Most people don't bother buying themselves a birthday present, instead leaving the gifting to close friends and family members. Things work a bit differently in the world of cars and bikes, a point proven by Ducati's 1299 Panigale S Anniversario. Designed to be faster, louder and prettier than the regular Panigale S, the Anniversario is Ducati's way of saying happy 90th birthday to itself.
As we get older we tend to put on weight, but Ducati has managed to shed 2.5 kg (6 lb) from the 1299 Panigale for its 90th birthday special. Carbon fiber has been used for the heel guards, shock-absorber covers and rear mudguard, while a lithium battery also contributes to the weight savings. The bike has also been treated to a titanium Akrapovic exhaust, shedding a few precious grams and opening the door to more v-twin howl as you chase the redline.
Changes extend beyond bolt-on parts, with machined steering head inserts and a new top triple clamp. Each top triple clamp is emblazoned with the bike's production number, and the new parts mean the chassis geometry mimics the Panigale R.
Revised chassis geometry and carbon parts are nice, but they don't mean much if you're constantly terrified of pushing the envelope and exploring the limits of grip. To make that limit a bit more flexible, Ducati has totally reworked its traction control system, which now varies its intervention based on your lean angle, and more precisely manages the throttle to keep the bike on the edge of grip.
Rather than cutting in clumsily before letting go and allowing the tires to slip again, the DTC EVO system is claimed to be smoother and less intrusive, tweaking the butterfly valves in the bike's throttle bodies to intervene more smoothly than it would otherwise have been able to.
In its most relaxed setting the system will even allow a bit of slip from the rear wheel, letting riders get on the power early and use a controlled drift to tighten the cornering line without fear of skidding off into the weeds. Ducati's own systems are backed up by Bosch Cornering ABS and Ohlins Smart EC Suspension, which dynamically adjust the suspension on the move for better performance or, if you're cruising, comfort.
The red, white and black cherry on top of Ducati's birthday cake is the race-inspired paintjob and gold wheels, which will help the 500 Anniversarios built stand out from the crowd.
Expect the bike to start popping up in dealers in the second half of July. Ducati has been very generous with the gorgeous photos that accompanied the bike's announcement, take a flick through the gallery to see them all.