With An Engine Derived Directly From The MotoGP Desmosedici

Ducati adds to its Panigale legacy with the 2018 V4 base model and its variants, the V4 S and the V4 Speciale. Dramatic as it may sound, the V4 family may well be the finest streetbikes at their price points, and that’s not just clever sales prose, it’s the troofus roofus. It ain’t just about the raw power — 214 horsepower from the base model V4/V4 S and 226 horsepower from the Special — because the electronics suite is nearly beyond compare with an absolute alphabet soup of acronyms for all the engine/brake/chassis-control features. That performance comes bundled with a sexy superbike visage that looks fast even when sitting still, and all for $21,195 for the base model, so this is a weapon of mass seduction that is drawing down on the general riding public rather than an elite (read: rich) few. There’s plenty more to love, so join me while I dive into this Italian trio to see what else Ducati has going on over there.

Continue reading for my review of the Ducati Panigale V4, V4 S, and V4 Speciale.

  • 2018 Ducati Panigale V4
  • Year:
    2018
  • Make:
  • Model:
  • Engine:
    Desmosedici Stradale V4
  • Displacement:
    1103 cc
  • Price:
    21195
  • Price:

Design

2018 Ducati Panigale V4
- image 773924
This isn't a racer look-alike bike; you're going to be in full-on Superman mode from the moment you swing a leg over it.

To call the Panigale V4 family “windtunnel tested” would be an exercise in understatement. The long front fairing and bubble cockpit glass comes tuned for maximum penetration and minimal drag with deep notches to give the clip-on bars room to swing. An aggressive nose-down/tail-up stance makes the Panigale look a bit like a sprinter crouched at the blocks with oodles of that sensuous Italian style for which Ducati is known.

The sheet metal/body panels were relentlessly sculpted so as to remove the superfluous and inconsequential while retaining just enough for the sake of the aesthetics and performance considerations. Evil-looking triangular cutouts in the fairing house dual headlights just above the gaping maw formed by the cowling with LED turn signals cleverly combined with the mirrors to keep the front end as clean as possible. Vents in the cowl draw the air and waste heat through the engine compartment and allow it to reintegrate with the slipstream and help reduce drag, and a belly pan does the same while acting as a fairing ahead of the blocky silencer.

Clip-on bars bracket the TFT instrument panel to pull the rider forward over the hump of the 4.23-gallon fuel tank, and you should make no mistake about it; this isn’t a racer look-alike bike built on a standard model with bars that will allow you to adopt a civilized, if not relaxed, riding position. There ain’t no half-steppin’ with this thing. You’re going to be in full-on Superman mode from the moment you swing a leg over it and feel the impossibly narrow waist pull you into the bike with a steep rise and tailbone pad to keep you planted in the saddle.

With 214 horsepower pulling on your arms, you’re going to need that butt-stop to keep from un-assing the bike even with all the fancy safety gear, of which there is plenty. A tucked-under LED taillight and mudguard-mount turn signal/plateholder complete the street-legal gear for the rear end. The Speciale, being set up almost like a straight-up racebike, runs an even cleaner look with neither mirrors nor mudguard and a whole host of bike-lightening carbon-fiber goodies under unique red, white and green livery. Unlike the other two, the Speciale will have a limited run of only 1,500 numbered units.

Chassis

2018 Ducati Panigale V4
- image 773913
The Panigale V4s have the honor of being the first production bikes to run ZR-rated Pirelli DIABLO Supercorsa SP hoops.

Ducati uses what it calls its “Front Frame” concept as the basis for the V4’s chassis. Essentially, the structure relies upon a combination of monocoque and stressed-engine technology to form an incredibly lightweight hybrid assembly. A magnesium front subframe and cast-aluminum seat support contribute to a low sprung weight (386 pounds, dry) while the cast-aluminum, single-sided swingarm and aluminum rims help with the unsprung weight. The base V4 rolls on a set of 17-inch, cast aluminum rims, but the S and Speciale get forged aluminum Marchesini wheels while the whole family has the honor of being the first production bikes to run Pirelli DIABLO Supercorsa SP hoops. These ZR-rated rubbers come in a 120/70 up front with a beefy 200/60 out back and a special tread profile meant to maintain consistent traction throughout the full range of the lean angle.

Suspension components differ a bit across the board. The base model rides on a set of inverted Showa Big Piston Forks that come with the whole trinity of adjustments to include spring preload as well as compression- and rebound-damping tweaks. A Sachs steering damper tames the front end with another Sachs product — the rear shock absorber — that is just as tuneable as the front forks. As nice as that is, it pales against the all-around Öhlins products on the S and the Speciale that starts out with a set of NIX-30 forks, TTX36 rear shock and steering damper. All of the above comes under the control of the Öhlins Smart EC 2.0 that provides automatic and dynamic adjustments to the system for top-shelf suspension performance.

As you’d expect on a bike with so much potential to go, it comes with the utmost in stopping power. A pair of the new Brembo Stylema monobloc calipers — successor to the M50 — bite the dual 330 mm front discs with four, 30 mm pistons while the rear makes do with a 245 mm disc and a two-piston anchor. The ABS Cornering EVO system and Bosch 9.1MP prevents loss of traction due to overbraking, even when splitting the available traction between steering and braking forces.

Model: V4 V4 S V4 Speciale
Frame: Aluminum alloy "Front Frame" Aluminum alloy "Front Frame" Aluminum alloy "Front Frame"
Rake: 24.5° 24.5° 24.5°
Front wheel trail: 100 mm (4 in) 100 mm (4 in) 100 mm (4 in)
Front suspension: Fully adjustable Showa BPF fork. 43 mm chromed inner tubes Öhlins NIX30 43 mm fully adjustable fork with TiN treatment. Electronic compression and rebound damping adjustment with Öhlins Smart EC2.0 event-based mode. Öhlins NIX30 43 mm fully adjustable fork with TiN treatment. Electronic compression and rebound damping adjustment with Öhlins Smart EC2.0 event-based mode.
Front wheel: 5-spokes light alloy 3.50" x 17" 3-spoke forged aluminum alloy 3.50” x 17” 3-spoke forged magnesium alloy 3.50” x 17”
Front tire: Pirelli Diablo Supercorsa SP 120/70 ZR17 Pirelli Diablo Supercorsa SP 120/70 ZR17 Pirelli Diablo Supercorsa SP 120/70 ZR17
Rear Suspension: Fully adjustable Sachs unit. Aluminum single-sided swingarm Fully adjustable Öhlins TTX36 unit. Electronic compression and rebound damping adjustment with Öhlins Smart EC 2.0 event-based mode. Aluminum single-sided swingarm Fully adjustable Öhlins TTX36 unit. Electronic compression and rebound damping adjustment with Öhlins Smart EC 2.0 event-based mode. Aluminum single-sided swingarm
Rear Wheel: 5-spokes light alloy 6.00” x 17” 3 spokes forged aluminum alloy 6.00” x 17” 5 spokes light alloy 6.00” x 17”
Rear tire: Pirelli Diablo Supercorsa SP 200/60 ZR17 Pirelli Diablo Supercorsa SP 200/60 ZR17 Pirelli Diablo Supercorsa SP 200/60 ZR17
Wheel travel (front/rear): 120 mm (4.7 in) - 130 mm (5.1 in) 120 mm (4.7 in) - 130 mm (5.1 in) 120 mm (4.7 in) - 130 mm (5.1 in)
Front brake: 2 x 330 mm semi-floating discs, radially mounted Brembo Monobloc Stylema® (M4.30) 4-piston callipers with Bosch Cornering ABS EVO 2 x 330 mm semi-floating discs, radially mounted Brembo Monobloc Stylema® (M4.30) 4-piston callipers with Bosch Cornering ABS EVO 2 x 330 mm semi-floating discs, radially mounted Brembo Monobloc Stylema® (M4.30) 4-piston callipers with Bosch Cornering ABS EVO
Rear brake: 245 mm disc, 2-piston calliper with Bosch Cornering ABS EVO 245 mm disc, 2-piston calliper with Bosch Cornering ABS EVO 245 mm disc, 2-piston calliper with Bosch Cornering ABS EVO

Drivetrain

2018 Ducati Panigale V4
- image 773927
The Desmosedici Stradale powerplant is a technological marvel unto itself and comes off as the true star of the show..

If you think this thing is cool so far, you ain’t seen nothin’ yet. The Desmosedici Stradale powerplant is a technological marvel unto itself and comes off as the true star of the show. First the mundane. The V4 engine runs an 81 mm bore and 53.5 mm stroke with a nuclear-hot 14-to-1 compression ratio. Ducati’s Desmodromic valvetrain times four valves per barrel with its customary push-open/pull-closed camshaft arrangement. A variable-length intake system feeds the beast with ride-by-wire control and electronic fuel injection within the elliptical throttle bodies. Modern but fairly mundane, right? Well, it’s the electronics that steal the show.

All three models come with the same array of safety features to include the Ducati Traction Control, Power Modes, Riding Modes, Wheelie Control, Slide Control and Engine Brake Control. They also benefit from some additional racetastic tech in the form of the Ducati Quick Shift and the Ducati Power Launch. Now, I’m not sayin’ that these gadgets can replace riding skill, ’cause they won’t, but they will increase the odds that you will survive the journey as you explore and expand your personal riding envelope.

Though it’s a four-banger, the exhaust note sounds very much akin to that of a twin; this is due to the fact that it almost fires as a twin with very little delay between the ignition of both cylinders within the bank. This results in some truly impressive power numers with 91.5 pound-feet of torque at 10,000 rpm and a whopping 214 horsepower at 13,000 rpm. Opt for the race kit on the Speciale and you can milk a total of 226 horsepower from the plant. Holy cow, Batman.

Engine: Desmosedici Stradale 90° V4, rearward-rotating crankshaft, 4 Desmodromically actuated valves per cylinder, liquid cooled
Displacement: 1,103 cc
Bore x Stroke: 81 x 53.5 mm
Compression Ratio: 14.0:1
Power: 157.5 kW (214 hp) @ 13,000 rpm (Speciale: 166.3 kW (226 hp)
Torque: 124.0 Nm (91.5 lb-ft) @ 10,000 rpm
Fuel injection: Electronic fuel injection system. Twin injectors per cylinder. Full ride-by-wire elliptical throttle bodies. Variable length intake system
Exhaust: 4-2-1-2 system, with 2 catalytic converters and 2 lambda probes
Primary drive: Straight cut gears; Ratio 1.80:1
Ratio: 1=38/14 2=36/17 3=33/19 4=32/21 5=30/22 6=30/24
Final drive: Chain; Front sprocket 16; Rear sprocket 41
Clutch: Hydraulically controlled slipper and self-servo wet multiplate clutch

Pricing

2018 Ducati Panigale V4
- image 773936
MSRP, while within reach of mere mortals, is, thankfully, out of reach of the majority of the entry-level and casual-skill crowd.

Usually you might expect the price to act as a firewall to keep weapons such as these out of the hands of ordinary mortals, but such is not the case with the V4 family. The base model starts out at $21,195 while the mid-grade V4 S carries a $27,495 sticker. At the top, the Speciale goes for $39,995, but if you’re looking at a racebike, price probably isn’t an issue.

Warranty: 24 months unlimited mileage
Color: Ducati Red
Price: V4: $21,195, V4 S: $27,495, V4 Speciale: $39,995

Competitors

2018 Ducati Panigale V4
- image 773487
2017 - 2018 Honda CBR1000RR
- image 773929
The CBR1000 RR falls short in a few places, but some may argue the price difference more than covers it with a significantly lower starting MSRP.

There are a handful of race replica bikes currently on the market, but for the most part are priced well beyond the Panigale’s prospects. At the reasonable end of the price spectrum however, there are plenty from which to choose, so I grabbed one of the more popular alternatives with the Honda CBR1000RR Fireblade. Honda packs a pile o’ racing DNA into the ’Blade along with plenty of curb appeal and superbike aggression with a nose-down/tail-up stance and windtunnel-tested body panels that leaves no doubt as to its purpose in life.

Integrated turn-signal/mirror assemblies and a plateholder/mudguard give it a racer-turned-street legal look, but in truth it’s much like the base V4; not exactly a track-day machine. Fully adjustable, usd Showa Big-Piston Forks support the CBR with a Showa Balance Free Rear Cushion shock in back that delivers same. As with the Duc, the upgraded CBR models come with dynamic suspension, but in the base models manually adjustable stems is what you get. Tokico supplies the ’Blade’s brakes, and even though Honda offers an ABS model, the Duc is still pulling from the a higher shelf.

Honda’s plant leaves a few cubes on the table against Duc’s cheater-liter with only 998 cc tucked away. This definitely registers on the heinie dyno with a concurrent drop in power to the tune of 189 horsepower and 84 pounds o’ grunt. Make no mistake, the CBR’s numbers still point to a serious machine that you disrespect at your own peril, but at the end of the day it does fall a little short. Honda also falls short in the engine electronics, but not by much. RbW, TC, Riding Mode Select System, Wheelie Control and the Selectable Engine Brake give the rider almost the same level of electronic fandanglery as the more expensive Panigale. How much more expensive? Well, the Honda CBR1000 RR falls short in a few places, but some may argue the price difference more than covers it with a low, $16,499 starting MSRP.

He Said

“Shopping by price leaves the ’Blade in a good position, but it quickly pales in comparison if you start to look at value instead of just price. Ducati builds a Hell of a bike, and the price on this badboy makes it likely we’ll be seeing lots of them on U.S. roads, and that right soon. As for the ’Blade, well, the upgraded versions are more closely matched in some ways, farther apart in others for tradeoffs of different sorts.”

She Said

My wife and fellow motorcycle writer, Allyn Hinton, says, “This is an impressive machine. It has 1.1 horsepower per kilogram, for those who keep track of that sort of thing. It has an engine derived directly from the MotoGP Desmosedici and is probably as close as many of us will get to a real MotoGP bike. Well, not me. I’m too old and don’t heal quickly anymore, but other people will love this bike.”

Specifications

Engine & Drivetrain:
Engine: Desmosedici Stradale 90° V4, rearward-rotating crankshaft, 4 Desmodromically actuated valves per cylinder, liquid cooled
Displacement: 1,103 cc
Bore x Stroke: 81 x 53.5 mm
Compression Ratio: 14.0:1
Power: 157.5 kW (214 hp) @ 13,000 rpm (Speciale: 166.3 kW (226 hp)
Torque: 124.0 Nm (91.5 lb-ft) @ 10,000 rpm
Fuel injection: Electronic fuel injection system. Twin injectors per cylinder. Full ride-by-wire elliptical throttle bodies. Variable length intake system
Exhaust: 4-2-1-2 system, with 2 catalytic converters and 2 lambda probes
Primary drive: Straight cut gears; Ratio 1.80:1
Ratio: 1=38/14 2=36/17 3=33/19 4=32/21 5=30/22 6=30/24
Final drive: Chain; Front sprocket 16; Rear sprocket 41
Clutch: Hydraulically controlled slipper and self-servo wet multiplate clutch
Chassis:
Frame: Aluminum alloy "Front Frame"
Rake: 24.5°
Front wheel trail: 100 mm (4 in)
Front suspension:
V4: Fully adjustable Showa BPF fork. 43 mm chromed inner tubes
V4 S, Speciale: Öhlins NIX30 43 mm fully adjustable fork with TiN treatment. Electronic compression and rebound damping adjustment with Öhlins Smart EC2.0 event-based mode.
Front wheel:
V4: 5-spokes light alloy 3.50" x 17"
V4 S: 3-spoke forged aluminum alloy 3.50” x 17”
V4 Speciale: 3-spoke forged magnesium alloy 3.50” x 17”
Front tire: Pirelli Diablo Supercorsa SP 120/70 ZR17
Rear Suspension:
V4: Fully adjustable Sachs unit. Aluminum single-sided swingarm
V4 S, V4 Speciale: Fully adjustable Öhlins TTX36 unit. Electronic compression and rebound damping adjustment with Öhlins Smart EC 2.0 event-based mode. Aluminum single-sided swingarm
Rear Wheel:
V4: 5-spokes light alloy 6.00” x 17”
V4 S: 3 spokes forged aluminum alloy 6.00” x 17”
V4 Speciale: 5 spokes light alloy 6.00” x 17”
Rear tire: Pirelli Diablo Supercorsa SP 200/60 ZR17
Wheel travel (front/rear): 120 mm (4.7 in) - 130 mm (5.1 in)
Front brake: 2 x 330 mm semi-floating discs, radially mounted Brembo Monobloc Stylema® (M4.30) 4-piston callipers with Bosch Cornering ABS EVO
Rear brake: 245 mm disc, 2-piston calliper with Bosch Cornering ABS EVO
Dimensions & Capacities:
Kerb weight: 198 kg (436lb) (V4 S, V4 Speciale: 195 kg (430 lbs))
Seat height: 830 mm (32.48 in)
Wheelbase: 1,469 mm (57.8 in)
Fuel tank capacity: 16 l - 4.23 gallon (US)
Number of seats: V4, V4 S: Dual seats – V4 Speciale: Single seat
Details:
Safety Equipment: Riding Modes, Power Modes, Bosch Cornering ABS EVO, Ducati Traction Control (DTC) EVO, Ducati Wheelie Control (DWC) EVO, Ducati Slide Control (DSC), Engine Brake Control (EBC) EVO, Auto tire calibration
Instrumentation: Last generation digital unit with 5" TFT colour display
Warranty: 24 months unlimited mileage
Color: Ducati Red
Price: V4: $21,195, V4 S:$27,495, V4 Speciale: $39,995

References

Honda CBR1000RR

2017 - 2018 Honda CBR1000RR
- image 773928

See our review on the Honda CBR1000RR.

All images featured on this website are copyrighted to their respective rightful owners. No infringement is intended. Image Source: powersports.honda.com, ducatiusa.com

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