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2013 Ducati 1199 Panigale R First Ride

Monday, March 25, 2013

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2013 Ducati 1199 Panigale R - First Ride Video
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Ducati aims to get back atop the Superbike class and it’s doing it with this R-spec Panigale. Think its got what it takes to do it? Watch the 2013 Ducati 1199 Panigale R First Video and see for yourself.
Ducati pushed the envelope with its 1199 Panigale establishing a new standard of what we expect from a twin-cylinder sportbike. Although it impressed in some areas, the Ducati didn’t elicit the final result many had hoped. This year it gets a shot at redemption with this new R-spec Superbike ($29,995).

The new Panigale R is based off the S model we rode during the 2012 Ducati 1199 Panigale First Ride. It features a variety of hardware and software updates outlined in the 2013 Ducati 1199 Panigale R First Look. This narrative focuses on the riding impression from the freshly paved 20-turn Circuit of the America’s Formula One course in Austin, Texas.

Hop into the seat and the 1199 R is Ducati’s most accommodating Superbike to date. Engineers continue to refine the way the rider interacts with the controls. After all, the more comfortable you are, the faster you can go. Although the seat height continues to measure 32.5 in., it feels closer to the ground than we remember.

Thumb the starter button and it whirs to life firing the engine immediately without the occasional hesitation or hiccup we experienced on the 2012 machines. Drop the shift lever down into first gear, flip down your visor and its time to ride.

Escaping the pits is a simpler exercise due to the lower final drive gearing. Engineers fitted a two-tooth larger rear sprocket (41) enhancing acceleration in each of the six gears. It also reduces the amount of clutch slip required during launches. The added velocity doesn’t come at the expense of top speed due to engine’s higher 12,000 rpm ceiling (more on that later). Initial feel and lever action from the wet-style (clutch plates lubricated in engine oil) is superior to the previous generation’s dry-clutch set-up, even if it doesn’t emit that nostalgic racy sounding clank-clank-clank rattle. We never had the opportunity to give it an aggressive, high-rpm racing-style launch so we’re curious if the 1199 R’s drivetrain has what it takes to break into the nine-second range through the quarter mile.

The lap begins at the end of the fifth-gear front straightaway. Exiting pit lane you travel uphill preparing for Turn 1, a tight, off-camber left taken in second gear. Let the bike drift to the candy cane-painted curbing, put your head down and pin the throttle.

The 1199 R comes outfitted with an electronic quickshifter enabling split-second, full throttle upshifts. Motion the shift lever up twice and point toward the outside of the track before diving into Turn 2, a downhill off-camber right—continuing to accelerate with your knee on deck. Here the chassis is planted and there is a good degree of feel from the front end. Aim for the right side of the track before cutting across and tapping the brake during entry to the most demanding section of this 3.41-mile circuit: The Esses.

Here the ability to maneuver the motorcycle from side-to-side is critical, and a definite strong point of the R-spec Panigale. With a curb weight of just 417 pounds the Ducati is easily the lightest literbike in the class—and it feels that way. The Marchesini forged wheels further aiding direction changes. The ergonomics and flat, skinny tank profile allow the rider to ply their body off either side of the bike without any hang-ups. Our only complaint is that the pegs don’t offer adequate grip and occasionally our feet would slip off when standing or applying lots of foot pressure. This isn’t new and a gripe we’ve had for the last few years.
The Brembo braking set-up is sharp but not overly so making it easier to modulate entering turns.Ducatis latest brake pad caliper set-up works fantastic offering the most degree of feel and ease of use from its Superbikes.The Ducati 1199 R still lacks authentic wheelie control functionality which necessitates short shifts off the powerband to avoid excessive front wheel lift.
(Left) The Brembo braking set-up is sharp but not overly so making it easier to modulate entering turns. (Center) Ducati’s latest brake pad/caliper set-up works fantastic offering the most degree of feel and ease of use from its Superbikes. (Right) The Ducati 1199 R still lacks authentic wheelie control functionality which necessitates short shifts off the powerband to avoid excessive front wheel lift.

The transmission is precise and doesn’t have the sloppy, mystery feel between gears—an annoying trait of the previous 1098/1198 bikes. This is a big plus when sneaking in a clutch-less downshift (into third gear) while turning between Turns 5 and 6. With the throttle pinned aim toward the left edge of the asphalt and wait to turn-in to carry maximum momentum through the uphill Turn 7. Hard on the gas, point to the outside before swinging both bike and
1199 Panigale R Settings:

Preload: 6mm
(From full stiff)
Compression: 10
Rebound: 4
Preload: Standard
Compression: 6
Rebound: 8
Swingarm Pivot: Stock (zero)
Link: Flat
Power Mode: Race
DTC: 2
EBC: 1
ABS: 1
body in one motion and clip the apex of Turn 8. Although the engine is spinning low in the revs it spools up quickly as the pavement drops. Short shift into fourth gear, hold your breath and dive into the blind Turn 10 kink. The Panigale motor piles on revs quickly—akin to the voracity of a modern four-cylinder rather than a Twin (thanks in part to the engine’s titanium connecting rods and lighter flywheel) as the red warning lights illuminate signaling it’s time to upshift. Instead hold the gear and prepare to brake for the Turn 11 hairpin.

A firm two-finger pull on the front brake lever sheds speed with authoritative feel. The Ohlins fork compresses into its stroke with control, sharpening the steering angle and increasing turning response. Although the fork settings were toward the softer/faster side of the spectrum, adjusting compression or rebound damping is as simple as a few pushes of a button using the handlebar mounted controls at a stop. Spring preload, however, is still adjusted the old fashioned way with hand tools.

Ducati continues to refine the Panigale’s electronics packaged based on data gleaned from its World Superbike and MotoGP racing efforts. Crack on the throttle out the hairpin (Turn 11) and it squirts off in a skilled fashion. We
The 1199 R uses a TTX-generation Ohlins gas charged shock that can be adjusted electronically via buttons on the handlebar.
The 1199 R gets a full racing-style exhaust from Termignoni. The pipes not only add character but boost mid-range and top-end engine performance  too.
The position of the handlebar has been modified and is more open and accommodating of track use.
Although it wont help you get around corners faster on the track the Panigale has one of the best headlights in terms of beam distance and intensity of any sportbike weve tested recently.
(Top) The 1199 R uses a TTX-generation Ohlins gas charged shock that can be adjusted electronically via buttons on the handlebar. (Center) The 1199 R gets a full racing-style exhaust from Termignoni. The pipes not only add character but boost mid-range and top-end engine performance, too. (Below) Although it won’t help you get around corners faster on the track the Panigale has one of the best headlights in terms of beam distance and intensity of any sportbike we’ve tested recently.
rode in the second least restrictive Ducati Traction Control setting (DTC 2) almost entirely, except for the last session of the day. This boosted confidence allowing us to twist the throttle earlier and more assertively as we picked up the bike off corners. Overall the system performs more accurately than before and was a great tool to lean on, especially considering we were learning a new track.

For our final outing we switched DTC to ‘off’ and the difference in terms of exit drive was apparent. The Ducati was able to steer through and finish the corner quicker, as well as achieving what felt like a superior drive. It’s important to note though that the grip from the fresh rear Pirelli was excellent and it’s possible we could have experienced a different result if the tire were more worn.

Although the bike has wheel spin control it lacks wheelie control functionality. And considering the engine generates nearly 170 horsepower at the back tire (based on results of dyno testing last year, see horsepower chart here) a decent drive equates to a power wheelie in the first three gears. Depending on the circumstances the DTC cuts power during wheel lift or just lets it happen. It’s this kind of inconsistency that makes it troubling, requiring the rider to short-shift out of the powerband to ensure that the front wheel doesn't climb excessively.

Down the back straightaway the engine spools up fast—requiring constant upshifts (good thing). Thankfully the big red shift lights on the colored instrument display help convey the message if the roaring sound of two coffee can-sized pistons slapping back and forth doesn’t. Ducati has a legacy of building charismatic sportbikes and this Termignoni-equipped Panigale is no different. With the engine zinging on the pipe, it’s easily one of the best sounding production motorcycles built. Once again the ergonomics and larger R-spec windscreen function near perfectly down the back straightaway allowing even this six-foot-tall rider to escape the 170-plus mph windblast.

Lift off the gas, pop from the cocoon-like bubble of the windscreen and begin throttle blimps as you pull back on the front brake lever, downshift four times (into second gear) in preparation for Turn 12. Again the Ducati’s front brakes are outstanding—offering strong power. Initial bite is effective but not overpowering (a big plus for everyday street use) and feel progressively ramps up the deeper you get into the lever. To date this is Ducati’s finest production brake pad/caliper combination. There’s also an anti-lock function but we never manipulated the brakes hard enough for it to activate. Still, it’s nice to know that it’s there just in case…

Run the bike in deep until the rev-limiter flickers, turn-in then keep wide for a moment before continuing the turn clipping the apex of T14. Here you’re carrying a high-degree of lean and throttle angle and the chassis responds nicely, driving forward with great stability. Aim for the inside of the curbing through the kink between Turns 14 and 15 then let the bike drift wide before steering back in.

The bike wheelies on exit, signaling it’s time to short-shift into third gear in anticipation of the fast consecutive right-handers of Turns 16-18. Aside from The Esses, this is another challenging segment of the F1 course and an area
Refinements to the 1199 Rs handlebar position and seat make it a more accommodating motorcycle to ride on track.
The Ducati changes direction without much effort and is one of the lighter feeling bikes in the Superbike class.
(Top) Refinements to the 1199 R’s handlebar position and seat make it a more accommodating motorcycle to ride on track. (Bottom) The Ducati changes direction without much effort and is one of the lighter feeling bikes in the Superbike class.
where you can make up a lot of time. Let the bike run wide and point it toward the green AstroTurf. Right when you realize you’re about to run off track, turn-in. Pin-it as you skim the apex of Turn 18 and the Panigale drives forward with a level of steam reminiscent of a certain pesky propeller-branded German superbike—do it right and you’ll have the engine touching the rev-limiter. Don’t brake too much for the next corner, as it can be taken with a deceptive amount of corner speed, instead focus on where you want to be and let the Ducati’s accurate chassis do the work.

It’s back to the brakes for the final turn… and the harder you stop the better its engine brake control performs. It helps maintain chassis composure and keeps the rear wheel more in line with the front. This is a big plus if you’re suspension is undersprung, or, if the rider has selected too soft of a damping setting. Back on the gas, you’ve just completed a lap of one of the finest racing circuits in the world…

After spending about an hour lapping Ducati’s latest Superbike it’s clear that this is a superior motorcycle: It’s faster, more agile, and the electronics respond with greater accuracy to road conditions and rider input than ever before. This is without a doubt the finest Ducati sportbike ever built. Still, even with its arsenal of rider aids, it remains a high-strung machine that demands a lot from its rider. Get it right though and it delivers all the right sensations few other bikes can.
Ducati 1199 Panigale R Photos
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Ducati 1199 Panigale R Highs & Lows
  • Improved engine acceleration 
  • Excellent ergonomic fit
  • Easily the lightest bike in its class
  • High strung engine is demanding to ride
  • Footpegs don’t offer adequate grip
  • No wheelie/launch control
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2013 Ducati 1199 Panigale R Specs
The Ducati 1199 R is the base the Italian firm uses in World Superbike competition. It can be yours to ride on the street for  29 995.
Engine: Liquid-cooled 1198cc L-Twin; 8-valves
Bore and Stroke: 112.0 x 60.8mm
Compression Ratio: 12.5:1
Fuel Delivery: Marelli electronic fuel-injection
Clutch: Wet multi-plate; Hydraulic actuation
Six-speed; chain final drive
Final Drive: Chain 15/41
Frame: Monocoque aluminum
Front Suspension: Ohlins 50mm inverted fork; 3-way adjustable for preload, compression and rebound; 5.0 in. travel
Rear Suspension: Ohlins gas-charged shock; 3-way adjustable for preload, compression and rebound; 5.12 in. travel
Front Brakes: 330mm discs with radial-mount Brembo four-piston M50 monobloc calipers
Rear Brake: 245mm disc with twin-piston caliper
Curb Weight: 417 lbs.
Wheelbase: 56.57 in.
Rake: 24.5 deg. / Trail: 3.94 in.
Seat Height: 32.48 in..
Fuel Capacity: 4.5 gallons
MSRP: $29,995
Colors: Red
Warranty: Two years unlimited mileage
2013 Ducati 1199 Panigale R First Look
Following its full redesign this season Ducati is releasing an ‘R’ super premium variation of its 1199 Panigale Superbike. The 2013 Panigale R is outfitted with a number of race parts for well-to-do riders looking to exploit performance at every turn.
The engine features titanium connecting rods and a lighter fly wheel that drops almost three pounds of reciprocating mass. This allows the already fast spinning and rev-happy engine to pile on revs even faster. The valvetrain also gets a special ultra-slippery DLC coating which allowed engineers to boost the rev limiter to 12,000 rpm—an astonishing high number for an big-bore 1198cc V-Twin...

Find out more in the 2013 Ducati 1199 Panigale R First Look review.
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PaniPani   April 8, 2013 06:48 AM
... that would be swingarm pivots, of course. Oops!
PaniPani   April 8, 2013 06:47 AM
Thanks Adam, appreciate the clarification. I'd imagine the easier transitions are down to the reduced gyroscopic inertia from roughly 3lbs less mass spinning around in the engine; at high revs it wouldn't be trivial. Too bad you guys didn't get to sample how the different pivots affect the bike; looking forward hearing about that when you get a chance to give it a full test.
motousa_adam   April 3, 2013 08:36 AM
@PaniPani: I did make a mistake here. The controls aren't any different from the original 2012 model. The wheels are also the same as the forged aluminum rims on the '12 S model. It's crazy because the bike actually felt different than I remember (it's been about nine months since I rode one) and it changed directions quicker too. Any other questions? Adam
Piglet2010   April 1, 2013 05:21 PM
@ jfc1 - Aprilia may not make a 300cc sport-bike, but they do make a 125cc sport-bike (but it is a 2-smoke). Maybe they will import it again without all the goofy stickers. And as for trusting Waheed, he was quite on in his review of the Honda Dullsville (aka NT700V).
PaniPani   March 29, 2013 12:21 AM
Trust that I do, I just don't post about them here. But when I see a journalist make unattributed comments about a topic of interest to me that no other publication has noted, I tend to get curious. And ask for sources. Not for a conversation with someone I wasn't addressing though, so cheers.
PaniPani   March 27, 2013 09:15 PM
@jfc1: it matters to me, and hadn't seen that info anywhere else, which is why I asked. Thanks for your input though.
PaniPani   March 27, 2013 07:21 AM
Yo Adam - jealous of you getting to throw the R around CoTA! Curious about the comments on the ergo changes, since the gallery pics of the clip-ons look just like the ones on my 2012. Interesting about the lighter wheels too - were the ergo and wheel weight changes officially claimed in the presentation or press kit? Thanks!
Piglet2010   March 26, 2013 08:31 PM
@ jfc1 - Well, the Ducati website mentions the adjustable swing-arm pivot mount: http://www.ducati.com/bikes/superbike/superbike_1199_panigale_r/chassis/height_of_the_pivot_of_the_adjustable_swingarm/index.do Good enough for you to believe it exists? Furthermore, I am pretty certain that Adam Waheed is "he" and not "they".
motousa_adam   March 26, 2013 02:27 AM
Hey guys, the motorcycle I rode was set-up with the swingarm pivot in standard mode (same as last year's machine). The track we rode on was smooth as a bowling ball alley so it obviously masked any potential handling woes. It will be interesting to see how the bike performs on a more standard American circuit.
Piglet2010   March 25, 2013 04:50 PM
So the adjustable swing-arm mount cures the handling issues that downgraded the 1199 during your latest SuperBike track comparison?