Ducati's latest flagship superbike has all the expected spec bumps. There's more displacement, more power, revised suspension and brakes, and a smatter of subtle design tweaks. But the real story behind the Ducati 1299 Panigale is the amount of computing power orchestrating it all.
The new Superquadro V-twin puts out 205 horsepower in both the base and S variants – matching the hyper-exclusive Panigale Superleggera – thanks to a 116mm bore resulting in 1,285cc of displacement. Torque is up to 106 lb-ft and weight is pegged at 395 pounds wet (without gas).
While the engine is sure to be another screamer, it's the Ohlins Smart EC suspension and the silicon brains behind it that takes center stage. Ducati is calling the electronics controlling it all "event-based", taking inputs from a variety of sensors to change the suspension settings in real-time based on what the bike is doing, not what inputs the rider is making.
While braking for a corner, the damping and compression in the front forks increases to boost stability. Mid-corner, the lean-angle sensors detect the bike's angle, releases the damping to improve control and also has a new ABS-setting that can be tweaked for both corner entry and manipulation in the middle of the bend. On the way out, the rear suspension stiffens to provide more grip out back, and wheelie control – also pulled from the Superleggera – lets you dial in the right amount of lift, similar to what's on offer from the BMW S1000RR. There's also a fully-electronic steering damper, along with quick-shifting for both up and down clutchless shifting.
But the first question anyone that follows racing is going to ask is what about the displacement regulations for World Superbike? Those are capped, so Ducati is offering a new 1299 Panigale R with the... ummm... old 1,198cc of displacement, complete with a tungsten-balanced crankshaft and putting out the same 205 hp and a few pound-feet less. It also comes equipped with a full Akropovič titanium exhaust, Ohlins, Ducati's data acquisition system, and tips the scales at 406 pounds wet.
Deliveries of all three bikes are set to begin this February or March depending on the market, and all that suspension tech is sure to filter down to other Ducati models in the coming years.