NEW Ducati Panigale V4 SP (2021)

 

Since the V4 Panigale landed into UK dealerships back in 2018, the range has grown, developed and even found itself with two capacity options in its line-up. The standard 1103cc model (£19,250 when launched) plus S (£23,895) and Speciale (£34,995) were followed by a homologation special 998cc version a year later, known as the R (£34,995), complete with winglets for the World and British Superbike championships among others. 

Then came the bonkers power-to-weight ratio of the carbon-dripping Superlegerra V4 (£89,995). The standard bike and S were updated for 2020 with the addition of winglets, redesigned aero and chassis including a new front frame and revised engine maps. 

The ‘R’ in its race form won back-to-back Bennetts British Superbike titles in the hands of Scott Redding and then Josh Brookes but then came the best of both worlds… for track and road; the SP. At £32,295 it’s not quite as pricey as the R but combines the best bits of the S, including its 1103cc V4, and has paired it with more track-oriented goodies in the shape of a dry clutch, lightweight carbon wheels, adjustable foot pegs, a thinner 520-pitch chain, upgraded Brembo Stylema R callipers, carbon fibre winglets, bare alloy tank, unique paintwork, GPS-based datalogger, a different seat and hole covers should you wish to remove your mirrors and number plate. Oh, and while each is numbered, they’re not limited. That said, 48 have been sold in the UK already – the whole of the country’s allocation. And there are 50 more customers who’ve got their names down waiting. 

Given that it’s pitched with ‘Time Attack’ as its headline with a further quote from the press kit stating, “an amateur rider on the "SP" will be faster than if he were riding the more demanding R version”, what better way to test that theory than allowing BikeSocial Member, Matt Cosgrove (a Police Officer from the Metropolitan Police Force), and I out on the S and SP at a recent Ducati Track Day on the Silverstone Grand Prix circuit. Let’s find out if he’s the UK’s fastest policeman…

 

Pros & Cons
  • Exclusivity
  • Outrageous performance from all elements especially turning and braking
  • The SP moniker makes it rather SPecial
  • The waiting list for one is lengthy
  • Warm legs on the road in summer
  • Finding neutral from a dry clutch isn’t the most compatible combo
2021 Ducati Panigale V4 SP_038 copy

Above: First session with PC Matt on the ‘S’ and un-PC Mann on the SP

 

Ducati Panigale V4 SP (2021) Price

How much is the 2021 Ducati Panigale V4 SP? £32,295 

Yes, for this level of premium you’ll need a sturdy chequebook but also a little patience because although each SP is numbered, it’s not a limited edition run. That said, the UK allocation of 48 have all been sold and we’re told there’s another 50 orders in the queue. It’s only available in one colour, that sleek and stealthy matt black with red detailing, brushed aluminium tank and carbon wings and wheels, so its identity can’t be mistaken with any other. Ducati refers to it as the ‘Winter Test’ livery. 

Cash Price

£32,446 (OTR)

Customer Deposit

£5000

Term

37 months

Monthly Payment

£363.25

Credit

£27,446

Annual miles

4000

Optional final repayment

£19,962

Total Amount Payable

£38,039

Representative APR

7.9%

 

 When comparing price and spec differences with the Panigale V4S, here’s what your extra £7300 buys:

  • Lighter weight carbon wheels (saving 1.4kg) and they’re probably worth £4k on their own
  • Upgraded Brembo Stylema R callipers
  • Dry clutch
  • Thinner 520 pitch chain
  • GPS-based datalogger
  • Unique ‘winter test’ paintwork
  • Bare alloy fuel tank
  • Carbon fibre wings
  • Rizoma adjustable footpegs
  • Remote front brake adjuster
  • Different seat
  • Hole covers if you remove the mirrors and registration plate
  • Individually numbered though not strictly a limited edition

 

2021 Ducati Panigale V4 SP_020 copy

Above: BikeSocial Member, Matt Cosgrove (right) was invited to ride the SP

 

Power and Torque

The SP mixes the strongest elements from the Panigale S and R models with the engine from the S offering the larger displacement 1103cc Stradale but with less peak power of 211.2bhp @ 13,000rpm instead of 217.2bhp @ 15,250rpm from the 998cc with the R. Though Ducati says the SP will be a faster bike in a track day rider’s hands than the R despite the lower peak power figure. Mainly because lap times aren’t all about how fast it’ll go in a straight line, rather how much speed can be carried around the 18 corners of the 3.6-mile Silverstone Grand Prix circuit layout, in this example. 

Torque-wise, the SP’s stonking 91.5ft-lbs / 124Nm @ 9,500rpm matches that of the S too, which is up from the R’s 83ft-lbs / 112Nm @ 11,500rpm. 

And with a wet weight figure of just 194kg that’s a power-to-weight ratio far greater than 1:1 and boy can you tell when exiting pitlane and rolling back the throttle on the blast up towards Maggotts. There’s a commotion in your gut occasionally referred to as a ‘tummy tingle’ which explodes alongside the sensory battering the Panigale V4 SP inflicts during that first lap as the velocity of acceleration, instant grip levels, fierce stopping power and remarkable handling come together as perfectly as fish, chips ‘n mushy peas. Unless your name is Jack Miller, Scott Redding or that new fella who won in Austria recently – Guy or George Martin or something - the absolute ability of this motorbike will remain untouched such is the extreme levels of its engineering excellence. All PC Matt and I could do is smile and pretend we’re capable.

 

Above: Matt gets to grips with the ‘S’

 

PC Matt’s First Impressions

First visual impressions of the V4SP were that this bike looks fast even stood still, but is it worth the extra money? 

The matt black and red accents topped off with the brushed aluminium tank really stand out and draws you to it. Combined with the carbon wheels, carbon wings and mudguard, dry clutch, built in GPS datalogger, 520 pitch chain, adjustable footrests, remote brake adjuster and a running number machined into the billet aluminium top yoke, this means business. 

Matt’s first session was on the Panigale V4 S, a bike he’d ridden once previously at Donington when through to the final five of our ‘Search for No.1’ competition though he’d not ridden at Silverstone before. 

I watched the Scott Redding on-board video of Silverstone and a few other YouTubers to try and get a feel for the place. The circuit is fast and wide with only a few reference points because it’s so flat. 

This time (on the V4 S) I knew I’d have a little more seat time and I was confident in how the bike handled so that allowed me time to learn the circuit. The first few laps behind Michael I had no idea where I was and what was coming next. No matter how many times I’d viewed You Tube footage I still struggled to get my bearings. 

I noticed that the V4S seemed to be holding back on me when the throttle was cracked on the exit of Chapel onto the Hangar Straight. Before I knew it the session was over, and we were back into the pits. I then found out that I had been riding in Sport mode (not Race). Rookie error I suppose. 

I was a little bit apprehensive at first but it can come to you quite quickly. You have to be quite committed with a lot of fast corners. Sometimes I was going in far too slow which messed up my line through the entire corner and the exit as well and out of the corner. 

On the Ducati I could feel the anti-wheelie coming in a lot and traction control. I’m asking for the power and it’s like ‘no, you’re not having it yet’. Whether it’s me being a little ham-fisted rather than being progressive on the throttle. It’s about understanding the electronics – it knows better than the rider. Coming out onto one of the straights and you almost feel it hesitate rather than feeling that instant whoosh. It’s deceptively quick, I got stuck behind an old 999 for a bit, and you know that you’re on something which is motoring! I was using all the revs, it was flashing red at me quite a bit! 

Since riding the V4S at Donington, that was the first time I’d ridden a bike with wings and I could feel them working when you come over that lip where the Dunlop bridge was. Maybe it was psychosomatic, but I couldn’t feel them here. 

You can brake harder because it’s not trying to make all kinds of shapes or lift the back wheel up on you. When you do tip in there’s no awkward chattering, it’s like the bike wants to help you.

 

 

Michael rides the SP

Despite reading of the bike’s phenomenal power, the application of which still means the scenery rushes by at enough pace to halt the blinking process for FOMO but because the V4 is remarkably smooth and, when married with the refined electronics, in turn caresses the throttle connection and maintains a degree of calm, i.e. ‘Ciao rider, I will not allow all the power because at this angle you don’t need it’. You get looked after, like going toe-to-toe with Mike Tyson but only after he’s gift-wrapped you in bubble wrap. 

All 1103cc of thoroughbred Italian crafted 90-degree V4 and its accompanying counter-rotating crankshaft looks, feels and performs just as effectively as the S, though there’s a couple of notable extras on the SP. It’s equipped with a dry clutch, just like that on the R model. This STM EVO-SBK component is made from billet aluminium and benefits are reaped on track with improved handling and better downshifts as well ensuring the engine oil stays cleaner for longer. All important stuff when you’ve just dropped £32.5k on a road-legal track bike. Plus the fact that it rattles just like the olden days. Ah, aural bliss. You’ll miss it when we’re all whoosing around on electric, hydrogen or bean-powered and torque-rich machines in 20 years. 

Matt and I sufficed with the normal road-shift pattern of the 6-speed gearbox assisted with the latest generation of Ducati’s uber-slick quickshift/auto-blipper system. I look forward to changing down towards the end of the Hanger Straight more than glimpsing at the speedo to see if I could beat my previous highest speed (172mph if you need to know). Spot the brake marker and before you can say “fifth, fourth, third” I’m already there with the meekest of tap, tap, tap on the lever yet enough to feel the resistance, and tipping into Stowe with such precision the SP makes me feel far better than I am. The pitch of the exhaust changes but I feel no clatter, judder or jolt and I barely have to squeeze the brake lever too hard either. The MotoGP-esque counter-rotating crank and engine brake settings are almost making the Panigale ride itself. 

Even the wings are doing their job in those braking areas by noticeably keeping the bike more stable or perhaps it’s the anti-rear wheel electronics working. With Silverstone’s GP track its fast corner after fast corner and momentum is key to a good lap time as well as accuracy of turn-in because some apexes are out of sight until you’re committed, and others just don’t exist. This SP handles beautifully, it’s extraordinarily composed with rhythmic, poetic arcs through Copse, Abbey and Village – three challenging yet rewarding corners all requiring some balls to get right when straddling a £32.5k stallion.

 

 

Ducati Panigale V4 SP (2021) – Matt’s view after two sessions

 Ah, Race A mode, check. This is the mode with full power, minimum traction control and anti-wheelie. From the exit of pit lane, the difference between the two bikes is night and day. The SP feels so light and nimble, the power delivery is great. The bike lifts its skirt and runs off with you. Overtakes are popped off with a quick twist of the wrist. 

The Maggotts and Becketts section becomes so easy to roll the bike through, it’s a very easy bike to move from side-to-side, knee-to-knee. The power delivery is lightning. Straights are gobbled up Star Wars style and then the brakes come into their own, I’m becoming very aware of my own weight on my wrists under braking. The Stylema R callipers convert speed into heat in an instant. I find myself daring to brake later and later. At one point playing chicken with another rider on who was going to brake first into Stowe. I admit, I chickened out but was able to drive underneath this rider and still apex with minimum input as the SP is so easy to ride and as a result confidence grows with every meter covered. 

The exhaust note also seems more raucous, it seems to egg you on and has an addictive bark on the overrun. I came in at the end session and couldn’t wait to get back out on it. I found myself getting faster and faster each session on this £33K machine. I had to remind myself on more than on occasion that it’s a lot of money to find if I binned it and having to explain that to the wife…. Well, I’d rather not.

Back to the ‘S’ and who would have thought that the rotating mass of the extra 1.4kg per wheel would make such a difference? Regardless I still come in with a massive grin on my face and I’m asked which bike I’d like to take out in the next session. I feel guilty but the SP has stolen my heart. It’s a fantastic machine, almost effortless to ride and it makes me feel like a racing god. I’m sure I could win inters on this bike!

 

Rivals

The latest, greatest, all-singing, all-dancing production super weapons from most popular manufacturers in the world can all be found in race form on the Bennetts British Superbike grid alongside the Ducati V4 – and are all race winners. Each of these examples have inline four-cylinder engines and the most obvious omission from this table is another Italian V4, that of the Aprilia RSV4 1100. Ineligible for the BSB series but without a doubt eligible for a test ride if you’re weighing up these options:

 

BMW M 1000 RR

Honda Fireblade CBR1000RR-R SP

Kawasaki Ninja ZX-10RR

Yamaha YZF-R1M

Engine

999cc, 4-cylinder

999cc, 4-cylinder

998cc, 4-cylinder

998cc, 4-cylinder

Power

209bhp (156kW) @ 14,500rpm

214.6bhp (160kW) @ 14,500rpm

201.2bhp (150W) @ 14,000rpm

197.3bhp (147.1kW) @ 13,500rpm

Torque

83.4ft-lb (113Nm) @ 11,000rpm

83.4ft-lb (113Nm) @ 12,500rpm

82.5ft-lb (111.8Nm) @ 11,700rpm

83.6ft-lb (113.3Nm) @ 11,500rpm

Weight

192kg (wet)

201kg (wet)

207kg (wet)

202kg (wet)

Seat height

832mm

830mm

835mm

860mm

Fuel tank

16.5 litres

16.1 litres

17 litres

17 litres

PRICE

£30,935

£23,499

£24,799

£22,602

 

 

Ducati Panigale V4 SP (2021) UK Road Review

By Adam ‘Chad’ Child 

Ducati SP in the ‘real’ world

It’s easy to get carried away talking about carbon wheels, racing Stylema brakes, and a brushed-aluminium fuel tank but, at the end of the day, you have to live with and ride your SP. Practically speaking, it isn’t bad. In 2020 Ducati fundamentally changed the Panigale bodywork, making it larger. The SP also comes with very trick billet aluminium adjustable pegs, which can be moved for comfort or sporty riding. The ergonomics aren’t as bad as you’d expect either, and it’s one of the roomier superbikes on the market – very un-Ducati like. In the softest electronic suspension mode, I was pleasantly surprised by the comfort on the motorway and the clocks are easy to read and navigate, with multiple trips, mpg – both average and instant – and even ambient air temperature. With its substantial screen and that relatively wide bodywork you could embark on some serious miles, though you would soon be wishing for a plusher seat. 

But sadly, that is where the compliments end. The brushed-aluminium fuel tank feels and looks lovely but, at only 16 litres capacity, the SP needs fuel every hour or every 80-90 miles. Nobody buys an exclusive superbike and worries about mpg and tank range, do they? But fuelling up every 90 mile or so miles is pain, especially if you are riding somewhere remote.

Ignoring the fuel range for a moment, Ducati has done everything possible to reduce the heat from the back cylinder reaching the rider, yet still your inner legs are cooked. In heavy traffic and 30-degree heat, it was almost unbearable, especially on the left side. 

The dry clutch is designed for racing and heavier than standard, and it makes natural harder to find. Down from second, up from first – it’s in there somewhere! – and I’ve never experienced this problem with the standard Panigale. Finally, the price… and SP is not cheap, and getting hold of a new one is going to be hard work. 

Despite my gripes about everyday life with an SP, I still want one. I’ve never dated a supermodel – they are not generally attracted to balding, 5ft 7in Brits who drive a van – but I imagine their stunning looks may come with expensive habits and a tendency towards the temperamental. That is the SP. When your legs are on fire, you can’t find neutral and you’re wondering why you cashed in your pension to purchase one, you’ll catch your reflection in a window and nod in approval. Yup, I made the right decision.

 

2021 Ducati Panigale V4 SP_036 copy

 

Ducati Panigale V4 SP (2021) Verdict

Savagely fast yet remarkably refined, like a house-trained leopard, the V4 SP is THE bike to be seen with/on and only those who know will know such is its deceptive looks. Unless you’re a Ducatista or are well-versed in modern day Italian V4’s, the sleek appearance shields its ostentatiousness. 

Performing on the track is its home which is also where it’s magic trick of making petrol disappear is also honed. Just like most top-end sportsbikes, you’ll not want to brim it because of the unnecessary extra weight but be prepared to fuel it every time. Even on the road, Chad reported on its thirst, plus mentioned the heat emanating from those mighty cylinders. It’s less noticeable on track of course, because a) your speed will/should dissipate any engine heat, and b) you’re only on the bike for 20 minutes at a time. The same goes for the dry clutch which, once again, comes into its own on track and is less convenient on the streets from stoplight to stoplight. 

Then there’s the price and exclusivity; on one hand you can be pretty safe in the knowledge another one won’t pull up next to you, unless you’re on a V4 SP owners ride out. And getting hold of one will be a tricky process too. On the other hand, how many super sexy specials have we seen from Ducati in recent times – every year there’s a faster, lighter and more advanced version. 

PC Matt, unofficially the UK’s fastest policeman summed it up but adding, “Is the SP worth the price tag? Riding the bikes back-to-back on track, I hate to say it but yes. I would hands down pick the SP over the S. Ducati has somehow managed to make two bikes that share so much yet feel so different. Although with everyday riding I’m unsure. I would have loved to try the S and the SP longer term and maybe factor in some road riding between the two but this was a great opportunity to ride and experience exotica that is way out my humble price range. Back to the K7 GSXR 750 then. I can imagine it’ll feel like a tractor.” 

*If you’re not already a BikeSocial Member then what are you waiting for? There are currently over 170 benefits including discounts, offers and exclusive access to competitions, as well as being invited to test the latest bikes and kit. If you’ve insured your bike directly with Bennetts then you’re eligible and it’s complimentary. If you’re with Bennetts via a price comparison site or aren’t with Bennetts at all then you can have a full 12 months of access for just £60. Head to Join.BikeSocial.co.uk for more. PC Matt did. Be like PC Matt.

 

Ducati Panigale V4 SP (2021) Technical Specification

New price

£32,295

Capacity

1103cc

Bore x Stroke

81 x 53.5 mm

Engine layout

Desmosedici Stradale 90-degree V4

Engine details

Counter-rotating crankshaft, 4 Desmodromic timing, 4 valves per cylinder, liquid-cooled

Power

211.2bhp / 157.5kW @ 13,000rpm

Torque

91.5ft-lbs / 124Nm @ 9,500rpm

Top speed

186mph (limited)

Transmission

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

Average fuel consumption

37.2mpg / 7.6l per 100km (Claimed)

Tank size

16 litres

Max range to empty

THEORETICAL:130 miles

Rider aids

Riding Modes, Power Modes, Cornering ABS EVO, Ducati Traction Control (DTC) EVO 2, Ducati Wheelie Control (DWC), Ducati Slide Control (DSC), Engine Brake Control (EBC, Auto tyre callibration, Ducati Power Launch (DPL), Ducati Quick Shift (DQS) up/down EVO 2

Frame

Aluminium alloy front frame with optimised stiffness

Front suspension

Öhlins NIX30 43mm fully adjustable fork with TiN treatment.

Front suspensionadjustment

Electronic compression and rebound damping adjustment with Öhlins Smart EC 2.0 event-based mode

Rear suspension

Öhlins TTX36, aluminium single-sided swingarm

Rear suspensionadjustment

Electronic compression and rebound damping adjustment

Front brake

2 x 330mm semi-floating discs, radially mounted Brembo Monobloc Stylema R 4-piston callipers with Bosch Cornering ABS EVO. Self-bleeding Brembo MCS 19.21 master cylinder

Rear brake

245mm disc, 2 piston calliper with Cornering ABS EVO

Front tyre

Pirelli Diablo Supercorsa SP 120/70 ZR17 (on 5-split spoke carbon fibre wheels)

Rear tyre

Pirelli Diablo Supercorsa SP 200/60 ZR17 (on 5-split spoke carbon fibre wheels)

Rake / Trail

24.5° / 100mm

Wheelbase

1469mm

Seat height

835mm

Weight

194kg (wet)

MCIA Secured rating

3/5 stars (Steering lock, Immobiliser and Datatag Marking but no Alarm or Tracker)

Warranty

24 months, unlimited mileage

Maintenance

7,500 miles / 12 months

Valve clearance adjustment: 15,000 miles

Website

www.ducati.com/uk

 To learn more about what the spec sheet means, click here for our glossary 

Track Photos by Ian Hopgood and Picman

Road Photos by Jason Critchell

2021 Ducati Panigale V4 SP_019 copy

 

What is MCIA Secured?

MCIA Secured gives bike buyers the chance to see just how much work a manufacturer has put into making their new investment as resistant to theft as possible.

As we all know, the more security you use, the less chance there is of your bike being stolen In fact, based on research by Bennetts, using a disc lock makes your machine three times less likely to be stolen, while heavy duty kit can make it less likely to be stolen than a car. For reviews of the best security products, click here.

MCIA Secured gives motorcycles a rating out of five stars, based on the following being fitted to a new bike as standard:

  • A steering lock that meets the UNECE 62 standard
  • An ignition immobiliser system
  • A vehicle marking system
  • An alarm system
  • A vehicle tracking system with subscription 

The higher the star rating, the better the security, so always ask your dealer what rating your bike has, and compare it to other machines on your shortlist.

 

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