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Ducati 959 Panigale: Just the right mix

Ducati 959 Panigale has all the style of its big bro 1299, but it’s definitely more fun

We have got used to seeing more power and less weight from the new bikes from Ducati but, for the first time, the weight has gone up by seven kilograms thanks to the Euro 4 norms.

The Ducati 959 Panigale gets a wider nose fairing and a taller screen, thus improving its aerodynamics as compared to the 899’s. This also adds to the aggressive look of the new front end, which is enhanced by larger-section front air intakes. The split tailpiece design is the final touch to a real work of art: the 959 Panigale fairing now includes re-designed lateral air intakes and new rear-view mirrors. The customary under-belly exhaust now makes way for twin exhaust on the right side. In short, the new 959 Panigale looks stunning.

The steering head is mounted on the monocoque
The steering head is mounted on the monocoque

This Ducati shares the same innovative stylistic features that characterise its ‘big brother’, the 1299 Panigale, but with an engine designed for a more enjoyable everyday riding experience and more thrills on the racetrack. The capacity has been increased by a three-millimetre longer stroke, which this bike shares with the 1299S.

The double barrel exhaust is essential in meeting Euro 4 norms. Pics/Ducati
The double barrel exhaust is essential in meeting Euro 4 norms. Pics/Ducati

The electronics package on the 959 includes ABS, Ducati Traction Control (DTC), Ducati Quick Shift (DQS), Engine Brake Control (EBC) and Ride-by-Wire (RbW).

Thanks to the Ducati Riding Mode technology, these systems can be combined with the three riding modes — Wet, Sport and Race — which, in effect, give you three different motorcycles. Each riding mode is pre-programmed to instantly change the bike’s personality by adjusting the ABS, DTC and EBC levels of intervention.

With Race Riding Mode, the rider can use the “High” Power Mode, ensuring 157 PS of power with highly responsive engine behaviour to throttle opening. With the Sport Riding Mode, the system will select the “Med” Power Mode, ensuring 157 PS of power with a smoother engine response to throttle opening. The Wet Riding Mode makes the “Low” Power Mode available for road or track use, with 100 PS of power and an even smoother engine response to throttle opening. This corresponds to a more “invasive” ABS setting in terms of anti-lock efficiency and rear end lift-up prevention.

It was not a regular track ride as Ducati had brought along their DRE Instructors to do a riding class along with the first ride. Our instructor for the day was Lisandro Walla, their official test and development rider. After a few tips on how to sit on the motorcycle, it was time to hit the track. The straight after turn one was where the 959 hit a top speed of 260 km/h. There were a couple of places where you needed to come down to second gear. Turn four, the quickest corner on this circuit, was taken in fourth gear at about 160 km/h. The 959 is easy to ride with the right mix of power, handling and brakes. You can get your knee down and flick the bike through corners.

After doing four 20-minute sessions during the day there was no fatigue at all and one could have carried on for another 20 minutes. The new 959 Panigale has the right mix of power, handling and brakes. It will make for an excellent track-day and road bike.

Need to know
Ducati: 959 Panigale
Engine: 955 cc, liquid-cooled, L-twin, DOHC Desmodromic, eight valves
Max Power: 157 PS @ 10,500 rpm
Max Torque: 107.4 Nm @ 9,000 rpm
Transmission: 6-speed
Price: Rs 13.69 lakh (ex-showroom Pune)

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