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My new Panigale V4, part 4 0

Posted on June 01, 2018 by acruhl


First read Part 1, Part 2 and Part 3.

This isn’t really a post about my experience with the bike, it’s more of a reflection on Ducati superbike engines in the last 30 years or so, and how the current V4 might not be as big of a departure for Ducati as the previous Superquadro (1199) engine was.

The first Ducati superbike engine was a 748cc water cooled engine first raced in the mid 1980s, the first water cooled engine Ducati ever produced. It was known as the Desmoquattro. The last Desmoquattro engine in a Ducati superbike was the 748 of 2002, and it went on in ST and Monster models a little while longer. But parts of that engine design existed in all Ducati superbikes up to the 1198. And it lives on today in many (most!) Ducatis today.

The “bottom end” design of that engine was all Ducati used for 25 years. But it became a limitation. There was no more room left for improvement after 2011 in the context of a race homologated street bike.

Then came the Superquadro in the 1199 in 2012, a completely new design from the ground up. It was a very radical step for Ducati to make. Nothing like it had ever been done before – a very oversquare, high revving twin built to attempt to keep pace with the 1000cc 4 cylinder bikes in World Superbike. It was a very high strung engine that didn’t work like twins of the past, but it worked well enough and Ducati is having success with it this year. Probably it’s biggest success has been multiple British Superbike championships with Shane Byrne riding.

In 2017 Ducati revealed the shocking news (shocking to purists like me anyway) that the next superbike would have a V4 engine – named the Desmosedici Stradale. But the bike was still named “Panigale”, which seemed strange given the major engine change. It seemed like a huge departure for Ducati.

But was it really?

Taken in the context of experience with engine designs, Ducati had been producing a V4 racing engine since 2002 – 16 years before the Panigale V4 was released. They released the Desmosedici RR MotoGP replica in 2006, although that engine is not very similar to the 2018 Panigale Stradale. This is a lot of real world experience with V4 engines.

By comparison, the 1199 Panigale Superquadro was probably only a few years old with prototype testing before it was released to the public. It was a much more radical change for them internally than the Panigale V4 was in the context of experience with the engine design.

I owned an 1199 Panigale and now I own the Panigale V4. It’s amazing how similar the bikes are, which is obviously why the V4 is still called “Panigale”. The V4 is simply an evolution of the 1199 with a new but race proven engine design. It even feels and sounds like a twin at lower RPM. So far it’s a positive step. But I will miss the twins.

If Ducati builds a 1000cc version of the 959 with a single sided swingarm and upscale components, I’ll be very interested :).

My new Panigale V4, Part 2 0

Posted on April 14, 2018 by acruhl


(This is seven cataracts on Mt. Lemmon.)
First read Part 1.

I finally got enough miles on it for the first service. It took a week. I was told that the oil change procedure on this bike is unique:

Wait 2 hours, drain the oil.
Add correct amount of oil.
Wait 2 hours to check level.

Wow, that’s a lot of time to change oil. I suppose I understand waiting for it to drain back, but 2 hours is a while. Hopefully at some point the fill procedure will change to just adding a specific amount of oil (like dirt bike guys).

I’m learning the dash menu system and it’s much better than my old 1199. It’s more intuitive and it’s quicker to get to what you want. You can do most of what you want to do at a 30 second traffic signal stop for example.

Let’s get to riding modes. I haven’t really tried all of the settings in each mode because generally “Sport” is what I want for the road. I tried “Race” and the throttle map is really aggressive. It may even be trying to make up for possible dips in the torque curve by changing the throttle position beyond what the rider is doing. This is the world we live in now.

As far as I can tell, I can’t control the throttle map other than through the “power modes” which is low, medium, and high. I would like somewhere between medium and high I think. I’ll research it more.

More points:

o Fuel mileage is about 34 on the last fill up. Wow. I suppose it’s a good thing you have to stop often though because the riding position is pretty compact.

o It slipped out of gear twice using the quick shifter from 1st to 2nd. I generally use the same shifting motion every time I shift a motorcycle and I don’t think I was being too easy on the shifter. I’ll try to be even more deliberate about it and report back if it’s still happening.

o There were a few more stumbles when the engine was hot at low RPM, as if it wants to stall but the electronics notice and prevent it. I also noticed a few hiccups when opening the throttle quickly while it was hot as well. Hopefully there is a map update.

o I can’t keep the dust off. Especially on the underside of the windscreen and the dash. Like it’s static electricity making it stick.

o Chain lube is still coming off the chain at 600 miles. It might be a good idea to wipe down the chain with a rag with WD40 in it after every ride if you’re concerned about such things. It will run down the exhaust, the lower chain guide, and get all over the back wheel. I think a piece flung up and got on my pants as well. Seems excessive to me.

o The steering damper is still weirding me out a bit. It feels like a have a flat tire every time I start it up to ride. It’s just a little too tight for street riding probably. But if it saves a big wobble it’s worth it I guess.

More later.

My new Panigale V4, Part 1 1

Posted on April 10, 2018 by acruhl

I bought a new Ducati Panigale V4 base model recently. In the spirit of my blog posts from 2012 when I bought a base model 1199 Panigale, I’m going to try to put up a few posts about what it’s like to own this V4 in the real world.

For history, my old 1199 blog posts:

Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5, Part 6, Part 7, Part 8, 1199 trackday, 1199 trackday followup

(This 1199 story is incomplete, I didn’t blog about a downturn in lifestyle which required me to sell the bike in 2014. I didn’t want to write about it.)

So here we go.

When this bike was announced, I was disappointed. Why 1100cc? It can’t be raced. It can’t be compared to 1000cc bikes. It seems like a cop out. Then a club member pointed out that Ducati might be trying to ensure that their 1299 customers get something that feels like an upgrade, and it started to make sense. I ordered one despite my reservations.

I first rode the Panigale V4S demo bike a few weeks ago. I was lucky enough to spend a little extra time with it, and the first thing that struck me was how similar it felt to my 2012 Panigale. For sure, the riding position is similar, although more refined. And less legroom. It feels like a hardcore sport bike without the discomforts of the 1199. It’s not exactly comfortable, but it works for it’s intended purpose.

The next thing I noticed was what lengths Ducati went to with this engine to make it feel like a twin. It sounds like a twin, it vibrates like a twin, and it feels like a twin while riding in many respects. It’s pretty amazing that you feel like you’re riding a twin, and a Panigale twin in particular, even though it’s a 14,500 RPM 4 cylinder. At higher RPM it sounds like a mix between a MotoGP bike and 2 Ducati twins tied together in the middle, which is pretty much what it is.

I thought it was strange that Ducati called it a “Panigale” with so many differences and the new engine. I’ve heard Ducati refer to this as “the closest thing to a MotoGP bike”. But I have to disagree with Ducati on this point. This is all Panigale Superbike, all the way, no apologies. It can’t be called anything else. If you want a MotoGP bike, get a 2006 Desmosedici (which I was lucky enough to ride). The D16RR is a MotoGP bike. This Panigale V4 is a Superbike. A Panigale.

And now, some of my famous practical but boring information:

o The low fuel light comes on at about 108 miles (108.3 to be exact). This is after some spirited riding, riding across town, and riding 17 miles each way to work mostly on the freeway. Probably a pretty normal mix. I think there’s about a gallon left once the light comes on.

o After 2 fill ups right to the bottom of the filler neck, my mileage has been 38.1 mpg and 37.3 mpg. Wow, not even 40 mpg. Still, not bad for a 200 hp motor! I’m pretty sure I could get close to 50 mpg with a steady hand and constant speed but who wants to do that on this bike?

o The seat is actually not too bad for comfort. Nothing like as bad as the 1199. However, it has sort of a suede like cover, which sticks to jeans. Not so good for movement. I need to try it in my leathers to see if it sticks to those as well.

o The tires are shedding rubber at a pretty alarming rate. The rear one is, anyway. I’ve had it pretty far over on it’s side, accelerating hard, and this seems to be taking a toll. I’m using recommended pressures of 33 front and 30 rear.

o Other than the steering damper which is a bit tight for my tastes, and apparently non-adjustable, my base model feels just as good as the S model to me. It turns just a bit slower, probably due to the heavier wheels. But not much. It’s still way lighter to steer than any other 1000cc superbike I’ve ridden.

o Holy cow this thing puts out some heat. While riding it’s not a big deal. But sitting at a traffic light is getting near unbearable with jeans. I was considering putting it on the kickstand and standing next to it until the light changed. The heat coming up from either side of the seat is really hard to stand. It was about 96 degrees F today when I made this observation. It was still pretty hot when I rode the demo a few weeks ago but not unbearable. The temp was 72 F then.

o The Akrapovic slip on is $4100 from Ducati, plus 5 hours of labor to install. The full system is $5300 from Ducati plus about 10 hours to install. No thanks to either one. That’s just too much. Termignoni is making a full exhaust that looks interesting but I shudder to think about how much it will be. $6k anyone? This thing has enough power for me so it would only be about weight and rideability for me.

o Speaking of rideability, when the engine was good and hot in the 96 F heat today, I was getting some stumbles at idle and small throttle openings. This made it hard to ride smoothly in traffic. Hopefully there will be a map fix soon.

o This may be the fastest motorcycle I’ve ever ridden. I say “may” because I haven’t got very far into the RPM range yet due to break in. Up to about 10,000 RPM on the demo, it’s as fast as anything I remember.

o About break in: The manual says keep it below 6000 RPM, but there’s no tachometer markings or limiters to remind you. I’m trying to keep it below 6000, honest. I guess I’ve hit 9000 or so on mine. 6000 RPM is 84 MPH by the way. 6000 RPM on the 1199 was 107 MPH. Ugh.

More later.

Sorry about the lack of posts 0

Posted on November 06, 2017 by acruhl

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It’s been a while since I’ve written posts. I’m hoping to change that.

The Panigale V4 just came out. I’m sure there will be some stuff to talk about.

Marc Marquez taints the 2015 MotoGP world championship 0

Posted on October 28, 2015 by acruhl

simoncelli
(I haven’t used the black bar since Simoncelli died.)

I’ve been watching Grand Prix motorcycle racing for a very long time (since the late 80s), and I feel like I have some ability to make sense of what happened.

Hopefully you’ve seen the Rossi vs. Marquez incident at Sepang 2015. I won’t explain it, you can watch it on You Tube or various other places.

Full disclosure: I’m a Rossi fan most of the time. I’m also a fan of the rule of law.

When all riders are racing to win, everything falls into place. The rules are easier to enforce. When a rider is racing for a goal other than to win, the result is something that is not for the benefit of racing. This is what I saw at Sepang. I think it should be regulated.

I’ll refer to this article detailing race director Mike Webb’s ruling on the incident:

http://www.crash.net/motogp/news/224594/1/motogp-race-director-explains-rossi-punishment.html

Specifically:

“Marquez told us that he was just riding his normal race and minding his own business, making passes on Valentino without contact. … And that he had no intention of disturbing Valentino.”

And then he goes on to say:

Despite what Marquez said we think he was deliberately trying to affect the pace of Valentino. However he didn’t actually break any rules. Whatever we think about the spirit of the championship, according to the rule book he didn’t make contact.” (Very interesting comment, more on this later.)

By all accounts, Mike Webb is an honorable man, and his opinions should be considered fair.

So we have a situation where Marquez is being exposed as lying to race direction. And he was doing something morally wrong (albeit legal) to alter the results of a hard fought championship that would have gone to a deserving rider. It doesn’t take an experienced viewer to see that Marquez was parking his bike in front of Rossi on corner exits. The big question is, why did he do it? Certainly not “just because it’s legal”.

Rossi should not have done what he did. He probably could have made a hard pass that knocked Marquez off and there would have been little involvement from race direction given their position that Marquez was deliberately trying to wreck his race. These things happen when the racing is hard fought. It happens in nearly every Moto3 race.

Opinion time:

As stated by Mike Webb above “he (Marquez) didn’t actually break any rules”. Why say that? He said it many times after the race apparently. Is Mike Webb trying to make a point? I think he is.

MotoGP has strict rules regarding interfering with another rider’s pace during qualifying. They’ve probably even enforced it a little too harshly at times. I’m not a fan of more rules, but why isn’t there a rule to sanction a rider who deliberately tries to have a disproportionate affect on the championship? Especially when he or she is not involved in the championship? What if Marquez was bought off by book makers to do what he did? He’s the only rider capable of doing what he did, so it’s a plausible theory. And it should be prevented. Is this the point Mike Webb was trying make by saying Marquez didn’t actually break the rules? I really hope it was.

Honda should have immediately sanctioned Marquez after the race, especially once the opinion of Mike Webb was known. They should have warned him strongly before the race to not do what he did so they wouldn’t have to defend it after the race. They let Marquez get out of control and disrespect them and the championship. Rossi only did what any other rider would do (even if it wasn’t good behavior) to win a championship. It’s happened many times before.

As for the clash, what I saw was Rossi taking both of them wide, Marquez getting irate about it and then attempting to cause Rossi to crash. Which would have fulfilled his mission. But he fulfilled his mission anyway. Unless the book makers disagree of course.

I think the legacy of this will be a much bigger black mark on Marquez’s career than Rossi’s. The real champion of the 2015 MotoGP season will be unknown for eternity. And it’s Marquez’s fault. The championship and all of us lose because of it.

(Go Dani Pedrosa.)

Art of Ducati – new Ian Falloon book 0

Posted on July 25, 2014 by acruhl

There’s a new book available from one of the best authors of Ducati related material – Ian Falloon.

The book is called “Art of Ducati”, and here are a few photos (Click them for larger versions, sorry they aren’t great quality):

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And there are many more bikes in the book, some of which are: MH900E, 998R, 999R, 1098R Bayliss, MHR900, Supermono, many vintage bikes, and more.

This book can be purchased here:
http://www.motorbooks.com/books/The-Art-of-Ducati/9780760345443

If you are a club memeber, read your email from July 25, 2014 before making the purchase.

Gilmour bicycles – handmade in Tucson! 0

Posted on July 02, 2014 by acruhl

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(Click on pictures for a larger version)
Andy Gilmour, proprietor of Gilmour bicycles, makes custom hand made bicycle frames right here in Tucson. Andy is also a long time Ducati enthusiast, and a member of DesmoSouthwest. He meets with us on his silver ST3 once in a while, and regularly watches the MotoGP and WSBK races with us.

Motorcyclists tend to be bicycle riders/fans. Most big name MotoGP and WSBK riders train on bicycles. Many of our members ride bicycles, sometimes on the same roads and the same time as our DesmoSouthwest street rides!

Gilmour has some “stock” frames (and complete bikes) he would like to sell, so I went over and took a few photos of them to try to help out. Workmanship is superb:
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Gilmour frames are made for racing, and have participated in the Tour de France, among other races.

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If you ride road bikes and you’re in the market for a new one, it would be worth contacting Gilmour to see if a deal can be done. He has carbon fiber, aluminum, and steel frames in stock, although he specializes in steel and aluminum. He can build you a custom frame if you prefer of course.

Frames and bikes might start showing up on Craig’s list soon, so it would be worth looking there as well as contacting Gilmour directly.

Contact info for Gilmour is here:

www.gilmourbicycles.us

DesmoSouthwest gains not one, but two 1199 Superleggeras! 0

Posted on June 08, 2014 by acruhl

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As you can see above, DesmoSouthwest now has two 1199 Superleggeras in the club.

They are quite a sight. At first they looked like normal but orange colored 1199s. But as you get closer you can see the special parts pop out quite quickly. An Ohlins shock with titanium spring, when have you ever seen that on another bike? I think never (from the factory that is). Black Ohlins forks which were reserved for bikes like the 999R Xerox and Desmosedici. Magnesium wheels, which are not common at all on street bikes, come standard.

Something that is really surprising is that this bike comes from the factory with an Akrapovic exhaust. I’m not someone who trolls the internet reading every opinion about why this is the case, but I have my own. Termignoni is just not high quality stuff. Not the stuff they sell to street riders, anyway. It would be ridiculous to let this bike down with something of inferior quality, so Ducati went right to one of the top exhaust manufacturers, Akrapovic. Everything they make looks top quality. And they usually put out pretty good dyno numbers as well. The only exhaust company that makes stuff that looks better (in my opinion) is Moto Corse from Japan, but they don’t really have the racing pedigree of Akrapovic.

The owner says that the bikes work very well, possibly surpassing the Desmosedici. I find this hard to process, because I was lucky enough to ride a well set up Desmosedici and I thought that bike would not be surpassed in my lifetime as far as the sensation that you’re riding a racing motorcycle from the factory on the street. He has a few special bikes, and from what I can tell, the 1199 Superleggera is at the top of the list so far.

What a treat to be able to see such special bikes show up on our weekly rides!

DesmoSouthwest Concorso 2014 – April 6th 0

Posted on March 15, 2014 by acruhl

Our Annual Concoroso event is April 6th, 2014 at Brandi Fenton Park, Ramada A. See the Club Activities page for a map.

This is an opportunity to bring out your bikes and show them off while looking at other great bikes. Bring your Italian bikes, or if you don’t have one, bring whatever you have. Be sure to shine them up!

Lunch and drinks will be served around Noon.

Here’s a few photos of bikes that have been in the Concorso before, or are part of the club (click photos for a larger version):

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Bevel drive classics from ItalianIron.com 0

Posted on November 29, 2013 by acruhl

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Above we have Scot Wilson’s 2 Bevel drive 750 Sport street bikes, one as a Bruno Spaggari replica.

Below is his Spaggiari replica racer with blueprinted engine.
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