Ducati 959 Panigale. As we arrive at the Ricardo Tormo Circuit in Valencia, the MotoGP teams began the test of the 2016 season have just return home. Too bad, the meeting was obviously amazing. In consolation, the Spanish track, re-surfaced a year ago, is still very marked by the stigma of a single racing season. In short, the track is like new, what further increase our excitement a notch before the task that awaits us today: test the new Panigale 959! After only two years in the catalog, the former 899 must be resigned to give way when it could very well have continued his career in this segment without any real competition or sporting challenge. However, this departure was inevitable, Press the norm euro4 industrial calendar, to our delight and particularly in France! For this deadline ends the clamping of French motorbikes (new). And in addition to its various technical developments, this 959 Panigale promises to be our official issue with a historical argument: a power finally free to enjoy. Franco mechanical sensations!
Ducati 959 Panigale Test 2015
Wearing "leather", we enter the box where are carefully aligned the "Panigalettes". Asked about their workshop crutches, their tires wrapped in their blankets, the younger of the Italian Superbike range will not take less the senses. A show which one never tires when you love the beautiful sports book and the circuit, as in bike-station! Quickly, we beat around the bush, this is the case to say and remarks fuse: "Why on earth did they not put the pots under the seat; it looks like the silent Nine-T; we understand? why it took 7 kg (including 200 kg fully fueled announced). "
The siren will sound and we can finally start motorcycles. Undeniably, the typical sound Ducati suffered from the arrival of this new dual exhaust and muffler Akrapovic homologated not bring much better. In the saddle, I rediscovered a typical position Panigale: pronounced support for the arms, but enough for my legs unfolded meter 70. What is new is the presence of the exhaust side down a tad discomfort right heel while new turntables footrest aluminum can hang inside the boots (depending on their make and model though). The ergonomics of the 959, if it is not as natural as other sports, preserves at least a decent welcome for young and old templates. That's something.
In 2016, up to linearity
To switch on the 898 cm3 899 cm3 955 Panigale on the new 959, Ducati chose to play on the run rather than the bore: 60.8 mm against 57.2 on the now 899 Panigale, the piston rises and So descends on an increased distance of 3.6 mm, which is not insignificant even though the overall ratio still remains much hyper square with a diameter of 100 mm. Enough to make a nice ashtray in a second life, but for the moment we especially asked to propel us without too much smoke.
And the first session of 20 minutes will soon answer our questions. We remember the 899 block, a hollow full of nothing but demonstrative longer and at high speed. The difference is obvious with the 959, substantially in its linear acceleration and it must be said less fun "up". However, if it wants more muscular mid regime on paper, handlebar hands he does not really feel. For example, if you forget to return a report and you find yourself under 6500 r / min, the output curve is rather mollassonne. The fault, probably in large part to a gear "euro4 approved" extended (15x43 on 15x44 959 Panigale against the 899) which obviously does not help to take turns. But connoisseurs relativiseront, change the transmission output pinion and / or the crown will solve the problem at very little cost, and indeed on previous models.
Note also that on circuits using mainly high revs, which "dilutes" the general character of a motor. On the road, a wiser use should therefore further highlight the strength of the Ducati 959 Panigale in the midrange, we will confirm. For the rest, L-Twin "works". It seems flexible enough (even if on the racetrack, we have little opportunity to test), the Ride by Wire electronic throttle and transmission (gearbox, limited slip clutch and shifter to upshift only) is show precise and perfectly efficient.
The track turns are connected, the straight line is swallowed without complaint. With 157 horsepower (+ 6% compared to the 899 Panigale), the new Panigale 959 is far from hanging, one suspects. If the new block gives the best beyond 7000 rev / min, the acceleration and pulling sensation is obviously quite far from what we know on a 1000 cm3 hypersport strong 200 horsepower. The 959, and is also its strength, offers a "between". On board, there is time to relocate, well hide behind the bubble while reports are linked on the fly through the shifter limiting the cuts to the minimum ignition barely noticeable. Nothing to do so with a BMW S 1000 RR is always looking to pitch up and torturing you thighs and arms in the lower stretch. With 959 Panigale, we are not afraid to squeeze the handle fully, and that's still very nice when you do not aim a racing career or to empty his bank account.
Bumps? So what ?
The straight, rather short, the Valencia circuit allows to see the excellent directional stability of the native Bologna. To this is added the good protection of the bubble, which becomes excellent with the racing bubble option. An undeniable advantage that significantly reduces the turbulence headphone level to over 250 km / h: pretty aerodynamic work! In making the brakes, one perceives the only really bumpy part of the route already proven by the racing season 2015. But the stability of the 959 Panigale has nothing to fear, we can decelerate with confidence through the power Brembo system (M40 calipers). Certainly the feeling does not reach that of 1299 Panigale more richly equipped on this point (330 mm discs, calipers monobloc M50) but the performance is still waiting for you on the 959.
Then comes the moment to link turns on this circuit very sinuous profile. Specifies in its corner entry placement, Ducati Panigale 959 claims a few arms and legs to be kept at the rope. Rigor on the side angle, no worries, it's a track and longer wheelbase should participate. In fact, she is reassuring curve and the revival of the angle does not require much concentration with 1299 fierce.
Engine braking under control
During this test, we were several testers journalists to complain about engine braking too present. If road its authorization is evident on the racetrack it affects the fluidity curve entries. The Engine Brake Control (EBC) which electronically manages engine braking was initially set to 1 or the highest level. Much of the international testers therefore wanted to move quickly on level 3, the least intrusive. Yet Ducati insisted us to test the second setting. And it is clear that they were right. Because with this medium setting of the engine brake, the bike had changed behavior. The small oscillations of the accelerator engendered less disturbance to the chassis 959 and the Panigale became easier to take in the turns which in particular closed again. Similarly, in parts, the DTC traction control blinking at all going on the scoreboard when no movement of the rear train was felt. Once set at the end, the Panigale 959 not régulait power and the chains became more fluid. In short, what really start having fun without a second thought before the checkered flag fleet for the last time along the track.
Appraisal: The first full Panigale!
Not big but really average position this "Panigalette" in the French market will still not an easy task in 2016. As if it reaches almost 1 000 cm3, it obviously can not compete with the big Japanese four-cylinders pure performance (it makes them nearly 50 c.). Moreover, with its 200 kg fully fueled and announced a steering remains demanding, the 959 does not show as agile as the ballerinas of about 600 cm3. Even its price is extraordinary: € 16,590 colors red (+ € 200 for white) or a tariff still upscale.
So why choose this sport over another? Undoubtedly for the very rare compromise it offers. On the road, it will be more reasonable than 1000 cm3 hypersport and still less hollow than 600 cm3 who appreciate whip. And on the track, in addition to effectiveness, the Panigale will be more humanly manageable 959 by an amateur all the latest missiles arrived on the market and which require a driver confirmed technical background to get the most. A performance / ease which obviously come from the Japanese that of the famous GSX-R 750, also last of its kind. Finally, for collectors, it also remains a historical argument: The 959 will remain the first Panigale sold officially in free version for France, in accordance with the standard euro4 2015: 157 horsepower is happiness! And these days, although it would be wrong to deny it. Image by Gigi.
Price: € 16,590 (at 11.27.2015)
Warranty: 2 years parts and labor, unlimited mileage
Availability: January 2016