August 23, 2019 By Maynard Marcelo Photos by Juanito Vinluan

So Darn Good: My Panigale V4 Experience

A couple of months ago Ducati Philippines held the first-ever Panigale V4 Experience at the
Clark International Speedway in Pampanga where would-be buyers (and some lucky motorcycle
journalists) were given the chance to ride Ducati’s flagship sportbike in its natural habitat: the
racetrack. Making the event more extraordinary, Ducati Philippines invited an all-star cast of
safety riding instructors to guide the participants inside the racetrack, namely Ducati MotoGP
and World Superbike Champion Carlos Checa, European Women’s Supersport champion
Rebecca Bianchi, and Ducati World Superbike Stock 1000 riders Federico Sandi and TJ
Alberto. Overseeing them was Ducati Riding Experience Lead Technical Director Dario
Marchetti, who also guided the participants on how to use the Panigale V4’s special features.
Some 20 brand-new Ducati Panigale V4 bikes were made available for us to use. The
participants were divided into four groups and were given 15-minute track sessions each. While
15 minutes may not sound like much, in reality it is way more than my non-sportbike
accustomed body could ever take. To put things in perspective, professional racers and
trackday regulars can do 10 or 11 laps per 15-minute track outing. I’m lucky if I manage to do
eight hot laps without passing out upon returning to the paddock. But then again we were not
there to race one another, but to experience for ourselves how easy to ride the Panigale V4 truly
is.


Don’t be deceived by the Panigale V4’s gorgeous good looks. It may be an absolute beauty, but
beneath those gorgeous fairings is a technological powerhouse. Ducati poured their years of
MotoGP experience to come up with the Desmosedici Stradale, the 90-degree angle V4 four-
cylinder motor derived from the MotoGP Desmosedici engines. So try as I may, it’s truly hard
not to be intimidated by the Panigale V4’s specs: 1103cc, 213 hp at 13000 rpm (226 hp with the
Akrapovic full exhaust system), 91.5 lb-ft of torque at 10000 rpm, and 175 kg. dry weight.
Thankfully, the Panigale V4 is equipped with a full suite of advance electronics that can make
you a better rider. Or at least, make you feel like a better rider. As a flagship superbike, Ducati
equipped the Panigale V4 with their latest electronic sorcery, like rider selectable Riding Modes,
Power Modes, Bosch Cornering ABS, Ducati Traction Control (DTC), Ducati Wheelie Control
(DWC), Ducati Slide Control (DSC), Ducati Quick Shift up/down, and Engine Brake Control
(EBC). But best of all, you won’t even know they are there. At all. I can tell they’re working
because I haven’t (knock on wood) crashed yet.


I was assigned to Federico Sandi’s group, and every time we went out on the racetrack, I
couldn’t help but be amazed at how these professional racers make it look so darn easy. After
each track session, our riding instructors explained to us how we could go much faster in each
of the 18 corners of the 4.2-kilometer racetrack using the Panigale V4’s features. In the first
couple of laps I was taking it really easy not only because I didn’t like the idea of crashing a two-
million-peso superbike, it was also my first time to ride the Panigale V4 inside the racetrack. But
after two laps, I was riding the Panigale V4 as if I had been riding it for a long time. The riding
position is typically Ducati, with an aggressive attack riding position that could only work when
you’re truly committed to riding very fast and attacking corners. But unlike other superbikes I’ve
ridden recently, the Panigale V4 is, surprisingly, not very tiring to ride. It’s very light and very
flickable going into corners like a 600cc supersport bike. I think the counter-rotating crankshaft
really works in reducing the gyroscopic effect of the wheels making it very agile.

But the trick to going insanely fast on the Panigale V4 is to put your complete trust in the
electronics because doing so will free your mind from things that would likely slow you down;
like blipping the throttle when downshifting, or releasing the brake before entering a corner, or
feeling for traction while leaned over. On the Panigale V4, you can shift up and down fluidly
without using the clutch or blipping the throttle. No mis-shifts, ever. You can also hold the brake
much deeper into the corner without fear of the bike standing up or going wide. In fact, the
Panigale V4 is the only bike I have used where you can use the rear brake effectively to scrub
speed entering a corner without fear of washing out. On the Panigale V4, you can whack open
the throttle while leaned over without fear of losing rear grip or lifting the front wheel. You can
therefore concentrate more on doing things that make you go faster like choosing your braking
points, or looking much further into the corner toward your exit, or choosing the right gear in
each corner. Of course, depending on your riding skill level, you can personally customize each
settings of the ride modes for the level of intrusion.


Old-school riders might argue that relying on electronics would be considered cheating and will
make you a dumb rider; to a certain extent, yes. Relying completely on electronics is dumb. So
it’s important to know the fundamentals of riding a non-electronic equipped superbike fast so
you will always know how it would react to certain inputs. Always remember: a bike is only as
fast as the rider riding it. If you’re already a veteran rider and want to experience the full benefit
of modern electronics to make you go much faster safely, the Panigale V4 (and its V4S variant)
is the superbike to get. That’s why we awarded it the best superbike in the C! Awards last year.
It’s so darn good.

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