We a look at the Ducati 1299s, which comes standard with every possible piece of hardware, electronics and cosmetic upgrades that you can think of. Ducati has always been on top of the aspiration list of bikes to own at any given time, with a long racing heritage and truly unique and beautiful bikes. So how does the 1299s Panigale measure up to its predecessors?
It’s a V-twin superbike that’s bigger than ever before with an engine displacement of 1285cc delivering you 153kW. No big deal really? All the top of the logs superbikes are putting that out or close enough But all of the rest are fighting for best superbike in the world are all inline cylinder high revving screaming machines. Ducati stands alone as the black sheep… Or does it?
There was a time in 2010 when the superbike world was giving you X and BMW came along and said “Hey, look at this here Y”, and totally turned the super bike world on its head with their S1000rr and all its features, advanced technology and electronics. Everyone has caught up now, and available horsepower Vs tech and features are closely matched In a good rider’s hands, they can all perform and do the same things, however, the Panigale just seems to do it better, smoother, faster and with way more style flare and just sheer heart and soul.
I test rode the 1299s, which has the best of everything: Brembo brakes, Ohlins suspension, front, rear and steering damper which are Ohlins Smart EC- a form of semi-active suspension linked to very easy to use ride settings and mode. Basically, it can keep the front damping firm under braking and firm rear shock under acceleration. Finding the setting that matches your weight and ridding style is easy through the user-friendly menu and set up.
Another aspect of tech I want to mention is the gearbox with quick shifter, clutchless down drift and auto blip and its accompanying electronics package. The BMW S1000rr and 1299 lead the pack as the only two superbikes currently offering this as a standard feature, and my word has the Ducati got it right! It is so smooth and so fast that I still can’t take it all in. As fast as your brain is able to tell your foot to move either up or down shift, this bike can do it.
Imagine for a second approaching a bend after a good fast straight and hating to gear down twice before turning; with no need of the clutch you tap your foot twice and everything – with no trauma to the suspension or the bite’s movement – is taken care of smoothly and quickly, as you lean into your corner like a seasoned champion, and holy crap does it corner and turn so well it’s like the 1299s can read your mind This bike is pure perfection
Aesthetically, without debate, the 1299s is the most beautiful and amazingly put together bike there is for the public to buy. The workmanship and build quality is unmatched. It’s in the finer details that you really notice this, such as the size and types of bolts used -simple things like how tight and neat the joins and body work all fit together. Even the front mudguard-irk so dang close to the wheel and so precise, that when you look back at another bike you ask yourself “What the heck are they doing?”, and wonder if they want you to take shelter from the rain under there because its high off the front wheel.
Everything about the way the Ducati has been built and put together is to make a statement of: I am not normal, I am not average… Look at me with my sexy single swingarm and exposed rear forged mag, look at my neatly tucked away floor hugging twin exhaust pipes, and offset rear shock to mate this simplistic tail. And oh, have you seen my sparkly LED lights up front? Behold the supermodel goddess of the biking world. Affirmation of this is so clear by all the attention this bike draw’s everywhere I take it!
Even when I attended the launch of a long awaited superbike rival, people congregated around the 1299s in the car park while taking pictures of it. And if the standard looks aren’t good enough, there is an Akrvpovic exhaust system upgrade: Both headers and canisters that not only give you an even more thunderous sound and increased performance, but also blows the visual beauty of this bike through the roof. Because the headers are titanium and Ducati have exposed the pipes so nicely in the build, you get these beautiful mirror blue titanium pipes exposed for all to see and it virtually leaves people speechless.
So are there cons? If I have to nit-pick, when you stop at a traffic light and put your left leg down you can feel the off set rear shock, and because of the build they have wrapped the one header under the seat, it gets super-hot under the seat when you are standing still. But let is be honest, is there any guy out there who would complain about the hottest women in the world scratching his bade during sex?
I have ridden enough bikes and compared long and hard enough to know this is something truly special, it’s by far a front runner in the superbike world of today, and because it tides all of the right boxes I give it a 10 out of 10, because unlike before, the Ducati isn’t as expensive anymore. In fact, a Ducati is more affordable than it’s ever been, and with some of the prices of the rivals one would think in solitude “Why wouldn’t I get the Ducati?”.