The Ducati Panigale V2 looks absolutely sensational! But is it just a Panigale 959 with Panigale V4’s fancy frock, or is there more to it?
Say hello to Ducati’s all-new middleweight offering – the Panigale V2. There are however two things that you need to know. First, tipping the scales at nearly 200kg, the V2 is nearly as hefty as its ‘heavyweight’ sibling – the Panigale V4. Second, with its 955cc V-Twin motor, you can say that the Panigale V2 is knocking right at the door of the litre-class segment. The Panigale V2, then, is as far from being a middleweight bike as Valentino Rossi is from his 10th world title these days. But, as they say, there’s no harm in dreaming...
By projecting it as a middleweight, you get the sense that Ducati is downplaying the Panigale V2’s actual worth. Because from what we can make out, it’s anything but that. However, that’s been the case with every middleweight Ducati in the past – from the 748 to 959. The supersport motorcycles from Ducati have always been touted as being towards the ‘super-mid’ side of things. The Panigale V2 follows the same philosophy, as it replaces the Panigale 959, albeit it brings more power and tech to the table. Sure, it’s still based on the 959, but it now comes packed with Panigale V4’s sophisticated electronics, and just like its elder sibling, it’s dressed to kill! Sounds like the perfect superbike for the world, doesn’t it? But is it really the case?
Cloned to perfection
Now, there is some truth in the saying that 'beauty is subjective', but then how many times have you heard someone criticize Gigi Hadid for her looks? Using the same logic, nobody can deny the fact that the current crop of Panigales comprises the most gorgeous sportbikes in the world today, except for a handful of MV Agustas, of course. Just think about it, is there anything more gorgeous than a Panigale in the sportbike world right now? You’re right, nothing is!
The Panigale range, however, is not that easy to comprehend. There are way too many iterations, and it's not a simple task to tell one from another unless you are an eagle-eyed Ducati aficionado. There's the V4, V4 S, V4 R, V4 Speciale, and gorgeous new Superleggera V4. And now the Panigale V2 has also found a spot in this pack. In fact, it's really difficult to tell the V2 from its elder siblings, as it's nearly the same size as others.
Compared to other bikes in the range, though, the V2 looks relatively simpler. You see, with the 2020 upgrade, the standard Panigale V4 and V4 S have now got aero winglets of V4 R, which gives them a more serious look. The V2, on the other hand, has got the pre-facelift double-layer fairing of the V4, and that’s why it’s a much cleaner design and easily identifiable.
Although based largely on the 959, there are some crucial changes in the V2. Apart from its elder sibling’s fancy frock, the V2 now also comes with a single-sided swingarm and a stubby new exhaust as compared to the 959’s double-swingarm and shotgun-style twin pipes. The equipment list here is also longer – LED lights all around, a new TFT dash (slightly smaller than the V4’s), and a raft of electronics, including 6-axis IMU, three riding modes, a quick-shifter, and cornering ABS, are now offered as standard with the V2.
The Panigale V2 gets the same 955cc V-twin Superquadro engine as the Panigale 959, albeit it gets a couple of updates, such as new injectors, larger inlet valves, and an updated exhaust system. The power output and torque have increased by 5bhp and 2Nm, meaning that the twin-motor now delivers 153bhp and 104Nm of torque. What’s more, the bike you see here was fitted with optional Akrapovic titanium exhaust, which bumps the power by another 5bhp and 3Nm, while also shaving off 7kg of mass! The extra performance does come at a price though – the Akra exhaust costs an additional Rs 4.73 lakh!
In terms of power delivery, the V2’s engine has typical twin traits. Its strong-low end grunt is followed by a ferocious slap of torque once you cross 4,000rpm. If you still manage to keep your wrist at it, all hell starts to break loose by the time you hit 9,000rpm. From there on, it’s really difficult to gauge the performance of this engine – I mean, where do you find roads long enough to stretch its legs? Especially in a country like ours, it’s really difficult to go beyond 3rd gear / 5,000rpm without breaking the law! For a sense of perspective, while riding the V2 in the city, you’ll do 80km/h in first gear with revs sitting somewhere around 7,500rpm. And just for your information, the peak power kicks in at 10,750rpm and peak torque at 9,000rpm. Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying it’s totally pointless on the road like 200+bhp litre-class superbikes, but it’s still frustrating to not being able to open the throttle fully, at least once.
However, Ducati says that 60% of the torque is available from below 6,000rpm. Truth be told, that’s the beauty of this engine if you’re riding it on public roads and not on racetracks. Even though it's violent, the engine is buttery smooth. There’s a slight buzz through pegs at higher revs, though, which I think you’ll only notice if you accidentally find yourself in traffic.
The throttle response isn’t snappy, while the clutch and gear-shifts are silky smooth in operation as well. The V2 is also equipped with a bi-directional quick-shifter. It works flawlessly for most of the part, but during upshifts above 7,000rpm, I did catch it napping a few times. Having said that, you don’t really find yourself shifting gears often – I spent a day riding the V2 in the city and on the highway, and I only found myself using either 2nd or 3rd the entire time. Dropping down to 1st at times is also a great idea because that’s when you hear that Akra exhaust gurgle with its pops-and-bangs on overrun. It’s so loud that your entire neighbourhood will hate you every time you’d take your V2 out for a Sunday morning ride.
What makes V2 truly special is how it makes you feel as a rider. You see, Ducati has equipped it with their top-shelf electronics, which makes it worthy of the baby Panigale title. In addition to that, they’ve also done a couple of modifications, which have truly transformed the character of this super-mid. The V2 has the same aluminium monocoque frame as the 959, but the geometry has been revised – the rake is the same 24°, but the trail is shortened by 2mm, at 95 mm. The fully adjustable Showa BPF forks and Sachs rear shock have also been updated slightly. Plus, the weight distribution is now 52:48 (front: rear) as opposed to 959’s 51:49.
Despite being as heavy as the V4, the V2 surprisingly feels easier and more manageable to ride. As in you don’t feel that you’re muscling the bike around, which is definitely the case with the V4. Around corners, the front tips in quickly and it's supremely planted. Mid-corner stability is phenomenal – yes, even on our cow-dung laced public roads, the V2 sticks to the intended line quite comfortably. The Pirelli Diablo Rosso II tyres have phenomenal grip levels, which only fills you with more confidence.
Now, when you’re trying to have fun with a 150+bhp superbike on public roads, it’s very easy to overestimate your abilities. And that's exactly what happens when you’re aboard the V2. You see, its electronics package – 8 level traction control, anti-wheelie, cornering ABS, engine brake control, and a six-axis IMU – works so wonderfully in the background that you feel as smooth as The Professor on it. Nope, not the one from Money Heist, but Andrea Dovizioso. That said, it’s not always a cosy and forgiving affair here. Try poking the V2 the wrong way (engage modes with less electronic intervention), and you'll find that it's ready to bite your head off!
Compared to the V4, the V2 is a lot less intimidating though. Plus, it doesn’t feel like an outright race machine on the road – the foot-pegs are low, the bars are wide, and the seat is remarkably roomy and well-padded. Of course, you’d be mad to commute on it or take it out on a road-trip in our part of the world, but for occasional rides over the weekend, it’s surprisingly not a backbreaker.
The Panigale V2 is drop-dead gorgeous, scintillating to ride, and, unlike a litre-class superbike, it doesn’t want to kill you at every opportunity. In that sense, it’s more inviting and forgiving to ride, but it still has that signature Bolognese hot-headedness. Sure, it’s a little too expensive for a ‘middleweight’, but then we’ve already established that it’s not a middleweight in the true sense. What the Panigale V2 does then is that it beautifully blends the usability of a middleweight with the brutality of a litre-class. And when something looks as smashing as the V2 does while doing that, how do you find faults with it?
Having said that, the Panigale V2 is not really a motorcycle for the road. I’d say it’s a 60% track bike and 40% road bike.
In fact, that actually gives us a good excuse to hit the racetrack with it. Stay tuned for a full track test of the Panigale V2 at the Buddh International Circuit!
- Ducati Panigale V2
Engine: 955cc / V-Twin
Transmission: 6 Speed
Power: 153bhp @ 10,750rpm
Torque: 104Nm @ 9,000rpm
Price (as tested): ₹ 21.72 lakh ( ₹16.99 lakh standard + ₹4.73 lakh Akrapovic Racing Exhaust)
X-factor: Superbike levels of performance clubbed with the agility of a middleweight. Plus, it looks ridiculously gorgeous.
Pros: Performance, Agility, Ridiculously Beautiful, Electronics