PURE unadulterated bike porn. Whether standing still, leant into a corner or simply in full flight, there isn’t anything more stunning than the 2021 Ducati Panigale V4 S on the road today.
If the visual appeal isn’t enough to get the senses tingling, a glimpse at the numbers is sure to tantalise and have you chomping at the bit to jump on board and pilot this true feat of Italian engineering.
160kW (214HP) of power. 126Nm of torque. A 192kg dry weight. It reinforces the theme that the red ones go faster. Those numbers confirm that the wings on the front of the bike aren’t just there for show, but form part of the sophisticated aerodynamics package.
To be brutally honest, like yours truly, 95 per cent of those lucky enough to ride this Italian Stallion are never going to be able to do that to the bike’s full potential. But for those who do, it’s an extravaganza of two wheeled pleasure.
This Ducati is one capable machine, with an electronic suite that will have even the most bike minded engineer engaged. There is literally electronic adjustable everything on the Panigale V4 S, all of it selectable via the 5.0-inch TFT display.
From adjusting engine capability, engine braking, ABS intrusiveness, and wheelie control to suspension settings, you can change it all to suit your riding style and environment.
The settings form part of Ducati’s latest generation electronics package and its 6-axis inertial platform, with controls for ABS cornering, traction control, slide control, wheelie control, power launch, brake control, and quick shift, both up and down.
There are three pre-programmed riding modes, including Race, Sport and Street, and they can be switched on the fly. Each influences throttle and power availability and suspension, with Sport the easiest to live with in day-to-day life.
It offers a slightly more doughy throttle control, and less twitchy throttle response than Race mode, which aided the Ducati’s road manners during city and suburban riding. In fact we were a little surprised how well mannered the Panigale V4 S was in city traffic.
That warm sensation you feel after a bit of riding isn’t your body’s response to forgetting to take a toilet break either. This bike gets hot, in part due to the exhaust positioning, directly below the rider. The heat it produces certainly matches its red hot looks.
Suburbia is not its natural habitat though. This bike belongs on a race track. The emotion the Ducati Panigale V4 S stirs deep within when twisting the throttle on hard and feeling the front wheel start to lift is mind blowing. It is an absolute rush.
The grip when pushing through corners is unrivalled of anything this reviewer has ever ridden. There are a number of reasons for that, but let’s just say that this bike holds the bitumen tighter than a fat kid cuddling their last chocolate doughnut.
Its handling prowess comes thanks to the upgraded Ohlins suspension and steering damper, matched to the Ohlins Smart EC 2.0 system, along with NIX-30 forks, with a new calibration, and Ohlins TTX 36 shocks.
The entire package is a beefed up version of what’s available on a standard Panigale V4, with a set of of Pirelli Diablo Supercorsa SP tyres completing the setup. Any wonder that handling and grip are no issue for the V4 S on the road.
The 2021 Panigale V4 S is powered by a 1,103cc Desmosedici Stradlae, a MotoGP- derived 90-degree V4 engine with Desmodromic timing. It’s a one of a kind engine featuring a counter-rotating crankshaft and twin pulse firing order.
The powertrain delivers a truly memorable riding experience, mated to a 6-speed gearbox that has been designed to match the engine performance and features a rotary gear sensor to ensure optimal operation with the Ducati quick shift system.
That quick shifter worked impressively during testing, although we did randomly find neutral instead of first on the downshifts at slow speeds at traffic lights. Apart from that, it was one of the smoothest and best operating quick shifters we have experienced.
Braking is also very good, especially on the front, with the forward brakes offering a really good feel and most importantly, outstanding stopping power. Dual Brembo Stylema monobloc callipers housing four 30mm pistons that bite down on 330mm discs will do it.
The rear stopping power is provided by a 245mm disc with 2-piston callipers, and both front and rear are aided by the Panigale’s ABS cornering system and electronics. Its aerofoils, developed in MotoGP, assist in handling, adding 30kg of downforce at 270km/h.
That downforce helps eliminate and decrease front wheel float at high speed and adds to the stability of the bike during cornering. Unfortunately, we didn’t get the chance to track the V4 S and were unable to test these features at speed, but we can see the appeal.
Other aerodynamic features include more efficient lateral vents for radiator through-air and a specially designed nose fairing, and larger lateral fairings. Bring it all together as a package, and it’s easy to see why the Panigale’s handling is amazing.
The new Plexiglas screen is higher and more angled than the previous model and provides better airflow protection. The screen works in conjunction with the nose fairing, and is designed to reduce arm and shoulder drag in a straight line.
Having spent a week putting the 2021 Panigale V4 S through its paces, we found ourselves yearning to get back on it and push it a little harder every time we’d finished riding it. It almost became an addiction.
The 2021 Ducati Panigale V4 S is available in red with a dark grey frame and black wheels. Pricing starts at $40,890 plus on-roads. This Italian superbike is a serious bit of kit and it’s easy to see why its fans drool over it. We did too.
Our test bike was provided by Ducati Australia. To find out more about the 2021 Ducati Panigale V4 S, contact your local Ducati dealer.