Ducati is preparing a special edition Panigale V4 SP2 to recognize the anniversary of one of its most historically significant superbikes, the 916. The confirmation comes to us via an executive order from the California Air Resources Board that certifies a 2024 Ducati Panigale V4 SP2 30° Anniversario 916.
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.
As we had previously reported last month, Ducati is introducing a new Panigale V4 SP2, a numbered series production model it bills as “The Ultimate Racetrack Machine.” Internationally, the SP2 is a 2022 model, but for North America, it will arrive in dealerships in the fourth quarter as a 2023 model.
When I got the call from Motorcycle.com asking if I’d be available to fly over to the Circuito de Jerez in Spain to test the new 2022 Ducati Panigale V4 S, not only did a certain grin return to my face, but also I was especially intrigued by two things: One, I had just finished participating in a seven bike heavyweight naked shootout with MO (see Battle Royale) with the 2021 Ducati Streetfighter V4 S finishing right up near the top of my personal list. But two, I got the opportunity a few years back to evaluate the 2019 Panigale V4 S Corse at both Laguna Seca and Pirelli’s test circuit, the Autodromo di Pergusa in Sicily. To ride Ducati’s latest Panigale V4 flagship once again, but some two and a half years later, might reveal a few of the special ingredients the Bologna factory has unearthed to help explain this seemingly magic formula they’ve cooked up in both MotoGP and World Superbike.
Ducati revealed new Panigale V4 and V4 S models for 2022, announcing updates to the aerodynamics, ergonomics, chassis, engine and electronics. These evolutionary changes represent the most significant update since the V4’s debut in 2018, and the result of input from Ducati’s racing program.
Poor Ducati. It seems as though the mystical powers that be simply have something against its new model, the Streetfighter V4. After all the hype surrounding a naked version of the mighty Panigale V4, nothing has gone to plan. First was the death of Carlin Dunne while en route to a commanding victory at the Pikes Peak hill climb, then came the cancellation of the international press intro for the SF V4 at the Ascari Circuit in Spain due to the Coronavirus pandemic.
According to various online weather services I looked at prior to jumping on a plane to Bahrain, the desert country only gets about 10 days of rain for the entire year. With those kind of odds it’s no wonder Ducati chose this location to hold the international press launch of its new and improved 2020 Panigale V4 S in the middle of January; with beautiful sunshine, a world-class Formula1 track, and stacks of Pirelli tires at hand, it’s every track rider’s dream, and a perfect venue to test the improvements Ducati have made.
Lost in the buzz Ducati’s Panigale V4 stirred since its introduction was the fact its baby brother, the 959 Panigale, had remained untouched. Squashing any concern that the model was going away (at least for now), Ducati today announced the Panigale V2 – the new name for the 959 Panigale – featuring updates and technology from its V4 sibling. While they were at it, the V4 family received some updates too, which we’ll get to later.
To say Ducati has a lot riding on the Panigale V4 series is quite an understatement. For Ducati to finally admit its beloved V-Twin had reached the limit of development and abandon it for its flagship model is a huge deal. It meant whatever replaced it would have a lot to live up to. Ladies and gentlemen, the 1103cc V4 more than lives up to the hype. It’s fast, it’s ferocious, and yet, it’s surprisingly easy to ride at the limits of your talent – assuming your skills are enough to warrant you riding a bike of this caliber, anyway. Maybe best of all for Ducati fanboys (and girls) out there – it still sounds like a Ducati but better. The Twin Pulse firing order ignites the front cylinders together before doing the same at the rear, essentially making the Panigale V4 a glorified V-Twin, at least as far as exhaust note is concerned.
Without a doubt, the biggest news in the sportbike scene for 2018 is Ducati’s Panigale V4 and the emergence of a mass-produced four cylinder engine – the Stradale V4. While Ducati has finally left its beloved V-Twin engine behind (at least in terms of superbikes), there was no way the folks in Borgo Panigale would conform to tradition when it came to its new four-banger. For starters, as the name implies, the new engine is arranged as a 90º V4 – essentially multiplying its V-Twin tradition by two.
Ducati is performing two separate worldwide recall on all 2018 Panigale V4 models (include the S and Speciale variants) related to potential fuel leaks. Though both recalls seem related, they are for two different problems, one that may cause fuel to leak from an internal breathing valve and one that may cause fuel to spray out when the tank cap is opened. The recall affects 692 motorcycles in the U.S.
Ducati superbikes have long been known for running fairly warm. The rear cylinder’s header pipe connects to the engine just under the seat on some of the latest Ducati sportbikes and tends to create an often uncomfortable amount of heat for riders on warm summer days.
We just returned from the launch of Ducati’s all-new Panigale V4, and it’s no exaggeration to describe it as one of the best sportbikes ever made, perhaps even the best. Its new four-cylinder engine is melodious and powerful, it handles with agility akin to a much smaller bike, its electronics are leading-edge and fully customizable, and it looks sensational in person.
When I was told I would be tasked with putting together the $250 and up category of our 2017 gift guide, I must admit, I smirked on the inside. What an easy thing to do! Motorcycling can be expensive and the parts we pine after generally are expensive. So here is a list of items in the $250 and up category for that someone speciale in your life. The sky’s the limit!