducati Panigale S is almost everything we hoped it would be. It’s fast, it’s aggressive and it’s beautiful. In just a few areas it fell short, but that is just enough to finish third behind the well balanced Honda and seemingly unstoppable BMW. For a first model year that is impressive to say the least. It may not be perfect, but that is what gives it a soul that only can be pure Ducati. The perfection is in the imperfections.