The 2015 Ducati Superbike family presents a new major player in the category: the 1299 Panigale. The latest arrival at the Bologna-based firm, with its 1285 cm3 Superquadro engine, raises the standards once again in terms of performance for supersports bikes on the international market. Thanks to incredible torque with a value of 144.6 Nm at 8,750 rpm, a dry weight of 166.5 kg (367 lb) and maximum power of 205 hp at 10,500 rpm. With an extremely high power to weight ratio, the 1299 Panigale has become a new benchmark standard for very high performance bikes.
The latest generation of Ducati Superbikes builds upon engineering and design solutions introduced on the 1199 Panigale, rendering the concept of the Superbike for the road still more extreme. The new 1299 Panigale has more torque, it’s more powerful and responsive than the 1199 Panigale, the bike it replaces, while at the same time it’s easier and safer to ride thanks to the use of innovative solutions devised by Ducati Corse, to allow everyday fans to experience the technology of world champions.
The 1299 Panigale has the Superquadro, the most advanced and powerful twin-cylinder engine produced on the planet, which is made even more extreme by pistons with a diameter of 116 mm, a value that’s used for the very first time on a supersports road bike. The motorcycle has evolved in terms of chassis set-up too: the innovative monocoque chassis now has a steering head angle of 24° to guarantee increased agility when cornering, while the fork pivot is 4 mm lower allowing for increased rear traction in a variety of situations.
The new electronic kit, studied specifically for the 1299 Panigale and integrated in the three different Riding Modes, makes it even more high-performance. Thanks in fact to the presence of the Inertial Measurement Unit (IMU), Cornering ABS is made available, along with Ducati Wheelie Control (DWC) and, on the S version, the Öhlins Smart EC, an event-based control system for the suspension. Moreover, the Ducati Quick Shift (DQS) now works also during down-changing, to further improve track performance and to make the bike more easy to use on a daily basis. On the 1299 Panigale, the Ducati Traction Control (DTC), Ducati Wheelie Control (DWC) and the Engine Brake Control (EBC) have been optimised by an automatic calibration system which allows for easy changes in tyre size and final drive ratio.
Every single detail of the Panigale is a tribute to the legendary sports tradition where Ducati’s roots lie. Just as the famous 916-996-998 series, which recently celebrated its twentieth anniversary and is still a unique and instantly recognisable example of Italian style, so too the 1299 Panigale with its incredibly contemporary and practical design follows in the footsteps of the 1199 Panigale which, thanks to its design, won the prestigious Compasso d’Oro award. As well as improving the aerodynamic penetration, the wider nose fairing and more protective windshield make the fairing of the new 1299 Panigale still more aggressive, thanks also to the wider front air intakes. The new tail fairing, divided into two sections, completes the form of the 1299 Panigale, which also has new lateral ducts and mirrors. Moreover, the 1299 Panigale is fitted out with a new and more comfortable saddle and with machined aluminium footrests, to provide maximum on-road grip.
Evolution of the species
By adding a name to the number, 1199, the Panigale went against the tradition of Ducati Superbikes, which had previously always been known by just a number. The name refers to the district of Bologna where the company headquarters is, and has always been, and so strengthens the link with the Ducati home territory. Thanks to its technological features, the 1199 Panigale opened the way for a new frontier of supersports bikes, with its Superquadro engine and monocoque chassis. With the 1299, Ducati pushes the characterising features of the 1199 Panigale still further forward. The 1299 is an object of desire that will fill the dreams of fans throughout the world.
The new 1285 cm3 twin-cylinder Superquadro provides 10% more torque compared to the power unit of the 1199 Panigale and makes for an even more responsive throttle. With the 10 hp of extra power, the 1299 Panigale exceeds a maximum power of 200 hp – an incredible level for a twin-cylinder road bike – while the updated chassis specifications make the bike more agile, at the same time providing better traction out of every corner, a condition that’s necessary in order to make the most of the incredible maximum torque value of 144.6 Nm.
Each and every detail of the 1299 Panigale is a tribute to the legendary tradition of sports bikes that Ducati has personified since the beginning: the parts are not only efficient and practical, they’re also minimalist and have an essential style, created with skill to become works of motorcycle art.
The horizontal twin headlamps are integrated as part of the front intake ports and give the front view of the 1299 a truly racing style. While the 1299 Panigale has LED side-lights and bulbs for the headlights, the 1299 Panigale S version has full LED lighting.
Even more horsepower and torque
With the new 1,285 cm3 Superquadro power unit, Ducati has raised the bar on performance yet higher. The most advanced and powerful twin-cylinder produced on the planet is made even more extreme by pistons with a diameter of 116 mm, a value that’s used for the very first time on a high-performance supersports twin-cylinder road bike. The new Superquadro engine (so called because of its massively over-square bore and stroke ratio) has increased power of 205 hp at 10,500 rpm, a milestone level for a production twin-cylinder, while the torque has increased to 144.6 Nm at 8,750 rpm and, thanks to the Riding Modes available to the rider, it’s possible to regulate delivery according to the riding style and conditions.
The engine has been built in such a way as to have a considerable increase of torque so as to guarantee rapid response throughout the range. Valve clearance check intervals have remained at every 24,000 km as with the previous version.
A new milestone
The new 116 mm diameter pistons have led the Superquadro to set new records. The “box in box” pistons have been redesigned as have the piston ring and the oil ring, while the pin has a DLC (Diamond Like Carbon) facing. The compression ratio has increased to 12.6:1 while the 116 mm bore, together with the 60.8 mm stroke mean the overall displacement is 1,285 cm³.
The Superquadro engine was created to be a structural part of the frame and so its form has been designed with the best conformation, weight distribution and resilience as possible. The cylinders, still at a 90° angle to each other, are rolled back for a 21° angle between the front cylinder and the horizontal plane. This allows the engine to be placed further forward than is possible with a classical L-shaped twin-cylinder, and improves the distribution of weight between front and rear.
The crankcases are vacuum die-cast using Vacural® technology. This procedure guarantees maximum weight-saving, consistent wall thickness and superior strength. The crankshafts are shaped in such a way as to incorporate the water jacket around the steel rods of the cylinders, inserted into the base slots during the initial stages of assembly. This design means the cylinder head is fixed directly onto the crankcase, combining the need for a structural rigidity with a notable benefit in terms of the reduced dimensions. The cylinder heads of the new 1,285 cm³ Superquadro engine have been improved to guarantee greater rigidity, as in the case of the magnesium head covers and those on the clutch side. The oil sump is also in magnesium.
The crankcases are notable also for the use of plain main crankshaft bearings, derived from racing bikes. The absence of ball bearings makes it possible to have a crankshaft with journals of a greater diameter and at the same time a larger section of the base in the area around the main bearings, in order to increase rigidity and strength, necessary for the extreme power delivery of the Superquadro. The 1,285 cm³ version incorporates a crankshaft with modified balancing and innovative rods to support the greater load of the 116 mm diameter pistons.
The main journals are lubricated with compressed oil through dedicated channels within the base. This method ensures the crankshaft is sufficiently lubricated and the oil is swiftly collected, thanks to an advanced feature – a lobed pump which creates a vacuum in the crankcase, as in engines used for MotoGP races.
The pump is operated by a shaft moved by a series of gears made from a special high strength techno-polymer and keeps the crankcase area below the pistons in controlled conditions of constant vacuum, reducing resistance during downward movement and crankshaft rotation and ensuring that the lubrication oil is collected efficiently in any condition of engine use.
The 46.8 mm diameter titanium intake valves and the 38.2 mm diameter exhaust valves are of exactly the same dimensions as those of the Superquadro 1199, so are the throttle bodies, which again have an oval section and a diameter equivalent to 67.5 mm. The throttle bodies are worked by a full Ride-by-Wire system independently from each other and they each have 2 injectors – the first is located below the throttle body and used to supply the engine under low load conditions while the second, located above the throttle body, is activated when the engine requires a higher performance.
Once again the new Superquadro incorporates a system of secondary air injection for an engine set-up that makes it possible to combine the best possible delivery of high performance and regular functioning, with less cyclical dispersal of combustion. This system ensures complete oxidisation of the unburned hydrocarbons, efficiently reducing the levels of carbon dioxide and carbon monoxide (CO). Thanks to the secondary air valve a supply of clean air directly from the airbox can be introduced into the exhaust port of each head (just after the exhaust valve). With a controlled introduction of oxygen, the exiting hot gases can be completely combusted so as to eliminate any particles of non-combusted fuel that would otherwise enter the atmosphere. The exhaust of the 1299 Panigale has been redesigned compared to the previous 1199 Panigale model.
The fundamental Desmo
Such an extreme engine highlights still further the fundamental nature of the Desmodromic distribution system used exclusively by Ducati. Given the high functioning speed of the Superquadro and the size of the valves, the rockers would be unable to follow the closure of the cam profiles if only ordinary springs were used. With the Desmo system on the other hand, the valves are closed mechanically with the same technique and precision as during the opening stage, allowing the cam profiles more power and extreme timing which meet the performance target requirements of the project. This system, used on all Ducati models, shows its worth on the Superbikes too, as well as on the Ducati Corse Desmosedici MotoGP.
The power of precision
The Superquadro makes use of a combined gear train configuration to control its camshafts. A chain connects the crankshaft to a gear fixed to the head. This gear has a double set of teeth – the set driven by the chain, and another set which drives two other gears fixed respectively on the intake and exhaust camshafts. The position of the gears at the ends of the camshafts is adjustable to allow for optimum timing precision.
At the end of the exhaust camshaft of each head, there’s a centrifugal decompressor. During start-up, the device allows the profile of the opening lobe of the camshaft to be modified, causing a slight lift of the valve which reduces pressure in the combustion chamber during the compression stage. This reduction in compression pressure enables the use of a very small electric starter and a much smaller battery than in the past. Once the engine fires, its idle rpm and the resulting centrifugal force modifies the configuration of the device to cancel the effect of the raised valve, returning the engine to its normal functioning condition.
Transmission is managed by a six-speed gearbox together with a wet clutch that has a progressive self-servo mechanism which allows the load on the disks to be increased without compromising the lever force required by the rider to operate the clutch. This result is an optimal combination of the requirements for a high torque transmission together with a high level of comfort for the rider. Under sports riding conditions, with repeated downshifting and aggressive deceleration, the same mechanism reduces pressure on the clutch disks, allowing them to work in slipper clutch mode. In addition, the new Superquadro has an innovative gear sensor, devised for MotoGP, which is indispensable for getting the most out of the new electronic gear-changing strategy.
The 1299 Panigale provides a new benchmark for electronic systems. The highly advanced electronic kit is supported by the Inertial Measurement Unit (IMU) which measures acceleration in relation to three axes and calculates the bike’s angle of roll and pitch. The IMU has made it possible to increase the performance of the electronic kit, introducing Cornering ABS, Ducati Wheelie Control (DWC) and, on the S version, Öhlins Smart EC, an event-based control system of the suspension. For the first time, the Ducati Quick Shift (DQS) functions also for downshifts. Furthermore, the 1299 Panigale is equipped with the Ride-by-Wire (RbW) system, the Ducati Data Analyser (DDA+) and the Ducati Riding Modes, which interact differently with the Ducati Traction Control (DTC), the Ducati Wheelie Control (DWC), the Ducati Quick Shift (DQS), the Cornering ABS, the Engine Brake Control (EBC) and, on the S version, also the Öhlins Smart EC suspension. On the S version, the impressive provision of electronic devices also includes auxiliary buttons on the handlebars, as on race bikes, to regulate the DTC, DWC or EBC systems during track use.
Ducati Traction Control (DTC)
The DTC system, a great Ducati success story, has been perfected even further for the 1299 Panigale and entirely integrated in the electronic kit for all the versions. It makes use of the software logic created for the Ducati Corse models used by the World Champions of MotoGP and Superbike and provides a choice of eight profiles developed by a team of riders and professional test-riders.
The system, which can be accessed via the left handlebar switches and visualised on the TFT instrumentation, allows the rider to choose from among the eight available profiles – each one has been programmed to supply a tolerance value for rear-wheel spinning control from one to eight. Level eight provides maximum safety, activating at the slightest sign of spinning, with a greater level of interaction, while level one, aimed at only the most skilled riders, has greater tolerance and minimum intervention. The DTC system and the selected level are permanently visualised on the instrumentation, to remind the rider of the current level of interaction following any modification of the selected Riding Mode.
Ducati Quick Shift (DQS) up/down
The DQS system now offers up/down functionality, which makes it possible to change gears in both directions without using the clutch, for even quicker and more efficient shifts. The system includes a bi-directional micro-switch integrated into the lever mechanism which, each time the gears are activated, sends a signal to the ECU. The system works differently for upshifts and downshifts, interfacing with the engine control electronics to incorporate an auto-blipper function during downshifts. This enables the gears to mesh smoothly without any intervention on the part of the rider, and combined with the slipper clutch and EBC it facilitates seamless downshifts in full control, even during the most aggressive riding.
Ducati Wheelie Control (DWC)
DWC is a control system devised from Ducati’s experience in racing. Thanks to the IMU it uses an algorithm with a series of parameters such as speed, acceleration, lean and pitch angles, to calculate if the front wheel is lifted from the ground and by how much. According to the setting currently selected, the system intervenes by reducing power and torque levels in order to control the wheelie. Like DTC, DWC can be set to 8 different levels. The DWC system and selected level are permanently displayed on the instrument panel, to remind the rider of the current level of interaction following any modification of the selected Riding Mode.
Engine Brake Control (EBC)
EBC (Engine Brake Control) was perfected by Ducati Corse in order to help riders optimise the stability of their vehicle in extreme conditions and when entering a turn, during races for the MotoGP and Superbike world championships by balancing the force acting on the back tyre in situations of intense engine braking. The EBC monitors the position of the throttle valve, the selected gear and the deceleration of the crankshaft during extreme braking and it regulates, with great precision, the opening of the throttle activated by the Ride-by-Wire system to adjust the back-torque applied to the tyre. The EBC has three setting levels accessible from the instrument panel of the 1299 Panigale and integrated automatically into the three Riding Modes in order to assist the rider still further in an extraordinarily efficient way.
Ducati Electronic Suspension (DES) and Öhlins Smart EC
The 1299 Panigale S is fitted with the innovative Öhlins Smart EC system – an event-based control system for the suspension. This system, thanks to the use of stepper motors and taking into account the signals measured and/or elaborated by the bike’s other ECUs, modifies the set-up of the suspension during use in order to improve cornering grip, stability, braking, corner entry and handling. The system, which was developed in collaboration with Öhlins uses a NIX-30 fork with TIN treatment on the fork tubes, a TTX shock absorber, and a steering damper, regulating each one independently.
The Ducati Riding Modes
Introduced for the first time on the multi-award winning Multistrada 1200 in 2010, the Ducati Riding Modes marked a change in the world of motorcycle engineering, allowing the rider to choose between three pre-set modes to provide the perfect setup for each rider and all kinds of weather and road conditions. Each Riding Mode is programmed to modify the character of the engine and the settings of the suspension even on the move. The modes available are a combination of extremely advanced dedicated technologies.
Race Riding Mode
Selecting the Race Riding Mode, the rider can count on 205 hp, with direct throttle response and, on the S version, a specific racetrack setting for the suspension. The Race mode includes a predefined level of DTC, DWC, EBC and ABS set for maximum performance on the racetrack – only active on the front wheel, and with the Cornering function not engaged.
Sport Riding Mode
Selecting the Sport Riding Mode, the racetrack or road rider can count on 205 hp of delivery with a sports throttle response and, on the S version, a sports type setting of the suspension. In Sport mode, the predefined levels of DTC, DWC, EBC AND ABS are set for sports performance on the road. Control of back wheel lift when braking is activated and the Cornering function setting provides maximum performance when cornering.
Wet Riding Mode
The Wet Riding Mode provides the rider on road or race-track with 120 hp of delivery with a gentle throttle response and, on the S version, a setting of the suspension that’s optimised for conditions with little grip. The predefined levels of DTC, DWC, EBC and ABS are set to provide maximum safety, completely eliminating back wheel lift when braking and the Cornering function setting also provides maximum safety.
The TFT (Thin Film Transistor) instrumentation of the 1299 Panigale makes use of the most advanced technology in the field of data visualisation. The configuration of the colour display can be modified and it adjusts automatically to the selected Riding Mode in order to provide the clearest possible display of the information according to riding conditions and it even inverts the colours of the characters and the background in situations of very low visibility. The high definition instrument panel shows rpm between 1,000 and 12,000 on a display with a 90° angle at the far top left corner of the main screen, adding increasing luminous bars to the display as the engine increases in speed and enlarging the main digits of the index (from 1 to 12) one by one, when the corresponding value has been reached. In the lower part of the display, from left to right, the current state and/or the settings of the Riding Modes are shown while the right-hand part of the screen contains a gear indicator. When the Track visualisation mode is selected, for the first time, the lean angle is also displayed. If the Lap Time function is activated on the instrument panel, the highest speed and maximum lean angle of each lap are also shown when the individual times are visualised.
Ducati Data Analyser+ GPS (DDA+ GPS)
With the Ducati Data Analyser (DDA), which includes Mac-compatible software and a USB data recovery device, it’s possible to evaluate the performance of the bike and the rider, with graphic presentations for specific areas of data. The DDA+ GPS is the latest generation of the Ducati Data Analyser with GPS function and it automatically records the timing of each lap every time the 1299 Panigale crosses the finish line of a racetrack. When the rider, crossing the finish line, presses the high-beam flash button, this highly innovative system records the coordinates of the position and then records the timings of each successive lap once it’s been completed.
The DDA+ GPS is available for the 1299 Panigale and the 1299 Panigale S as a Ducati Performance plug-and-play accessory.
The DDA+, an essential instrument for race bikes, is able to record a wide range of data, including throttle, speed of the bike, selected gear, engine temperature, distance travelled, rpm and lap times. A new data collection channel has been introduced to record the DTC index, presenting it as a graphic line showing the level of interaction of the DTC in case of rear wheel spinning. The data can be downloaded after a ride out or a track session to compare and analyse the performance of both rider and bike in detail, including lean angles.
The chassis of the 1299 Panigale is Ducati technology at its very best. Developed in the hyper-competitive world of racing, the extremely compact monocoque structure integrates the airbox, contributing significantly to maintaining the bike’s reduced weight which, for the 1299 Panigale is a dry weight of just 166.5 kg (367 lb).
The compact monocoque structure, which is in aluminium to increase strength, uses the Superquadro engine as a structural element. It’s fixed directly to the cylinder heads and, in the front part, incorporates the steering head bearings. As well as being a traditional chassis, the monocoque also acts as the airbox. Fitted inside, along with the air filters, are the throttle bodies and the fuel circuit, complete with injectors. When the aluminium tank is mounted, its bottom portion seals the airbox as a top cover. The steering head angle has been modified for the 1299 Panigale from 24.5° to 24° and the trail has been reduced from 100 mm to 96 mm.
The new chassis setup also includes a single-sided swingarm with a 4 mm lower pivot point. The total wheelbase of the 1299 Panigale is 1,437 mm while the distribution of weight is 52% at the front and 48% at the rear for a rider of average build.
The exhaust system is mounted underneath the engine, and together with the aluminium alloy rear subframe and magnesium front subframe, ensures centralisation of vehicle mass which guarantees excellent agility.
The 1299 Panigale incorporates a lightweight, pressurised 50 mm Marzocchi fork with anodised aluminium sliders. The fork sliders, which have a matt champagne colour finish, contain aluminium stanchions with black anodised finish and splendidly designed aluminium bottoms. The fork can be completely adjusted in compression, rebound, and spring preload, and it also has a pressurised hydraulic system which, thanks to using as little oil as possible for each stanchion compared to traditional systems, contributes slightly to the weight reduction. The rear suspension of the 1299 Panigale is controlled by a Sachs shock absorber that is also completely adjustable. The 1299 Panigale S is fitted with the Öhlins Smart EC event-based suspension, while the 1299 Panigale R is fitted with Öhlins mechanical suspension.
The whole 1299 Panigale/Panigale R range is equipped with monobloc Brembo M50 callipers which, as well as being designed to be compact, bring a significant reduction of weight. The callipers are forged from a single block of alloy and provide increased rigidity and resistance to deformation during the most extreme braking episodes. The resulting increase of performance by the hydraulic system doesn’t just ensure spectacular braking efficiency but also improves precision responsiveness at the lever. The double monobloc Brembo callipers each have four 30 mm diameter pistons that grip 330 mm diameter discs ensuring excellent braking efficiency. The whole 1299 Panigale/Panigale R range is also fitted with the new Cornering ABS system which uses the extremely lightweight Bosch 9.1MP ECU.
Wheels and Tyres
While the 1299 Panigale is fitted with cast aluminium tri-Y spoke wheels, 3.5 inches wide at the front and 6 inches wide at the rear to allow rapid changes of direction and incredible performance during acceleration and braking, the 1299 Panigale S has elegant forged and machine-finished tri-W wheels, which are lighter for even better performance.
The whole 1299 Panigale/Panigale R range is fitted exclusively with Pirelli Diablo Supercorsa SP tyres. These are the road versions of the tyres used in the Superstock 1000 FIM Cup: 120/70 ZR17 at the front and 200/55 x ZR17 at the rear.
Designed to maintain precision both on the straights and when cornering, the 200/55 x ZR17 rear tyre significantly enhances the contact patch and turn-in speed, adding a higher profile to the width of 200 mm. Pirelli and Ducati technicians have worked together to obtain perfect synergy between the front and rear profiles, which ensures unprecedented precise road feel and extraordinary directional agility during cornering, thanks to the monocoque technology used for the chassis.
The structure and compound used for the tyres is derived directly form Pirelli’s experience in the World Superbike Championship. The tyre carcasses have been designed in order to guarantee rigidity during extreme braking and the outer sections have been designed to maximise the area of contact; furthermore the double compound of the tyre treads contains polymers which facilitate rapid warming and consistent grip.