It’s another one of those ‘worst kept secrets’ which bike journos bang on about - but this time it seems like it’s true. Ducati’s released pics and details on the Final Edition Panigale 1299 R - a fancy-dan collector-spec version of its big V-twin to mark its passing in favour of a spanky new V4.
None of this is surprising: the firm has made various FE editions in the past, including of the 900SS and the 998. And its continued pursuance of a two-cylinder answer to the four-cylinder question posed by its competitors has long looked like hubris. When you were up against a YZF750 or a ZX-7R, a litre twin made sense. Taking on a ZX-10R or a GSX-R1000R with even a 1300cc twin is the proverbial knife in a gun fight. A very nice, lovely knife of course, but you’re bumping up against the physics of engine design here. A 650cc cylinder is enormous, even in the low-revving car world - an inline-four with 650cc bores would be 2.6 litres, and most car engines that size would be a V6. Making a pair of those cylinders work at the high revs needed to make 200-odd bhp means you have to work very hard indeed with complex, expensive lightweight piston designs, massive over-square bores and humongous inlet valves. Meanwhile, your four-cylinder chaps are having it away with their manageable 250cc pots, buzzing up and down at 14k with cheap pistons and dinky titanium valves made in China for tuppence-ha’penny apiece. The bastards.
Anyway. We digress. Ducati’s making a litre-class V4, it’ll be at the shows this autumn, and this is the last version of its big V-twin superbike. We’ll not be seeing an end to Ducati twins of course: that Testastretta lump is a corker still, and in the likes of the Multistrada, Diavel and Monsters, it will still do an amazing job (and at reduced cost perhaps, since they don’t need to keep gussying it up for superbike performance (and Superbike performance)).
Like an Essex scaffolding firm boss, the FE is dripping in gold,and is slightly on the loud side with its tricolore paint scheme and red wheels. Unlike an Essex scaffolding boss, it’s very trim: just 190kg ready to go, which is a very decent match with the 209bhp claimed output from the 1,285cc motor. It obviously gets a top-line deal on bells and whistles, and boasts the ultimate in electronics setup from Ducati: traction, leaning ABS, anti-wheelie, up/down quickshifter, GPS and lean angle datalogging. The engine is Superleggera-spec too, with titanium rods and valves, and full titanium Akra system. Forged Marchesini rims, megabucks Ohlins TTX shock and NIX forks and M50 Brembos are amazing - but a level below proper Superleggera spec. No electronic suspension or gas forks makes sense in terms of cost, and also marks the FE out at as more of a collector’s item than a full-bore ultimate machine. No point in making something with an even higher spec than the forthcoming V4 is there?
When can you snatch such a beast? Well, get down to your dealer with £35k-ish, and they’ll be happy to give you a delivery date. It’s ‘numbered but not limited’ apparently, so they’ll be making them until they cannae sell any more we imagine. More info: panigale.ducati.com