A bike that begins an exciting new chapter in the Ducati story, a new “symphony” of all-Italian performance and emotion. The Panigale V4 is the first mass-produced Ducati bike to mount a four-cylinder engine, derived directly from the MotoGP Desmosedici. It’s a concentrate of Ducati technology, style and performance. With an engine displacement of 1,103 cm3, 214 hp and a power/weight ratio of 1.1 hp/kg, this bike sets a new standard in the supersport production bike segment.
The Panigale V4 replaces the iconic 1299 at the top of the Ducati supersport range, doing so by enhancing performance and ridability so that riders of all skill levels can enjoy boundless fun and excitement. The Panigale V4 has been developed in close collaboration with Ducati Corse, drawing directly on know-how and technology from the racing world to provide a road bike that is the closest thing possible to its MotoGP counterpart.
The outstanding performance of the Panigale V4 is underlined by a completely new design which, while it follows on from that of the supersport bikes that preceded it, now even more effectively transmits the power and essentialness of Ducati racing bikes. The Panigale V4 name combines the alluring “Panigale” tag with the “V4” designation that marks the break with the past, indicating the start of a whole new era for the Bologna-based bike manufacturer.
The new Ducati supersports family consists of the Panigale V4 – the essence of the new sports bike – and the Panigale V4 S. The latter mounts Öhlins suspension featuring the Smart EC 2.0 system with a new adjustment interface and top-drawer components such as forged aluminium wheels and the lithium ion battery. Completing the range is the exclusive Panigale V4 Speciale, a numbered, limited-edition bike with a dedicated livery, titanium exhaust and machined from solid components.
The philosophy followed by the Panigale V4 development team mirrors the approach taken by Ducati when developing a racing bike: total integration of engine, chassis and rider. To achieve that goal MotoGP-derived technology has been employed. Development has involved Ducati Corse technicians and riders, making the Panigale V4 a production sports bike that comes close to being a MotoGP prototype, built for both excellent on-track performance and outstanding on-road ridability.
The Desmosedici Stradale engine is a 90° V4 with Desmodromic timing, just like the Desmosedici GP from which it also takes an 81 mm bore (the maximum allowed by MotoGP rules). This has been combined with a longer stroke than that used in racing (giving a total displacement of 1,103 cm³) to boost low-to-mid rev torque and reduce maximum revs so that the power is easier to handle. The new Ducati engine puts out a maximum of 214 hp at 13,000 rpm, making the Panigale V4 the most powerful bike in the segment, yet easy to handle thanks to a torque of 12.6 Kgm at 10,000 rpm. Despite such outstanding performance, the Desmosedici Stradale has long maintenance intervals, with valve clearance inspection only necessary every 24,000 km.
The Panigale V4 engine is the only one in the sports segment with a 90° V configuration. It’s also the only engine to use technology such as the counter-rotating crankshaft and twin pulse ignition. These solutions have a positive impact on bike dynamics, making it more agile during changes of direction, fast and stable on the straight and ensuring easier out-of-the-corner torque handling.
The already high power of the standard Desmosedici Stradale configuration can be boosted to 226 hp by mounting the all-titanium racing exhaust, made by Akrapovic as per Ducati Corse specifications.
To contain the inevitable weight gain with respect to the 1299 Panigale (because of the 4 cylinders) Ducati has developed an all-new frame where the Desmosedici Stradale itself has a load-bearing function. Called Front Frame, it’s more compact and lighter than a perimeter frame and uses the engine as a stressed chassis element. This solution ensures the right torsional rigidity for on-the-edge riding and gives riders outstanding “feel”. The Front Frame has allowed the designer to create a bike that is slender in the tank-seat merge zone: this, together with seat/handlebar/footpeg triangulation, ensures perfect bike-rider integration. Together with meticulous design and the use of light materials, the new frame keeps the kerb weight of the S and Special versions down to 195 kg. This weight, combined with the 214 hp, means a power/weight ratio of 1.1 hp/kg, putting the Panigale V4 S at the top of the sport bike segment.
The Panigale V4 doesn’t just set new performance standards. Thanks to the potential of the six-axis Bosch inertial platform, a latest-generation electronics package with some previously unseen features defines new active safety and dynamic vehicle control standards in all riding situations. The Panigale V4 introduces controls such as controlled drift during braking, ABS Cornering on the front wheel only thanks to a set-up specially designed for track riding and Quickshift Up & Down with a strategy that takes lean angles into account. All these controls – developed on the track together with official Ducati riders and test riders – are incorporated in the three new Riding Modes (Race, Sport and Street) and can be adjusted via the advanced TFT panel that makes the Panigale V4 the highest-tech bike in the category.
2018 Ducati Panigale V4S Key Features
Desmosedici Stradale, the new Ducati V4 engine
90-degree V4: the racing engine par excellence
Ducati sees the 90-degree V4 layout as the pinnacle of motorcycle engine sports performance. It’s no coincidence that this same solution is employed on Desmosedici MotoGP engines. The 90-degree V layout evens up first order forces naturally without having to resort to a balancing countershaft to eliminate vibration, a solution that, as is known, increases weight and drains power. This key benefit, crucial to the reliability and mechanical efficiency of an engine that revs as high as 14,000 rpm, is just one of many that make this Ducati-selected configuration the most technically refined possible.
Compared to a classic in-line 4, the lateral compactness of the V arrangement allows for better mass centralization and reduces the bike’s frontal cross-section. Moreover, the shorter crankshaft diminishes the gyroscopic effect. All these aspects have a positive impact on motorcycle dynamics, making it lighter and faster when changing direction. Ample space inside the V provides room for both the water pump and an outsize airbox (12.8 litres) that lets the Desmosedici Stradale breathe better.
Smooth integration of engine and chassis set-up forms the foundation of every Ducati. That’s why the Desmosedici Stradale is designed to be banked rearward 42°, just like the Ducati engines used in MotoGP. This optimises weight distribution, allows for larger radiators and brings the swingarm pivot as far forward as possible.
Moreover, the Desmosedici Stradale has been designed as a structural chassis element. The main frame attachment points have been incorporated in the front of the upper crankcase half and in the rear cylinder bank head. What’s more, the crankcase acts as a rear suspension and swingarm attachment point.
2018 Ducati Panigale V4S Features and Benefits
Light and compact
Synergies with Ducati Corse has yielded a compact, light, high-performance engine. Meticulous design and development by Ducati’s engine team has resulted in power delivery that maximises road riding pleasure and gives supreme track performance.
Weighing in at 64.9 kg, the Desmosedici Stradale is just 2.2 kg heavier than the 1,285 cm³ Superquadro twin, clearly demonstrating the attention to lightness that lies at the heart of every Ducati project.
Engine casings are made of gravity die cast aluminium and are coupled horizontally. The upper crankcase half incorporates the four Nikasil-coated aluminium cylinder liners ensuring wear protection and low friction.
The 81 mm diameter pistons that slide inside the liners have two low-attrition compression rings and an oil ring. Made of moulded aluminium, the pistons feature “box in box” technology: this contains both skirt height and below-chamber thickness, helping to reduce attrition and inertial loads while maintaining the necessary strength and stiffness.
Racing-derived design is also underscored by a high compression ratio of 14:1. The pistons are coupled to forged steel con rods with a centre-to-centre of 101.8 mm.
Mounted on brass bushings, the crankshaft rotates on three supports and is made of nitrided steel with crank pins ground twice over and offset at 70° as on the Desmosedici engines that compete in MotoGP.
This particular shaft geometry, combined with the V engine layout, allows for a special “Twin Pulse” ignition sequence.
To limit weight, all engine casings are made of die cast magnesium. The same material has been used to make the cam covers, the oil sump, the alternator cover and the two-piece clutch cover.
On normal factory bikes, the crankshaft turns in the same direction as the wheels. In MotoGP, instead, counter-rotating crankshafts that run in the opposite direction are widely used. Ducati engineers have borrowed this top-level racing solution for the same reasons that first saw it applied in competition. Its benefits stem from two aspects of physics: gyroscopic effect and inertia.
A counter-rotating crankshaft offsets some of the gyroscopic effect generated by the turning wheels and that, in turn, improves handling and makes the bike more agile when changing direction.
The second benefit has to do with the inertia (i.e. the tendency of an object to oppose any change of state) of the vehicle and the rotating engine parts. During acceleration, drive torque is put down on the ground, causing the bike to wheelie. A counter-rotating crankshaft, however, produces inertia-linked torque in the opposite direction, lowering the front of the bike, limiting the wheelie effect and thus boosting acceleration performance.
Similarly, during hard braking/deceleration the bike undergoes rear wheel lift-up: however, the crankshaft itself also decelerates (i.e. its revs drop), producing an inertial torque that works against lift-up. So a counter-rotating crankshaft has advantages during both acceleration and braking.
Of course, this layout demands the addition of the so-called ‘jackshaft’ (*) to transfer crankshaft drive through the gearbox to the rear wheel so it turns the right way.
* The jackshaft adds an extra transmission element to the crankshaft-wheel connection system. This needs to be taken into consideration when establishing crankshaft power if the latter is obtained from measurements made at the wheel. During both homologation and measurement on acceleration test benches it is, therefore, necessary to consider an efficiency or, in any case, an additional coefficient that is, by law, fixed at 0.98.
Twin Pulse ignition
A combination of 70° crank pin offset and 90-degree V layout generates what Ducati calls a “Twin Pulse” firing order because it’s as if the engine were reproducing the firing sequence of a twin-cylinder. The distinctiveness lies in the fact that the two left-hand cylinders fire closely together, as do the two right-hand ones. In the timing chart, the ignition points are, then, at 0°, 90°, 290° and 380°. It’s this particular firing order makes the V4 sound like a MotoGP Desmosedici.
In practice, if we imagine a cycle starting from 0°, the first cylinder to fire is the front one on the alternator side. After just 90° of rotation, the rear cylinder on the same side fires. There then follows an interval in which the engine generates no drive torque until the two cylinders on the clutch side fire, again just 90° apart. In addition to an exhaust rumble like no other in the motorcycle world, the Twin Pulse ignition sequence provides a power delivery that Ducati MotoGP riders deem unbeatable as it provides outstanding engine performance and, therefore, smooth handling, especially on corners and out-of-the-corner stretches.
Variable Intake System
The Desmosedici Stradale engine takes in air through four oval throttle bodies (52 mm diameter equivalent), connected to variable-height air intake horns, featured for the first time on a Ducati engine. This solution optimises cylinder intake across the rev range, giving major advantages in terms of power delivery and handling.
As rpm and rider-requested power vary, the air intake horns take on a configuration that lengthens or shortens the ducts, optimising the fluid dynamics of the pressure waves that run along the duct itself.
Controlled by the ECU, the system consists of two stages: a fixed horn on the throttle body and a mobile one that is moved along steel guides by an electric motor. When the latter is lowered, it comes into contact with the short horn, geometrically lengthening the duct. When raised, the fluid dynamics involve only the fixed lower horn and the engine configuration is characterised by a very short duct.
Each throttle body has two injectors: a sub-butterfly one for low-load use and another above it that comes into play when maximum engine performance is required. The throttle bodies of each cylinder bank are moved by a dedicated electric motor. Thanks to the full Ride by Wire system, this allows complex electronic control strategies and modulation of engine ‘feel’ according to the selected riding mode.