Nearly five years ago, Ducati took a radical step and released the Panigale V4—its first regular production four-cylinder-powered superbike. Since then, the MotoGP and World Superbike tech-laden platform has received updates almost yearly to create a more approachable machine. This year, the 2022 Ducati Panigale V4 and V4 S take the mission of a friendlier superbike to heart, with nearly every aspect of Bologna bullets tweaked, making them the most potent and welcoming versions yet.For 2022, Ducati engineers honed the Panigale V4 S, refining its aerodynamics, updating chassis geometry, improved gearbox ratios, adjusted suspension setup, revised rider aids, and new ergonomics. Ducati insiders claim it all adds up to a massively powerful motorcycle deftly wielded by mere mortals and pros alike.
I packed my bags and headed to Spain’s famed Circuito de Jerez – Ángel Nieto to see if these rumors of a kinder 2022 Ducati Panigale V4 S were true. While still a superbike through and through, I discovered that it is a machine that’s easier to ride for me and you in wet, mixed, and dry conditions. Now, time to get on with the Fast Facts.
The 1103cc Desmosedici Stradale 90-degree V4 engine is a work of art. Since its introduction, Ducati’s V4 engine earned its accolades fair and square, thanks to its lusty twin-pulse firing order and gyroscopic-force-defying counter-rotating crankshaft. Meanwhile, the enormous 216 horsepower at 13,000 rpm and 91 ft-lbs of torque at 9500 rpm (euro spec) grab you by the scruff and catapult you off any apex without hesitation. Perhaps Ducati’s finest trick is making those jaw-dropping power production numbers seem approachable. Its artful torque strategies and genuinely spot-on fueling allow you to control its magnificent power with greater confidence.
Subtle changes result in more performance. An updated oil pump and oil circuits are new to the fold, reducing parasitic power loss, aiding in its quick-revving abilities. In addition, the exhaust outlets are 18 percent larger to lower backpressure. Taken together, an additional 1.5 ponies were unleashed.
A quick caveat on power figures—the North American Panigale V4 makes a claimed 210 horsepower at 12,500 rpm and 90.6 ft-lbs of torque at 11,000 rpm due to EPA noise emissions rules. There is a cold reality for high-performance motorcycles stateside, as noise restrictions negatively impact peak power numbers. No superbike in the United States is immune, and it’s a case-by-case scenario as to who manages it best. To Ducati’s credit, the emissions hit barely phased the spec sheet.
I rode European spec motorcycles at Jerez. When we’re talking 200+ hp at the crank, a few missing ponies from the V4 coral probably won’t be noticed. Still, Ducati is already offering a complete race-ready titanium exhaust system by Akrapovič that will save you 11 pounds and give you an unbridled 228 horsepower with 105 dB (102db with baffle).
Longer WSBK-derived gearbox ratios smooth out the whole affair. Ducati pulled a page from its WSBK playbook and introduced the same ratios in its full-blown race transmissions, opting for taller 1st, 2nd, and 6th gears. First is 11.6 percent longer, culling some of the Panigale’s rage in tight hairpin corners and more tractable acceleration. Second gear is 5.6 percent longer, making it closer to the first and third gears, smoothing the transition between shifts. Combined with the immaculate up/down quickshifter, banging through the gearbox is an absolute treat.
New and revised power modes change the Panigale’s personality at the flip of a switch. Four power modes are on deck: Full, High, Medium, and Low. There are also four fully customizable riding modes: Race A, Race B, Sport, and Street. Throttle response in each power mode is stellar.
There are critical differences in how torque is delivered in each power mode, and the progressive steps in performance make the package manageable. Low cuts peak power to 150 horsepower, pleasantly taming the Pani in tricky conditions. Medium and High now use dedicated torque mapping for each gear—tech borrowed from Ducati’s MotoGP program—and both wick it up to suitably sporty levels. However, the new no-holds-barred Full mode unchains the V4, except in first gear. This lets you experience all of its glorious performance, though you need to bring your A-game to get the most out of it. High mode gave me all I could have wanted in the dry.
Bosch IMU-supported rider aids are stellar.The V4 is armed to the hilt with cornering ABS (three-level), lean-angle-detecting traction control (eight-level), wheelie control (eight-level), slide control (two-level), engine braking management (three-level), and launch control (three-level). My morning began on racing rain tires in the wet, a completely new experience. I was astounded by how the Evo 3 traction control (updated in 2020) and slide control maps allowed me to accelerate with authority in the higher settings, subtly holding back power when necessary. In the dry, TC 2 boosted my confidence through some of the many hard-driving sections at Jerez, letting me roll the power on with its safety net to catch me. With WC at 2, whacking it wide open onto the front straight allowed for a minor hover and pure drive.
Clever UI updates are featured on the 2022 Panigale V4 platform. LEDs atop the dash are far easier to see and more accurate than a TFT screen, but the big news is the Superleggera-inspired Track Evo interface. The new interface shows you which rider aid is being activated in real-time, highlighting when the respective system is triggered (or not), allowing you to adjust accordingly. It’s a fundamental change for the motorcycle industry, as one or two general warning lights have been status quo for years. Now, we can take a peek at the dash to see whether TC, WC, or SC is holding us back, or we can keep twisting the grip.
The Öhlins suspension—semi-active NPX 25/30 fork and TTX 36 shock—and steering damper are essential in the handling puzzle. Ducati didn’t rest on its laurels and recycle the old suspension bits without updates. No, the improved pressurized fork has increased travel by 0.2-inches and a reduced spring rate (10n-m to 9.5n-m). This results in boosted feel at every cornering stage, without giving up anything in the handling or stability department. The suspension algorithm is said to be more aggressive. It soaks up the hits, keeps the Panigale on its line, and holds firm under braking excellently.
Semi-active Dynamic or old-school Fixed modes can fundamentally change the feel. Also featured is the latest and greatest Öhlins Smart EC 2.0 system, which lets you change settings from the touch of a button. It’s a godsend in varying conditions, as dialing in more “braking support,” “corner support,” or other parameters is intuitively represented on a visual scale. Quickly clicking a few buttons and finding a decent setup is immensely efficient in the whirlwind atmosphere of your average track day. I needed a bit more support from the shock during the corner exit, revealing a more pointed Panigale with every adjustment. I threw it in the Fixed mode for the final session and cranked the settings further, finding more grip and feel than I knew what to do with—without turning a wrench. This stuff is good, and I’m excited about diving into it on home turf.
Geometry changes improve the Panigale’s adept handling. In 2020, the V4 pilfered the less rigid frame from the Ducati Panigale V4 R, netting improved rider feedback. Ducati superbikes have always changed direction with unrivaled quickness. Front-end feel is superb, whether you’re cranked over on the edge of the tire or dropping anchor into the final corner. Look at your apex, and the Pani V4 will sort out the rest. This year, the handling recipe is improved by raising the swingarm pivot point 0.2 inches, providing greater anti-squat characteristics, and ensuring massive mechanical grip is ever-present. The 215 ponies try to tie the V4 into knots, but the Panigale keeps both wheels planted.
Brembo delivers the goods once again. Unchanged for 2022 are the Brembo Stylema calipers and massive 330mm rotors. Feel at the adjustable lever is excellent, and power is just as impressive. In the rear, a twin-pot piston caliper and 220mm rotor were helpful in tricky wet conditions. I should also point out the cornering aspect of the ABS is disabled in the lowest, racetrack-oriented ABS modes. It wasn’t something that I thought about until putting pen to paper—I trail-braked as deep as I dared (which probably isn’t that deep) and never second-guessed myself. I never had an issue with more restrictive ABS modes either.
Updated aero and venting are in the mix for 2022. Take a look at the aero package aboard the V4, and you’ll notice that its MotoGP-inspired winglets are looking svelte these days, thanks to the two-element design that creates less drag. Despite their smaller dimensions, they provide the same 81 pounds of downforce at 186 mph as the previous generation. It’s a tough call to state their benefits in isolation, although the faster you go, the more poised the V4 becomes. In addition, the belly pan features new side vents that promote six percent more airflow across the oil cooler, and even the quickshifter gets a dedicated vent. Lastly, the underside has venting to increase heat dissipation. That said, heat was not something that crossed my mind in temperatures that peaked at 61°F in the afternoon.
Pirelli Diablo Supercorsa V3 tires are standard fitment, but we used Pirelli Diablo Superbike SC1 slicks and Diablo Rain tires. Now, the PDSV3 rubber is nothing to sneeze at—they’re a wonderfully sticky sport tire capable of ripping your track day or canyon in equal measure. We used extra sticky SC1 slicks in the dry and full-blown race rain tires in the wet, mounted on the V4 S’s lightweight forged-aluminum Marchesini wheels. Having never used rain tires, I can say that it was a mind-blowing experience for this native Californian who had never touched set a tire on a properly wet track before this event. The slicks need no introduction and provide the maximum grip.
Revised ergonomics aim to create a kinder, gentler superbike. A true-blue superbike is not easy to ride by any means due to paint-peeling speeds, vicious acceleration, and brutal braking forces. However, steps can be taken to make it easier, and that’s just what Ducati did. The textured seat is flatter and grippier, helping me tuck in behind the bubble and stay planted in the saddle during braking phases. The updated fuel tank, which feels flatter in the rear and sides, was immediately beneficial for me, creating an effective bracing point when grabbing the binders or hanging off the bike. Those changes undoubtedly make the Panigale V4 less fatiguing to ride, regardless of your skill level.
Get the Prosecco ready because the 2022 Ducati Panigale V4 S is a stunner. There is nothing that feels quite like a superbike. More to the point, there is nothing quite like a Ducati superbike, and the Italian brand has mastered the art of packaging that indomitable experience and put it in dealerships for decades. With the shocking amount of performance on tap, it takes top-notch chassis to keep all of that in check. Along with the astounding electronic aids and updated ergonomics, the Panigale V4 platform has been made far more ridable, without taming its spirit.
Photography by Matteo Cavadini / Alex PhotoRIDING STYLE
Hello everyone and welcome once again to Ultimate Motorcycling’s weekly Podcast—Motos and Friends.
My name is Arthur Coldwells.
This week’s Podcast is brought to you by Yamaha motorcycles. Discover how the YZF-R7 provides the perfect balance of rider comfort and true supersport performance by checking it out at YamahaMotorsports.com, or see it for yourself at your local dealer.
This week’s episode features Senior Editor Nic de Sena’s impressions of the beautiful new Harley-Davidson Low Rider ST that is loosely based around the original FXRT Sport Glide from the 1980s. Hailing from The Golden State, these cult-status performance machines became known as West Coast style, with sportier suspension, increased horsepower, and niceties including creature comforts such as a tidy fairing and sporty luggage.
In past episodes you might have heard us mention my best friend, Daniel Schoenewald, and in the second segment I chat with him about some of the really special machines in his 170 or so—and growing—motorcycle collection. He’s always said to me that he doesn’t consider himself the owner, merely the curator of the motorcycles for the next generation.
Yet Daniel is not just a collector, but I can attest a really skilled rider. His bikes are not trailer queens, they’re ridden, and they’re ridden pretty hard. Actually, we have had many, many memorable rides on pretty much all of the machines in the collection at one time or another.
From all of us here at Ultimate Motorcycling, we hope you enjoy this episode!