Ducati’s Panigale V2 good for newbies and still packs a punch
I find it a struggle to wolf down a burger with three beef patties and special toppings. It is just too much for me.
And my appetite for burgers is reflected in my choice of superbikes. A ride that is close to 220bhp and a top speed nearing 300kmh is also too much to stomach.
But I have found my simple cheeseburger in Ducati's latest middleweight superbike - the 2020 Panigale V2 (about $58,000 without the certificate of entitlement and insurance).
With 155bhp on tap, the fuel-injected V2 is more palatable for newer riders on the circuit or the road. And seasoned riders will be able to better exploit the 955cc V2's performance without soiling their leather suits.
Last month, this writer was given a V2 "taste test" at the Jerez Circuit in southern Spain - one of the circuits used for MotoGP.
Journalists were each given 70 minutes of track time to familiarise themselves with the 4.4km circuit and the Euro 5 Ducati.
What helped Jerez newbies like me was the V2's forgiving nature. Predictive electronics, traditionally found on top-spec Ducatis like the 1,100cc Panigale V4 S, are now fitted to the 200kg V2. Its three ride modes - Race, Sport and Street - offer varying electronic intervention and power delivery traits.
Custom cornering, anti-lock brakes, traction control, wheelie control and engine brake control ensure you remain safe despite less-than-perfect inputs.
On a few occasions, I noticed blinking orange lights on its TFT dashboard as I gave the throttle a fistful entering the back and front straights. With my eyes trained ahead and left foot working the quickshifter, there was no time to figure out what the lights meant.
Ultimately, the twin-cylinder V2 gave me the confidence to push harder, knowing its electronic aids, which utilise a six-axis inertial measurement unit, were working well to keep me upright.
The visually stunning V2 comes from a long line of mid-tier Ducatis like the 748, 848 and, more recently, the Panigale 959. Other than a 17-litre fuel tank inherited from the 959, everything is new.
It has a fairing-within-a-fairing design to help cool the engine by 4 deg C, says Ducati marketing product manager Paolo Quattrino. A lower "shark gill" left fairing adds ferocity. Tucked under the headlights are air ducts which reduce pressure losses to the fuelling system.
Two new injectors per cylinder help increase fuel flow.
Its five-spoke rear wheel is more prominent, thanks to its single-sided swingarm and short exhaust silencer, which may get in the way of your right heel as you hunker down on the straights.
For added rider comfort, the V2 gets a thicker and 20mm longer seat. But the passenger seat may be too small for longer road trips. After a few circuit sessions, your wrists will start to ache due to the V2's nose-down posture.
The bonus is how the engine responds as you exit Jerez's Turn 2, a right hander that connects with faster flowing left bends.
The V2, which makes 104Nm of torque at 9,000rpm, does not lose steam as you short shift from second gear into third, while simultaneously flicking it from right to left. It continues to pull hard as you rev towards 10,000rpm.
Its 43mm-diameter Showa big piston forks and side-mounted Sachs rear shock did not disappoint or bottom out under hard braking when its dual caliper Brembo front brakes were deployed.
In expert hands, the V2, which is expected to arrive here in March next year, is a missile capable of impressive lap times despite fewer ponies.
Against the Panigale V4 R, which lapped Jerez in 1min 44sec at a previous launch, the V2, ridden by Ducati racer Alessandro Valia, lapped the Jerez circuit in 1min 48sec.