2018 – Ducati Panigale V4S
2018 will henceforth be known as the ‘year of the Superbike’, we received not only the updated R1M, but also the legend that is Ducati’s Panigale V4.
It was a departure from the norm for Ducati, who, for years had been producing the achingly-capable-if-not-slightly-clunky-down-low Panigale V-twins. The 1,103cc V4 marked an end to that era, but replaced it with an incredible new flagship superbike, with 211bhp, a MotoGP-derived frame and some of the most advanced electronics in the world.
It launched in four guises – the standard V4, the performance-orientated S, even more performance-orientated Speciale, and finally the WSBK homologation special, 998cc V4R. A host of MotoGP-derived tech sat inside that potent V4 powertrain, including a reverse-rotating crank, which turned in the opposite direction to the wheels in order to cancel out gyroscopic forces.
Power was linear, and explosive towards the top end and handling was agile. The V4S could accelerate from 0 to 60mph in 3.2 seconds, reach 100mph in 5.63 seconds and 150mph in 9.85. A top speed of 191.30mph was not only achievable but encouraged by the smooth throttle, and Motorcycle News named it the fastest sports bike they’d ever tested. This was the future and it felt incredible.
Unsurprisingly, the V4 has proven incredibly popular, both among road riders and track day heroes. It has been updated for 2020, pushing the limits of performance even further in a refined, user-friendly package. The smaller V2 debuted this year, making 155hp from its 955cc twin and if initial reviews are to be believed, could well be the best superbike of 2020.