Ducati 1199 Panigale Traction Control Comparo

Adam Waheed | August 31, 2012

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MotoUSA investigates traction control and learns how each top manufacturers system performs in this 2012 Superbike Traction Control Comparison Video.

Ducati was first to trickle down its championship-winning World Superbike race technology to its production sportbikes and the 2012 Ducati 1199 Panigale represents its top effort to date. Ducati Traction Control (DTC) was developed within the secretive Corse racing arm responsible for Ducati’s World Superbike and MotoGP teams.

Like the other TC systems in this test (with exception of MV Agusta) DTC makes use of wheel sensors that feed speed data to the ECU. The computer also analyzes throttle angle and calculates gear position via engine rpm and front-wheel velocity. An accelerometer is also incorporated into the design. It uses information from all of these sources to establish if the rear tire is spinning above established thresholds in relation to TC level selection. Based on these measurements, the ECU can retard ignition timing to one or both of the cylinders. Three red lights above the instrument display indicate this stage of intervention. If all this doesn’t bring the data within spec it then performs a series of fuel-injection cuts to further reduce engine torque signified by the same three lights plus a larger fourth light on the dash. Like MV, Ducati offers no form of wheelie or launch control.

Like the MV and Aprilia, the Ducati offers eight different levels of traction control and adjustment must be made with the motorcycle stationary. The Panigale offers eight-way adjustability with the lower the number—the less electronic interference—similar to the MV. The DTC can also be disabled. A rocker switch on the left interface is generally easy-to-use, however, it takes a few seconds to dial-in the settings and it isn’t nearly as slick as the Aprilia or Yamaha, which offer simple, on-the-fly adjustment while riding.

Like the MV and Aprilia  the Ducati offers eight different levels of traction control. Adjustment must be made with the motorcycle stationary.
Like the MV and Aprilia, the Ducati offers eight different levels of traction control. Adjustment must be made with the motorcycle stationary.

In spite of such high-end technology, the Ducati’s traction control proved to be mediocre in application. The biggest issue we have is its inconsistency and unnatural feel — especially in turns that have any degree of camber. Even in its least restrictive mode (Level 1), at times, the electronics shut down the engine so aggressively that the pitch of chassis is compromised making it challenging to maneuver. This made it tough to have any faith in the electronics.

The data reveals that DTC proves to be quite functional—initially anyways—with both Siglin (DTC Level 4) and Waheed (Level 1) posting the highest acceleration force out of Turn 6. Curiously out of the final corner (Turn 15), Siglin registered the lowest number while Waheed posted his second-highest reading. This helps show how well the electronics modulate engine torque initially allowing for more optimum drive under

Ducati 1199 Suspension Settings:
(From full stiff)
Preload: 10
Compression: 11
Rebound: 12
Link: Flat Rate
Preload: 16mm
Compression: 4
Rebound: 8

acceleration. Max speed down both straightaways was also at or near the top of the time sheet for both riders courtesy the 1199’s hard-hitting, top-end-biased powerband. Corner speed data reveals that the Ducati was toward the back of the pack for both Siglin and Waheed, which may be attributed to the less than optimum suspension set-up of the motorcycle (see 2012 Ducati 1199 Panigale S Track Comparison) rather than the functionality of the DTC.
Analyzing the lap times shows that both Waheed and Siglin lapped slower with DTC enabled than without. Siglin was 2.56 seconds slower (1’57.80 versus 1’55.14 as compared to his Smackdown Superpole time) while Waheed’s time was 2.36 seconds off (2’01.67 vs. 1’59.31).

While the DTC did optimize drive under acceleration in terms of rider feel it needs to be a smoother and more consistent transition between on and off throttle. If Ducati could get that dialed-in perhaps the rider would have more confidence and be able to lean on the electronics to get a better result.

Ducati Traction Control was inconsistent in application. It also had had difficult time reading road camber.
Ducati Traction Control was inconsistent in application. It also had had difficult time reading road camber.


CHRIS SIGLIN: ”I had high hopes for Ducati’s system, but it didn’t quite perform. The biggest problem is how abrupt it is and it can really disrupt the chassis. It isn’t something I’d be comfortably using in a race. The Duc’s powerband was so harsh and came on so hard that it almost felt like it overpowered the TC before it ever had a chance to even work.”

ADAM WAHEED: “Where to begin? For a wheel-speed-equipped TC system the Ducati’s electronics didn’t impress me at all. For sure part of the problem is how crazy-aggressive the powerband is now with the new oversquare motor. It also activates at certain points of the track where you least expect it – stalling acceleration. It comes in violently too, at times, which can bind up the chassis. I was also surprised with how poorly the system performed with any kind of road camber. Overall, I’d rank it just ahead of the MV.” 

Ducati 1199 Panigale DTC Level 1
Ducati 1199 Panigale DTC Level 4

Adam Waheed

Road Test Editor | Articles | Adam's insatiable thirst for life is only surpassed by his monthly fuel bill. Whether rocketing on land, flying through the air, or jumping the seas, our Road Test Editor does it all and has the scars to prove it.