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My new 1199 Panigale, part 7

Posted on July 12, 2012 by acruhl

Image courtesy of www.ultimatemotorcycling.com.

Don’t forget to read the previous parts:

Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5, Part 6.

I have been reading enough nonsense on the internet about this bike that I’m finally ready to go off on an editorial tear about it. So here we go.

The monocoque chassis. It didn’t work out on the MotoGP bike. Or, as far as they know right now, it didn’t seem to work out. It’s not 100% clear that it was the real problem. The 1199 has a similar chassis in theory.

Anyone who is not as fast as Troy Bayliss or Carlos Checa, and has not ridden a fully race prepped 1199 that then goes on to say that the monocoque chassis design (as opposed to something else) is flawed is an idiot. I’m trying to think of a worse word, but for now that will do. Any journalist who said it who is not or was not a professional racer should be fired (keep in mind that most expert club racers are faster than the vast majority of journalists). And even then I’d be skeptical because probably none of them are as fast as Eddi La Marra is on his Superstock 1199 (he is #47 in the header picture right now), and he’s doing pretty damn well for a guy on a bike that was unboxed for the first time about 5 months ago. His teammate Lorenzo Savadori won a race on the 1199.

Note that sometimes more “conventional” bikes come out and they are not easy to set up in the beginning. The 2006 Kawasaki ZX-10R comes to mind. It’s entirely possible that the 1199 Panigale might have the some issues at race pace, but to immediately attach these problems to a specific chassis design (and not, say, geometry or suspension settings) is ludicrous.

When a top level racer who has spent lots of time on a race prepped 1199 is directly quoted as saying that the 1199 chassis design is flawed, I MIGHT believe it. I’m not sure I believe it was a problem on the MotoGP bike because Stoner won on it, and they have been chasing their tails with Rossi ever since.

There was speculation on Facebook by a rather untrustworthy british magazine (Fast Bikes) that Carlos Checa might switch teams next year because he doesn’t like the 1199, and the miserable jerks said that it could be related to the chassis. With no evidence, at all.

Let’s say that Checa really is looking for a new job next year. This is not hugely surprising. He went so well last year on the 1198R that WSBK decided to penalize him and add weight to the bike this year. He’s not doing nearly as well this year for whatever reason (probably many, and he got taken out by Melandri). So next year he would have to get on a totally new bike (the 1199), which is as different from the 1198 as the Kawasaki is, and develop it himself. And in the back of your head you have to believe that Ducati (via Audi) has shifted more effort to Rossi on the Desmosedici than they would to Checa on the 1199. So why not start over new with a new team on a bike which is getting pole position almost every race (the Kawasaki)? Or Aprilia or BMW? Nicky Hayden to the rescue? Yes, please.

Ok, back to random discussion points about the 1199 after 898 miles:

o I still haven’t been to the track with the 1199. This is poor. And it probably won’t happen for another few months. It’s too hot, and I have a new kid. These aren’t exceptionally bad reasons for not going to the track, though.

o More fuel mileage info: I put gas in it quite a few times since the last post. 55.5 miles and 1.589 gallons is 34.9 mpg. The dash said 37.6. 101.0 miles and 2.924 gallons. 34.5 mpg, the dash said 37.4. 114.6 miles and 3.048 gallons. 37.6 mpg, the dash said 36.9. 93.2 miles and 2.672 gallons. 34.9 mpg, the dash says 36.5. I really don’t know why I care. I don’t. I’m doing this for you, the reader. And I don’t even get paid.

o I turned off the EBC (Engine Braking Control). I never had a bike with it before, so I’m not missing much. It was just a little weird on the street. When I go to the track, I’ll turn it back on and report back.

o The DQS (Ducati Quick Shifter) works exceptionally well at high RPM and large throttle openings. What I said before was in the context of the 6000 RPM limit during break in. It’s still not perfect at low RPM, but at high RPM it seems pretty seamless. I purposely shifted the engine at high lean angles and high RPM to test it (upshifting anyway), and it works very well. I might still use the clutch for downshifts in that type of situation though.

o I switched to “195Hi” for the Sport mode, which is the same as they use in Race mode. You can tell that the throttle response is more direct, but at lower RPM it’s not so nice. The surging coupled with direct throttle response makes the bike difficult to ride smoothly at lower RPM around town. Sport mode with “195lo” is really better for around town.

o The yellow traction control light has not come on one time with the DTC (Ducati Traction Control) set to 3. I tried. At 5 it was no problem to get the light to come on. Maybe I’m not trying hard enough. Maybe I should wait until I get to the track.

o I had the first service done at Renaissance Motorcycles with total satisfaction. It was about $233, including about $70 for Motul 300V 15w50 (I think) oil. The oil filter was about $36 if memory serves. This is really expensive for an oil filter, but how can I complain? I knew what I was getting into. The big surprise is that there was not a new fuel map. They really want me to spend $2000 on the slip on and accompanying map!

o Amazingly, I modified the bike. I put on a Battery Tender cable. There really isn’t a very good place to put it. I just zip tied it to a fairing mount. Velcro on the inside of the fairing would probably work better. But it should be easy enough to use alligator clips on the battery terminals once you take the little fuse panel off. I might just do this instead.

o Some companies are starting to make race bodywork. I’ll have to look into the more reputable ones at some point. Sharkskinz have always done me well in the past. Catalyst and Armour Bodies makes nice stuff as well.

o There is still no aftermarket slip on or full exhaust system that I’ve found other than the Termignoni. I’m hoping for a reputable company such as Akrapovic, Arrow, Zard, Leo Vince, Yoshimura etc to make one, and then I’m hoping that Bazzaz has the self tuning computer for it as well. I don’t know where I would put it though… I would be doing this mostly just to be different, and because I don’t like the stock fuel map very well. If I liked the stock fuel map, I wouldn’t touch it. Although putting on a freer flowing exhaust does cut down on exhaust heat getting into other places, which is a bonus.

o I’ve said it before, but I want to re-state it: The new TFT instrument panel is not the perfect solution. In bright sunlight in Tucson (which is mostly all the time), it can be hard to read. I would prefer an analog tach and possibly speedometer and then the rest can be digital, but there’s not a lot of room for this. It’s miles better than an LCD panel, though. And it’s probably the best way that current technology allows for displaying that much info. E-ink would be interesting (like a Kindle), but it doesn’t refresh very quickly and they would have to back light it somehow. Let’s leave it at this: This TFT is the best way to display this much information on a motorcycle for the time being.

o The engine in this bike is unlike any other I’ve ever ridden. I think the best way to describe it is it’s sort of like a 999S engine, just much, much faster. There are no dips or hits, it’s just even power from idle to redline. It does have a bit of a jump maybe around 7000 RPM, but it’s subtle compared to the midrange hit of an 1198 or the high RPM “rip your arms off” feeling that most 4 cylinders have. It’s deceptively fast, it doesn’t feel like you’re going as fast as you are, which was very typical of Ducati superbikes prior to the 1098.

o Gearing is not so much an issue as it used to be. My 998 was geared ultra high. Going from 15 to 14 teeth on the countershaft really didn’t solve much. My 996 had better gearing but it was way lower than stock. This 1199 feels like it’s geared a bit high, but nothing like the previous bikes. It feels similar to a current 1000cc 4 cylinder actually. If they geared those things any lower they would be unmanageable, so they are a bit high. Same here, probably.

Look, this bike is awesome. It’s beyond expectations. It’s hard to overstate how well Ducati has done with this bike. I need to get it to the track to really be able to say this with total confidence, but I’m pretty convinced so far. Just keep in mind it’s not for cruising, it’s for racing and you have to deal with the side effects on the street, there’s no way around that. I’m pretty sure that 95% of street riders would be faster at track days on this than any 4 cylinder bike, just due to the very predictable nature of the handling and engine power. Yes it’s expensive, but as far as I can tell you get every penny of what you paid for with the base model. The S and Tricolore models are pretty pricey, if you are getting those you probably aren’t so concerned about cost. And being honest I’m not sure how much better they will be for fast street riding or track days (speculation since I haven’t done a track day yet).

Go get one! Renaissance has an base model with ABS, and another base model without ABS (like mine) coming soon.

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