The 2020 Ducati Panigale V2 Is Better Than The Panigale 959

Super-mid or superbike? A review of Ducati’s Panigale V2.

Perception colors everything we look at. Walmart shoppers will see the Panigale V2 as simply a warmed-over 959 Panigale—the last model from Ducati's "super-mid" line that began with the 748 and kept growing. Others might see a 21st-century reimagination of the revered 916 superbike from the 1990s, more powerful than any sub-liter Ducati production superbike ever built.

From the seat of the Panigale V2 with its 955cc V-twin booming its way to 155 mph on the back straight at Circuito de Jerez, I was leaning toward the latter perspective. The sultry 916 certainly deserves its icon status, but the 114 hp from its desmo V-twin is awfully pedestrian compared to the 155 hp claimed from the revised 955cc motor in the V2, even though it meets the stringent new Euro 5 emissions regulations.

The Panigale V2, last of the V-twin Panigales, is like the fastest 916 ever built.
The Panigale V2, last of the V-twin Panigales, is like the fastest 916 ever built.Milagro

Interestingly, Ducati claims an extra 5 hp from the Panigale V2 compared to the 959 Panigale, thanks to new fuel injectors, a more efficient airbox design, and new under-engine muffler. However, the 959 was purported to deliver 157 hp when it debuted in 2016. It turns out this claim was made from a Ducati dynamometer that proved to be optimistic. So, fuzzy math be damned, the V2's output adds up to 155 hp on the factory's more accurate dyno. Still quite formidable considering its Euro 5 tuning.

Panigale V2 Differences And Updates

Slimmer than a Panigale V4 and at least as fast around corners. Ducati says the USA is the bike’s primary market.
Slimmer than a Panigale V4 and at least as fast around corners. Ducati says the USA is the bike’s primary market.Milagro

The Panigale V2 retains the 959's aluminum monocoque frame but substitutes the plain double-sided swingarm for the lovely single-sided swinger from the 1199/1299. Other new bits include a 4.3-inch color TFT instrument panel and edgy bodywork that emulates the styling of its Panigale V4 brothers. The so-called "double-layer" fairing delivers a fresh look and is designed to divert engine heat from a rider. Our day at Jerez was chilly, so we'll have to wait for an MC Commute to determine how effective a rider is sheltered from radiant heat.

The single-sided swingarm shows off the exposed rear wheel. Integrated muffler hides Euro 5 catalyzers.
The single-sided swingarm shows off the exposed rear wheel. Integrated muffler hides Euro 5 catalyzers.Milagro

Aside from the TFT gauges, the V2’s cockpit is updated with a new seat with 5mm of extra padding and nearly an inch of extra fore-aft space to accommodate riders of various sizes. Short legs will have a bit of a stretch, as the saddle is 33.1 inches from the ground. Navigating the gauge’s menu selections is fairly intuitive via switch gear on the left clip-on.

Firing up the Panigale V2 produces no surprises to anyone familiar with the 959, thumping with a slight metallic clang at idle, then roaring as revs rise under throttle. Midrange thrust is more bountiful than the soggy 899, but it doesn’t feel much different than the 959. Ducati claims peak torque of 76.7 pound-feet at 9,000 rpm.

Electronic Changes For The New Panigale V2

The single-sided swingarm was stolen from the defunct 1299 Panigale. It’s the same length as the former 959’s double arm.
The single-sided swingarm was stolen from the defunct 1299 Panigale. It’s the same length as the former 959’s double arm.Milagro

The biggest dynamic improvement from the 959 Panigale is courtesy of the Bosch six-axis IMU (inertial measurement unit) that takes into account lean and yaw angles to better inform the plethora of electronic rider aids. The Panigale V2 receives Cornering ABS EVO (with three settings), a potential collarbone saver when riding in low-traction conditions.

DTC EVO 2 is another addition, a more sophisticated traction-control system supposedly based on Ducati’s MotoGP experience. It acts on spin-intensity variation rather than instantaneous spin value to deliver smoother but quicker TC intervention, and it really feels that way when testing the limits of traction from the edge of the tire under acceleration. Wheelie control and engine-brake control also get upgraded to EVO status, now lean-angle dependent, and an up/down quickshifter joins the party to make going through the gears simpler.

The polished electronics conspire to make the Panigale V2 almost easy to ride. Pick the correct braking points and hit your chosen apex, and the V2 cooperates to make the processes as seamless as possible. Ride modes of Street, Sport, and Race are programmed with their own rider-aid parameters, but each can be individually customized to suit rider preferences.

Chassis And Weight

The Panigale V2 strikes an enviable balance between a moderately fast bike and a scarily fast bike.
The Panigale V2 strikes an enviable balance between a moderately fast bike and a scarily fast bike.Milagro

Scaling in at 441 pounds with its 4.5-gallon tank filled, and with a longish wheelbase of 56.5 inches, the Panigale V2 is coerced into corners more than knives into them. Yet the bike steers accurately and is stable when laid over in corners. The Showa BPF fork and Sachs shock have revised damping rates and remain fully adjustable. Stock tires are Diablo Rosso Corsa ll Pirellis, but grippier Supercorsas were fitted for our track test.

How Does The Panigale V2 Feel?

The Panigale V2 uses a unique side-mounted shock location.
The Panigale V2 uses a unique side-mounted shock location.Milagro

The Panigale V2 reminds us that the availability of 200-hp superbikes doesn't necessarily translate into more gratifying motorcycles. There's a rewarding satisfaction in being able to hold a throttle pinned for more than a few seconds, and yet the V2 has performance that thrills and the potential to devour more powerful literbikes, all while having some of the best electronic rider aids on the market.

2020 Ducati Panigale V2 Price

At $16,499, it’s not cheap. But with its Italian supermodel looks and Ducati’s racing heritage, it can almost seem like a bargain in a strange way.

Gear Box

A digital speedometer and analog tach are at the center of the TFT instrumentation. The lower right corner displays the settings of the electronic rider aids.
A digital speedometer and analog tach are at the center of the TFT instrumentation. The lower right corner displays the settings of the electronic rider aids.Milagro

2020 Ducati Panigale V2 Specifications

PRICE $16,499
ENGINE 955cc, DOHC, liquid-cooled V-twin; 8-valve
BORE x STROKE 100.0 x 60.8mm
COMPRESSION RATIO 12.5:1
FUEL DELIVERY Dual-stage fuel injection
CLUTCH Wet multiplate slipper clutch; hydraulic actuation
TRANSMISSION/FINAL DRIVE 6-speed/chain
FRAME Monocoque aluminum
FRONT SUSPENSION 43mm Showa BPF inverted fork, three-way adjustable for spring preload, compression and rebound damping; 4.7-in. travel
REAR SUSPENSION Sachs gas-charged shock, three-way adjustable for spring preload, compression and rebound damping; 5.1-in. travel
FRONT BRAKES Radial-mount 4-piston Monoblock calipers, dual 320mm discs w/ Cornering ABS EVO
REAR BRAKE 2-piston caliper, 245mm disc w/ Cornering ABS EVO
WHEELS, FRONT/REAR Die-cast aluminum; 17 x 3.5-in. / 17 x 5.5-in.
TIRES, FRONT/REAR Pirelli Diablo Rosso Corsa II; 120/70-17 / 180/60-17
RAKE/TRAIL 24.0°/3.7 in.
WHEELBASE 56.5 in.
SEAT HEIGHT 33.1 in.
FUEL CAPACITY 4.5 gal.
CLAIMED CURB WEIGHT 441 lb.
WARRANTY 2 years
AVAILABLE TBD
CONTACT ducati.com
The Panigale V2’s new seat features a suede-like finish with a V2 embossment.
The Panigale V2’s new seat features a suede-like finish with a V2 embossment.Milagro
A pair of Brembo M4.32 Monoblock calipers and 320mm rotors provide solid if not spectacular braking power, aided by a radial-pump master cylinder pushing fluid through steel braided lines. The red section at the bottom of the fully adjustable Showa BPF fo
A pair of Brembo M4.32 Monoblock calipers and 320mm rotors provide solid if not spectacular braking power, aided by a radial-pump master cylinder pushing fluid through steel braided lines. The red section at the bottom of the fully adjustable Showa BPF fork is for spring preload.Milagro
Ducati’s accessory department offers this titanium Akrapovič exhaust and ECU map to suit, claimed to boost power to 160 hp and dropping 15 pounds. Technically for race use only.
Ducati’s accessory department offers this titanium Akrapovič exhaust and ECU map to suit, claimed to boost power to 160 hp and dropping 15 pounds. Technically for race use only.Milagro
A beautiful machined upper triple clamp holds the Showa Big Piston Fork capped by adjustment screws for compression and rebound damping.
A beautiful machined upper triple clamp holds the Showa Big Piston Fork capped by adjustment screws for compression and rebound damping.Milagro
2020 Ducati Panigale V2 Review First Ride
Sexy butt…Milagro
Ride modes and electronic rider aid settings are made with the up/down button and pressing the turn-signal switch.
Ride modes and electronic rider aid settings are made with the up/down button and pressing the turn-signal switch.Milagro
The Panigale V2 is alluringly sinister, available for $16,499.
The Panigale V2 is alluringly sinister, available for $16,499.Milagro