Best Sportbike of 2022

Best Sportbike of 2022: Ducati Panigale V4 S

It seems a little crazy that anyone with the cash can just pull up to a Ducati dealer and walk away with a Panigale V4 S. What it has to offer would have seemed like science fiction just a decade ago. For starters, a decade ago who would have thought Ducati would deviate from its beloved L-Twin for its flagship superbike? Not only has Ducati doubled up its cylinders, but it has continued its winning ways. The 2022 Panigale V4 S is the byproduct of many of those lessons. It’s done so while keeping in mind that pros and regular schmucks like us ride these things too, so making it easier and more accessible to ride – and ride quickly – was also a focus. The convenient byproduct is that a bike that’s easier for average Joes to ride quickly also translates to a bike the really fast guys and gals can ride quickly, too.

2022 Ducati Panigale V4 S Review – First Ride

Our pal Mark Miller is no ordinary schmuck. As one of those aforementioned really fast guys, he called the Panigale V4 S “the most capable turnkey track day bike ever produced.” Hyperbole? Maybe, but Ducati achieved this by leaving the engine alone. I think we can all agree that 200-whatever horsepower is enough (at least for now). Getting it to the ground is what matters, and Ducati went to great lengths to make this happen. The bulk of the V4S evolution comes from the electronics, where members of Ducati Corse (the folks who work on the MotoGP and World Superbike machines) took lessons learned at the highest forms of racing and applied them here. Now the screaming 1103cc V4 engine is a gentle beast.

We could write a whole section on the electronics alone, but you get the point. Several minor tweaks to the touch points in the cockpit are aimed at keeping the rider more comfortable, while slightly different tweaks to the Öhlins Smart EC 2.0 electronic suspension and repositioning of the swingarm pivot result in handling that’s even better than before.

It took cojones for Ducati to reinvent its own wheel by introducing the Panigale V4 in 2019. To refine it to become this good by 2022 is impressive.

Best Sportbike of 2022 Runner-Up: Triumph Speed Triple 1200 RR

The Triumph Speed Triple 1200 RR is here to prove that absolute hard-edged performance isn’t what the sportbike category is all about. While that ultimate performance is what led to the Panigale V4 S winning the sportbike MOBO, there’s still a place as runner-up for what Triumph calls, “the ultimate sports bike for the road.”

The RR is heavily based on the RS, but it offers some choice upgrades and changes that point it toward a more sporting experience. The RR’s nose-down fairing, carbon fiber detailing, and premium paint job transforms the look of the Speed Triple toward fairing-clad sportbikes. The handlebar was swapped for clip-ons that bring the riders wrists five inches lower and two inches further forward while the footpegs also get bumped a bit higher and further back. This changes the weight distribution to 51% forward biased to give better front end confidence. In addition to styling and ergos, Öhlins Smart EC 2.0 suspension is equipped as are Pirelli Supercorsa SPs.

2022 Triumph Speed Triple 1200 RR – First Ride

These changes result in a much sportier feel from the Triple. In the mountains and on the track, the RR’s front end feels much more planted, and as it’s always been, the Triple engine is a little bit Twinish and a lil bit Inline Fourish, delivering a potent rush of acceleration. Although the ergos are quite a bit more extreme than the RS, they’re nowhere near the torture rack that many modern sportbikes are. You wouldn’t mind ripping around in the canyons or at the track all day on the RR and then riding home afterward. Think of it as a more mature sportbike.

The RS was dinged for its stiff suspension and a faulty quickshifter when compared to the class in the street portion of our Heavyweight Naked Bike Shootout, perhaps the electronic Öhlins suspension could have allowed for the adjustment needed. Despite the RS coming in last for the street portion of the shoot, it landed second on the podium during our track portion simply for it being easy to ride quickly straight out the gate. A more pointed version, the RR likely has a good chance of being even better in a sporting environment.

This runner-up award is well-deserved to Triumph for bringing a different option to the sportbike category that can be every bit as exhilarating. If you’ve grown out of wearing your leathers while riding your favorite backroads – or even if you haven’t – the Speed Triple 1200 RR is an excellent sportbike option.


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