Ducati 959 Panigale in the driving report

Ducati 959 Panigale in the driving report
Ducati

Ducati 959 Panigale in the driving report

Ducati 959 Panigale in the driving report

Ducati 959 Panigale in the driving report

Ducati 959 Panigale in the driving report

24 photos

Ducati 959 Panigale in the driving report
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Panigalina, little Panigale, the Ducati 959 Panigale is called in the factory. But 152 hp from 955 cm³ are actually not as sweet as the name would suggest.

Ducati 959 Panigale in the driving report
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A smooth slip clutch now rotates behind the clutch cover. The pivot point moved 4 mm lower.

Ducati 959 Panigale in the driving report
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Ducati 959 Panigale.

Ducati 959 Panigale in the driving report
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Ducati 959 Panigale.

Ducati 959 Panigale in the driving report
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A length-adjustable strut to raise the rear is not found on the 959 either.

Ducati 959 Panigale in the driving report
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The titanium-coated Akrapovic silencers save weight, leave more space for the heel and look chic.

Ducati 959 Panigale in the driving report
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Ducati 959 Panigale.

Ducati 959 Panigale in the driving report
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Ducati 959 Panigale.

Ducati 959 Panigale in the driving report
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And if you are now wondering whether or how the new exhaust affects the lean angle: at 45 degrees of the vehicle lean, there is still a lot of room to fall.

Ducati 959 Panigale in the driving report
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Thus, the exhaust does not set any limits, as Andreas Bildl demonstrates here. But also …

Ducati 959 Panigale in the driving report
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… Tobi Münchinger from the sister paper PS comes around the curve well.

Ducati 959 Panigale in the driving report
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First installed on the Superleggera, now also on the Ducati 959 Panigale. Grippy, milled aluminum footrests.

Ducati 959 Panigale in the driving report
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Hand lever protection, milled mirror covers and the recommended higher pane can be found in the range of accessories.

Ducati 959 Panigale in the driving report
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Compared to the 1200 Panigale, however, a difference. Just like the look: still Panigale, but somehow not anymore. But without the silencer there is no Euro 4 approval.

Ducati 959 Panigale in the driving report
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At 16,290 euros, the red version is 200 euros cheaper …

Ducati 959 Panigale in the driving report
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… than the € 16,490 white Ducati 959 Panigale.

Ducati 959 Panigale in the driving report
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The front of the Ducati 959 Panigale rolls on 120/70 tires, …

Ducati 959 Panigale in the driving report
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… at the back of a 180/60 cross-section.

Ducati 959 Panigale in the driving report
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Ducati 959 Panigale.

Ducati 959 Panigale in the driving report
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Ducati 959 Panigale.

Ducati 959 Panigale in the driving report
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Ducati 959 Panigale.

Ducati 959 Panigale in the driving report
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The rear of the Ducati 959 Panigale is always pretty, whether from above and with license plate holder or …

Ducati 959 Panigale in the driving report
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… from below and without the plastic part.

Ducati 959 Panigale in the driving report
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Even with your knees on the ground, you have not yet reached the limits of the incline.

Ducati 959 Panigale in the driving report

Big little ones

Let’s leave the new exhaust aside, after all, it’s also about inner values. And the Ducati 959 Panigale has more to offer than just a good shot glass with more displacement.

"Panigalina, little Panigale, we call the Ducati 959 Panigale at the factory", grins project manager Stefano Strappazzon. But be careful, what sounds so cute could have a fist behind the ears. After all, we are practically talking about a 1000cc superbike with a homologated 152 hp. Just as a reminder: In its last expansion stage, the 999 R had 140 hp as a superbike base in 2006, with titanium connecting rods and valves and everything else. The 1098, celebrated a year later, had nominally a little more punch, but not the well-stocked electronics arsenal of the 959: three driving modes (Race, Sport, Rain), ride-by-wire, traction control, ABS, and electronically adjustable engine brake. And: 16,290 euros (16,490 in white) are around 800 euros more than for the 899, but the 959 is a good 1,000 euros cheaper than the 1098.

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Ducati 959 Panigale in the driving report

Ducati 959 Panigale in the driving report
Big little ones

Basic fork setup too soft for the racetrack

For now in sport mode. The twin of the Ducati 959 Panigale accelerates gently from 3000 rpm, runs pleasantly smoothly and can be driven without any ugly hacking on the chain even at low speeds. But we’re on the racetrack here, so fire. Predictably and linearly, the twin marches up the speed range, between 7000 and 8000 rpm a second wind rushes through the combustion chambers, and the 959 hammers energetically towards the limiter, which waits unchanged at 11,500 rpm. But even the first few laps show that the basic fork setup is too soft for the race track.

Precision is missing at the corner entrance. Flight back to the box, the adjusting screws can be operated with the ignition key. To do this, choose the more directly appealing “Race” mapping and get back on the track. That fits better. Noticeably crisper and more direct, but not harsh, the twin now reacts to gas commands. The Ducati 959 Panigale is not one of those machines that greedily rushes itself onto the very narrow line, but it now hits the apex with much more precision and follows the targeted line exactly. At the exit of the curve there is plenty of grip to pull on the cable. And if the traction control has to intervene, it makes it almost imperceptible on the third of eight levels.

Rear raised by five millimeters

For more grip, the developers lowered the pivot point by four millimeters. A measure that the big Panigale thanked with more traction. To compensate for the loss of handiness, the technicians raised the rear by five millimeters using a longer strut. That doesn’t make the Ducati 959 Panigale a bustling curve predator, but it is agile enough to follow quick changes in lean angle without great effort.

The limitation to a 180/60 rear tire on the 5.5 inch wide rim is helpful here. According to test driver Alessandro Valia “the best compromise between handling and maximum contact surface for good traction”. This means that the power at the exit of the curve can be neatly converted into propulsion. But it also quickly becomes apparent that the Ducati 959 Panigale wants to be kept in the appropriate speed range for this. Not only because the secondary transmission is one tooth longer (43 instead of 44 chainring).

The muscles are only tensed from 7000 rpm

The increase in displacement is less reflected in a robust thump from below. The Ducati 959 Panigale only tenses its muscles properly from 7000 rpm. Then the additional new shower injectors, enthroned centrally above the elliptical throttle valves, come into action and the 959 turns briskly upwards. So the shift foot is required, but now that the automatic gearshift is equipped with the gear sensor of the large Panigale, the gear changes are very smooth and slippery.

In their search for displacement, the developers did not go the usual route via an even larger bore, but increased the stroke by 3.6 to 60.8 mm. The same value as with the 1299. And they donated the already mentioned second, central injection nozzle. In addition, the diameter of the manifold grew from 55 to 60 millimeters. Valves, channels and camshafts remained untouched on the Ducati 959 Panigale. Like various other engine covers, the cylinder heads received reinforcements to reduce noise.

The Ducati 959 Panigale weighs 207 kilos with a full tank

Together with the new crankshaft and the slip clutch, the engine gained 2.5 kilos in weight. The new exhaust system adds another 3.5 kilos and additional insulation material about one, adds about seven kilos to the 899. Based on this, the Ducati 959 Panigale should come to about 207 kilos with a full tank. Not a record, but the 959 with its cultivated V2 offers good conditions for stress-free fun on the racetrack even without extreme values. Even though the brakes fitted with Bosch ABS should deliver a crisper and somewhat more constant pressure point. In return, the slip clutch in conjunction with the adjustable motor brake keeps the stern nice and quiet, even with heavy anchoring. 

With its sophisticated twin and its sporty qualities, the Ducati 959 Panigale positions itself as a fine alternative for sporty country road riders. The bubble screen from the accessories program (119 euros) also ensures a racing look and good wind protection. And for those who don’t really like the new exhaust, Ducati has a neat titanium alternative from Akrapovic for 1229 euros, which not only allows more freedom of movement in the heel area, but also saves one and a half kilograms.

Technical data Ducati 959 Panigale


Ducati

The look is still Panigale, but somehow not anymore. But without the silencer there is no Euro 4 approval.

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