Soup :: Ducati 1199 Panigale: Italy’s Most Powerful (And Most Electronic)…

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Ducati 60 S

Ducati 1199 Panigale: Italy’s Most Powerful (And Most Electronic) New Superbike

by dan coe

Thursday, June 07, 2012

Having recently tested Suzuki’s latest GSX-R, Yamaha’s YZF-R1 and even Kawasaki’s ZX10R last year, it’s amazing how well the latest liter bikes are performing these days. Even so, of the models Soup’s been invited to test, and (as Soup suspects) the others we haven’t, each continue following an almost identical development path, all built to, or within a price point. Their respective manufactures subtly refine or, otherwise, improve their existing platforms.

But, in all current cases, honestly, little more than mechanical continuations of the same ongoing design are the rule. And, with the exception of traction control making a welcomed appearance on this year’s R1 and Yamaha joining Ducati, Kawasaki, BMW, Aprilia and MV with the fitment of ever-advancing electronic packages, yes, the level of improvement increases, however, the investment level for change, not so much.

In other words, for the most part, today’s innovation for new models remains virtually status quo. It also seems that, at least from a financial perspective, a complete retooling for the major four UJM’s would be a risky endeavor these days, at best, and an option few would entertain.

From the outside looking in, it’s hard to say if Ducati’s vastly different approach to building completely new motorcycles is the result of one person’s spearheading, or that of collective engineering groups working in unison to create Borgo Panigale motorcycles of the future, today. Soup suspects that, at least with key new motorcycles like the 1199, it was exactly this approach. Ducati’s new Panigale, in concept and results, was driven by the company’s managing director Claudio Domenicali.

And it seems with Mr. D, where an approach of walking softly and carrying a big stick has its merit and may work for some, a candid dinner conversation speaking with the 1199’s chassis project leader Cristian Gasparri shed some familiar insight into the concept, its origins and the developmental direction, all results coming by way of one sharply pointed spear and its prodding.

Exiting Yas T1 and poised to keep shifting, our S-model equipped with Ducati Performance 70mm exhaust power-up chip, wider upper fairing sans mirrors and Pirelli SC2-compound Supercorsas. With only these add-on’s and a claimed 205hp, the all-new 1199 is quite a ride! Note: sound in the video above was aboard this modded bike.

image thanks, Ducati

Soup’s posh 1199 Panigale welcoming dinner began when we randomly picked a chair-one of 40-in a fancy restaurant within the Yas Marina hotel. Any socialite can tell you the quality of a night’s dinner is as much dependant on who sits next to you, as the fare itself. Before long, our large table filled and sitting to our immediate left was a tall man dressed in Ducati factory garb. The gentleman’s name was Cristian. We had never met before and upon a handshake Mr.

Gasparri introduced himself to us as the project leader for the 1199’s chassis. We were pleased to be seated with such a dignitary and, as the evening and multiple courses passed, we casually discussed the bike and its new design.

But, because the tech brief was scheduled for the following day, we chose not to pry regarding hard details, instead asking about the new bike’s concept. It was upon hearing one particular detail that immediately brought a reminiscent smile, as the story over dinner had a very familiar ring from Ducati’s past. It seems that, in the 1199’s earliest stages, Claudio picked two engineers for the important new project.

The engine’s project leader would be assigned to Marco Sairv, and the chassis to our distinguished dining company, Cristian Gasparri. The creative pair’s initial assignment would be to review the existing 1198 and starting over with a clean sheet of paper, each was to submit a detailed estimation of proposed improvements for both weight reductions and increased horsepower outputs with the coming project. Upon returning to Mr.

D’s office and presenting their initial estimations, they may have been shocked at the outcome.

With Soup having attended the first 1098 introduction at Kyalami and, with a slight knowledge of Mr. Domenicali’s past approach, hearing Cristian’s story was more humorous than surprising. A fly on the wall would have heard, You must be joking, followed by, this is not good enough and the sound of crumpling paper.

Judging by the quotes and hand gestures during our dinner conversation, the following day, we would come to find out that that very short and pointed meeting in Bologna was unbelievably productive.

1199 Panigale, Panigale S, Panigale S Tricolore

Ducati’s Milagro photographers were spot-on. Our on-board photography was literally upside down. Aboard the 1199 Panigale – ground clearance limitations will only be your knee pucks.

image thanks, Ducati

The Panigale S ($22,995) is a carbon copy of the base model, with the exception of a full Ohlins suspension package now incorporating electronic damping adjustability, with its suspension-tuning changes made through a shared and all-new Thin Film Transistor (TFT) dash display. The S models do roll on lighter, forged, Marchesini wheels, and are equipped with full LED lighting package, as well as a carbon fiber front fender covering the Ohlins Ti-Nitride-surfaced lowers and Pirelli front tire.

Also, with the S package, comes a spare set of optional wider upper fairing winglets, the additional bodywork handy when there’s a need to increase rider protection and improve high-speed aerodynamics. So, with the exception of the S versions adding Ducati Electronic Ohlins Suspension and loading the (DES) E-selection function in the dash, all three of the models come fully equipped with three selectable modes for throttle response and engine power output, electronic Engine Brake Control (EBC), Ducati traction Control (DTC), and Ducati Quick Shift (DQS).

The first two models also share the capability of adding ABS with combined braking (CBS) and Ducati’s latest Data Analyzer (DDA+), a plug-and-play downloadable capability now with added GPS function and greater versatility, thanks to MacOS compatibility. Both ABS/CBS and DDA+ are standard equipment on the top-of-the-line S-Tricolore.

The Panigale S Tricolore ($27,995) has everything. It’s where DES, RbW, DTC, EBC, ABS, CBS, DQS and DDA+ all come together harmoniously to produce the lightest, most powerful, and electronically sophisticated two-cylinder superbike that Ducati has ever crafted. Offered only in Italy’s three-color livery, the Tri-S combines all of its siblings’ other capabilities and options in fully stock trim, with the added capability of a higher engine output with a second exhaust, this less restrictive with larger diameter tubing and non-catalyzed mufflers and accompanying retuned engine chip provided as part of the deal.

The Genius Is In The Details

Lots going on here: Note the water passages surrounding the Nikasil lined aluminum cylinders. Also in the foreground, the 1199’s lightened shift drum.

image thanks, Dan Coe

All-new slipper pistons produce 12.5:1 compression and receive stronger construction with thicker domes and double-ribbed reinforcement under their crowns, while still forged of RR58 alloy. The added underside material was necessary to cope with the engine’s 11,000-rpm limit and, until we see the future’s R version, each 1199 mates its pistons with steel connecting rods.

The latest pistons designed have minimal side and skirt areas for the lowest possible friction and move inside all-aluminum, Nikasil-lined bores, the cylinders actually serving as wet liners surrounded 360ВЇ by a coolant bath for improved heat dissipation. The new mill has also been designed with its cylinders directly contacting the crankcase below for improved sealing, heat transfer, and better stability of bore dimension.


Still remaining a 90 degree L-twin, Dr. T’s Desmodromic benchmark valvetrain design remains, but the Superquadro now adds new function to its age-old valve manipulation. A new decompression system positioned outboard of each exhaust cam solely functions as a compression release, the ancillary mechanical arrangement affixed to each exhaust cam and engaging a centrifugal tick-over system that opens both exhaust valves only during rotational speeds generated by the starter.

By adopting the newly engineered system, which reduces engine compression at starting, a much smaller starter motor and accompanying battery are now used, and gone are another 7.3 pounds, which was Mr. Sariv’s goal from the beginning.

At the other end of its rotational spectrum, the 1199’s high-rpm, production valvetrain gains new precision and timing accuracy with the move from the previous belts to a chain-and-gear-driven cam operation. The change extends valve adjustment intervals to 15,000 miles between services. Further adding to the Superquadro’s new performance and reliability, the top end’s rocker arms receive a super finish and relieve all voids that could possibly sacrifice reliability.

The parts are then coated with a low-friction carbon surface treatment called Polymeric Like Carbon (PLC), a specialty treatment already used in aerospace.

With all of the advances made above and an engine easily producing 195 horsepower or more, everything is now better supported below with a new crankshaft that rotates with greater rigidity thanks to oversized crankshaft-journal diameters. Making larger journals possible is the adaptation of shell style lower-end bearings. The new parts also receive improved lubrication via oil routing through the main bearing pillars.

The shell bearings replace the 1198’s larger cross-section diameter roller bearings that previously consumed more space. The reliability of the thinner shell bearings has already been proven within the previous Desmosedici RR.

Newly cast subframe is now a far lighter structure without the need to support a dual exhaust. It simply mounts directly to the rear of Ducati’s powerful new engine and is another example of eliminating pieces while consolidating parts and functions.

A view of the 1199’s rear cylinder’s secondary shower injector. Throttle by wire now feeds vociferously huge 67mm throttle bodies and each venturi is equipped with an individual TPS. TPS is key for most of the Panigale’s electronic aids and advancements.

The open-top enclosure around the intakes is the frame. It houses the air cleaner, dual air intakes and steering head, while also mounting the magnesium front subframe. A larger 4.5 gallon and all-aluminum fuel tank now seals the deal below.

Ducati Performance also offers an 1199 high-output exhaust, the full-performance system and accompanying tuning hardware included along with the 64mm exhaust as standard equipment on the top-of-the-line S Tricolore model. The optional exhaust features larger diameter 70mm stainless-steel header and midpipe tubing (we suspect it is missing the exhaust valve), and exhausts through lighter and far more attractive non-catalyzed, titanium-shelled dual mufflers.

Adding to the attraction, fitment of the free-breathing system matched with the accompanying tuning chip accounts for 10 additional horsepower and places the S Tricolore Panigale at the top of its competitive class with a claimed 205 horsepower. Following our tech brief and one riding session aboard a kitted S version 1199 fit merely with the high-flow exhaust and corresponding chip, the difference in performance was obvious everywhere, actually very large and big enough to taste. Sweet, it was!

Studying this map the eve prior to testing had the same effect on us as a double Italian espresso. Note the long run at the top divided only by a simple chicane – FAST! Yas permits lots of speed, max braking opportunities and a good mix of slow and fast bends.

A lack of run-off prevent Yas Marina from being on the FIM calendar.

image thanks, Ducati

Another unique and now-tunable feature thanks to the addition of ride-by-wire electronics is EBC (variable electronic engine braking control), the e-system adding to the impressive list of rider-selectable aids. Somewhat advanced, a rider can preselect any of three active EBC levels, or off for the maximum amount of compression-related engine braking.

With EBC activated, it adjusts the level of engine braking during throttle closures, varying the engine’s back-torque effect upon its rear tire, thus influencing traction especially during heavy braking forces. The system’s inputs are all based upon active throttle position, gear selection, and the crankshaft’s current rate of deceleration and is unrelated to the ABS and CBS systems.

During testing, when EBS was applied in combination with Ducati’s seamless new slipper clutch action and the 1199’s new race-oriented ABS, the Panigale is amazingly stable even under the hardest of braking applications. The combination was also beneficial while coasting and upon corner entry, as well. We don’t know if you’ll choose to back your new 1199 into corners with the fluidity of today’s WSBK competitors but, if so, EBC will prove to be a very useful tool and, like we said, advanced!

Each Panigale model is also equipped with the latest version of Ducati’s DTC, an eight-level traction control which, like EBC, is pre-selected before riding. With a glance, the TFT instrumentation displays both the static level of DTC and the system’s real-time interaction while being applied, this indicated by an ascending orange bar graph along the top of the dash. Ducati’s latest DTC functions use a combination of controlling factors that start with retarding the ignition.

Next, if more spin control is necessary, fuel injection is reduced, eventually followed by fully cutting the fuel supply. And, for riders with the most sensitive of wrists–like Troy Bayliss, for instance–there’s always an off DTC position, as well.

Ducati 60 S

What the base Panigale is missing is, perhaps, the motorcycle’s most obvious new feature. DES, a non-active electronic suspension damping adjustment system fit to Ohlins’ latest production suspension components. DES allows for front and rear suspension tuning with damping changes made solely through the dashboard’s selection display mode.

Accomplished by scrolling, then selecting numeric boxes on the dash display, an activated stepper motor moves the specific adjuster atop either suspension unit. The advantages of DES allow the rider to incrementally apply any combination of available damping being displayed, front or rear and include his or her preferred settings to any of the three fully programmable riding modes (Race, Sport, or Wet).

Once all preferred settings are entered into the Panigale’s dash, a rider need only select one of the three modes, and all e-preferences are instantly displayed and applied. Factory defaults with base settings for each of the three available modes always remain an option, as well.

Like The Engine, All New Is The Mantra For 1199’s Chassis And Rolling Gear

Lots going on here too. Shown are the frame mounting points on each cylinder head. Again an obvious theme of reducing weight and combining the sum total of functions with fewer parts. Inside this engine note the move to cam chains instead of belts. The cam chain guides are parts of beauty, but we believe these only were pre-production pieces.

And short con rods eh? These are OE.

Under the guidance of Andrea Forni, the project’s vehicle technical director, Gasparri’s 1199 frame began life already targeted with updated geometry and new balance prerequisites over the 1198, specifically in the areas of wheelbase, trail, and weight-on-wheel bias placements.

Starting at the front, the Panigale received triple clamps with six millimeters less offset, increasing trail by three millimeters. Overall wheelbase also lengthens, improving stability by moving to 1437mm, or 56.57, a 7mm increase in wheelbase over the 1198. A closer study of the new chassis components reveals more than looking at the end-resulting numbers here. The new swingarm is actually 39mm longer than on the 1198 while, in overall length, the gain in wheelbase is only seven millimeters.

Lengthening the arm will lessen the engine’s torque effect on the rear wheel, while flattening the swingarm’s angle of attack nets a similar result. A longer arm will also increase front weight, and this shift was compounded by moving the engine forward 32mm, then rotating it upright on axis 6ВЇ to regain frontal tire clearance, while still providing room aft for the offset rear suspension and linkage.

The last bias transfer was accomplished with the repositioning of the rider, moving the seating position 30mm forward and shortening the reach to the bars. The bars also move up by 10mm and out a total of 32mm (1.26) adding more leverage. Each of these moves increase rider comfort and transfers what is a partially static mass forward in the process.

The end-result has the 1199’s weight on wheels changing from last year’s 50%-50% ratio now to a more forward bias 52%-48% balance with rider aboard. Ducati also shared with us that last year’s racing 1198 used the same 52%-48% numbers here.

The aluminum tank from the Performance catalogue. Ready for your custom paint and complete with keyless cap and carbon cover. Nixing the paint shaves another 200 grams.

Ducati obviously counts grams, not beans!

Back to front, the radical departure from the 1198’s trellis frame made room for a fully cast 9.3-pound monocoque chassis that mounts directly to the engine via the front cylinder head. Serving multiple functions at the rear, the engine mounts the swingarm, front shock mount, rearsets and diecast rear subframe, while the steering head’s massive casting connects the magnesium front subframe, houses the fork’s head bearings, includes large dual-air inlets for the airbox, mounts the air cleaner, and also serves as the entire airbox plenum, open on top and sealed entirely by a new alloy gas tank.

All told, the new frame saves 11 pounds over the 1198, while the fuel tank now has a 4.5-gallon capacity, is formed from aluminum, and drops 6.3 pounds. Because it also serves as the top of the airbox, the floor of the fuel tank was also made stiffer with a thicker cross-section material.

Incorporating multi-part function, the magnesium alloy front subframe mounts the instruments, headlights, and fairing. By connecting major parts and supporting structures with fewer pieces, Forni and his creative crew were able to trim large amounts of weight from the rolling chassis. The Panigale also enjoys unsprung weight savings from new wheels (both the cast or forged versions) and new Brembo M50 monoblock calipers that are 7% lighter yet more rigid with a newly sculpted design and matched to dual 330mm floating Brembo discs that are positioned with maximum offset for the best possible cooling.

View of the track as it exits from under what is the very James Bond like Viceroy hotel. The place is trick, while the track is wide and most certainly fast!

image thanks, Ducati

The 1199’s latest braking system is available with a Bosch 9ME controlled antilock option. Offered as standard equipment on the S-Tricolore, this year, it’s only an option for the two other models. Soup’s test Panigale S was so equipped and if it’s any indication, for the first time ever, we preferred having ABS available on a dry track surface while braking.

With the ABS, depending on the mode selected, the system uses combined front to rear braking (CBS) force with anti-rear-wheel-lift detection in both the Wet and Sport selections. In the Race mode, rear CBS is not available, but the rider still has the option of using front ABS, or electronically disabling the ABS braking function, again all selectable through the TFT dash. One other e-highlight, both of the two S Panigale models share full LED lighting packages, while the lone base version is only partially LED-equipped.

New DES-controlled front and rear suspensions also join the impressive list of electronic assists for the Panigale rider. The 1199’s latest Ohlins components match a 43mm NIX 30 fork with electronic damping adjusters to a TTX 36 rear damper, also with stepper-motor-controlled damping activation. Completing the Ohlins packages on both S bikes is a manual adjust steering Ohlins damper.

And crude as it might sound, both front and rear suspensions require tool-in-hand spring preload adjustments, still necessitating manual change.

Last, but not least, each Panigale will roll from the factory with Pirelli’s latest Diablo Supercorsa tires, these built especially for the 1199. The latest Pirelli-spec rubber uses a high modulus carcass construction and advanced compounding, and each of these technologies was applied in last year’s WSBK competition. Both front and rear offer larger contact patch areas with more support and added grip.

Physically, the front tire still remains a 120/70, this fit on the current industry-standard 3.5 x 17 rim. The rear tire increases from the previous 190/55, now to a 200/55 sizing for the Panigale and still mounts to a 6.0 x 17 wheel. However, the latest rear tire gains 24% more slick area in its side shoulders and is bi-compounded, with 23% softer compounding for increased traction from mid- to full-lean angles.

Yas Marina, There Is An F1 Circuit In The Persian Gulf

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