This weekend sees the world press launch of Ducati’s Panigale V4 at Valencia’s Ricardo Tormo circuit, and I won a game of soggy Ryvita to claim the 44T ticket – much to Chris’s dismay. Without even riding it, the latest techno queen to exit Bologna has to be the most sought after steed of 2018, not least because we’re short of fresh superbikes this season. But that’s no excuse not to be deeply aroused by Ducati’s hottest offerings.
Valencia is a strange track to launch a 220bhp Bolognan missile in some ways. Those that have sampled the Ricardo Tormo circuit will appreciate its foibles, and its tight and twisty nature, and we’ll no doubt be spending a huge amount of time testing the V4’s second gear aptitude. Obviously, the start/finish straight will offer the chance to explore the Desmo’s top-end, abuse the 14,000rpm redline and pretend we’re fat Jorge Lorenzos, although it’s the cornering capabilities that will be scrutinised.
The basic geometry isn’t too far from the 1299 (trail is up from 96mm to 100mm) so, for me, the most intriguing aspect is the V4’s handling traits – aside from the motor itself. There are two motives: the first is Panigale’s new ‘front frame’ which should supply a more conventional chassis sensation, rather than a full monocoque. The second is the motor housed in that chassis: the L-twin was pure evil as soon as you overworked it, which then caused handling issues on a hot lap. It was never going to bother lap records in standard trim but that’s all set to change.
And then there’s the updated electronics (including slide control), suspension, Brembo brakes and tyres. We won’t bother dissecting trivialities such as fuel economy, its 16L tank and how it behaves dawdling at 30mph past your favoured café – that’s saved for a UK first ride in the coming weeks.
A large majority of Panigale V4s are sold before a demo ride, based purely on the looks and a hardcore Ducati following. But there’s a selection of potential buyers waiting to hear whether or not they need to cancel their RSV4 order and move into the red corner, and we’ll bring you the full rundown next week.
So, what d’ya wanna know? Leave a comment below or feel free to email us…