Last Of The Panigale V-twins.
The era of V-twin superbikes ended when Ducati launched its incredible Panigale V4 in 2018, displacing the formidable 1299 as the Italian brand’s flagship. But with the arrival of the Panigale V2, the boys in Bologna remind us that there’s plenty of life left in its twin-cylinder sportbikes. It adds the styling cues of the V4 to the 959 Panigale platform, and infuses it with color TFT instrumentation and the latest electronic rider aids. We journeyed to Jerez in Spain to wring its V-twin neck.
Seeing the Panigale V2 in person induces lustful admiration for its sexy appearance. While the 959 was already a looker, the V2 takes it to another level. New LED headlights lead the way, while the side fairings incorporate Ducati’s “double-layer” design that’s designed to reduce the amount of engine heat hitting a rider.
But it’s the back half of the V2 that is most sensational. Bolting on the 1299 Panigale’s single-sided swingarm helps the V2 stand out from its competitors and gives the bike a light and airy appearance, aided by the new under-engine muffler that exits into a tidy stub. An accessory titanium/carbon Akrapovic exhaust boosts power and drops 15 pounds.
The V2’s tail-section is achingly pretty, with flow-through panels that urge a second and third look. Seen from the rear with the lovely LED tail-lights ringing the open tail-section combines to create one of the nicest asses in motorcycledom.
More premium features are offered in the V2’s electronics and its six-axis Inertial Measurement Unit. The IMU monitors speed, gear selection, lean angles and yaw angles to inform a bevy of rider aids, like traction control, cornering ABS braking, wheelie control, engine-brake control, and an up/down quickshifter.
These electronic rider aids enable a 155-horsepower Italian stallion to be almost simple to ride on a racetrack. Ride modes of Street, Sport and Race are programmed with appropriate traction control, ABS and engine-brake control to suit the intended use, but the system allows each to be individually customized to suit rider preferences via the new 4.3-inch color TFT instrument panel and a few button pushes.
We started the day in Sport mode, which offers smooth throttle application and a lower threshold before ABS and traction-control interventions in its default settings. The addition of cornering ABS is a noteworthy feature, especially for street riders, as it truly can remedy dreaded front-end traction losses in slick conditions.
Updates to the 959 motor boosts output to 155 hp from its 955cc powerplant, enough to catapult the Duc to 155 mph on the back-straight at Jerez. The roaring V-twin pulls with authority anywhere after 6000 rpm, and the quickshifter allows shifting gears without touching the clutch lever, including rev-matching the engine during downshifts. Feel from the Brembo M4.32 monoblock brakes is solid, and the ABS system will prevent the rear wheel from lifting when set in Sport mode but allow it in Race mode.
Bending the Panigale V2 into corners is more accurately described as deliberate than quick, but it’s very stable laid over in a turn and has plenty of ground clearance. The bike scales in at 441 pounds with its 4.5-gallon tank filled. A new seat, at 33.1 inches from the ground and with a faux suede finish and classy V2 embossment, provides extra room to move around and a bit more padding.
The Panigale V2 ($16,495) is remarkably undemanding to ride while extracting its considerable performance potential, aided by electronic rider aids that are as good as they get. The same will hold true when riding on the street where the V2’s alluring appearance will garner envious looks. Ducati’s latest super-mid proves to be a real super bike.