Words by Afzal Rawuther
Ducati has announced the new Panigale V4 ahead of EICMA 2017. The new bike replaces the current L Twin powered Ducati Panigale and is the first Ducati to have a four cylinder engine. The unit will be a counter-rotating 90 degree V4 engine. The Panigale V4 is expected to be the most powerful bike ever in the superbike class. The bike features an incredible assortment of electronic aids. Ducati’s Panigale L-twin superbike has been a great success for the company, coming second and fourth in this year’s World Superbike championship and its replacement is thereby a hugely important launch for the company.
And now, at EICMA, Ducati has announced a complete overhaul for 2018, with an all-new, 1103cc, 90-degree Desmosedici Stradale V4 engine that is heavily inspired from the team’s involvement with Moto GP. The addition of an extra two cylinders has increased the weight of the bike; the new motor is 2.2 kg heavier than the outgoing 1,285 cc twin, and the bike itself ends up being heavier by 5.5 kg. However a significant increase in horsepower brings the total power to a colossal 214 bhp, or an even more astronomical 226 bhp if you fit a full titanium exhaust. The Desmosedici Stradale V4 that was unveiled a few months ago, revs to 14,000 rpm, and has a compression ratio of 14:1. A peculiar feature similar to the MotoGP bike is the counter-rotating crank, which spins in the opposite direction to the wheels. This, Ducati claims will cancel out some of the wheels’ gyroscopic inertia at high speeds, and should help improve turn in. It’ll also reportedly help keep the nose of the bike down under hard acceleration.
Naturally, given the high revving nature of the motor, the valves are opened and closed using Ducati’s desmodromic cam system, which hydraulically operates the valves rather than relying on springs, which struggle to rebound quickly enough at high speeds. Euro IV regulations ensure that the bike is ride by wire with variable length intakes maximizing low-end grunt and top speed.
As in the previous Panigale, the V4 is designed to use the engine as a key part of the frame. In this case, a new “front frame” bolts onto the front and rear cylinder heads, and the swingarm is mounted on the back of the engine casing.
Suspension duties are done by Showa Big Piston Forks, with a Sachs shock and steering damper on the standard model. The S and Speciale models get Ohlins suspension at both ends, with a new Objective Based Tuning Interface giving both these models a semi-active suspension setup.
Brakes are the new Brembo Stylema monoblocs – the latest evolution of the M50 calipers, some 70 grams lighter per side and braking should be incredible.
Ducati has also announced two special variants of the V4 Panigale, the Panigale V4 S and the Panigale V4 Speciale. The S model gets the active Ohlins suspension and steering damper, as well as lightweight forged aluminum wheels and an extremely light lithium battery. The Speciale model gets everything the S model gets, plus carbon mudguards, Alcantara-trimmed seat and adjustable footpads. It also comes with the full titanium exhaust system to unlock that 226 horsepower figure, a race screen, license plate removal kit, machined mirror plugs, the Ducati Data Analyzer system, a bike cover and a racing cap for the fuel tank.