If you don’t mind, we’re going to briefly divert our attention away from the world of four wheels, and to the world of two. Why? Because something quite significant just happened in bike land – Ducati has released its first ever mass-production superbike with a V4 engine.
The firm’s ‘Desmosedici’ MotoGP prototype bikes have used V4s for years, and there was a limited run ‘RR’ road-going version, but this new Panigale V4 represents a dramatic change of tack for Ducati. Yep, having pedalled the ‘L-twin’ two-cylinder engine for decades,all Ducati’s sports bikes will be V4-powered in the near future.
The 1103cc four-cylinder engine was developed with input from the Ducati Corse racing outfit, and indeed it has the bore as the MotoGP engine, but with a longer stroke to improve torque low down and in the mid range. The 90-degree lump also has a 70-degree crankshaft (which counter-rotates to improve inertia), allowing for a V-twin-like firing order.
Ducati has kept the weight down by using a newly designed frame, which sees the engine become a stressed chassis member. As a result, the V4’s 211bhp output has just 195kg of bike to shift. In other words, you’re not going to be wanting for speed.
It may have the potential for terrifying performance, but the Panigale V4 is loaded full of electronics to make riding it less scary. It’ll actually let you do “controlled slides during braking,” has an ABS Cornering system that’ll only brake the front wheel, a quickshifter that factors lean angle into how it operates, and much more.
Want one? The range kicks off with the standard V4 at £19,250. If you can stretch to £23,895 you can have a V4 S with Öhlins partially-active suspension, a lighter li-ion battery and forged wheels, while at the very top of the range you’ll find the £34,995 V4 Speciale. Just 1500 of the latter will be made, each one liveried up and packing a titanium exhaust plus a ridiculous amount of carbonfibre.
If you can settle for gawping at the new bike in the metal/having a little sit, you’ll find it on display at the Milan Motorcycle Show.