The 2020 Ducati Panigale V2 fills the all-important middleweight role for the Italian brand’s Superbike lineup as the track-oriented twin-powered torchbearer, maintaining a connection to Ducati’s rich history of two-cylinder sportbikes.Fittingly dubbed a ‘super-mid’ by Ducati, the Panigale V2 utilizes the same monocoque chassis and 955cc Superquadro engine of the outgoing Panigale 959, while boasting six-axis IMU supported electronics, a single-sided swingarm, engine refinements, an up/down quickshifter, and a visual update that brings it in line with the mighty V4 platform.
We took to the legendary Circuito de Jerez – Ángel Nieto to find out what the 2020 Ducati Panigale V2 had in store for us. Without further ado, here are the Fast Facts.1. The 955cc Superquadro 90-degree V-twin engine offers approachable, real-world track-ready performance. The fast-revving 955cc powerplant returns, but now features five additional ponies and 1.5 ft/lbs of torque, bringing the claimed peak figures up to 155 horsepower at 10,750 rpm and 77 ft/lbs of torque at 9000 rpm. Those more than modest dyno-numbers are tapped into with confidence, and all its might is delivered in a smooth, predictable manner. Thanks to the flat torque curve, the V2 is as exciting as it is inviting, unlike apprehension-inducing superbikes. The V2 quickly finds its stride, making roughly 60 percent of its torque at a low 5500 rpm. This helps riders catapult from the apex with ease, and is eager to pull into the heights of the rev-range on the straights. Impeccable fueling is arguably one of the most noticeable improvements from the 959.2. Subtle engine enhancements have a considerable payoff—power and Euro 5 compliance. Internally, the stout Superquadro motor is virtually the same as what we’ve seen previously. What has changed, in the name of Euro 5 conformity and giving riders more of a good thing, are the fuel injectors, air intake, and silencer. The new dual fuel-injectors utilize a more efficient spray pattern in conjunction with an increased flow rate. Aiding in the performance cause is a revised air-intake that maintains higher positive air pressure than before, ensuring that the V2 breathes well. Lastly, the smaller exhaust silencer is even more efficient.3. Three customizable ride modes—Race, Sport, and Street—will tame or unleash the 2020 Ducati Panigale V2 to your liking. Race offers the most aggressive throttle response, without becoming choppy when rolling on or off and boasts less restrictive rider aids. In practice, I found its settings and perfectly crisp throttle to be just what I’d wanted. Sport reins the V2 in with some restriction, yet is still suitable for fast riding and is punctuated by a more relaxed throttle—perfect for spirited canyon riding. Street calms the V2 significantly, with more intrusive aids, and has the most slacked response of all.4. A full suite of Panigale V4 derived six-axis IMU electronic rider aids are standard kit. While the V2’s predecessor did feature a commendable selection of safety features, it lacked the sophistication and refinement that an IMU offers. Eight-level cornering traction-control, three-level cornering ABS, four-level wheelie control and three-level engine braking settings, and an up/down quickshifter are available. Importantly, the traction control solution and quickshifter are in their second-generation, or Evo 2, as Ducati calls them. Quckshifting kill times have also improved, with a specific focus on its behavior above 9000 rpm.5. Evo 2 traction control is a worthy addition. The V4-derived TC detects traction loss earlier to anticipate wheelspin, making intervention less intrusive. In its highest settings, the leash on the V2 is held firm and as TC is bumped down, so too, is restraint. Lower settings will allow wheelspin on hard-driving leaned-over corners such as turn 8 at Jerez. It’s so subtle that often my only indication was the light flashing on the dash. I settled in with level 2, happily. The new TC algorithm on the 2020 Ducati Panigale V2 is a marked improvement over earlier versions.6. ABS is more nuanced than ever. ABS cannot be completely disabled due to Euro 5 regulations, but level 1 disables the cornering function and removes ABS in the rear. Outside of protecting you from panic braking when straight up and down, the rest is up to you and designed for expert riders. ABS level 2 removes rear-wheel lift, while enabling Ducati’s ‘slide-by-brake’ function, allowing novice riders to back it in like a pro. Cornering ABS is kept in play and still great for track riding. Even in the hard-braking zones of Jerez, at no point did I feel it stepping in prematurely as we’ve seen on other Euro 5 compliant motorcycles, even when barreling in to turn 1. ABS level 3 has all the safety features in play and best used on the street.7. The tight six-speed gearbox now features up and down quickshifting. The 2020 V2 will not see you putting a hand on the clutch until you’re coming into the pits, thanks to the Evo 2 up/down quickshifter. Kill times are vastly improved on the upshift, and the new downshift function is equally commendable, keeping the chassis settled while going through the gearbox. If you happen to rapid-fire downshift from 5th into 2nd, you may need to let the revs settle ever-so-slightly before grabbing the final downshift. It is a common strategy to protect the motor from mechanical over-revving. However, at no point did I feel the need to clutch through the final shift, as I am forced to do with many of Ducati’s competitors. Better yet, I never once found a false neutral. All in all, the new quickshifter system is more than ready for track work.8. Fully adjustable suspension is more than up to the task. The same 43mm fully-adjustable Showa BPF fork comes back into the fold, with revised settings. It’s the same story for the fully-adjustable Sachs shock, with the caveat that it’s been extended by a scant two millimeters to alter the geometry slightly (we’ll get into that below). In practice, the suspension does an admirable job of keeping the V2 in line due to controlled spring and damping rates, holding its own in the hard-braking zones throughout the Jerez circuit, and making sure that nothing gets out of shape from all that torque on tap.9. Handling is a high point for the 2020 Ducati Panigale V2. The spec sheet figures haven’t changed all that much when compared to the 959—it still utilizes the lightweight monocoque design. The short 56.5-inch wheelbase grew by 0.2 inches, the sporty 24-degree rake remains, and the trail is marginally tightened a couple of millimeters to 3.7 inches. Through lengthening the shock, engineers were able to raise the rear a bit and shift the weight bias to the front by one percentage point. All of this is done to increase the agility of the V2, and it has. The V2 has planted feel, which is quite encouraging at a hair-raising circuit such as Jerez. It stays settled through high-speed sections of the track and tips or transitions with ease. The monocoque chassis speaks to me, and I liked what it had to say.10. Ducati’s super-mid receives a single-sided swingarm. Ducati designers wanted to spruce the V2 up and give it a touch more class, ditching the traditional swingarm this go around. Also, it serves a functional purpose—the exhaust silencer needed the space, helping rid European models of the unsightly ‘shotgun’ silencers.11. An all-Brembo braking package gets the job done. Unchanged for the V2, dual Brembo M4.32 calipers clamp onto 320mm floating front rotors. In the rear, a single-piston Brembo caliper seizes upon a 245mm disc. Feel at the adjustable lever is quite good, though on the softer side, overall. Importantly, that doesn’t mean the M4s lack power—they can handle anything you throw at them. For those looking for more attack, experimenting with higher performance brake pads could be a quick and cheap solution.12. New Y-shaped five-spoke wheels and Pirelli Diablo Rosso Corsa II tires are part of the deal. Beyond that, grippy, yet sensible Pirelli Diablo Rosso Corsa II tires arrive on the V2 from the factory, in 120/70 and 180/60 sizes, replacing the shorter profiled 180/55 rear on the 959.13. We made use of Pirelli Diablo Supercorsa SC tires on the track. Über-soft, ultra-sticky DOT race tires were fitted to the 2020 Ducati Panigale V2 during my time at Jerez, with a soft SC 1 compound in the front and SC 2 in the rear.14. The cockpit of the V2 is a bit more spacious and comfortable. Although sportbikes are not known for their comfort, the V2 is relatively pleasant thanks to the cushy textured seat. Not only does it grip your leathers and keep you from sliding into the tank, but it has an additional 0.2 inches of foam to protect your hindquarters. The seat has also been stretched by just over three-quarters of an inch, giving riders room to move around in the saddle. I was able to tuck in much better and felt less cramped. Thanks to the increased foam, longer shock, and taller rear tire – the seat height is raised to 33.1 inches. In anticipation of a taller steed, Ducati narrowed the seat where it meets tank by a significant degree, letting my 32-inch inseam get my boots on the ground.15. Get to work on your core, ladies and gentlemen. Traditionally, Ducati has always tried to maintain narrow, svelte machines. That helps make the claimed 441-pounds motorcycle feel exceptionally light. The downside to slim machines is that they require more exertion when squeezing the tank in hard braking zones. Anchoring to the V2 when leaned over is quite a pleasant experience, and there is no issue there. The Ducatisti will undoubtedly scoff at my observation, as they’re used to this characteristic of their motorcycles. For the rest of us, it’s time to do more crunches.16. What meets the eye is all-new—nearly. The only recycled aesthetic component on the 2020 Ducati Panigale V2 is the narrow 4.5-gallon fuel tank. All-new Panigale V4 and V4 R influenced styling adorns the V2, with new plastics and LED lighting all around. Designers worked hard to strategically place fasteners in locations away from the side paneling, making it as sleek as possible. Remember the improved air-intake I mentioned? We can thank the sizeable V4-styled headlight ports for that, as they facilitated the change. When fashion and function meet, you must take notice.17. An easy to read, full-color TFT dash is standard. Pilfered from the V2’s big brother is the eye-catching and easy to navigate V4 dashboard. Quickly cycling through riding modes is easily done at the left controls, while changing variable will see you jumping deeper into the interface.18. The 2020 Ducati Panigale V2 is a track-ready weapon for the people. Between its lovely, approachable power, compliant handling, and state of the art electronics, the V2 ticks all the boxes I ask of a modern sportbike. Sure, it doesn’t have the same ego-padding dyno figures as its big brother, but it is also a far more inviting and a platform from which riders can extract loads of performance—it’s like having the perfect sized meal that satisfies without being over the top. Some will argue that the V2 is playing second-fiddle to the V4, and I don’t think that’s true. The 2020 Ducati Panigale V2 is merely playing a different tune—one that I’m ready to hear all day.Photography by Alberto Cervetti and Marco ZamponiRIDING STYLE
This week, Senior Editor Nic de Sena rides the all new Ducati Monster. Big changes have been made by Ducati–has the company ruined the considerable heritage of the iconic Monster–or are the changes worth it? In the second part of the show, we chat with Nick Ienatsch, Founder and Head Instructor at the Yamaha Champions Riding School. He says: “We aim to change your riding life by introducing you to Champions Habits: The techniques, approaches, skills, and the mindsets of the best riders in the world. These Champions Habits are the foundation of safety and consistency to whatever speed you ride, in any venue on any bike. Street riders, this is just as much for you as track riders. The best way to make safe riders is to make good riders.“ We hope you enjoy this episode!