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Ducati 899 Panigale in the PS driving report.

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Ducati 899 Panigale in the PS driving report.

Ducati 899 Panigale in the PS driving report

Waiver? Only on the single-sided swing arm

Content of

Pompone is Italian slang, means "big pump" and stands for two-cylinder motorcycles that push hard. With the 899 Panigale, Ducati is returning to this successful drive concept.

Offspring with the Panigale family! One likes to receive such good news. And the key data of the Ducati 8th99 Panigale are also popular: the bundle of joy weighs 193,000 grams, comes with 148 horsepower as standard and does not leave it with a stripped-down equipment, but runs the full program: DTC, ABS, EBC, DQS, three selectable mappings of the injection system, LED lights, fully adjustable landing gear – and that awesome silhouette! The customer has to dig deep into their pockets for all these ingredients, but they can give themselves a robbery for free – 15,490 euros (plus additional costs) are available from the house bank against a signature.

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Ducati 899 Panigale in the PS driving report
Waiver? Only on the single-sided swing arm

"Keep off the white lines and the curbs"

And then that. Just in time for the test drives, it is raining in Imola. While the mechanics put rain tires on, I turn to my matt-white Ducati 899 Panigale with the little number three on the tank. Well, it is not mine all alone, I share it with a journalist colleague from Israel. First I do a turn, then he. Despite the happy occasion, the colleague looks sadly out of his leather, because he is not used to wet racetracks.

I flirt with him a little, try to take his stomach ache away. After all, there is no need to have any. ABS and traction control, plus a route with no oncoming traffic and the finest Pirelli rain skins – what’s going to go wrong? With a "Keep off the white lines and the curbs, that’s all you need to know" I hop on the already warmed up Ducati 899 Panigale and thunder with my group on the unknown route.

Balanced handling despite the wet

We whiz across the track, totally relaxed, familiarize ourselves with the route and cautiously look for the first braking points. An important rule in the rain to make sure you make ends meet: Complete the braking process before turning in, and only then initiate a lean angle. The Ducati 899 Panigale does both great – braking as well as turning. Its 320 steel discs (the 1199 Panigale has 330 mm discs) harmonize perfectly with the Brembo pads in the M4.32 calipers and shine with their snappy braking performance and clear feedback.

The feedback from the Pirellis is also good and the grip is incredible. The rubbers bite into the asphalt so much that ABS and traction control have little to do and the balanced handling of the Ducati 899 Panigale already comes into its own in the wet – despite a soft, jolt-free driving style. At least as impressive is the straightforward power delivery of the 898 cubic centimeter "Superquadro" of the small Panigale.

Video of the MOTORRAD test ride

In contrast to its big sister, it does not tear holes in the tar from 9000 turns. No, the Ducati 899 Panigale pulls smoothly, comparable to a KTM RC8 1190, offers its power absolutely calmly and is very easy to drive, especially in poor conditions or on country roads. Which is partly due to their less extreme bore / stroke ratio. With the 1199 Panigale, this is extremely short-stroke with 1.84 and gives it this poisonous character around the top. With the 899, the ratio was a bit more moderate, but at 1.75 (KTM 1190 RC8: 1.52) it is still in the short-stroke range.

Nevertheless, with this engine configuration, the Ducati 899 Panigale comes much closer to the Ducati superbikes of the pre-Panigale era. It pushes out of the corners more gently, is much quieter and easier to drive than the big one. And that not only pleases the Israeli colleague, who gets along very well with the damp track, but also the Italian test drivers. These give the little Panigale the nickname of the old Duc Superbikes again, and affectionately press the "pompon" onto the fairing.

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Defused ergonomics for road drivers

Sunshine for lunch break! No, this does not mean the pasta of the Ducati MotoGP catering, which feeds the crowd of journalists during the event, but simply the weather. Petrus has an understanding and dries the track in the shortest possible time, while the mechanics mount the racing tires Pirelli Diablo Supercorsa in SC2 compound on the Ducati 899 Panigale instead of the road tires (rear in 180 / 60-17).

Try to sit again briefly and press the filled doublet against the tank, now made of aluminum and enlarged to 17 liters. The ergonomics of the Ducati 899 Panigale are slightly defused, should meet the road driver. A slightly thicker seat cushion and handlebar stubs ten millimeters higher ensure increased comfort. The monochrome display offers all the information like the color display of the 1199 and can also be operated via the central button on the left handlebar fitting.

So just go to the race mapping configurator. TC on level 2, ABS on 1 (locking rear wheel possible, no stoppie control), EBC (engine braking torque control) on 1 (low braking torque), and you’re ready to go in the dry with full steam. The Ducati 899 Panigale literally flies over the slopes, turns like the devil, burns down the straights with powerful acceleration and then has to endure fat braking attacks before the nasty chicanes. Of course, the 148 hp of the Ducati 899 Panigale are a little behind the 197 hp of the 1199, and don’t even begin to crack as violently. But while the 1199 driver happily turns into the pits for a break after 20 minutes, the 899 driver is annoyed that he is not allowed to do a few more laps.

The Ducati 899 Panigale is easy on the rider and increases driving pleasure. Thanks to its secondary gear ratio, which is 20 percent shorter than its predecessor, the 848, it is much livelier than this in all gears, so it pulls up hard, but not too hard. And she still has a bit ahead of her predecessor. While the 848 always looked a bit like a slimmed-down version compared to the 1198 (for example, it lacked the adjustable push rod on the deflection of the rear wheel linkage and thus the possibility of rear height adjustment), the 899 is simply a small Panigale. Everything on, everything in.

If you drive a Ducati 899 Panigale, you only have to forego the single-sided swing arm, but not technical functionality or even electronic equipment. And that makes "the little one" extremely attractive.

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