MotoGP In Your Garage: Ducati Unleashes Street Legal $45,000 Panigale V4 R With 200+ HP

MotoGP In Your Garage: Ducati Unleashes Street Legal $45,000 Panigale V4 R With 200+ HP

Italian motorcycle maker Ducati has always pushed the boundaries of street-legal performance motorcycles, but a new era began in the 1980s with the introduction of the 851, what many consider to be the start of the “modern era” of road legal Ducati superbikes based on actual racing machines.

While Ducati had been making well-received (if somewhat temperamental) air-cooled performance bikes such as the 750 F1, the revolution in motorcycle design and engineering in the early 1980s, led by groundbreaking machines like Honda’s liquid-cooled V4 Interceptor machines, Suzuki’s track-focused GSX-R models and Kawasaki’s iconic Ninja inline-four sport bikes, were making once-exotic Ducati models look both old and slow. But Ducati was then brought under Piaggio’s large corporate umbrella and the R&D capital began to flow, and Ducati’s designers crafted an Italian answer in the form of the infamous 851 Superbike (below).

The fearsome and exotic 851 was a new-look, street legal 102-horsepower sporting mount and I had a chance to sample one in the early 1990s thanks to a generous (and trusting) friend. The 851 I rode had been lightly massaged with an aftermarket exhaust and some other tweaks, but it was essentially still in factory form. For this 6-foot-1 rider, the 851 was a cramped, uncomfortable mount with a hair-trigger throttle, bone-tight suspension and a too-loud idle abetted by a rather unsymphonic dry clutch rattle when in neutral. In an urban environment, it was nearly untenable to ride.

Then I got on the freeway and it was as if Dorothy had landing in Oz and seeing color for the first time. Scenery blurred by as the speedo rushed into triple digits and the track-tight suspension focused the handling with laser-like precision. Tucked in behind the small windscreen as the liquid-cooled L-Twin roared along with seemingly infinite acceleration, I experienced motorcycling in a whole new way on a completely different level. It was difficult to ride back home on my suddenly snail-slow, vague-handling personal bike, and a sport bike of some sort has been in my garage ever since (but sadly, no Ducatis).

The impression from that ride on the 851 has stayed with me for decades. I can only imagine how most lucky buyers will feel after their first enthusiastic ride on the latest leveling up of Ducati’s ultimate street-legal offering, the $44,995 Ducati Panigale V4 R.

The Panigale V4 R spec sheet seems to almost borders on fiction: 207 horsepower in street trim, and 237 horsepower in track trim with a track-only exhaust system installed, and finally, a tick over 240 ponies when using a special high-performance oil co-developed with Shell and the four pistons spinning the crankshaft to a stratospheric 16,500 rpm. Ducati didn’t say if the 240 was on race gas, but if it isn’t then it should make even more power on track juice.

Those are numbers just barely off the pace of Ducati’s 250-plus horsepower MotoGP contenders, which can top 215 mph on the track. What the top speed of the V4 R is was not specified, but it’s a good bet two bucks are in the cards. Here’s is Ducati’s release video with much more technical information about the V4 R:

TLDW? Highlights include a new LCD instrument panel that shows when any of the digital helpers – traction control, ABS, wheelie control and more – are active. There are ride modes of course, including a “Track Evo” setting that essentially sweeps away most street-cilizing interventions and sets the motor for Ludicrous Speed. On the other end of the mode spectrum is “low” mode, which dials the 998cc V4 engine back to “only” 160 horsepower – still more than many other sportbikes make in general – and pumps up the V4 R’s helpers in case you get caught out in the rain.

But while the Panigale V4 R wears lights, mirrors and a license plate, at heart it is a track bike, just like it’s ‘80s forbear, the 851. The top-spec Öhlins suspension front and rear is fully adjustable, but the adjustments must be done manually rather than with buttons or a self-adjusting electronic system controlled from the bike’s CPU, as is the norm on many other high-end Ducatis and competitors. Why? Because that’s the way it’s done on race bikes; all the hardware to adjust suspension by push button adds weight, complexity and cost, but mostly weight, and at this rarefied level, weight is Enemy No. 1. Ducati claims a feathery 427 pounds for the V4 R with fuel, and with a titanium race exhaust for track time, that number drops to 415 pounds, or just less than two pounds per horsepower in track form. Weight reduction where possible and practical is a given for bikes like this, and the V4 R is liberally slathered with carbon fiber, titanium, magnesium and parts designed for maximum strength – while also being light weight. And in a throwback to the Ducati’s of old (and to save weight, no doubt), the V4 R drivetrain features a dry clutch, the rattle-can sound of which is now a dog whistle for “check out my very expensive Ducati.”

For many riders, dropping $45,000 on a sport bike usually means it’s not going to see track time (or even much road time), but for those with the talent and courage that choose to wring out such a machine to anywhere near its limits on a closed circuit, the experience will no doubt result in the same permanent grin I had a hard time banishing after my license-endangering freeway sortie on the legendary 851. Just get it to the track where it belongs.

#MotoGP #Garage #Ducati #Unleashes #Street #Legal #Panigale

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *