Favorite driver's magazines

"Fast Bikes", May 1, 2013


THIS MONTH I HAVE MOSTLY BEEN... “Grinning like an utter t**t!”

Sadly, a case full of fifties isn’t included!



BHP: 172



In all my years here at Fast Bikes, which isn’t far off hitting double digits, I have never had what we would call a ‘top’ bike as a longtermer. I have had all sorts of very great bikes, no doubt, but never anything like Ducati’s Panigale. However, it was always fair enough as the entities that grabbed the best bikes barely came out on test, but I can’t help but admit to a little bit of trepidation and excitement at the prospect of being able to use one on a longer basis.

You see, one reason I’m very glad I’ll be riding it is because I’m not its biggest fan. It is a beautiful bike, there’s no denying it, and like most others I immediately fell in love with the looks. Dynamically, while it’s better than its predecessors, it has some foibles – though most of those can only be found while trying to scorch round a track, granted.

Of a larger concern is the fuel economy, especially if it’s going to be used each day. It is possible to drag 140 miles out of one, but that’s never, ever going above 8,000rpm. So it’ll be interesting to see if there’s any way we can improve this over the year, via fuelling units or Ducati’s own available maps.

It’s also fairly loud as standard and, let’s face it, is likely only going to get louder! This is the only production bike I’ve ever ridden where I need to wear ear-plugs or else my ears start to hurt!

Best of all is that the bike I’ll be riding is the standard Panigale, bereft of Öhlins and its electronic adjustment. Ducati sold lots of Panigales last year, but barely any were the stocker. This is a shame, because it’s the best road bike of them all. We were blown away by it when we tested one towards the back end of last year. This version appears to actually have some feel between the wheels, a bit of ‘give’ that seems impossible to achieve on the S variant, no matter how widely you adjust the suspension.

So we’ve thought folk are missing out on a trick here, especially considering how popular Ducati’s PCP finance schemes are these days. I suppose stretching to the S is understandable if you’re buying via this route, but the stocker is every bit as impressive and, as mentioned, we reckon the best of the bunch for every day use.

So, what do I have in store for it, then? Well, it’d be remiss of me not to attack the official catalogue at some point, and there will be a few other Gucci bits of kit working their way on over the summer. Otherwise, it’s about living with the beast, day in and out, rain and shine.

For the time being though, I’m going to have to keep pinching myself that each day I’ll be opening the garage to this beauty. I’m a very lucky chap indeed.

Price from new: £15,750

Insurance group 17

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