For most, the word itself conjures up feelings of power and elegance, racing and beauty.From the race circuits to real-world streets, Ducati has become a term that has deeper meaning than simply a motorcycle manufacturer; it has become a symbol for passion and motorcycles, a unique marriage of the human soul to a machine.And much of this passion has a direct correlation to Ducati’s Italian roots, the Bologna-based company a direct product of the beautiful landscapes within eye’s view.And thus derives the name of it’s latest superbike, the 2012 1199 Panigale, pronounced “Pan-ee-gah-lee.”Deeply engaged in its Italian roots, Ducati named the eleven nine-nine Superbike off of the Borgo Panigale area of Bologna.Ducati says: “In an Italian territory known as ‘Motor Valley’ and where high performance and racing runs through the veins of its passionate people, Ducati now underline their pride in being world ambassadors for the ‘Made in Italy’ title by immortalizing their home town in the name of the new Superbike.”That’s passion.And everything about the 1199 machine that replaces the 1198 screams passion, from the 195-horspower Superquadro motor to the three rider modes to the eight levels of traction control to the redesigned non-trellis Monocoque chassis that helped shaved 22 pounds on Ducati’s 2012 superbike.The 1199’s Superquadrata motor, named due to its massively over-square bore and stroke, is a totally new engine that features the latest in Ducati technology, although still a 90-degree L-Twin.The Superquadrata features a host of Ducati innovations, including larger titanium valves, race-derived pistons, vacuum die-casted crankcases using Vacural technology and of course the desmodromic valve system.Ducati says: “The Desmo system actuates valve closure mechanically with the same method and accuracy as it opens, enabling steep cam profiles, radical cam timings, large valves and high operating speeds. This system is used on every single Ducati motorcycle and constantly proven on Ducati Corse’s World Superbikes and Desmosedici MotoGP bikes.”Feeding the 1199’s Superquadrata that produces 195 horsepower and 98.1 ft. lbs. of torque are high-flowing oval 67.5mm throttle bodies that are controlled by a Ride-by-Wire system. And with this new Desmo arrives a six-speed transmission with larger and stronger gears, a wet slipper clutch, Ducati Quick Shift (DQS), and 15,000-mile service intervals.Regarding the chassis, one thing that immediately garners attention from Ducati enthusiasts is the lack of the trellis frame on the 1199 Panigale. In order to create optimal handling while saving weight, Ducati designed an all-new frame for the 1199 – an aluminum monocoque frame that uses the Superquadrata engine as a stressed member; this design helps shave 11 lbs. of weight from the new Superbike.Ducati says: “The monocoque attaches to the cylinder heads of the new specially designed engine, protruding forward to house the steering head bearings and forming the airbox along the way, which is capped-off and sealed when the 2.9kg (6.3lb) lighter aluminum fuel tank is attached, again using one component to the fulfill the roles of two.”This chassis design also features better weight distribution, allowing 52 percent up front, and 48 percent at the rear compared to the 50/50 design of the 1198. This task was completed by rotating the engine in the 1199’s chassis.Ducati says: “While the cylinders remain true to Ducati’s signature 90° L-twin configuration, the new engine has rotated the top-end backwards around the crankshaft a further 6 degrees to give more clearance on the front wheel and enable engineers to modify the front and rear weight bias. This also enables a front-end geometry of 25.5° of rake and 100mm (3.94 inches) of trail.”The aluminum, single-sided swingarm was also lengthened 39mm over the 1198. This increased the wheelbase to 56.6 inches, enhancing the weight distribution on the 1199 Panigale.But Ducati didn’t stop there, the 1199 Panigale designers further enhancing agility through other items on the Ducati.Ducati says: “With the exhaust system now relocated below the engine, the die-cast aluminum rear sub-frame is considerably lighter and also attaches directly to the Superquadrata engine, while the super lightweight, magnesium front sub-frame attaches directly to the monocoque frame, providing secure support for the headlamp, instrumentation and fairing. This combination of weight saving and centralization of mass around these high front and rear sub-frame areas substantially contributes to overall vehicle agility.”Handling the front suspension on the standard 1199 are 50mm Marzocchi inverted forks with hard-anodized aluminum sliders. The forks feature full adjustability (spring pre-load, compression and rebound damping), and due to the design shave an additional 2.2 lbs. off the 1199 Panigale. Out back, the 1199 Panigale features a fully adjustable Sachs rear suspension.The 1199 Panigale S and 1199 Panigale S Tricolore are further enhanced with front and rear Ducati Electronic Suspension (DES) built by Ohlins. This system utilizes 43mm Ohlins NIX30 forks and an Ohlins TTX36 rear unit, which are both electronically adjustable in compression and rebound, while spring pre-load is manual.Just as impressive as the suspension is the brake setup on the Ducati 1199 Panigale. The superbike is equipped with Brembo Monoloc M50 calipers (called M50 due to the 50th anniversary of the Italian company Brembo).The design helps further shave some weight, and each four piston caliper grips 330mm discs up front, and a two-piston caliber bites a 245mm disc out back.The brakes are enhanced by the latest Bosch ABS technology that features three riding modes – Race (only ABS up front), Sport and Wet. ABS is optional on the standard 1199 Panigale and 1199 Panigale S, but standard on the Tricolore.Speaking of the ABS, Ducati says “remaining almost undetectable at the lever, these advanced features enable shorter braking distances by optimizing brake force distribution for superior vehicle stability.”The 2012 Ducati Panigale rolls on 10-spoke wheels with a 3.5-inch wide front and a 6-inch wide rear, and arrives with Pirelli Diablo Supercrosa SP tires (120/70 ZR17 front, 200/55 ZR17 rear).Regarding ergonomics, Ducati says the new “parameters for seat position and handlebar are defined to offer a fatigue-free riding position which ensure a perfect integration between the rider and the bike. Seat-to-handlebar dimension is shorter, 30mm (1.18in), and bar height is higher, 10mm (0.39in), and wider, 32mm (1.26in).”Further enhanced with electronics, the Ducati 1199 Panigale features a Ride-by-Wire (RbW) system that offers Race Riding Mode, Sport Riding Mode and Wet Riding Mode, and Ducati Traction Control system (DTC) that uses an eight-level system interaction to “enhance control by reducing wheel-spin and the latest generation of ABS processor provides ideal anti-lock levels.”As for the riding modes, the Race offers full 195 horsepower with direct RbW, and on the “S” versions an instant track-oriented suspension set-up.The Sport mode offers a full 195 horsepower, but with a smoother RbW, and on the “S” versions a sport-oriented suspension set-up.The Wet mode provides 120 horsepower delivered with a “smooth” RbW throttle response, increased DTC system intervention, and on the “S” versions, a suspension set-up optimized for low grip conditions.And with all this new performance and new technology arrives new styling. The fairings now roll gently back into the streamlined tail, and the signature horizontal twin headlamps are more integrated with the intake ducts, creating a racier look.Once glance at the 1199 Panigale and it’s unmistakably Ducati. And although some traditionalists will have gripes about the non-trellis frame design, the bike’s overall performance will likely create a wave-like hush over these negative thoughts.Ducati sums up its new creation best, stating “everything about this bike communicates power, elegance and agility.”Not many will argue with that.Following are the specs, versions and MSRP for the 2012 Ducati 1199 Panigale.2012 Ducati 1199 Panigale Specs:Engine:
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This week, in the first segment Editor Don Williams talks to us about the new Kawasaki Versys 650 LT. It’s the middleweight ADV style machine that uses the same 650 parallel twin motor as the Ninja 650, so it’s an excellent performer in a user-friendly, good looking package.
In the second segment, I chat with one of my dearest industry friends—now retired Honda PR executive, Jon Seidel. Jon’s fascinating career spans some 30 years with Big Red, and gave him some great experiences with some incredible machines. I was fortunate enough to be invited on many of the press launches that he organized. His new project is documenting and saving many of the old archives from years gone by—and incidentally, if you have anything that may be of value to the project, please contact us by email at email@example.com and we’ll pass it all on to Jon.
So on that note, from all of us here at Ultimate Motorcycling, we hope you enjoy this episode!