Motorcycles

Hail to the king: Ducati's new Panigale V4R is the most powerful production bike in history

2019 Ducati Panigale V4R: runs advanced wheelie control, so this is clearly on purpose
2019 Ducati Panigale V4R: runs advanced wheelie control, so this is clearly on purpose
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2019 Ducati Panigale V4R: runs advanced wheelie control, so this is clearly on purpose
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2019 Ducati Panigale V4R: runs advanced wheelie control, so this is clearly on purpose
2019 Ducati Panigale V4R: all the handling prowess of the mighty V4S, but with a smaller, higher-revving engine
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2019 Ducati Panigale V4R: all the handling prowess of the mighty V4S, but with a smaller, higher-revving engine
2019 Ducati Panigale V4R: non-electronic suspension is purely track focused
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2019 Ducati Panigale V4R: non-electronic suspension is purely track focused
2019 Ducati Panigale V4R: will the WSBK field be seeing anything but the back end of this bike in next year's racing?
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2019 Ducati Panigale V4R: will the WSBK field be seeing anything but the back end of this bike in next year's racing?
2019 Ducati Panigale V4R: WSBK-approved winglets add downforce for cornering and accelerating superiority
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2019 Ducati Panigale V4R: WSBK-approved winglets add downforce for cornering and accelerating superiority
2019 Ducati Panigale V4R: large new gills on the side fairings
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2019 Ducati Panigale V4R: large new gills on the side fairings
2019 Ducati Panigale V4R: you'll be lucky to see one in action, let alone two, outside a WSBK race
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2019 Ducati Panigale V4R: you'll be lucky to see one in action, let alone two, outside a WSBK race
2019 Ducati Panigale V4R: side gills will be a visual signature
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2019 Ducati Panigale V4R: side gills will be a visual signature
2019 Ducati Panigale V4R: as fast and powerful as superbikes get in 2019
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2019 Ducati Panigale V4R: as fast and powerful as superbikes get in 2019
2019 Ducati Panigale V4R: she's a mean looker, too
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2019 Ducati Panigale V4R: she's a mean looker, too
2019 Ducati Panigale V4R: absolute motorcycle porn
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2019 Ducati Panigale V4R: absolute motorcycle porn
2019 Ducati Panigale V4R: adjustable swingarm pivot will be handy for race teams
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2019 Ducati Panigale V4R: adjustable swingarm pivot will be handy for race teams
2019 Ducati Panigale V4R: suitable for romantic interludes on racetrack apexes
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2019 Ducati Panigale V4R: suitable for romantic interludes on racetrack apexes
2019 Ducati Panigale V4R: Seems Bosch's excellent Cornering ABS Evo has been disabled for this shot
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2019 Ducati Panigale V4R: Seems Bosch's excellent Cornering ABS Evo has been disabled for this shot
2019 Ducati Panigale V4R: headlight detail
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2019 Ducati Panigale V4R: headlight detail
2019 Ducati Panigale V4R: with winglets
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2019 Ducati Panigale V4R: with winglets
2019 Ducati Panigale V4R: electronic Ohlins suspension has been swapped for asymmetrical mechanical systems
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2019 Ducati Panigale V4R: electronic Ohlins suspension has been swapped for asymmetrical mechanical systems
2019 Ducati Panigale V4R: barely-there tail section won't be much good for carrying tools and tire repair kits
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2019 Ducati Panigale V4R: barely-there tail section won't be much good for carrying tools and tire repair kits
2019 Ducati Panigale V4R: digital dash
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2019 Ducati Panigale V4R: digital dash
2019 Ducati Panigale V4R: forged Marsechini wheels
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2019 Ducati Panigale V4R: forged Marsechini wheels
2019 Ducati Panigale V4R: carbon winglets for additional downforce
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2019 Ducati Panigale V4R: carbon winglets for additional downforce
2019 Ducati Panigale V4R: Brembo Stylema brakes
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2019 Ducati Panigale V4R: Brembo Stylema brakes
2019 Ducati Panigale V4R: pit lane speed limiter
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2019 Ducati Panigale V4R: pit lane speed limiter
2019 Ducati Panigale V4R: Ohlins rear suspension
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2019 Ducati Panigale V4R: Ohlins rear suspension
2019 Ducati Panigale V4R: two-tone tank with bare aluminum rear section
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2019 Ducati Panigale V4R: two-tone tank with bare aluminum rear section
2019 Ducati Panigale V4R: the new face of two-wheeled badassery
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2019 Ducati Panigale V4R: the new face of two-wheeled badassery
2019 Ducati Panigale V4R: it's got gills
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2019 Ducati Panigale V4R: it's got gills
2019 Ducati Panigale V4R: carbon winglets
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2019 Ducati Panigale V4R: carbon winglets
2019 Ducati Panigale V4R: seat and tail section
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2019 Ducati Panigale V4R: seat and tail section
2019 Ducati Panigale V4R: only a lucky few will see this view in person
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2019 Ducati Panigale V4R: only a lucky few will see this view in person
2019 Ducati Panigale V4R: head on
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2019 Ducati Panigale V4R: head on
2019 Ducati Panigale V4R: top down
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2019 Ducati Panigale V4R: top down
2019 Ducati Panigale V4R: a thoroughly gorgeous bike before it gets covered in logos
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2019 Ducati Panigale V4R: a thoroughly gorgeous bike before it gets covered in logos
2019 Ducati Panigale V4R: left side
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2019 Ducati Panigale V4R: left side
2019 Ducati Panigale V4R: right rear three quarter
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2019 Ducati Panigale V4R: right rear three quarter
2019 Ducati Panigale V4R: rear view
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2019 Ducati Panigale V4R: rear view
2019 Ducati Panigale V4R: right side
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2019 Ducati Panigale V4R: right side
2019 Ducati Panigale V4R: right front three quarter
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2019 Ducati Panigale V4R: right front three quarter
2019 Ducati Panigale V4R: aerodynamic winglets add downforce to keep the front wheel down under aceleration
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2019 Ducati Panigale V4R: aerodynamic winglets add downforce to keep the front wheel down under aceleration
Ducati CEO Claudio Domenicali poses with the new Panigale V4 R at its EICMA launch event
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Ducati CEO Claudio Domenicali poses with the new Panigale V4 R at its EICMA launch event
A sense of the scope and expense of the Ducati event at EICMA
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A sense of the scope and expense of the Ducati event at EICMA
No expense spared: the Ducati presentation at EICMA
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No expense spared: the Ducati presentation at EICMA

Ducati has just debuted the most extreme petrol-powered supersport bike in history on the eve of EICMA in Milan. The new king of the Panigale range is a World Superbike homologation special with a set of specifications that should strike fear into the heart of any mortal. Oh, and it's got wings, too.

The homologation special

World Superbike (WSBK) is a production-based race series, which pits hotted-up versions of the actual streetbikes you can go and buy against one another in competition – as opposed to MotoGP, which is more like Formula One, in that each race bike is essentially a prototype that was never built for road use.

In order to race a given bike in WSBK, it needs to meet an exhaustive list of homologation regulations to keep the playing field as level as possible. No titanium frames are allowed, for example, and ABS systems have to be removed from the race bikes.

But you also need to prove that the bike you're entering for racing is actually a genuine production bike that customers can buy and ride on the road. They can't cost any more than €40,000 to buy, and the manufacturer has to prove it has built at least 500 units by the end of the year following the homologation inspection date.

2019 Ducati Panigale V4R: she's a mean looker, too
2019 Ducati Panigale V4R: she's a mean looker, too

Thus, if you want to enter something really special, you need to make it available to the public as well as the race team, and this occasionally leads to some absolute lunatic-level machinery being built for the road.

The latest, and thus far, greatest example of the homologation special is next year's Ducati Panigale V4R. The current Ducati superbike is a 1198cc V-Twin, taking advantage of the rules that allow twins to run a higher engine capacity than 4-cylinder engines. But the current model Panigale V4 streetbike has an 1103cc V4 motor, which is 103cc too big to race with as a 4-cylinder.

Hence the beast we see today, just unveiled in a spectacular event at the world's biggest bike show: EICMA in Milan.

No expense spared: the Ducati presentation at EICMA
No expense spared: the Ducati presentation at EICMA

The engine: 998cc, 90-degree V4

The new Panigale V4R runs a 998cc version of the Desmosedici Stradale 90-degree V4, with the stroke shortened from 53.5 mm to 48.4 mm, and the 81 mm bore untouched, essentially taking an extremely oversquare and rev-focused motor and making it significantly more oversquare and revvy.

The engine internals have also lost a fair bit of weight: the pistons are forged, with just two piston rings (one for compression, the other an oil scraper) and the crankshaft, high-lift valves and con rods are titanium. The crank alone saves an astonishing 1.1 kg (2.42 lb) over the one in the 1103cc bikes, the con rods save 100 grams (3.5 ounces) each.

So as well as having less distance to travel with each revolution thanks to the shorter stroke, there's significantly less mass to move as well. That means Ducati can rev this thing much, much higher than the 1103cc version: the V4S revs to 13,000 rpm, and the R version keeps on pulling, up to a crazy 15,250 rpm.

So the new R bike loses torque, which drops from a peak of 124 Nm (91.5 lb-ft) in the S bike down to 114 Nm (83 lb-ft) in the R. It'll thus feel a bit gutless on the road at low revs. But, power being equal to torque multiplied by revs, it gains significant horsepower when you spin it up to the top of its new stratospheric rev range: while the S bike makes 214 horses flat out, the R boosts this to a screaming 221, and that's in fully road-legal trim.

2019 Ducati Panigale V4R: two-tone tank with bare aluminum rear section
2019 Ducati Panigale V4R: two-tone tank with bare aluminum rear section

Bin the legal cans for the Performance kit from Akrapovic (not Termignoni, interestingly enough) and that horsepower figure leaps to 234 ponies, and presumably a soundtrack capable of inspiring almost as much fear as the acceleration, if and when you're able to hang onto full throttle.

If you're new to the whole superbike thing, that's more power than we've ever seen on such a lightweight sports machine. In fact, it's now the most powerful non-electric, production road bike on the planet, since it's got three horses worth of wood on the 2019 Kawasaki H2, which needs an aggressively chirpy supercharger to get to its ludicrous 231-hp top end.

You'd have to assume it's going to send a rocket up the backsides of the entire WSBK series next year – along with national production-based race categories the world over. It certainly becomes the instant king of no-excuses track bikes. Anyone who rolls one of these out of a pit box will have the largest possible target on their backside. Their scalps will be priceless to better riders on inferior machinery, which is pretty much everything.

On the road? Well, it'll probably be clattery and cantankerous at any legal speed, but will open the gates of Hades and unleash an unprecedented degree of what the young folks are calling "yeet" if you have the insolence to rev it.

2019 Ducati Panigale V4R: top down
2019 Ducati Panigale V4R: top down

The chassis

The body of the bike hasn't changed an awful lot from the barnstorming V4S model. It's 2 kg (4.4 lbs) lighter at 172kg (379 lbs) dry, but this is mainly due to the engine's weight loss program.

The bodywork is notably different – partially for the huge gills on the side fairings, as well as the silver rear of the tank, the white highlight lines and the overall larger and higher front fairing. But mainly for the evil black carbon winglets behind the headlights.

Ducati, of course, was the first manufacturer to push winglet technology at the MotoGP level, where an increasingly complex series of front end aerodynamics packages helped keep the front wheel down under acceleration, and added some cornering downforce to boot, while slightly muddying the airflow behind a bike, potentially making it a little more difficult to pass in the slipstream.

Much to Ducati's disgust, they were banned after the 2017 season, the Grand Prix Commission citing safety concerns raised by riders. But World Superbike has explicitly allowed the technology, so it's game on for the homologation superbike.

2019 Ducati Panigale V4R: the new face of two-wheeled badassery
2019 Ducati Panigale V4R: the new face of two-wheeled badassery

Ordinarily, I'm against any technology that helps prevent unintended wheelstands, as unintended wheelstands are among my favorite parts of motorcycling. But this is unashamedly a race bike with mirrors and indicators. The focus is squarely on precision and lap times, giggle factor be damned. They make perfect sense here.

The brakes, as on the V4S, are top-shelf Brembo Stylema units. The suspension, on the other hand, takes a step down from the road-focused S model. There's little use for electronic adaptive suspension on a racetrack, so instead the R model gets some fancy new, purely mechanical suspension from Ohlins.

The 43 mm forks use a competition-inspired pressurized system with asymmetrical damping: the compression damping piston in the left fork uses a 25 mm piston and the rebound damper in the right uses a 30 mm piston. Hence the system's name: NPX 25/30.

It runs all the same electronic rider systems as the V4S, from traction, slide and wheelie control to Bosch's Cornering ABS Evo, up/down quickshifting, engine brake control and an updated three riding modes, pit lane limiter, lap timing, data analysis and multimedia Bluetooth systems.

2019 Ducati Panigale V4R: you'll be lucky to see one in action, let alone two, outside a WSBK race
2019 Ducati Panigale V4R: you'll be lucky to see one in action, let alone two, outside a WSBK race

Make no mistake, this is a monumental motorcycle. As well as setting a new, ridiculously high horsepower benchmark, it represents the absolute state of the art when it comes to production track bikes. We're excited to see if its bite matches its bark in Superbike competition around the world in 2019, but when it comes to bench racing, here's your new King Dingaling of the combustion world, as evil and powerful as it gets at this very moment. Buy one if you can afford it, and keep it in a box. This will be a bike to remember.

Source: Ducati

6 comments
Jellis2851
*cough* Ninja H2R *cough* *cough* 300hp *cough*
guzmanchinky
I've been riding for 40 years, starting in 1978 with my Honda CT70 which I thought was wayyyy too powerful. I've had dozens of bikes over the years, the fastest being a ZX-11. I sold that one because I knew that eventually it would kill me. So, no bike really scares me. But these new 200+ horsepower machines kinda do.
Socaboy
Cough cough I can have 400 hp with super charger. What is it naturally aspirated? Cough. 230 without supercharger.
jesse18
The H2R actually puts down 326hp, but it's not street legal AND, it weighs over 500lbs, so it would be equivalent (as far as equivalency can get) as operating a (huge) ZX-14R. The H2 makes about 218hp and weighs the same. If we're talking about a 0-120mph sprint, then it's a toss up, as neither bike can have its throttle wide open without the Wheelie Control intervening. It's right around 120mph when you can gradually go WOT. The Ducati weighs a crazy Ninja ZX/CBR/GSX-S... 379lbs. Since middleweight SuperSports sales have been at rock bottom since 2008, even 600's or like my main SuperSport, my 2014 ZX-6R ABS 636 (636cc,) that's significantly less than my bike coming in at 426lbs stock. And whats even more astonishing, is this is the weight after the new crazy restrictive, and completely unnecessary, Euro4 Emissions, which not only makes it now the most restrictive Emissions standard, but has caused a price hike or complete discontinuation of a bike, like the Honda CBR600RR. And as for the guy who can apparently build a naturally aspirated SuperBike engine to eeeeasily do 230hp... RRRRRIIIIGHT. That's why some of Italian's most intelligent minds haven't been able to do it and the $1 Million Prototype bikes are racing in around 330-350lbs & 250-260hp. You do realize there is a motor size limit, which all manufacturers straddle the line between 998cc-999.6cc. That's 220-240hp from an economically built (to be a profitable business,) motor. Not only that, but it's from a motor the exact size of .0L. Not a 2.2L V-Tech, but 1000cc's. Car motors twice the size don't put down that kind of power. A supercharger + air to air intercooler + plumbing come at a costly (roughly) 40lbs. Plus it's not allowed in racing therefore too costly to produce & have one model with & one without. That's whythe H2 & H2R would get killed onthe track. Plus it is a sizable bigger bike in terms of size. In between a ZX-10R & a ZX-14R.
JOC
I'll take a 900SS thanks muchly. All these CADtastick commuter bikes (in today's traffic, not when I started riding) look the same to me, i.e. awful.
MarcJackson
Emissions are lost power failure to convert fuel and air to co2 and h2o. Wasting C's to particulates, O's to NOx when at stoichiometry air to fuel ratio, UHC unburned hydrocarbons also. If your going to complain about emissions know your combustion theory, some basic chemistry. How intermediate radical species, reactions, kinetics, thermodynamics. Particulates kill, see the 6 cities study
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