While every major carmaker is trying its best to hog the limelight at the 65th edition of the Frankfurt Motor Show, Ducati has shown that it can grab eyeballs with just two wheels. After months of rumours and speculations about the replacement for the 848-Evo, Ducati, now under the ownership of Audi, finally took the wraps off the 2014 Ducati 899 Panigale. Visually, the bike looks similar to the flagship 1199 Panigale superbike including the LED headlights and integrated turn indicators in the rearview mirror.
Apart from similar styling, the 899 utilises the same monocoque “frameless” chassis design found on its elder sibling instead of the traditional perimeter frame found on the 1198/848. One major difference between the 1199 and the new offering is the absence of single-sided swingarm which was ditched in favour of a dual-sided conventional swingarm. This change may not please many loyal Ducati fans as it was a signature feature for a Ducati superbike.
Though the name suggests 899cc, actually the all-new “Desmoquadro” engine displaces 898cc akin to its elder sibling 1199 Panigale which displaces 1198cc. Powering the baby Panigale is a four-valve-per-cylinder, desmodromic L-twin pumping out 150PS at a heady 10,750rpm and 99 Nm of torque at 9000rpm. The bike tips the scale at 169kg (dry weight) which translates to a power-to-weight figure of 0.88PS/kg. The 899 rides on 10-spoke wheels shod with Pirelli Diablo Rosso Corsa tyres and Brembo brakes with 3-level ABS which fulfils the task of stopping this beast.
The new 899 Panigale features 43mm fully adjustable Showa BPF (big piston front fork) front forks and a fully-adjustable Sachs rear shock. The Italian manufacturer hasn’t skimped on loading the new bike with electronic goodies as it has been endowed with electronic throttle control, Ducati Quick Shift (DQS), Ducati Traction Control (DTC), Ride-by-Wire (RbW), and Engine Brake Control (EBC). The 899 sports an all digital instrument cluster but the TFT colour screen as found on the 1199 is absent and has three riding modes on offer – Race, Sport and Wet.
The bike has been launched in only one guise but it is speculated that a more powerful and lighter variant is on the cards soon. On paper the Ducati 899 Panigale has all the bells and whistles to take on its main rival the MV Agusta F3 800 but whether it would be successful in aping the success of its predecessor only time will tell. The 899 has been priced at $14,995 (Rs 9.64 lakh) for the red with black rims model and $15,295 (Rs 9.83 lakh) for white with black rims trim, both prices are excluding customs and other taxes. Given the appalling situation of the Ducati brand in India due to its dealer issues, it would be a while before we could witness this red devil gracing our roads. Till then all you two-wheeler enthusiasts can dream and drool about the baby Panigale by looking at its pictures and video.