What is it?
It’s Ducati’s new dream machine: the 899 Panigale sports bike. But with an engine 300cc smaller than the mighty 1199 you might think the 899 a wannabe version of its big brother. However, the 899 has a unique personality. It’s a head-turner too and possesses the distinctive “L-twin” roar that leaves bystanders speechless and the pilot exhilarated. Yes, there’s a new anti-depressant proven to take all your worries away. It’s the Ducati Panigale 899, made to replace their former flagship bike, the 848 Superbike.
Engine and drivetrain
Ducati’s are known for their linear power delivery, so typical of a V-twin. You open the throttle and the flat torque curve allows even the most inexperienced rider to maintain decent cornering speed. The wide power band is characteristic of a twin engine; it allows the rider to get decent drive out of most corners even when the wrong gear is selected. This is a luxury your friend on his four-cylinder screamer doesn’t have.
However, the 899 Panigale, with its 898cc liquid-cooled four-stroke L-twin engine, has an additional burst of power at 6000r/min as the rev counter races towards the redline at 10 700r/min. It’s called an L-twin because the two cylinders are arranged in a V formation, but at a great big 90°.
The Panigale produces an impressive 109kW of power and 99Nm of torque. The unique sound of this awesome machine instantly had me back in 1999, when I could see Carl Fogarty go around Kyalami… Only a Ducati can deliver that unmistakable roar.
With Ducati’s ultra-smooth electronic quick-shift transmission, you don’t have to worry about sore wrists anymore. The quick-shifter makes an already smooth drive train even better, and lets you shift up while accelerating, without using the clutch.
Style, instruments and equipment
The 899 Panigale is so beautiful and unique it’s as if the language to describe this masterpiece is yet to be written. And I refer to the 899 as the 1199’s sister. She’s too gorgeous to be male.
The 899 has the same suite of high-tech electronics as the 1199. It offers Race, Sport and Wet riding modes that will adjust the power, ABS activation level, traction control and engine braking. The latter three can be further adjusted to suit your riding style.
The all-digital instrument panel includes an on-board computer with shift warning lights and readouts for fuel consumption, fuel range, trip metres, clock, engine temperature and average speed.
After spending time with the 899 it was clear that this bike, like its predecessors, had to be ridden on a mountain pass, racetrack or the open road to experience its talents. She hated the city traffic and was screaming for the mountains and the open road. Once in the passes she produced exhilarating performance and was singing with joy. The biggest improvements over the 848 are lower overall weight and smoother power delivery. The 899 is also fitted with Engine Brake Control (EBC), which allows for quick and aggressive downshifts without the risk of the rear wheel locking-up. All of this combined with improved comfort makes the “baby Panigale” a weekend toy as well as a powerful track bike.
Ride and handling
To get the best out of the bigger 1199, and really exploit its ability and appreciate its racing heritage, you have to be a very experienced rider. The 899 Panigale, on the other hand, is just that little bit easier to live with, less hard core, without compromising the pin-sharp handling you will expect from a bike bred on the racetrack.
With traction control and anti-lock braking – and its fully adjustable suspension – the handling is superb, forgiving and much more rider-friendly than the 1199.
Like: Almost everything! I especially like the V-twin sound.
Dislike: One very small thing: the indicator switch. I couldn’t “feel” with my thumb if the indicator was selected, as you would normally do with other bikes – I had to glance at the indicator light to see if it was on.
Verdict and rating
The new Ducati 899 Panigale is an anti-depressant that will help you forget your daily worries. Yes, there are generics out there, but they just won’t have the same effect. By the way, the specialists who have prescribed this medication are none other than the importers of Porsche into South Africa. Rating : 9 /10
How do you compare apples with caviar? You can’t. Many a bike will run with the 899 – but it still won’t be a Ducati. If you have to; Suzuki GSX-R750, MV Agusta F3 800 and Triumph Daytona 675R.
Specifications for Ducati 899 Panigale
- Engine 898cc liquid-cooled four-stroke L-twin.
- Gearbox Six-speed constant-mesh transmission with electronic quick-shifter and final drive by chain.
- Power 109kW@10 750r/min
- Torque 99Nm@9000r/min
- Weight 193kg (wet)
- Seat height 830mm
- Fuel capacity 17 litres
- Fuel consumption About 6.3l/100km
- Tank Range About 270km
- Warranty and servicing Three years or 90 000km,service intervals every 15 000km.
- Price R185 000
- Ridden by Bikeroutes Feb 2014
- Review by Jeanette Kok-Kritzinger
- Pictures by Desmond Louw
More info from www.ducati.com