Ducati cranks the impressive 1199 Panigale up a notch from S (Sport) to R (Racing), and reaches a new level of technological innovation. A significant departure from the brand's traditional frame and metalworking processes, it stands as one of the most exceptional Ducati bikes ever built.
While there's no rule against letting it rip on the open road, the 2013 Ducati 1199 Panigale R
is definitely more geared for the track and superbike races. Like a thoroughbred, it must be understood, caressed, and mastered in order to complete hot laps and post satisfyingly quick times.
Aggressive L-twin housed in an adjustable frame
The 1,198 cc, eight-valve Desmodromic L-twin engine gets new titanium parts (-0.63 kg), Diamond Like Carbon (DLC) coating, along with an ECU software update. The goal was to make the powerplant even livelier at high revs. Official output is 195 hp at 10,750 rpm, with the electronic cut-off at nearly 12,000 rpm -- a new record for a twin-cylinder engine. What's more, the 2013 Ducati 1199 Panigale R comes out of the factory with a shorter final drive that's more suited to track riding.
When it comes to the chassis, there's the same aluminum-alloy unibody frame as the 1199 Panigale S (technology derived from Ducati's MotoGP bikes). Where the R mainly innovates is by making it possible to increase the height of the swingarm pivot by 2 mm or decrease it by 2 or 4 mm. The racing package also includes an aerodynamic windscreen, a Termignoni exhaust system, and rearview mirror caps in aluminium.
Equipped like a MotoGP bike
|Official output is 195 hp at 10,750 rpm, with the electronic cut-off at nearly 12,000 rpm – a new record for a twin-cylinder engine. (Photo: Philippe Champoux)
Beyond that, the 2013 Ducati 1199 Panigale R boasts the same equipment as the Panigale S:
- 43 mm Öhlins NIX30 front forks and Öhlins TTX36 rear shock with Ducati Electronic Suspension (DES);
- Lightweight forged alloy Marchesini wheels;
- Pirelli Diablo Supercorsa SP tires;
- 330 mm discs with Brembo M50 monoblock callipers;
- Ducati Traction Control (DTC) with anti-wheeling;
- Ducati Quick Shift (DQS);
- Engine Brake Control (EBC);
- Adjustable ABS;
- Three riding modes (Race, Sport and Wet);
- Ducati Data Analyzer (DDA+).
Grabbing the bull by the horns
|The 2013 Ducati 1199 Panigale R boasts the same equipment as the Panigale S. (Photo: Philippe Champoux)
The riding position on the 2013 Ducati 1199 Panigale R is ideal for attacking the track: low, forward-mounted handlebars, adjustable controls, a high, non-slip rider's seat, and footpegs mounted close to the rear. As a result, your head is right in the windscreen, and most of your weight stands above the front wheel.
In Race mode, the L-twin produces a high-pitched, syncopated sound like a true race bike. Adrenaline seems to flow like crazy, but you have yet to engage first gear.
Out on the track, the 2013 Ducati 1199 Panigale R explodes forward at the slightest twist of the throttle. The ride-by-wire system is fairly precise when compared to other Italian superbikes -- more than the F4
and nearly on par with the RSV4
. Despite the longer wheelbase and wider rake, the 1199 Panigale R dives toward the apex with agility and proves quite stable through the entire corner. This superb mix of poise and responsiveness is exactly what you want on beautiful, fast tracks like Circuit Mont-Tremblant.
On the other hand, when you find yourself on a short, tight course like the one set up by ASM Motorsport in St-Eustache, the 2013 Ducati 1199 Panigale R requires much more effort when you enter and exit corners, especially with a few bumps along the way. Here, the bike starts tail-whipping until you release the throttle at the end of the straightaway. In my opinion, this is the result of a lack of lateral rigidity around the swingarm's mounting point. The new aluminum frame doesn't seem to handle this type of reaction quite as well as a chromoly steel trellis frame like the old 1198's.
Easy to ride, but tough to push to the limit
|The riding position on the 2013 Ducati 1199 Panigale R is ideal for attacking the track: low, forward-mounted handlebars, adjustable controls, a high, non-slip rider's seat, and footpegs mounted close to the rear. (Photo: Philippe Champoux)
Despite WSBK-like performance and not-so-linear acceleration at full throttle, track day enthusiasts will still find the new 2013 Ducati 1199 Panigale R relatively easy to ride. Confidence sets in after just a few minutes of action. Ranking among the industry's best, the front-wheel setup (wheel, brake, forks, and geometry) proves sharp in typical Italian fashion, while stability during braking manoeuvres feels reassuring, even from speeds of 200+ km/h.
You can safely make the most of all the power on tap thanks to the advanced electronics. For optimum performance management, every aspect of riding now comes with some form of assist, which can be monitored and adjusted on the TFT display.
Too much gas when coming out of a corner? DTC will prevent the bike from sliding and wheeling. You downshifted too quickly? EBC will forgive you. Braking comes a bit too late? Fear not, intelligent ABS will step in to minimize the risk of a fall. Of course, don't expect the 2013 Ducati 1199 Panigale R to do all the work for you: With a two-wheel rocket like this, you need to know what you're doing and make sure you respect the machine's potential at all times.
Depending on your level of experience, you can fine-tune the various settings and make the electronic aids as low-profile as possible, which will help you hone your skills and become a more seasoned rider. Only then will you be able to push the 2013 Ducati 1199 Panigale R to its absolute limit.
|Despite WSBK-like performance and not-so-linear acceleration at full throttle, track day enthusiasts will still find the new 2013 Ducati 1199 Panigale R relatively easy to ride. (Photo: Philippe Champoux)
- The most powerful twin-cylinder of all times
- Equipped like a MotoGP bike
- Front-wheel setup is sharp and precise
- Stunning design with exemplary finish
- Pushing this bike is quite physical
- Tail-whipping at full throttle