Ducati Panigale V2 (2020) - Review

BikeSocial
By Michael Mann
MannOnABike BikeSocial's Web Editor. Been riding bikes since 1984 and writing about them since 2013. Commuted in Central London for 10 years, fast and smooth road rider, does a reasonable job in a track day quick group. 6 ft and 14 st.

 

Two years go, for 2018, Ducati’s Panigale V4 replaced the Panigale 1299 leaving the Bologna-based marque with just one twin-cylinder superbike in its ranks – the 955cc ‘Panigale 959’, which was the model designed to comply with ever more stringent Euro 4 regulations as well as replace the 899 in time for 2016.

Fast forward to present day and with the new-spec Euro 5 emission directives looming, the firm has revamped that very bike so please say hello to the Ducati Panigale V2, unveiled to the world in Rimini just last month and now here we are at Jerez in Spain ready to put it through its paces on the MotoGP circuit.

Back in ’94 Ducati introduced the 748 as the smaller version of the 916, thus marking Ducati’s ‘super mid’ category – it was regarded as the better bike to ride too, and set a precedent because the 750SS and 749 were deemed easier to get along with than their larger counterparts, the 900SS and 999 respectively. The genetics of that 748 can be easily traced to the V2, the modern-day incumbent of that title, through 25 years of development. But does it follow the tradition?

The Desmosedici Stradale motors from the Panigale V4 siblings are big, booming humdingers designed to defy wind resistance and propel its operator at silly speeds both in a straight line and, courtesy the overwhelming electronics package, around the twisty bits too. Yet the Superquadro 90-degree V-twin comes complete with the relevant induction, engine and exhaust noises to make sensory certain that you’re dealing with premium and desirable Italian engineering straight from the same box as its four-cylinder colleague.

The changes to the bike are wide-ranging, despite sharing its core components with its predecessor. New styling matches the Panigale V4 and includes a double layer fairing, new side panels and a redesigned tail as well as LED headlights tucked into exaggerated air intakes. An uprated engine manages to be both cleaner and more powerful, more on that later.

At the back, the bike gets a more exotic look courtesy of a single-sided swingarm that shows off the rear wheel – and that's sure to cause division. The stubby exhaust helps the appearance, as it’s a vast improvement compared to the over-and-under design that was added to the 959 to meet comply with Euro 4.

When you’re the younger brother of the school football captain who is also a grade A student and Head Boy, there are some big shoes to fill and a degree of expectancy. Just ask Alex Marquez. Does the same go for the V2, should it be compared to the V4 or are we looking at a different segment and therefore different customer? Is it the 748 to the same brand’s 916? Either way, nobody puts ‘baby Panigale’ in the corner.

 

First Ride Review: Ducati Panigale V2 (2020)
Fresh from riding the Panigale V2 for the first time, BikeSocial's Michael Mann offers his thoughts

Above: glamorous from all angles

 

2020 Ducati Panigale V2 Price

The new Ducati V2 Panigale will retail at £14,995 - which comes in at £5,000 cheaper than V4 and it’s expected to hit the dealers in small numbers in time for Christmas although the majority of stock will be more like Jan 2020. 

If you’d rather look at monthly payments on a PCP deal then an example offer looks like this:

Deposit

£3618.36

Agreement duration

37 months

Annual mileage

5,000

Monthly repayments

£165

Optional final repayment

£7560

APR

6.9%

Total amount payable

£17,118.36

 

Power and torque

Power is up 5hp to 155hp at 10,750rpm, while torque rises by about 1.5lbft to 76.7lbft (104Nm) at 9000rpm. It’s an “entry level sports bike!” says Ducati, and the first step into the exotic superbike category. Yes, fine it’s not as focus-bendingly ferocious as a Panigale V4 but of course it’s down some 50 Italian horses which is only properly noticeable when plundering out of the final corner at Jerez, a second gear hairpin where you can run wide over the kerbs on the exit and keep the throttle pinned. Otherwise, the power delivery suits the chassis so well.

 

Engine, gearbox and exhaust

The rugged, raspy 955cc twin-cylinder heartbeat has undergone an overhaul with revised intake ducts to improve efficiency and four new injectors (two per cylinder) but its compact design within the monocoque acting as a stressed member, i.e. it becomes part of the frame as opposed to having lower rails and a tubular structure surrounding it, means the dimensions of the bike are pretty compact, so while the seat height is up there at 840mm, actually the step-over is narrow.

Speaking of compact, impressively, despite the neater exhaust routed entirely underneath the engine with two larger catalytic convertors inside the silencer, the Panigale now meets Euro 5 emissions limits and what’s more, Ducati has simultaneously increased its performance without resorting to expanding the engine capacity. The free revving motor spins up fast. A 7,000rpm warble from this L-twin arrangement feels a little like how 4,000rpm does from an in-line four. Then when driving hard out of a slower corner with the twist grip pulled right back, the revs soar towards that peak power figure at 10,750rpm in harmony with the soulful soundtrack. Like a game of chicken, how late can you leave the marauding rev counter before it knocks on the limiter, and instead find the perfect cue to give the quickshifter a nudge. And that’s all the gear lever needs, just like my courting technique once was, gentle but direct.

Down the 6-speed ‘box at the end of either of the two Jerez straights and you’re dropping three gears, back from 5th to 2nd. 5th to 3rd can be achieved faster than you can say it but a brief pause is required before 2nd is engaged so instead of going pop-pop-pop, it’s more like pop-pop-blink-pop. The EVO2 quick shift system is part of the new and outstanding suite of electronics on the Panigale V2.

Power delivery is smooth, even in Race mode and at the apex of a slow second gear hairpin. As the corners and laps tick by the more faith I put into the mechanical grip, initially believing that even a hint of ham-fistedness may cause a wobble or worse. Then in the faster, constant radius turns in third or fourth I have so much confidence in the stability of the V2 which demonstrates a highly efficient working relationship between engine, electronics, chassis and tyres.

Like the 959 it feels manageable, much more so than any litre sports bike of, say 185bhp+ variety, and I can only professionally assume that because its significantly better on track than its predecessor the it’ll be a brilliant machine for the roads too, giving plenty of larger capacity sports bikes the run around on both road and track too. I’m a sports bike fan and I’ve been fortunate enough to test plenty of them on road and track in recent years but the Panigale V2 has its own corner of the market and for what it lacks in out-and-out brute power, it more than makes up for in handling and offering its rider an all-around confidence-inspiring package. I like.

Fancy a little more power and a little less weight? Don’t’ we all. Well, Ducati can provide a full Akropovič system which has 5hp and 3Nm extra while saving you 7kg. It’ll cost though; around £3k + VAT for the full titanium assembly.

 

Above: almost as confident and agile in the wet as the dry

 

2020 Ducati Panigale V2 Economy

Unsurprisingly, a track-based launch is never the ideal situation to be testing economy yet the claim is 47mpg, and a manufacturer can’t just pluck a figure out of the air. It has to be quantifiable. So, ridden sensibly or on a long journey, the 17-litre tank could offer up to 170-miles before the next stop.

 

Handling, suspension, chassis and weight

The Panigale V2 shows familiar components with Showa BPF forks and an almost horizontal Sachs rear shock and steering damper, but there are tweaks to the geometry to improve the handling with a focus on road use. Softer springs and a higher centre of gravity compared to the 959 are claimed to make for a more comfortable, intuitive ride. Specifically, there’s a new setting for the front suspension while the rear preload is decreased but longer by 2mm courtesy of longer fittings. Including the new longer and thicker seat and you'll find the reason why the 840mm is 10mm up on the 959.  There's plenty of room to move around, pushing back in the saddle under braking for more even weight spread but with enough fairing to get mostly tucked in down the straights.

Suspension is set somewhere near track expectations but a regular track day rider may wish to firm up the front, that said I experienced nothing untoward – never once did I sense an uneven pitch under heavy braking or any nervousness. And frankly, corner speed and agility is where this bike lives, carrying its 200kg wet weight well. In fact, the distribution of that weight, excluding my large frame is bias towards the front by 52% (up by 1% over the 959) in theory to assist with turn-in speed, and devilishly good it is too. Lighter weight wheels would make it even more arrow sharp but that’s by no means a gripe on the V2. Quick turning and dynamic handling as I barrel over from right-side to left out of turn 2 and into 3 then a quick squirt on the gas and into fourth for the long, slightly uphill left which seems to gets faster the further over you lean and it’s one of those corners you look forward to getting to on the next circulation. The balance plus consistent and predictive nature of its agility are one of the best from a production motorcycle available today.

Ably assisting the terrific geometry and steering ability are the Pirelli tyres. Now, for the production model these will be Diablo Rosso Corsa 2 but on track today we’re running Supercorsas mainly to show off the bike’s handling but also because of the constant heat cycles and on-track punishment, they’ll last longer too.

 

 

2020 Ducati Panigale V2 Brakes

Running into a corner hot has never been so manageable or such a pleasure, for the engine braking exquisiteness and the twin 320mm discs carefully harnessed by the M4.32 4-pot Brembo’s and Cornering ABS EVO all come together with plenty of assistance for the Showa forks to provide some refined braking performance. The Brembo M50 calipers and some race pads may be on the bucket list for the serious track dayer or even racer, after all the V2 is eligible for the 2020 TriOptions Cup, the support series for the British Superbike Championship. The initial bite was superb with consistent pressure offering the necessary confidence to get the bike turned even while still grabbing some of the right-hand lever. The bike was nicely stable too and with that extra room on seat I could shuffle back in the seat to help with weight distribution. At Jerez, there are plenty of fast corners where a dab of brake helped shave enough speed to tip the bike in while retaining momentum while the heavier braking zones into Turns 1 and 6 were never in doubt of being overshot, unlike on a recent Yamaha R1 launch on the same circuit.

Slipper clutch assisted downshifts are allowed to be aggressive because the bike remains calm and unflustered giving plenty of opportunity to run some big corner speed which is required on this track and the bike laps it up. Not once did the newly upgraded ABS system interfere, instead it kept the rear wheel on the ground under hard braking and even encourages a little excitable slide-by-brake action – not that I was too keen on testing those limits considering the 1.5 dry sessions that were followed by a change of tyres from the Pirelli Supercorsa SC1 (front) and SC2 (rear) over to full wet weather tyres for the remainder of the day, though a dry line was evident by the last few laps.

 

Rider aids and electronics

As is now expected, there’s a huge armoury of electronics on offer but they’ve all been upgraded, hurrah. The 6-axis Bosch IMU is the brains behind the operation and via the three riding modes (Street, Sport and Race) – all of which are customisable – the likes of engine power mode, the latest evolution of Ducati’s traction control, wheelie control, quick shifter (both up and down inc. a blipper system), Cornering ABS and engine brake control provide a sophisticated safety and performance package. It’s all operational via the new full colour TFT display and the left-side handlebar switchgear.

While there’s no cruise control or heated grips, the way in the V2’s impressive suite of electronics controls any stability issues is sublime. I barely felt traction control interfering with my entertainment which coaxed me into harassing the throttle earlier and harsher at every opportunity to see if I could tempt into a slip. But the Ducati wasn’t for moving, I spent the dry sessions in Race mode with DTC at level 2 of 8 which seemed about right for my pace but given more dry laps and I’d have turned it down to explore the boundaries – this latest evolution of the system was derived from the 2018 MotoGP bike and is the same as seen on the V4 and V4R and is deliberately designed to allow for more grip out of the corners. Jerez is a circuit where plenty of kerb use is required for the fastest line yet if traction was dialled up to 4 or above, I’d imagine the intervention would be felt.

 

 

Rivals

Standing almost alone in terms of price-to-power-to-weight, its nearest rivals with those three pillars in mind would be the base spec Kawasaki ZX-10, Suzuki GSX-R1000, Honda CBR1000RR and BMW S1000RR, for example. Yet only one model can match Ducati’s middleweight superbike standing – the equally Italian MV Agusta Superveloce Ottocento – the 3-cylinder 798cc, 148hp work of art that will remove €20k from your bank account.

 

2020 Ducati Panigale V2 verdict

On paper, we’re looking at a £15k for a bike ‘just’ 155bhp but when facing reality, who needs 180bhp+? 99% of riders won’t and perhaps can’t use those power figures other than when tooling-up for the pub chat, so what Ducati has on offer here is a hugely capable and beautiful looking machine fully equipped for the track, the commute or the Sunday B-road attack with a shed load of goodies thrown at it. The electronics, power increase and chassis refinements have made it a more enjoyable bike to ride while the aesthetics of the fairing, rear light, single-sided swingarm, and so on are all down to personal preference. I like the way it mimics the V4 range, keeping a consistent style through the range.

Without doubt, it’d be user friendly around town yet still armed and dangerous when it comes to track use. Ducati’s sole twin-cylinder sportsbike offers its customers a more-than-substantial alternative to those loony machines with double the cylinders and 30% more power.

There’s loads of mechanical grip, plenty of setting to personalise your ride, it’s easy to manage, is able to flatter the rider and is less intimidating than the Panigale V4. A bit like it’s price point too, £15k these days is a reasonable charge for a premium model that is every bit as enjoyable as riding the 1103cc V4 sibling and offers a highly suitable alternative to the big four-cylinder machine that’s performing so incredibly well in the British and World Superbike classes. The V2 retains the charm and riding characteristics synonymous with a Ducati Superbike but in a more manageable package. Whether you’re making your way through the power ranks and are looking for something faster and more refined to invest in after a 600, or as an alternative to a larger, power-laden yet comfort-zapping bike, the V2 is well worth a test ride.

Yes, there’s every chance a Corse or S version will follow sometime in the future, complete with Öhlins no doubt, but for now a sub-£15k, lip-lickingly luscious ‘middleweight’ superbike that is a joy to ride comes with a price point to keep the track day enthusiasts interested. In a demure way, the V2 says to the V4, ‘sure, you can have the headlines but I’m the one they really want’.

Oh, and it shall remain forever in my memory as the bike from which I officially broke my elbow down virginity.

 

Ducati Panigale V2 2020 [ Review ]

 

Three things I loved about the 2020 Ducati Panigale V2 …

  • Handling: smooth, predictable and a weight bias ideal for turning quickly, massively assisted by the excellent upgraded electronics package
  • Braking capability: confidence-boosting and well settled geometry
  • Price point: there’s a lot of bang for your buck here and I’d be interested to see V2 vs V4 lap times around, say, Donington Park

 

Three things that I didn’t…

  • Despite all those electronics there’s no cruise control or heated grips, even as official options
  • Only available in Red. I’m not fussed about white but maybe yellow or stealthy matt or carbon black
  • While the test bikes didn’t have wing mirrors, I expect if they’re like any other Panigale they’ll shake like a PowerPlate, be rendered next to useless after 50mph and will snap off if you sneeze within a 2m range. That said, they do look good and I like having the indicators set within them

 

2020 Ducati Panigale V2 spec

New price

From £14,995

Capacity

955cc

Bore x Stroke

100 x 60.8mm

Engine layout

Superquadro 90° V2

Engine details

4 valve per cylinder, Desmodromic,

liquid-cooled

Power

155hp (114kW) @ 10,750rpm

Torque

76.7 lb-ft (104Nm) @ 9,000rpm

Transmission

6 speed with Ducati Quick Shift (DQS) up/down EVO 2

Average fuel consumption

47mpg claimed

Tank size

17 litres

Max range to empty (theoretical)

175 miles

Rider aids

Riding Modes, Power Modes, Cornering ABS EVO, Ducati Traction Control (DTC) EVO 2, Ducati Wheelie Control (DWC) EVO, Engine Brake Control (EBC) EVO, Auto tyre calibration, Ducati Quick Shift (DQS) up/down EVO 2, Full LED lighting with Daytime Running Light (DRL), Sachs steering damper, Auto-off indicators

Frame

Monocoque Aluminium

Front suspension

43mm Showa BPF, chromed inner tube plus Sachs steering damper

Front suspension adjustment

Spring pre-load, compression and rebound damping

Rear suspension

Side-mounted Sachs unit linked to aluminum single-sided swingarm.

Rear suspension adjustment

Rebound and compression damping and spring pre-load

Front brake

2 x 320 mm semi-floating discs, radially mounted Brembo Monobloc M4.32 4-piston callipers with Cornering ABS EVO

Rear brake

245 mm disc, 2-piston calliper with Cornering ABS EVO

Front tyre

Pirelli Diablo Rosso Corsa II 120/70 ZR17

Rear tyre

Pirelli Diablo Rosso Corsa II 180/60 ZR17

Wheelbase

1436mm

Seat height

840mm

Kerb weight

200kg

Warranty

Unlimited miles / 2 years

Website

www.ducati.com/gb

 

Looking for bike insurance? Get a quote for this motorcycle with Bennetts motorbike insurance

 

Ducati Panigale V2 2020 [ Review ]
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