The new 1299 Panigale proves a much more forgiving road bike than its predecessor. Here's our review of the 2015 Ducati 1299 Panigale S. Test by Kris Hodgson Photography by Kris Hodgson, Ducati
I missed the opportunity to test the regular Ducati 1299 Panigale earlier in the year but first impressions of the Panigale 1299 S are very positive. (For the full test on the regular Ducati 1299 Panigale click this link.)
Jumping on, the bike is tall with an easy reach to the ground even for my 180cm height, reach to the bars is aggressive and the pegs are relatively tall.
Taking the 1299S through my usual testing route the first thing that impressed me was just how planted the bike is, even over relatively poor road surfaces the bike just feels like it’s glued to the road, with great feel front and rear.
It’s still very firm, but the semi-active mode takes the bite out of the bumps and as a result the real kick experienced in the old 1199 that was so punishing, to your bum, spine and kidneys, is gone.
The 1299 S is also quite agile, with neutral steering that doesn’t exactly require muscling but does require concentration and thought about where you want to go. Changing your line mid-corner is easy and it really does feel like you’re on rails, regardless of your speed.
I’d say it’s similar to the 899 Panigale, on which you wouldn’t really notice the effort that goes into handling until you jump on something that then feels noticeably lighter-steering. That’s not a criticism though, just an observation.
The Brembo EVO M50 brake calipers on the front are also extremely strong, not in an off-putting fashion but I did find it easier to use the awesome Ducati Quick Shifter with auto-blipper to drop down a gear to wash off some speed.
Talking of power the engine is a belter, down low the 1285cc L-twin is lumpy and you can just about roll along at 19km/h in first without clutch but it’s not pleasant, but that does smooth out rapidly as you reach higher into the revs.
The fueling and throttle response are both super smooth and responsive, with Sport providing a smoother power delivery and throttle response than Race and power is just explosive.
It’s also seriously loud with the two-into-two system with the stock stainless mufflers in the belly and I thought I might pop an eardrum when I rode into our underground garage a bit too vigorously!
What did stand out is just how heavy the clutch lever is, it felt like fighting a bear trap when I got caught in really heavy traffic and was having to use it frequently. The DQS on the other hand means that in anything except stop-start traffic you aren’t using the clutch constantly.
The Panigale 1299 S certainly has the goods to justify a model suffix, with its full LED lighting, carbon-fibre front guard and auxiliary adjustment buttons adding to the awesome Panigale package.
But what really conveys the value of the premium price of $34,990 plus on roads is the full Ohlins suspension, using the Ohlins Smart EC semi-active suspension system for both the NIX30 forks and TTX36 rear shock, as well as an Ohlins steering damper, while further communicating with the Bosch Inertia Platform – which provides cornering ABS and greater traction control refinement.
Not only this but the system can actually be run in Fixed mode, which turns off the semi-active suspension and allows full adjustability, just like in a traditional system.
And last but not least is of course the set of stunning Marchesini forged aluminium three-W-spoke wheels, offering weight savings and lower rotating mass over those used on the regular 1299.
What I can say is that I find the Panigale 1299 S an infinite improvement over the previous 1199 as a road bike and a much closer machine to the 899 as far as being a more useable, comfortable and friendly machine on the road.
All that performance does ensure the 1299 S is still a handful but now just because the performance is so staggering, with eye-popping acceleration and stunning brakes, with handling like you’re on rails. Good times!
SPECIFICATIONS: DUCATI PANIGALE 1299 S
Price: $34,990 + ORC
Warranty: Two-year, unlimited kilometre
Claimed power: 150.8kW[205bhp]@10500rpm
Claimed torque: 144.6Nm[106.7ft-lbs]@8750rpm
Dry weight: 166.5kg
Fuel capacity: 17L
Engine: Liquid-cooled, L-twin cylinder, four-valves per cylinder, Desmodromic, 1285cc, 116 x 60.8mm bore x stroke, 12.6:1 compression, Mitsubishi EFI, twin injectors per cylinder, elliptical throttle-bodies, RbW, DTC, DQS, DES, Riding Modes, DWC, two-into-one-into-two exhaust, twin stainless steel mufflers
Gearbox: Six speed
Clutch: Wet multi-plate, slipper and self-servo with hydraulic control
Chassis: Monocoque aluminium frame, aluminium single-sided swingarm, Rake: 24, Trail: 96mm
Suspension: Electronically adjustable compression and rebound damping with semi-active mode suspension – Ohlins NIX30 43mm USD forks with TIN treatment, Ohlins TTX36 shock, adjustable linkage – progressive/flat
Brakes: Bosch 9.1MP Cornering ABS, dual 330mm semi-floating front rotors, radial Brembo Monobloc EVO M50 four-piston calipers, 245mm rear rotor, two-piston caliper
Wheels & Tyres: Marchesini Tri-W spoked forged alloy, 3.50 x 17in, 6.00 x 17in, 120/70 – 17, 200/55 – 17, Diablo Supercorsa SP
Seat height: 830mm
Max height: 1100mm
Max length: 2050mm
Instruments: TFT display