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2012 Ducati 1199 Panigale First Ride

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

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2012 Ducati 1199 Panigale - First Ride Video
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2012 Ducati 1199 Panigale - Flying Lap Video
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(Above) Discover what Ducati's new Superbike is like to ride in the 2012 Ducati 1199 Panigale First Ride Video. (Below) Take a ride around the $1.3 billion Yas Marina Circuit in Abu Dhabi at the controls of Ducati's new Superbike in the 2012 Ducati 1199 Panigale Flying Lap Video. Pin-it with Motorcycle-USA!
Make no mistake about it: motorcycle racing is at the nucleus of Ducati. Never is this more evident than the release of the 2012 Ducati 1199 Panigale Superbike. This fifth generation Italian-built sportbike makes use of radical technologies born from success in World Superbike and MotoGP competition. For the full tech analysis read the 2012 Ducati 1199 Panigale Superbike First Look and 2012 Ducati 1199 Superquadro Engine Info analysis as this review focuses on the hour-long riding impression aboard the up-spec S model ($22,995) from the Yas Marina Circuit in Abu Dhabi, UAE.


Historically Ducati sportbikes have demanded an awkward riding position, but that ends with the Panigale. In fact, the interaction between rider and machine is one area of substantial improvement.

Grab a hold of the handlebars and the riding position is more ‘Japanese’ than ever before. It’s still one of the slimmest feeling literbikes around, but the lofty seat, elongated handlebar reach and sky-high foot controls have been repositioned more traditionally allowing for enhanced freedom of movement.

This increased rider comfort will be welcome for those that ride on the street. But despite the lower feeling (and non-adjustable) foot controls, ground clearance is still high and the footpegs continue to offer inadequate grip which can cause the rider’s feet to slip off during spirited maneuvers.

The 1199 Panigale offers very neutral and linear feeling handling. It steers with much less effort than previous models.
The 12 Ducati 1199 Panigale Superbike makes use of LED lighting.. As always the Ducati serves up a high-level of feel and mid-corner stability.
(Top) The 1199 Panigale offers very neutral and linear feeling handling. It steers with much less effort than previous models. (Bottom) As always the Ducati serves up a high-level of feel and mid-corner stability.
External dimensions have also been reduced and the Panigale feels more compact from front-to-back despite gaining 7mm of wheelbase. My six-foot-tall frame still fit adequately, but those that are taller might encounter difficulties achieving a clean tuck. As before, the Ducati feels light between the rider's legs and there is little doubt that it offers the lowest curb weight in its class (claimed at 415 pounds even with a larger 4.5-gallon fuel load). Another plus is its reduced top heaviness at low speeds.


Flip the key (thankfully, the 1199 retains the simplicity of a metal ignition key), thumb the starter button and the engine roars to life in a faster, more responsive manner due to the re-engineered starting/engine decompression system. Although the classic rattle of the dry clutch has vanished, we didn’t miss it especially considering the effectiveness of the oil-bathed unit. The exhaust note proves to be more ear pleasing and we were also impressed with the spot-on fuel-injection settings attributing to a crisp running motor.

Ducatis are renowned for robust bottom-to-mid engine performance, but the new oversquare motor offers a vastly different experience. The powerband is more conventional in application, similar to that of an Inline Four. Low end thrust has been reduced but the engine spools up explosively fast for a Twin. Mid-range power is strong but still not quite as stout as before. Keep feeding RPM and you’ll be greeted with a rich, far reaching top-end power surge that feels more Inline than Twin.

Where the old bike needed to be short shifted and ridden a gear high, the new Superquadro mill responds optimally with revs. Power remains strong and doesn’t fall off until upwards of 11,000 rpm. If you’ve ever spent any time at the controls of previous generation machinery you have to modify your riding approach—it’s that different (good thing).

The new 1199s powerband is more mid-to-top biased than ever before.
The Panigale 1199 offers a robust top-end with a powerband that is similar in application to an Inline Four. 

The six-speed gearbox has a tighter feel and there is less play at the shift lever. Finding neutral still isn’t as simple as it should be, yet it is better. For the first-time all 1199s come equipped with a electronic quick-shifter allowing for full throttle upshifts. This complements acceleration performance and helps reduce the fraction of a second it takes to upshift. Clutch lever action has been improved tremendously and no longer requires a firm left hand. Feel and response is up too, and the bike is generally easier to launch and control at parking lot speeds.


Based on its results last season in MotoGP there was a lot of speculation in
2012 1199 Panigale Suspension Settings:
(From full stiff)
Preload: 5
Compression: 8
Rebound: 14
Preload: 6
Compression: 6
Rebound: 12
regard to the performance of the new ‘frameless’ chassis concept, but we’re pleased to report that handling is yet another area of advancement.

The Panigale steers with little effort. Not only that, it has a reassuring level of feel with no dead zones through all points of the turn – from straight up and down to maximum lean. Side-to-side flickability was good too, and the bike doesn’t require anywhere near the amount of muscle as before for immediate direction changes. Steering precision is great, and the bike goes exactly where the rider commands.

Attitude of the chassis is more level at all speeds – on and off the throttle (a benefit of the Engine Braking Control) and stability is at a premium too. The S model we rode was fitted with electronically adjustable Ohlins suspension front and rear. With a push of a button the rider can adjust preload, compression and rebound settings without having to get off the bike.

Calibration of the suspension proved to be good and the chassis resisted the urge to pitch fore or aft under heavy application of throttle or brakes. The bowling ball alley smooth circuit we rode at didn’t feature any bumps, so suspension performance on a rough track is still an unknown. We were also pleased with how effective the rear suspension is at putting power to the ground.


A fully integrated electronics package is a standard feature on every Panigale. It consists of the engine ride-by-wire throttle control, traction control, quick-shifter and engine brake control. Perhaps what’s most impressive about the electronics is the synergy between all functions. The new ride-by-wire throttle offers near perfect calibration in both Sport and Race modes. It offers immediate response without it being overly sensitive which makes the bike easier to ride. Both modes allow full access to engine power but the Sport mode provides a smoother application when more delicate throttle response is required.

The 1199’s traction control system continues to use independent wheel speed sensors to determine when the rear tire is spinning. The updated version of the system employs eight levels of intervention based on information developed by the Ducati Corse racing arm. While we applaud Ducati at making the feature standard we continue to experience inconsistent results with it. With Level 3 selected it intervenes aggressively at times under requested throttle application, and at other times it doesn’t activate when the rider feels the back tire spinning excessively.

Though we experienced mixed results with the traction control we’re completely sold on the three-way adjustable engine braking functionality. The system is designed to enhance chassis stability during corner entry by continuing to feed a small amount of fuel into the engine when decelerating.


It’s hard to improve on the 1198’s braking package but the new 1199 does just that. Brembo steps up with its new M50 monobloc caliper that’s based on the racing caliper used on World Superbike and MotoGP machinery. Not only is it lighter but it provides more power and smoother actuation. The brakes continue to be plenty powerful but inital brake bite isn’t quite is strong (good thing) which makes the brakes easier to manipulate. Anti-lock is now an option and the bikes we rode had it, but we never rode the bike at a fast enough pace to experience ABS intervention.
<img width="225" height="300" alt="The rear suspension does a fine job of putting power to the pavement. " src="http://images.motorcycle-usa.com/photogallerys/large/12-ducati-1199-106.jpg" />
The Panigale gives a new experience with a Ducati sportbike as engineers have neutralized some of the rough characteristics.


In summary, the the new Panigale is a much easier motorcycle to ride than before. Ducati has neutralized some of the historically quirky traits without compromising the feel or fundamental character that is at the heart of the Italian brand. While it didn’t blow us away with its acceleration performance or functionality of the traction control, the bike as a total package is impressive and should be a better platform come Superbike Smackdown time.

* For even more info on Ducati's superbike, be sure to check out Adam's response to reader's questions in his blog Ducati 1199 Panigale Answers and read about his first thoughts in his Ducati 1199 Panigale Superbike Impressions.
2012 Ducati 1199 Panigale Photos
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2012 Ducati 1199 Panigale Superbike
Engine: Superquadro L-Twin, liquid-cooled 4 valve per cylinder, Desmodromic
Displacement: 1198cc
Bore/Stroke: 112 X 60.8mm
Compression Ratio: 12.5:1
Power: 195hp @ 10.750 rpm
Torque: 98.1 lb-ft @9000 rpm
Fuel Injection: Mitsubishi EFI, Full ride-by-wire elliptical throttle bodies
Exhaust: 2-1-2 system
Transmission: 6-speed
Final Drive: Chain
Clutch: Slipper and self-servo wet multiplate clutch
Frame: Monocoque aluminum
Wheelbase: 56.57 in.
Rake/Trail: 24.5-degrees/3.94 in.
Steering Angle: 54-degrees
Front Suspension: Marzocchi 50mm fully adjustable usd fork
Front Wheel: 10-spoke light alloy 3.50” X 17”
Front Tire: 120/70 ZR17 Pirelli Diablo Supercorsa SP
Rear Suspension: Fully adjustable Sachs unit, adjustable linkage.
Rear Wheel Travel: 5.12 in.
Rear Wheel: 10-spoke light alloy 6.0” X 17”
Rear Tire: 200/55 ZR 17 Pirelli Diablo Supercorsa SP
Front Brake: Dual 330mm semi-floating discs, radially mounted Brembo Monobloc
M50 4-piston calipers, ABS optional
Rear Brake: 245mm disc, 2-piston caliper
Fuel Tank Capacity: 4.5 gal.
Dry Weight: (claimed) 361.5 lb. (wet – 414.5 lb.)
Seat Height: 32.48 in.
Ducati Electronics: DTC, DQS, EBC, Riding Modes
Warranty: Two Year unlimited mileage
MSRP: $17,995
2012 Ducati 1199 Panigale Highs & Lows
  • More traditional ergonomics, better interface
  • Lightweight and maneuverable!
  • Quick, neutral steering; great rear suspension action
  • Engine could have more power
  • Inconsistent traction control application; no wheelie control 
  • Could be less expensive
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Piglet2010   September 9, 2012 08:35 PM
@ GhostRider11: "Since none of the Japanese sport-bikes have a chance of dethroning the BMW this year" - but the Honda CBR1000RR won the track portion of the Superbike Shootout. :)
mog   August 13, 2012 07:14 AM
I thought you would have a comparison with the even more expensive Erik Buell Racing 1190RS by now. I thought you had one lined up for this summer? Would sure be interesting to see how the USA bike would stack up against the Ducati 1199, huh?
theghost   April 26, 2012 10:11 AM
yturan dose not buy us magazines !!!! lo but the link to get to the website site is www.motorcycle-usa.com lol i smell a big fat lie
fuzzballmuzza   March 11, 2012 10:14 AM
Stop crying yturan and all Ducati lovers because he is being honest about the 1199's not so impressive power! It's never going to have 195hp stock and the average acceleration proves it. And I know it's not about outright power to make it lap fast, but it's of no surprise to anyone that knows that a v-twin making 195hp is a hard task. So get on your Vespa and head down to BMW to see how they make HP, real figures not hyped up print. The 1199 is an awesome bike and will shake up the class but it's not the power house Ducati are raving about.
yturan   February 26, 2012 09:29 PM
Not impressed with acceleration and traction control electronics??? wow this is interesting I bet you are the only one who feels that way, how come no other test riders are not commenting on these two areas. Stereo type U.S test rider, if Ducati didn't do enough ass kissing, find something negative to say. That is also why I never buy US magazines because of that fact that nobody seems to put down any unbiased opinions about any brands.
Superlight   February 26, 2012 05:06 AM
Interesting your "could use more power" comment, since you have little/no data with which to base that assertion other than seat-of-the-pants feedback on a racetrack.
luv2spd   February 24, 2012 05:28 PM
These days with too much horsepower going around it is all about how you can put that power to the ground. Putting the power to the ground the V-twin will always have an advantage and also being easier on its tires. The Yamaha R1 is pretty good too and the RSV4. You can have all the traction control you want, but the base engine characteristics are more important.
GhostRider11   February 23, 2012 03:06 PM
@leward18: Since Adam's awesome job allows him to put the hammer down (with the BMW and the Ducati) on track... if he had to chose 1 over the other... which would it be and why!? Not everyone wants the fastest lap time or the most horsepower. I use my '09 CBR1krr on the track because it's fun, comfy, and predictable. Maybe I'm too old-school as well since I'm not into all of the electronics. Many track-goers say that the RSV4 is the bike to have especially with it's refined electronics package. Rider's preference...
AnthonyD   February 23, 2012 07:40 AM
Still wanting some video from this event. C'mon man don't hold out! It's cold in NY!
leward18   February 23, 2012 04:44 AM
@GhostRider11: Actually Adam did answer your question in his last post, said he'd buy the Duc over the BMW for it's looks and v-twin character. Can't wait for the liter bike track/street shootout as well as the next streetfighter shootout which should include the Aprilia V4R now that it's available in the U.S.
moomoodeadcow   February 22, 2012 09:10 PM
dyno results plz.
Sondebeech   February 22, 2012 08:56 PM
You never once mentioned the engine in the whole article, yet you say it was one of the low points. How does that one work out? o_O
Rucuss54   February 22, 2012 07:58 PM
Ducati got rid of the rattling dry clutch, no more strangers telling you that the bike needs a valve adjustment. For $18K this Duc better be faster than last years two fastest track bikes CBR and ZX10.
moomoodeadcow   February 22, 2012 06:56 PM
@Adam You're running on high beam. :)
moomoodeadcow   February 22, 2012 06:51 PM
No wheelie control... is that a good thing? lol
rogase   February 22, 2012 03:50 PM
Charlieharper...ditto in Superpole both riders went fastest on the CBR no traction control or monster top end, just a very well balanced and engineered bike. Watch this year the CBR will very close again and if you buy one you will have an extra 10K in your pocket to spend on goodies
Retics   February 22, 2012 11:05 AM
Thanks Adam for the review, I've been waiting for you to get ahold of this bike and give us all your thoughts on the new Ducati. As well as you are taller , other reviews don't address that. I am 6'2 and fit on the RSV4 well enough, still a little chore to tuck though I wouldn't mind getting my hands on the 1199. Cant wait for the video. Keep up the good work, Cant wait to see this years super bike shootout.
GhostRider11   February 22, 2012 10:38 AM
@MotoUsa_adam: dodge the question... I see?! Guess I haveta wait for the 2012 Shoot-Out. Since none of the Japanese sport-bikes have a chance of dethroning the BMW this year... it will be up to the other European brands to take the crown. BMW, Aprilia, Ducati and maybe KTM will have an interesting battle during the comparison. The track-comparo is of most interest. And it may come down to rear-wheel horsepower numbers and which electronic system works best that day!
Miffy   February 22, 2012 10:13 AM
The front looks so ugly.
wildpig   February 22, 2012 05:23 AM
bmw- over-rated on every bike it makes..................and the words getting out about bmw's problems..
caducatiman   February 21, 2012 11:39 PM
"didn’t blow us away with its acceleration performance or functionality of the traction control" Hmm.. Are you sure that is not just in your head? A result of a progressive power band as opposed to an abrupt power band of other bikes. With the lowest curb weight and 195 hp out of the box something tells me that lap & 1/4 mile times will be much more impressive than the "butt dyno" readings. In regards to traction control so the"inconsistencies" occur at specific conditions.. Such as allowing more wheel spin at lesser lean angles and allowing less spin when leaned over? Having played with another Italian "traction control" which in practice is more of a stability program I realized that if I am going straight it will allow for some spin but if I am cornering it will kick in. I guess I will have to try out the 1199 and see for myself.
CharlieHarper   February 21, 2012 10:35 PM
Can you please explain to me how you say the BMW will offer better performance on the track when the 1198 already lapped faster in your shoot out last year but you still gave the BMW the win in the track shoot out. And Im betting the 1199 laps faster than a 1198.
wildpig   February 21, 2012 07:26 PM
the choice tween the duc or a bmw-- why that aint even a choice-- the duc is the one to get of course, check parts availability for the 1000 rr-- you;ll be 99 when the part u need arrives at the dealership which could easily be 333 miles from your house............
motousa_adam   February 21, 2012 05:48 PM
@nottom: you're right nice catch--fixed and thank you for sharing. @ghostrider11: the bmw for sure is going to offer more speed and performance on the racetrack but i would still buy the ducati because i like the way it looks and the character of its Twin cylinder engine.
GhostRider11   February 21, 2012 05:07 PM
Oh Moto, you freak you! The Ducati being a work of art... that's not the debate! 1 of my 3 sportbikes is the Black 848 Evo! The 2011 Evo is my Fun with Style bike... among my other CBRs. The 1199 is at the top of the 2012 list of sport-bikes in regards to art/looks but what i want to know is... what about the performance! Let's be serious for a sec, whatever 2012 Shoot-Outs will come down to the (performance of) BMW and the Ducati! Which bike would you buy???
Nottom   February 21, 2012 02:17 PM
Oops, I meant 851, not 888.
Nottom   February 21, 2012 02:16 PM
This is the 5th generation superbike: 888, 916, 999, 1098, 1199
AnthonyD   February 21, 2012 01:06 PM
We need a flying lap vid!!!!!
MotoFreak   February 21, 2012 01:02 PM
All I know Adam, I hope you thank god everyday and realize what a kick arse career you have! Ghostrider, the Ducati is a work of art. It's not even close in my book.
brooklynlpb   February 21, 2012 12:58 PM
That bike is a beauty. I wonder if I can get 170 from the wheel stock.
GhostRider11   February 21, 2012 12:16 PM
Yeah? But what would you put your money down on, Adam? A 2012: s1000rr or a 1199?