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Monster 1200S, Supersport S, Scrambler 1100 S demo ride notes 0

Posted on August 25, 2018 by acruhl



Above are pictures of the bikes, in the same order as the title.

I spent part of a day last weekend riding some demo bikes at On Any Moto. They are very generous with their demo bikes, and I really enjoy riding all types of bikes to see what impression they leave.

My intention was to ride the Supersport then head home. I get a lot of questions about this bike, and I was curious about it myself.

But there was a big surprise after riding a few other bikes, read on for my thoughts.

The Supersport is kind of a confusing bike for me. It’s at a pretty high price point for what it is, and it has a small-ish engine compared to some of it’s competition. One of the sales people said it is a bike for someone who wants a Panigale but lives in the real world. I can go with that. Of course, it’s a Ducati so it has the nice single sided swingarm and great looks.

Thankfully, it’s a very well sorted bike. It’s the first one I went out on of the three. The immediate impression is it’s a very friendly, “sit in” riding position. It’s lacking some legroom for a sport touring bike, but it seems made for shorter or smaller riders in general so this is fair enough. It feels light. It goes side to side easily. There is plenty of power, but it’s never intimidating. The suspension is set up for comfort more than footpeg scratching. I was thinking this bike would work equally well for touring up to the mountains or a quick track day with some minor suspension adjustment. That alone makes it worth considering for someone that can only have one bike.

The second bike I went out on was one I really had little interest in, the Scrambler 1100 Sport. One of the mechanics was raving about it and insisted that I took a quick ride on it. Apparently he’s saving his money to buy one of his own. I was really not bothered to ride it but I decided to be polite and go around the block.

After about 100 yards I knew this was something special. Ducati really hit it out of the park with this one.

Strangely, from sitting on the bike it looks and feels a lot like an early 80’s standard bike like a GPz or GS750 or something. It has a wide gas tank and tubular handlebar, and what seems like a very similar riding position. And simple gauges (although LCD). It’s really a cool feeling.

But that’s where the similarity stops because it’s got a twin cylinder engine and way, way better suspension and handling than the dinosaurs the riding position reminds me of.

What an engine. You need this engine in your life. What a sound. I immediately thought of all the bikes that the air cooled 1100 engine came in and decided I needed all of them, including this one. Well, in an ideal world anyway. (Ok, why not: Multistrada 1100, Hypermotard 1100, Monster 1100 or EVO. And this one. What am I missing?)

I decided to ride over Gates Pass to get a few corners in. And it handled very well. It does a reasonable impression of a sport bike if you push, even though it has knobby-ish tires and an 18 inch front wheel.

It’s very comfortable. It makes me feel like I would rather be riding this than an older Multistrada 1100 since it has less “stuff” (bodywork mainly) and might be better on dirt roads. A nice tail bag plus a tank bag would be ideal. You could ride all the way across the country, paved roads or not, and not get bored of it.

I think I’m not doing a very good job of conveying how good it is. It’s just a really well sorted out bike, and you’d never guess from how it looks. It’s way better than it looks.

The third bike I rode is the Monster 1200S. I’ve never been much of a Monster guy. I want either an upright touring type of bike (like my junkyard Multistrada 620 dark), or a sport bike. Monsters have this compact, aggressive head over the handlebar riding position which makes a lot of sense for sort of an “urban attack” style bike, but it’s not really for me. Lots of people love it though. Fair enough.

But what an engine. The 1198 superbike motor should live on forever because it’s one of the all time greats. Torque, power, it’s got it all. When you twist the throttle, there is absolutely no delay in gaining speed. You’re going much faster immediately (given you’re not 2 or 3 gears away from where you should be). It’s almost alarming with the upright and compact riding position. The sensation of speed is pretty intense.

The Ohlins suspension is very well controlled along with well tuned electronics so you know it’s probably not going to do anything silly. But it sure feels like it wants to. And I think this is the essence of it. It’s a bruiser tamed just a bit by modern technology. A Monster. And it is.

What a fun day. And I never thought I would like the Scrambler so much. Sometimes things don’t go how you expect.

My new Panigale V4, part 7 – another trackday! 0

Posted on August 25, 2018 by acruhl


(Knee down but crap lean angle… Read on for my inevitable excuse… Photo by Dan Katz.)
First read Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5 (trackday!) and Part 6.

I got another chance to go out to Inde Motorsports Ranch for a trackday on the new V4. I feel like I had a lot of unfinished business from the last trackday, but I didn’t finish it due to tires. Or lack thereof. Read on for more info.

The On Any Moto crew invited me to another trackday which I’m grateful for. These trackdays they have been doing have pretty much been OAM staff only, and me, your humble club president. Hopefully soon it will open up to more riders.

So I had all these ideas about changing electronics and testing out all the different settings, but the rear tire put a damper on that. I hadn’t changed tires since the last track day (really 1/2 to 2/3rds of a day) and my dealer didn’t have a set of Supercorsa SP V3 in stock at the time anyway.

It was evident from the first session that the right side of the rear tire had taken a serious beating on the last track day, and there was very little drive grip available this time out. DCT (traction control) settings from 4 (more intervention) to 1 (less intevention) felt about the same to me. The electronics would let the tire spin wildly as lean angle decreased from maximum depending on how much throttle I gave it, but they never let the tire go very sideways (which prevents catastrophe). I could lay down lines from turn 7 all the way to the chicane at turn 8 which felt like 50 or 60 yards. Left turns were nice because the tire was in relatively better shape so I could drive through them pretty hard.

Like I said in my last trackday post, I’m not sure the SC2 compound on the side of the rear tire is ideal for the conditions. It’s a hot and abrasive track, probably better suited to SC1. And I wasn’t using tire warmers because these are street tires right? I just gave them a few laps to warm up, and made sure they were in the sun between sessions. Maybe I will try warmers next time. But next time I’m hoping to have slicks (SC2/SC1) or maybe a different type of tire.

The front tire seemed like it hung in there pretty good. But I was still treating it like a street tire and not a race tire since it gave me a few warnings last time out. I’m sure I was getting 5-10 degrees more lean angle on my old 998 with race tires the last time I had it out here. I just wasn’t confident to ride this V3 front tire hard, but this may have been unfounded.

EDIT: It sounds like I’m really down on these tires and I want to clarify something. These work great on the road. No issues at all. They worked really great for my first 2 or 3 sessions out on the track as well. But I think they are not the ideal tire for the conditions I’m riding in. I’m also a former expert racer so I’m probably pushing them harder than 95% of other people riding this bike. Next time I will try slicks to compare. I also want to try other brands.

I left DWC (wheelie control) on 1 and for the most part the bike didn’t wheelie much. It would lift the front over “wheelie hill” (between 11 and 12) but not too bad. I was expecting more wheelies coming onto the straight but I think the combination of traction control and wheelie control mostly kept the front down (unlike my old 1199 which would wheelie violently there!). I really wanted to try turning wheelie control off but I just couldn’t. My friend’s old ZX-10R race bike would wheelie in 4th gear on straights, which is not entirely pleasant. This bike probably has 20-30 more horsepower.

Something occurred to me the other day. The base model V4 doesn’t have an electronically adjustable steering damper like the V4S does. I saw the magazine photos of guys holding the front wheel about a foot off the ground on corner exits. I wasn’t able to do that. It would wheelie very briefly and then come back down. Is this Ducati doing more to control the wheelie on the base model because they can’t tighten up the steering damper for the “touchdown”? I think this is possible.

So I’m not really sure these electronics laden superbikes are for me. I’m sure I’m going around the track pretty quickly, but is it me or R2-D2 behind me (“lock it down R2!”) doing the riding? I’m not going to say I’m some kind of track riding genius but I can hold my own, and I don’t feel like I’m using all of my skills to ride this bike. I’ve got literally thousands of track miles at many different tracks, so I feel like I know what I want by now. It feels like I’d rather ride a friendly 130-140 horsepower bike than a raging 190+ horsepower bike that needs electronics to reign it in. To underline this, I rode a KTM 390 cup bike for about 5 or 6 laps and had a whole lot of fun. Not fast at all but you’re solving a whole lot less problems and stressing less on it. There’s something to be said for that!

My new Panigale V4, part 6 0

Posted on August 11, 2018 by acruhl


First read Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4 and Part 5 (trackday!)

Yes, I did a dyno run. I’m not going to reveal the horsepower numbers because it was 106 degrees and the dyno doesn’t do perfect conversions for temperature. It’s above 180 and below 200 let’s say. The curve was pretty smooth so I’m happy with it. A few notes though: I was worried this would tear up the rear tire based on the wear I’ve seen on the street and the track. Turns out that thin strip of “street compound” tread down the center of the rear tire did it’s job and the tire didn’t suffer too much. We didn’t get torque because you have to get an RPM takeoff and it’s not so easy to do on this bike. You have to lift the gas tank and I didn’t want them to spend the time to do it. To do a proper run you have to turn off traction control, which isn’t obvious on this bike and I didn’t study how to do it. I just assumed you could set DTC to 0 in race mode. You can’t. There’s another menu to do it. It took us a few minutes to find it. Anyways.

Riding this bike on the street is not nearly as unpleasant as I thought it would be. Going back to the 1199, I bought it pretty much sight unseen and didn’t get a test ride. I was just so enthused that Ducati went so “all out” on a twin that I had to have it. Within about a mile on my first ride I was thinking “what did I get myself into?”. It was just an animal. Imagine trying to go on a nice walk with your dog, but your dog is a tiger. It’s pulling you along, dictating what’s happening. You’re pretty much just trying to keep things under control and not get injured. That’s how it was with the 1199. I’ve heard the exhaust and map cured it but I never rode one with that stuff.

Not so on this bike. I got to test ride the V4S before I got mine and it only made me more certain that I wanted mine. It ran fine on the street, albeit super duper hot from the exhausts on the rear cylinders. Otherwise, it would cruise along on the street and still work really well on the mountain road. My base model was the same. And now that this new map is in place that deactivates the rear cylinders at a stop, it pretty much solves the heat issue. My only real issue is my throttle hand gets sore after some time. I’m thinking that’s my problem as much as the bike’s. I have to work on relaxing and supporting my body with my legs more on longer rides.

I haven’t done a thing to it (other than add a battery tender cable!) and it worked really, really well at the track as I stated earlier. This is the way motorcycling should be from my perspective, and it’s certainly not guaranteed that it will be with any bike you buy. The 1199 was an obvious example. Apparently the current GSX-R1000 is another example. They seriously limit the upper RPM power just because they want to. I would have returned this bike if I thought that was going on. (And it may be to some small extent, but it’s seriously fast so I’m not complaining.)

But I’m probably going to do a few things anyway. I don’t have lots of money to go around spending, this bike put a serious dent into that. But I think a few things might make it better. I want to get a lightweight battery since it’s mounted so high. I can see that making a bit of difference. (Although slim fast is cheaper and probably a smarter idea.) The lighter wheels on the V4S made a real difference at the track, so I might look into that. OZ makes some lighter wheels for not too awful much money. Also, I’m a huge fan of the 7 spoke forged wheels that came on the 2009 1198S, but I don’t know if they are that much lighter than my current cast wheels. I always tell people to upgrade controls first (levers, rearsets, brake lines) but the stock stuff works really well so I might not touch that stuff. Suspension upgrades are another obvious thing. During setup, ESP found that there is either a “bleed” circuit for rebound on the front (so you can’t completely lock it up) or it just doesn’t have enough range, but doesn’t have enough range and we’d like a bit ability to control rebound damping. So that requires a valving change. The rear shock is probably set up with a light spring that is preloaded heavily because there’s not a lot of initial movement and it’s a bit harsh. It ends up working OK at track pace but it’s a bit harsh at lower speeds. I’m thinking a Penske shock with the proper spring would be nice if it exists. I’ll look into it.

I could do with spending money on lots of other stuff though, including my dirt bike and 998. That’s probably a better idea because this Panigale V4 works pretty well already… And I need a new helmet… And leathers… And boots… Gotta keep the spending under control…

Panigale V4 vs. Panigale V4S track comparison 0

Posted on August 05, 2018 by acruhl


(This was the only picture I got of both bikes together. Suck.)

Ok, that title sounds a little dramatic for what was really only a 5 lap ride on a Panigale V4S that wasn’t mine. But I did ride it back to back with my own Panigale V4 (base model), so there are some useful takeaways.

First, this particular bike had the full Akrapovic slip on exhaust and map (the one you buy from Ducati), and it was noticeably faster than my stock base model bike. The engines in these bikes are supposed to be the same from the factory. So that being equal, the exhaust and map makes a very noticeable difference in straight line speed at high rpm. It’s hard to compare at lower RPM through corners because power is so high on both bikes. And the V4S was in Sport mode (softer throttle map) and my base model was in race mode. However, on the straight in 4th gear, it was obvious that the V4S with exhaust was faster, no question. As if you need more power on this bike…

What I really wanted to know is what do you get for your extra $6000 or so, and is it worth it?

Cornering first impressions are that the V4S goes side to side noticeably easier than the base model. This is probably due to the lighter wheels, which are always better than heavier wheels for the track. Probably the lighter battery, mounted up high by the gas cap doesn’t hurt either. I’m not a huge fan of the looks of the forged aluminum Ducati wheels at all, but you can’t argue with the results.

The V4S also was much smoother than my base model bike. The electronic suspension was probably doing something right from what I can tell. Transitions from braking to full lean could be done with a bit more confidence, and there was less movement at the apex of corners. I was holding back a little because this wasn’t my bike and crashing was not an option. So I can’t say if electronic suspension is the way to go when you’re going for track records. But it’s better for track day pace for sure.

I think the light wheels were also helping suspension action. It’s easier to control a lighter wheel, and it’s going to deflect easier over bumps. A heavier wheel will try to move the whole bike over bumps more than a lighter wheel.

Conclusion: I like adjusting my own suspension, it’s part of the fun of going fast. So my preference is for manual adjustment in the base model. However, I think for the average track day rider the V4S’s electronic suspension and lighter wheels are a real improvement you can feel and appreciate. But you can easily get a base model bike, buy some lighter wheels, and upgrade the suspension for less money… This is my preference. So I’m still convinced the base model Panigale V4 is the better value overall. Most Ducati buyers aren’t into value though, which is fine. These people should buy the V4S. It works better.

Hopefully I’ll have the time and money to try some upgraded wheels, and I’m hoping to get the Showa BPF front suspension sprung and valved properly for me. When a nice rear shock shows up on the aftermarket (Penske!), I will probably go for one of those as well. And I will have still spent less than a V4S!

Edit (8/11/18): I was told the V4S test bike has the Akrapovic slip on, which is even more impressive in regards to how much more power it has. Also, something else I didn’t take into account is the slip on is something like 15 pounds lighter than the stock exhaust (correct me if I’m wrong). That plus the wheels and lighter battery really leave an impression on how the bike goes side to side.

My new Panigale V4, part 5 – trackday! 0

Posted on August 03, 2018 by acruhl


(Sorry I didn’t get any good pictures, there was no photographer. So here’s a picture of the tire after the day was over.)
First read Part 1, Part 2, Part 3 and Part 4.

So I finally got the Panigale V4 to a track day. Unfortunately I am pretty out of shape right now and I didn’t get in as many laps as I wanted to, but that might have been a blessing in disguise. More on that later.

I was lucky enough to be invited to a private track day at Inde Motorsports Ranch near Willcox. I have hundreds of laps around this track, but unfortunately the last time I was here was years ago. Somehow the layout came back to me like I was just on it the day before because I was hitting my marks and getting my knee down by the 2nd lap out. Wow. I surprised myself. This is a 2 1/2 mile lap with more than 20 corners! It’s easy to forget where you’re going!

A few days before I had Evan Steel Performance help me set sag and clickers to get a decent baseline. For the most part, the bike did what I wanted it to so this was good. Maybe toward the end of the day I could have played with clickers a bit but I didn’t because I just needed laps. Next time.

Ok, so on to the juicy info. My first impression is this thing is very, very fast. Like, the fastest in a straight line that I have ever ridden. I saw an indicated 160MPH in 4th at the end of the straight which is not bad. But it’s not scary because it’s not trying to highside me or wheelie out of control. This is obviously down to electronics. I had it in Race mode, and I think I made a few changes (DWC 1, DTC 2) but otherwise left it alone. Probably a good way to describe how it worked was pretty natural. It felt like a way, way faster 600. It went side to side like a 600, and you could hammer the throttle out of corners like a 600 and not worry that much (again, due to electronics). It would wheelie a little and spin, just like my old 600 did when I was racing. Nothing too severe. This bike is phenomenal. Super duper fast but manageable through electronics… It’s changing my opinion of riding high powered bikes on the track which I never liked before.

On to (stock) Pirelli Supercorsa V3 tires. I’m not sure that these are such a huge improvement over the Supercorsa V2. I set pressures at 30 front and 26 rear which is somewhere in the range of recommended for track use. The front gave me a few warnings, pretty normal for a street tire. I just rode around it. But it still performed pretty good. The rear was spinning pretty much the whole time after the first session. A guy riding behind me said I was laying down lines on a lot of exits. I felt like I was as well. The tire is pretty worn about halfway to the center from the edge where I’m straightening up and driving off the corner. I let 2 pounds of air out of it and it made very little difference, if any. The track temperature was pretty high, this might have contributed. As a matter of fact, I’m sure it contributed because Pirelli says the sides of the rear tire are SC2 compound, which is not ideal for hot conditions.. In the end I’m not sure any tire other than a full race slick is suited to a bike with this much power though. But the way these tires tear themselves up on the street and then spin so much at the track… This strikes me as Pirelli making an “appearances” tire as much as a good performing tire. A tire that looks like you ran a WSBK race after a street ride probably makes people feel pretty good about themselves, but doesn’t do much for traction on the racetrack so far in my experience… I’ll buy another set and try again probably, unless I decide to just get DOT race tires (SC0 or 1!) and try those.

The suspension was working pretty good, other than maybe a few extra bounces in places that the clickers can probably solve. The rear is preloaded pretty hard from the factory and did a pretty good job of supporting the rear under acceleration.

Now for electronics… I have to admit I don’t have a lot of time on bikes at the track with so many electronics. I really don’t know how to adjust other than just ride it and feel it out. The quickshifter worked very well in both directions (although I missed a 2nd to 3rd shift once under full power, probably not the quickshifter’s fault). It really makes life easier. Traction control was allowing the tire to spin quite a bit coming off corners, and this is at DTC 2. I wanted to try 1 but I never did. I didn’t change DSC (slide control). I kinda wish I set it lower so it would allow a bit more sideways motion when the rear tire broke loose, but anyways. I didn’t adjust engine brake control, didn’t feel like I needed too. It had some engine braking, which was good. I never felt ABS intervene. I was worried that it would. To be honest, this is not really a hard braking track so I’ll have to test it elsewhere. DWC (wheelie control) was set to 1 and I never got a wheelie exiting corners hard in 2nd gear. I felt like I should have though. I remember getting wheelies in 4th gear on my friends old ZX-10R race bike so I’m sure DWC is doing something here. Maybe I’ll try turning it off for the fun of it… The 1199 didn’t have it and it would wheelie hard exiting onto the straight in 2nd gear, so I know it’s working on this bike.

I’m a bit disappointed in my own performance. I normally start working out in some fashion before I go to the track but I did nothing this time. I really need to start running again or get some good cardio workout because that was my biggest issue, no stamina. Then again, it was hot and humid (typical Arizona monsoon season weather) and everyone was suffering to some extent. But probably me most. It didn’t help that I’m out there trying to ride to my full potential in the first sessions either. I should have taken it a lot easier and worked up to the pace. Ironically, the last session of the day I was really too tired to ride, but this forced me to relax and save energy and I’m pretty sure I was going just as fast as when I was really trying hard and tiring myself out. It’s a reminder that riding fast is mostly mental, and I really need to remember that and work up to it instead of just going for it.

Looking forward to my next track day. I think I can ride these tires 1 more time if I don’t wear them out on the street. But I might just go for some DOT race tires or slicks, we’ll see. There’s lots of interesting tires out there. Hopefully next time I will play with the electronics and suspension clickers more as well. Next time!

(Next post: Panigale V4 vs. Panigale V4S comparison at the track, yes I’m a lucky guy….)

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 to put the miles on it. 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

Panigale-V4-MY18-Red-02-Slider-Gallery-1920x1080
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.)



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