For most of its recent history, Ducati has offered slightly-smaller-displacement versions of its flagship superbike. And given how successful this product strategy has been in the past, it should come as no surprise that the 1199 Panigale will spawn a new understudy. In fact, it too will be called the Panigale.
But don’t assume that the 2014 899 Panigale is some overgrown moped in fancy dress and wearing a respected nameplate. No, it’s nearly as much of a thoroughbred as its big brother. In fact, Ducati calls the 899 Panigale a “supermid” (a combination of superbike and mid-size).
The 899 Panigale certainly looks like a superbike. The sinister dual headlights on the nose and the large expanses of bodywork appear to be almost directly copied from the more muscular Panigale. The aluminum monocoque chassis – to which theL-twin engine is bolted directly to increase stiffness and reduce weight – is also based in the 1199’s design. The rear swingarm, however, deviates from that of the senior Panigale: The new bike uses a two-sided piece, rather than the 1199’s one-sided swingarm. Front suspension is a 43mm Showa fork, while the rear features an adjustable Sachs monoshock. It’s all first-class, literbike-worthy stuff.
And even though it’s not as potent as the big Panigale, the 899 still packs an almighty wallop. The 898cc L-twin belongs to Ducati’s way-oversquare (i.e. the bore is longer than the stroke) Superquadro family, and it is rated at 148 horsepower and 73 lb.-ft of torque. Power is sent to the rear wheel through a multi-plate wet clutch, 6-speed transmission with the Ducati Quick Shift (DQS) system, and chain drive. That rear wheel, incidentally, is a 10-spoke 17”x5.5” alloy wearing a 180/60 ZR17 Pirelli Diablo Rosso Corsa tire. The front wheel is a similar 17”x3.5” unit wrapped in a 120/70 ZR17 Pirelli. Braking is via dual discs in front and a single disc in the rear, and ABS is standard (as are other electronic aids like traction control and an adjustable ride-by-wire throttle).
Ducati isn’t discussing performance figures just yet, but considering the 899 Panigale weighs just 426 lbs. full of fluids, it’s probably capable of reaching irresponsible velocities in short order. Ducati is dishing on pricing, however: The traditional red-with-black-wheels color scheme will start at $14,995, while the striking white-with-red-wheels scheme will start at $15,295. Expect U.S. deliveries of this un-underachiever to begin by the end of next month.