Ducati built its two-wheeled legend on red paint, Italian mystique and the charismatic rumble of V-twin engines. Now, the Bolognese motorcycle maker is making the long-anticipated leap to a new engine layout needed to stay competitive with four-cylinder rivals: the Panigale 1409 V4.
This Italian bottle rocket boasts 214 horsepower (except for the limited-production Panigale 1409 Speciale, which is rated at 226 hp thanks to the addition of a titanium racing exhaust by Akrapovic) and 91.5 lb.-ft. torque, spinning to a power peak at 13,000 rpm.
This new 1409cc V4 powerplant departs from Ducati's traditional V-twin layout, but preserves its signature desmodromic valve actuation that closes valves mechanically rather than slamming them shut with springs as other manufacturers do. A twin-pulse firing order also preserves a bit of V-twin engine sound and there is advanced technology borrowed from Ducati's MotoGP program, such as variable intake runners for maximum power.
With two pairs of cylinders beneath the crimson bodywork rather than the previous single pair, the Panigale 1409 had to accommodate the wider powerplant while retaining as much as possible Ducuti's usual slim figure.
"We said: 'Let’s see how smart we are at designing a bike as compact and beautiful as a Panigale even if, inevitably, the engine has a larger size,'" said Andrea Ferraresi, Ducati design director. "The result? Our 4-cylinder is still the most compact of this segment!"
This was accomplished in part by tailoring the bodywork so tightly that it leaves the front frame rails exposed rather than encompassing them inside the plastic.
Ducati engineers backed up the V4's ferocity with new Brembo Stylema brakes and adjustable Showa inverted forks to help keep the power under control. So now you are out of excuses for not being as fast as your favorite MotoGP hero, because the Panigale V4 gives you nearly grand prix-ready hardware.