The Panigale first made its debut in 2011, as the title for Ducati’s new halo bike – the 1199. A ground-up reinvention of the 1048, the 1199 was going be the face of Ducati for years to come. It was a big moment for Ducati, and so a new name was in order. And what better name than Panigale! The name holds a special place in the Italian marque’s history. It is in Borgo Panigale, a small town in Bologna, Italy, that the Ducati brothers, Adriano, Bruno and Marcello, began building the first ever Ducati Factory back in 1935. Borgo Panigale has been the home of the marque ever since.
The 1199 Panigale was built around the aluminium version of the ‘frameless’ monocoque chassis that underpinned the Desmosedici GP11 MotoGP race machine. Sounds fantastic, doesn’t it!? On paper, it was like giving customers a real taste of what a MotoGP rider experiences. However, Ducati’s MotoGP campaign wasn’t in its best shape back then. The GP11 was seen as an ‘unrideable’ machine which almost destroyed Valentino Rossi’s career. And the carbon fibre monocoque chassis was seen as the culprit behind the team’s dismal performance. However, with the aluminium construction, Ducati claimed to have solved the problems the GP11 was facing, albeit with additional weight.
Then in 2013, Ducati used this moniker for its new middleweight plus bike – the 899 Panigale. A successor to the 848, the 899 Panigale used the same Superquadro engine architecture as the 1299 and it turned out to be a commercial success in Europe. Meanwhile the ageing 1199 Panigale was replaced by the 1299 Panigale in 2015. The 1299 Panigale marked another milestone for the company, as the first production Ducati bike to whizz past the magical 200bhp mark. At its heart was a rebored version of the 1199 Panigale’s L-twin engine displacing 1285cc. It also featured a comprehensive electronics package.
The 899 Panigale was then replaced by the 959 Panigale. Now called a ‘supermid’, the 959 Panigale is closer to the litre-class superbikes than it ever was. And its affinity to the 1299 wasn’t limited to the moniker. It borrowed a significant chunk of the styling cues, greasy bits and tech wizardry from the flagship superbike. As of now, the 959 is the most performance focussed L-twin powered bike in the company’s role.
Now that might sound strange, because there is no way a supermid can eclipse the 1299 Panigale. So what happened to the 1299 Panigale? Well, it fell victim to the stringent Euro 4 emission norms. Ducati gave up on the development of the L-twin engine, and switched to a new chapter with the Stradale engine, featuring a new V4 architecture. The new bike was christened Panigale V4 and made its debut at the 2017 EICMA Show in Italy. It follows the same design language, but with a 90-degree V4 heart that produces 214bhp. As of now, the Panigale range in India consists of the 959 and the 1299 Final Edition, a farewell to the great Superquadro engine.