It’s classified as a superbike for a reason, boys and girls. The Ducati Panigale 1199 is a short toss from a professional racing bike. Built entirely for speed and performance, it’s a revelation and gift to advanced riders looking for excitement beyond an average daily ride.
With a top speed just an angel’s hair north of 175 mph, this is a motorcycle intended for veteran riders who already cut their teeth on other more sensible Ducati rides or any number of Japanese-built sport bikes. By the time said riders arrive alongside the 1199, they need to have already honed their riding skills and prepared for their senses for the adrenaline charged experience of riding such an advanced pile of kit.
I’ve had a chance to ride this 1199 during an extended media ride in upstate New York and locally in Los Angeles. Regardless of what coast hosted this Ducati, the motorcycle announced itself with eye-capturing stylizing and dominating performance.
In the styling department, the Panigale’s body design and rider ergonomics are 100% race inspired. If you were a big enough Philistine to slap several faux-sponsorship stickers on a Panigale’s signature Ducati red’s body, the 1199 could pass easily through the gates of any MotoGP course.
Its exoskeleton body moldings slope tight to the bike’s frame, protecting and hugging the rider — while splitting and channelling air around the rider. I include the ergonomics positions in with the styling flairs deliberately as the rider seems like merely an accessory to the Panigale’s image. She is the star whenever she’s on the road, and her rider is merely along to balance the image.
The ride is tight and the handling immediate — both necessities for any motorcycle with the Panigale’s speed capabilities. The racing materials built into the 1199’s body construction forge a bike that will feel stiff and unforgiving to less experience riders. But veterans ready for the superbike’s capabilities will appreciate the extra rigidity when their knees are down and there’s no kick-out from the rear suspension.
The Superquadro liquid cooled L-Twin engine, with its 4 Desmodromically actuated valves per cylinder, makes one of the truly grand noises in all of motorcycling. It’s an aggressive, explosive symphony that can’t be ignored, whether revving off a stationary idle or powering along at speed.
Entirely ride by wire, the Panigale is the happy recipient of Ducati’s technology suite — from its braking system to traction control, its bright digital readouts to its three riding modes. The 1199 offers the rider enough help to handle its superbike powers, as long as the rider brings enough skill to the altar.
The true joy of riding a Ducati Panigale 1199 is the absolute confidence that nothing else on the streets, freeways and highways around you can possibly match your speed. Do you need to test that theory out everyone you go? No. You’d be a fool. But, just knowing your right hand controls enough throttle to outrun almost every conceivable pile of consumer transportation available right now makes showing off a wonderful temptation.