The 1299 Panigale is outstanding on paper, thanks to that 205bhp output and a dry weight figure of just under 180kg, but even its power-to-weight ratio barely does justice to what a blast the Ducati is to ride. The big-bore V-twin’s mighty midrange torque sends it hurtling forward from below 6000rpm, bellowing mightily and heading towards its 190mph top speed with such urgency that the gearbox quick-shifter, which works on both up- and down-changes, is invaluable.
And the Panigale S is every bit as exhilarating on the twisty sections, where its light weight, racy geometry and refined semi-active suspension combine to give agile handling, high-speed stability and even excellent ride quality. Its levels of grip and ground clearance are immense, and its ferocious braking is backed-up by that brilliant cornering ABS. The 1299 is a wild ride, with a sophisticated safety net that doesn’t detract from the experience.
The Panigale is right up there scrapping with the quickest superbikes on lap times, and in terms of raw thrills it’s arguably the pick of the bunch. With its thunderous V-twin exhaust note, brutal acceleration and ability to wheelie over slight crests in fourth gear at close to 150mph, the 1299 generates adrenaline like few vehicles on earth.
It’s hard to resist even when parked, thanks to its sculpted lines, rich red paintwork and high-quality equipment from specialists including Öhlins and Brembo plus Marchesini, who supply the forged aluminium wheels. Ducati’s next super-sports flagship will have to join its 959 sibling in complying with power-sapping, weight-adding Euro 4 legislation. So let’s be thankful for the 1299 Panigale – a majestic superbike symphony that will be very difficult to match, never mind improve upon.
Price tag of our bike: £21,050
Photography by Milagro