We’ve seen the engine, we’ve seen the ‘spyshots’ from the factory, and now we’ve finally seen the full, unexpurgated 2018 Ducati V4 superbike. The new V4 Panigale has just been launched on stage in Milan by Ducati CEO Claudio Domenicali.
So, what do we have? Well, maybe not much in terms of surprises. The new V4 motor has fab numbers, as we’d expected. “Probably the best engine in MotoGP made into road version,” as Domenicali said. That means a motor with the same layout, same 81mm bore, and same twin-pulse firing order as the one that Dovizioso hopes to win the MotoGP title on at Valencia.
The numbers? They’re good. 214 of your Italian stallions, no less, with 91.5 foot-pounds of tough torque. That’s in full road legal trim too, they reckon, and it’s pretty impressive stuff. The capacity is 1,103cc, thanks to a slightly longer stroke compared with the GP bikes. So there may be cries of foul from the competition with their 1,000cc engines, but away from racing, there’s no law that says you must stick to 999cc… On the weird front, the crank spins the wrong way, turning the opposite way to the wheels. That helps reduce gyroscopic inputs to the chassis for finer handling, but it does mean they need to fit an extra shaft in the engine, to reverse the rotation before the gearbox. No big deal - but an extra shaft does mean more frictional losses between crankshaft and rear Pirelli. Ducati’s clearly decided the benefits outweigh that for this bike.
How special is the chassis then? Well, it’s based on the Panigale V-twin, but with suitable accommodations for the new lump. You get the same rear suspension layout as the MotoGP bike, which will be a relief on the North Circular we imagine. There are some all-new Brembo Stylema calipers, an update on the M50 units and unique to the V4 (for the moment), and there’s a special rear Pirelli Supercorsa SP hoop in the same 200/60 size as the WSB racers get. So even less excuse for highsiding out of Clearways on the first Brands trackday of the year.
The final chassis scoop is the mass – an incredible 174kg dry, which for a Euro 4 bike, in road form, is pretty special. That’s achieved by things like the forged magnesium front chassis subframe, an aluminium fuel tank, full LED lighting and new forged rims on the ‘S’ version of the bike.
What about the toys? Well, as you’d expect, no stops have been un-pulled-out, and you get the very latest in Bosch electrickery. That means new cornering ABS on the front end only, so you can back it in like a pro. And you really can, because the bike has a new slide control function, that’ll adjust your angle of yaw on the brakes and power. Apparently…
There’s also a new ‘cornering’ quickshifter, which will adjust its change dynamics if it knows you’re in a bend, which sounds really cool actually. Plus, there’s the usual launch control, wheelie control, electronic suspension, riding modes, optional DDA datalogging, and traction control, all better then ever. And to help you set all this madness up, Ducati’s fitted an all-new, bigger, second-generation TFT colour LCD dashboard.
As usual with Ducati superbikes, there’s a base version, and a posh ‘S’ option. The base bike gets Showa Big Piston forks and Sachs monoshock and steering damper, while the ‘S’ has electronically adjusted Ohlins forks, shock and damper, as well as forged aluminium wheels and a lithium battery. The rest of the spec seems fairly close though: the base bike has all the same riding aids listed
We’re just about to get into the guts of the tech spec – more on this fab new bike as we get it. And we’ll be at the Milan show from tomorrow to check it all out in the metal…