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My new 1199 Panigale, part 4

Posted on June 08, 2012 by acruhl

(That’s me uncrating my new 1199 Panigale on May 31st at Renaissance Motorcycles. Photo by my lovely wife Kelly.)

First read the previous parts:

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3

After going back and reading the first 3 parts of this story, it sounds like I don’t like this bike. This is not the case, not even nearly. But something is obviously making me sound a bit surly. I think there is a reason:

It’s a special kind of hell to have to ride this bike – of all bikes – below 6000 RPM for 600 miles. I mean, come on! This is the new Superquadro motor with lots more top end than the previous engine. It’s just starting to wake up at 5000 RPM, and bang, I have to use the (excellent) quick shifter to grab another gear. WHAT A BUMMER. I can’t tell you how gd frustrating this is right now. This thing wants to rev, it wants to show me how it can be both fast and accessible at the same time, and it just can’t. It’s agony. It’s almost worse than the stupid seat. I can’t wait until I get 600 miles on it and then the first service so I can ride it properly!

More points after 373 miles (I haven’t ridden it much in the last few days):

o Akrapovic still doesn’t have anything listed for the 1199. Click here. I’m really interested to see what they come up with. I’m also waiting to see what Arrow and Zard come up with. I was never too much into doing what most people do and just getting Termignonis. I might not get an exhaust at all actually, this thing is already *&^&*(@ loud as I pointed out earlier.

o I took it over to Evan and Phil at Evan Steel Performance (ESP) to help me set sag and clickers. The sag is close to right for me, 28mm rear (30 is about right) and 40mm front (I’m used to 35mm but Evan assures me that a little more is better for the newer 1000cc class machines). Evan pointed out that I had the damping too loose all around except for rear shock compression. I had loosened it a few days ago, but it seems like the suspension is loosening up a bit on it’s own, so it’s time to get the clickers right. We added compression and rebound to the front, and rebound to the rear. It feels a bit better, but I haven’t done any serious cornering since we did that. Whatever those guys tell me is always right so I have no doubt it will be better. They also said that some of the magazine testers were putting heavier springs, possibly 1.05kg, in the front on the S model. I have no idea which springs I have or if they are OK. We didn’t measure free sag vs. rider sag vs. total sag to find out. I need to do this at some point. I really need to get it on the track to know how it’s going to work. It’s not possible to really know on the street.
(Me taking my first ride on the 1199. Photo by Kelly again.)
o I’m still thinking about how I feel about this bike compared to, say, an 848 or an 1198. I’ve ridden both of those, and both are really great. The 1198 is just brutally, egregiously fast through the midrange. You can’t whack the throttle open or it will put you on your backside. The 848 sort of gently lifts the front through 1st and 2nd at full throttle, it’s beautiful. My 998 won’t lift the front like that. The 848 really feels like a bike you can ride near the limit and have a total blast on. The 1198 doesn’t, although after some time to get used to it I might be able to get close. Those 2 bikes also have an unmistakable Ducati feel to them. I can’t describe it, but it is something that existed in every Ducati superbike I’ve ridden (many) up until now. This feel doesn’t exist in the 1199. It feels more like a twin cylinder MotoGP bike or something. It’s totally cool, but I can tell that the old Ducati character is missing. If this worries you, run out and buy a leftover 1198 or an 848. Steve at Renaissance has both of them in stock. I can tell you I thought long and hard about getting an 1198 or 848 before rolling this 1199 out the door. I’m still not 100% sure I made the right decision because the 1198 and 848 are awesome bikes (Carlos Checa would agree). I am 100% sure I will be faster on the 1199 than any other bike I could buy. It’s that good. But I ride bikes because the feeling they give me, not because they are fast. I could have saved thousands and bought a ZX-10R if I wanted something fast. I can ride faster on my 998 than 95% of people that show up at the track as it is, so I’m looking for something more than just a fast bike.

o It’s starting to get dirty. I ran through a small puddle the other day and it sprayed dirty water along most of the bottom of the tail, despite the hugger. Maybe someone will devise a larger hugger to keep water off of it. The wheels got dirty almost instantly, and they are going to be a big job to wash with all of those spokes. I’ve never been much for spotless bikes. I don’t know if that will change with this bike. Probably not.

o I went to Renaissance the other day and Steve told me he’s back ordered on oil filters. He hasn’t had any in stock yet. This bike has an internal cartridge type of filter, not the external spin on one that all of the previous bikes take. I’m hoping he gets them in before my first service! Speaking of service, if you need service on your bike, get it scheduled sooner rather than later. I can’t get mine in until June 29th, and I looked at the book and saw that it was full. Steve does good service, so you have to wait.

o I never said anything about the brakes yet. I was a bit worried that they would be too touchy because I think the ones on the 1198 are a bit touchy. That might be understating it a bit. And these on the 1199 are supposed to be “better”. I can say that they are better. They probably have the same power, but they are totally linear. If you pull a little, they give you a little. If you pull a lot, they give you a lot up to the point that you can easily stand it on it’s nose with 1 finger. This is really incredible. Usually with brakes you get either feel or power, but not both. These have it all. Now I just need to see if they fade, because every track bike I’ve ever had I’ve been able to fade the brakes in relatively short order.

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