2012 Ducati 1199 Panigale First Look

Ducati has the reigning superbike horsepower champion, the BMW S1000RR, in its sights with the release of the 2012 1199 Panigale and its claimed 195 hp.

We’ve got a new contender in the superbike horsepower wars. Ducati broke wraps on its 2012 1199 Panigale Superbike today in a press conference at the Teatro Dal Verme in Milan, Italy. Touting gaudy performance numbers of 195 hp and a claimed dry weight of 361.5 pounds, Ducati’s new superbike is said to be the new benchmark in production motorcycle power-to-weight and torque-to-weight ratios.

If its peak output numbers, claimed to be 195 hp @10,750 rpm and 98.1 lb-ft torque @ 9000 rpm, ring true, it would better the reigning horsepower champion, the BWW S1000RR, which topped our 2011 Superbike Smackdown at a real-world 183.37 hp @ 13,100 rpm.

Without doubt, this has been the most ambitious project in Ducati ’s history and underlines our engineering excellence and ‘product emotion,’ an aspect of our brand which, in such a competitive market place, has become more important than ever. This motorcycle represents pure Italian style, the reference point for performance and a safety-enhanced, confidence-inspiring experience for our customers on road and track,” said Ducati President Gabriele Del Torchio about the motorcycle’s launch.

The 1199 Panigale will utilize a new monocoque chassis which reduces parts, shaves weight and is designed to make the claimed 195 hp manageable. Moving away from the traditional Ducati trellis-style frame is a surprise departure that Ducati purists would never have expected so, like everyone else, we are eager to experience the new Ducati for ourselves. The engine is a stressed member of the frame, attaching to the aluminum monocoque frame at the cylinder heads.

This section protrudes forward to house the steering head bearings and forms the airbox as a result. Integrating the 1199’s airbox into the frame is one of the factors Ducati claims helped reduce its latest superbike’s dry weight by 22-lb. The die-cast aluminum swingarm also attaches directly to the engine at the rear.

The new swingarm is 39mm-longer than the one used on the 1198 which helped stretch its wheelbase to 56.6 inches. The aluminum rear sub-frame has been trimmed down and attaches directly to the engine while the front sub-frame is made of magnesium and attaches to the frame.

(L) Besides the L-configuration and Ducati’s signature Desmodromic valve control system, the 1199’s Superquadro is a totally reconfigured engine. (M) The 2012 1199 Panigale S Tricolore get up-spec Ohlins suspension, 3-spoke Marchesini wheels, and a titanium racing exhaust. (R) Ducati rotated the top end of the signature 90-degree L backwards around the crankshaft which provided six-degrees more clearance for the front wheel.

The new Superquadro engine is claimed to be most powerful twin-cylinder in production. The Superquadro is named after its highly oversquare 112 X 60.8mm L-Twin. Besides its standard L-configuration and Desmodromic valve control system, Ducati started with a clean slate for the powerplant.

Ducati rotated the top end of the signature 90-degree L backwards around the crankshaft which gives six-degrees more clearance on the front wheel and allowed the front-to-rear bias to be skewed slightly to a 52% front bias. It also perfectly positioned the cylinder head attachments with the monocoque frame. The primary-drive and clutch casings, sump and cam covers are cast in magnesium alloy for weight savings.

The crankcases use a shell main bearing for the crankshaft, a feature reserved for the Desmosedici RR engine up till now, while the top of the crankcase apertures have separate nikasil-coated aluminum wet-liners. Its inlet valves have been switched to titanium from steel and the diameters of both inlet and exhaust valves have increased, bumping up intake from 43.5 to 46.8mm while the exhausts are now 38.2mm, up from its previous 34.5mm measurement. The original belt-drive of the Desmodromic system has been replaced by a combined chain and gear-drive arrangement in order to control such large valves.

Ergos have been changed up on the 1199 Panigale thanks to a shorter reach to the handlebars which now sit up higher and out farther. A longer swingarm extends the wheelbase.

The transmission on the 1199 Panigale has been reworked, with bigger, stronger gears to go along with its wet, oil-bath clutch, similar to ones used on the Multistrada and Diavel. The clutch has a slipper function where its self-servo mechanism compresses the friction plates under engine drive.

The 2012 Panigale is the most sophisticated production Ducati superbike to date. Its list of high-end electronic rider aids includes the Ducati Riding Mode which oversees functions of the ABS, Ducati Traction Control (DCT), Ducati Electronic Suspension (DES), Ducati Quick-Shift (DQS), Ducati’s race-derived Engine Brake Control (EBC), and Ride-by-Wire throttle system. Even the full color Thin File Transistor display changes according to mode selection.

The 1199 Panigale sees the debut of Ducati’s Engine Brake Control system designed to improve stability when decelerating while it monitors throttle position, gear selection and crankshaft deceleration rate under heavy braking. The Ducati Quick-Shift used on the Panigale was first introduced on the 1198 SP and allows riders to keep the throttle open when rolling through gears, saving valuable time while keeping a steadier air flow to the throttle bodies.

The Ducati Riding Modes were introduced on the 2010 Multistrada and changes engine output and suspension set-up to pre-programmed parameters. Riders can choose between Race Mode, where they get unrestricted access to the Panigale’s 195 hp, to a Wet Riding Mode which drops horsepower to 120 and increases input from the DTC system. The Ducati Traction Control has eight levels of adjustment which controls wheel spin and interacts with the ABS.

The combination of controls on the sophisticated 1199 allows riders to tailor the bike to their preferences at the push of a button based on road and weather conditions.

Ducati 60

The 1199 Panigale’s Thin Film Transistor screen (TFT) automatically changes its display according to Riding Mode.

Ducati also talks highly of its Thin Film Transistor (TFT) screen. The system, introduced last year in the Diavel, automatically changes its display according to the Riding Mode it’s in, attempting to give optimum clarity as it adjusts for varying light conditions. It also switches what’s displayed on the readout, putting vehicle speed in the center of the display when set in “Road” and “Wet” riding conditions, while moving the onboard lap timer to the center of the display in “Race” mode.

The standard 1199 Panigale features a new 50mm Marzocchi fork which uses a pressurized damping system to reduce the amount of oil and shave off valuable ounces. The 1199 Panigale S and Tricolore get up-spec Ohlins units front and rear as part of the Ducati Electronic Suspension (DES) system. The 43mm Ohlins NIX30 fork is electronically adjustable for compression and rebound damping and comes with an adjustable steering damper.

The rear features an Ohlins TTX36 shock with separate damping adjustment in compression and rebound.

The 1199 does get a new generation of Brembos to scrub off the speed on the front. The Brembo Monobloc M50 calipers are ultra-compact and help reduce unsprung weight by a claimed 0.5 kg. The new M50’s are aimed at delivering higher rigidity and resistance to fade during extreme braking.

ABS is optional on the 1199 Panigale and 1199 Panigale S but comes standard on the 1199 Panigale S Tricolore.

This is all the competition will see of the new Ducati 1199 if they don’t up their games in the superbike realm, too.

The reconfigured engine and new frame allowed Ducati to switch up ergos on the 1199. The seat-to-handlebar measurement is now 1.18-in. shorter, the bar is set 0.39-in higher bar and sits out 1.26 in. wider. Ducati is banking that now more than ever the 1199 Panigale will provide “a riding sensation that is closer than ever to a full race bike.”

The 2012 Ducati superbike will be available in three versions 1199 Panigale, 1199 Panigale S and 1199 Panigale S Tricolore. With the Ducati 1199 Panigale S, owners get the aforementioned electronically adjusted Ohlins suspension system with a 43mm NIX30 fork and TTX36 rear shock. The “S” package also gets different 3-spoke Marchesini wheels and comes with an “Aero kit,” consisting of two lateral attachments for the top section of the fairing which have been designed to further enhance aerodynamic penetration and reduce its drag coefficient.

The Ducati 1199 Panigale S Tricolore comes with a titanium racing muffler from Ducati Performance and a special red, white and green tricolore paint job. It also comes with the new generation DDA+, a data analysis package with a lap timer and other racer-related functions. The 2012 Ducati 1199 Panigale comes with a two-year warranty and costs $17,995; the S version lists for $22,995; while the Tricolore goes for $27,995.

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