A hot new Italian ride arrives in my garage

My wife buys me my dream ride

ducati motorcycles, ducati panigale 959, ducati 959 PenNo silly boy, not a Ferrari but still a name that resonates performance. This only has two wheels and it’s a brand new Ducati 959 Penigale. Was I surprised? Well you bet and then some. For the past five years I have ridden my 2007 Suzuki Hayabusa all over the place and just recently crossed the 60,000 mile mark. That might not seem lot a whole lot but in the motorcycle world, it’s like 200,000 miles in a car. I’ve taken really good care of it, with a couple of oil changes each year, lubing the chain almost every ride, and replacing it every other year, I even had the engine dynoed last winter. I was ready to hang onto it after all, it’s a legendary ride.

But so is a Ducati

I had ridden a used 888 a long time ago and was impressed by the way it handled and always had getting one in the file.  Why did I not get another Busa? Well, for a couple of reasons. Not that the bike isn’t a hoot to ride being one of the fastest stock bikes made, but I didn’t have a  lot of confidence in the local dealer and, it’s a heavy bike.

ducati motorcycles, ducati 959 Panigale, italian motorcycles

The Ducati is light years further in development. It’s about 100 pounds lighter than the Busa and has tons of tech in it, much like the cars Mark and I review.  I have three different riding modes, Race, Sport, and Wet, that changes the amount of horsepower that goes to the rear wheel along with engine braking and ABS. Within those modes I can customize them to my specific tastes. For example, in Race mode, I wanted the ability to get the front wheel up a bit so I turned off engine braking. Yup, I’m a wild man.

The Busa set the bar

When the Hayabusa came out in 1999, it was the first sportbike that was able to do 200 mph without modifications. Later on, that number was toned down because of regulations. It’s1,340 cc (82 cu in), 4-stroke inline-four, liquid-cooled, DOHC, 16-valve, Keihin/Denso fuel injection engine was timed in the quarter mile by the motorcycle magazines in 10 seconds or less with 0-60 in under three seconds. Suzuki hayabusa, super bikes, hayabusa, busaWhile I’ve never been timed on my bike, I can tell you that if you are not holding on, it will try to throw you off. Weeeeee. It’s safe to say that I never have had an issue with merging onto the freeways here in the Milwaukee area. It’s almost a cult-like bike too. I met one guy who owned four of them. They always attract a crowd at bike shows and the Harley (I live in Harley’s hometown) riders know better than to challenge it. The ones I’ve met respect the bike. The bike weighs a lot, 530 pounds dry, and despite it’s girth handles pretty well. I love taking it on the twisties.

Ducati 959 Panegali, fast and light

If I were to compare my two bikes to cars, the Busa would be like a mid-60’s Corvette with a 427 big block. It has great straight-line speed but doesn’t come close to cornering like the new C8. The Ducati is like the C8. The 959 has lower horsepower, 150 and 75 pound-feet of torque that will give it a top speed of 169 mph. I have yet to confirm it.

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The engines couldn’t be farther apart. The Busa is a DOHC inline-4, pretty much like all the Japanese superbikes, while the Ducati’s is a 90° V-twin four-stroke  Superquadro engine  featuring their signature desmodromic valve system, with four valves per cylinder and gear/chain driven double overhead camshafts. This is a departure from their earlier engines which were belt-driven overhead cams. The Superquadro uses gears and a chain. As with most Ducatis, the engine is a stressed member, making the bike smaller and lighter than a conventionally framed motorcycle. Boy is it. I couldn’t wait to hit the twisties with it.  It is so responsive in acceleration thanks in part to a quick shifter and it’s ride by wire throttle.

ducati motorcycles, panigale 959, ducati panigale, ducati engine, Superquadro engine

It took a bit of time getting used to the new ride besides all the electronics and other ride aids, it sits higher than the Busa and is narrower.  I have ridden it up to three hours and the ride position is fine for me at 65. I’m thinking at the higher end of the bike’s target demographics.

Why this bike?

I love the Hayabusa but my options of where to buy one here in the Greater Milwaukee area are limited and the dealer I would have had to buy it from does not have the greatest reputation for service. I know this having several times taken bikes there and left with a really big bill when it shouldn’t have been.

I considered the Yamaha YZF-R1 and the Kawasaki Ninja ZX-10R but neither has the rich tradition of Ducati.

Photo: BaT

Recently I saw this 2006 Ducati Paul Smart 1000LE with 72 miles on it and one of approximately 2,000 built to commemorate racer Paul Smart’s win at Imola in 1972 sell for $25,000 on Bring A Trailer.

I had a chance to meet some of the other customers recently at an event where I purchased the bike, Moto Union, located in West Allis, a suburb about 30 minutes east of where I live and can’t wait for the summer riding season. Oh, and yes, I love my wife.








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