Ducati is at EICMA 2018 with a substantial number of new or revised models, but the real piece of supreme engineering is the Panigale V4 R, a 998cc version of the 90 degree V-4 that last year claimed the title of most powerful street-legal, naturally aspirated bike, extracting 214 hp from its 1,103cc unit. We all knew that the final target of the Panigale V4 project was to create the ultimate Superbike series contender—the bike that would bring the World SBK championship back to Borgo Panigale. Indeed, the just unveiled Panigale V4 R seems to be ready to stand up to those expectations.
The engine is a derivative of the unit that propels the Ducati Desmosedici GP racer, starting from the identical bore and stroke measurements: 81mm by 48.4mm. In simple terms, the original Panigale V4 unit was destroked, while keeping bore unaltered. Lightweight titanium connecting rods are 104.3mm center to center, for a rather healthy 2.15:1 rod length to stroke ratio that is very important for the health of an engine that is expected to rev to 16,000 rpm.
The Panigale V4 R unit generates 221 hp at 15,250 rpm—staggering numbers for a street-legal bike that conforms to Euro 4 emission standards. When fitted with the Akrapovic racing exhaust system, power climbs to 234 hp at 15,500 rpm. In street-legal trim the V4 R delivers 82.6 pound-feet of peak torque at 11,500 rpm, 3,750 rpm below peak power, and that is a very solid indication of the high efficiency of the latest desmo wonder breathing through 34mm titanium inlet valves and 27.5mm steel exhaust valves. The cam profiles are extreme in terms of lift and take full advantage of the highly refined profiles of the latest generation of desmo cams. Fueling is delivered via 56mm oval throttle bodies.
That V-4 masterpiece is harnessed by the same front frame pyramidal structure that was developed for the Panigale V4 S, which here is machined to further reduce its weight. Panigale V4 R replaces the active suspension by Öhlins with conventional racing Öhlins units. At the front a gas-charged, titanium-nitride-coated 43mm NPX 25/30 fork features fully adjustable separate functions for each leg; the left one operates compression damping via a 25mm piston, while the right one controls rebound damping with a 30mm piston. Rear suspension is an Öhlins TTX 36 shock. The suspension units shave 1.5 pounds from the V4 R and even more is saved by forged aluminum wheels.
Ducati’s electronic suite on the Panigale V4 R is impressive, developed in association with Bosch using a 6D Bosch IMU (inertial measurement unit) that includes: Cornering ABS EVO, Ducati Traction Control (DTC) EVO, Ducati Slide Control (DSC), Ducati Wheelie Control (DWC) EVO, Ducati Power Launch (DPL), Ducati Quick Shift (DQS) EVO, and Engine Brake Control (EBC) EVO. Three pre-set ride modes are provided to adapt to the track or rider and include Race, Sport, and Street—each tailored to the task at hand.
Instrumentation is handled by the same TFT dash found on the Panigale V4, but has been updated to communicate the new higher rev range as well as new functions. A new Pit Limiter function makes its debut with an adjustable maximum speed while the Ducati Lap Timer GPS features enhanced functions such as segment time, maximum rpm, and speed along with lean and yaw angles.
Braking is handled by the latest Brembo Stylema front radial-mounted four-piston calipers.
Ducati Panigale V4 R is a serious-looking bike, but the Ducati Style Center also made it very elegant, dressed in a specific fairing that includes downforce-generating wings that are integrated into the fairing’s design. These wings produce 66 pounds of downforce at 168 mph to keep the front planted at speed and improve stability in high-speed braking. A new screen is higher with a steeper angle, yet is very efficient in protecting the rider in an almost perfect bubble of still air. The fairings are also 38mm wider on each side for better aero efficiency, and larger side vents increase air pass-through by 16 percent for better cooling. An aluminum tank shines beautifully amid the dominating Ducati Red for a final special touch.
Ducati has set the price for the Panigale V4 R at $39,995. It will arrive at dealerships March 2019.