“When what you are deeply passionate about, what you can be best in the world at and what drives your economic engine come together, not only does your work move toward greatness, but so does your life. For, in the end, it is impossible to have a great life unless it is a meaningful life. And it is very difficult to have a meaningful life without meaningful work. Perhaps, then, you might gain that rare tranquility that comes from knowing that you’ve had a hand in creating something of intrinsic excellence that makes a contribution. Indeed, you might even gain that deepest of all satisfactions: knowing that your short time here on this earth has been well spent, and that it mattered.”

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Friday, July 31, 2015

2015 v 2013 Panigale R

With its radical airbox frame design, powerful super-square engine and a raft of cutting-edge electronic rider aids, the 2012 Panigale 1199  was a major departure from the trellis frame Ducatis of old. And although the 1199 Panigale never raced WSB in its first year of production, the firm tested it relentlessly behind closed doors.

The new superbike finally hit the WSB grid in 2013, based on the Panigale R homologation special, ridden by Carlos Checa in a factory-supported outfit. Young guns Chaz Davies and Davide Giugliano took over its reigns last year as Ducati returned to the fray with a factory team. But it's only now, riding the race version of the new 2015 Panigale R, they’re regular podium visitors, with Davies giving the bike its first win at Aragon back in April.

Troubled start

The Panigale had a troubled start to life and as a road bike it was an animal. It pumped, weaved and tied itself in knots when you pushed on. It was so lively on track you felt like you were on lap record pace, even when you were nowhere near. Its time in WSB against the rapid Aprilias and Kawasakis wasn’t much happier.
But for 2015 everything’s rosey for the Panigale, on road and track, starting with this year’s heavily revised 1299 Panigale. It still gets your attention when you wring its neck, but thanks to a refined chassis and revised electronics to keep it between the kerbs, it’s now as fast as it feels. Which brings us to the 1299’s richer, more sophisticated brother: the new Panigale R. It’s hard to think how Ducati could improve on a two-year-old bike that’s already so special, but they have.
The 2013 original had an adjustable swingarm pivot to optimise grip, plus the usual array of goodies you’d expect from an ‘R’. It’s loaded with magnesium, carbon-fibre and titanium, has lower gearing, big Brembos, a taller screen, electronic rider aids, a datalogger, exposed alloy fuel tank and electronically-adjustable Öhlins. To find out how much difference changes to the 2015 bike made, we took both to Rockingham for a proper thrashing...

What’s new?

10bhp more power. Twin-ring superbike pistons, modified head, cams, clutch and lightweight, balanced crank. Full Akrapovic exhaust and high-flow air filter. 
5kg lighter. Steeper head angle, revised front subframe, grippier pegs, lithium-ion battery, lighter headlights, new seat. Non-electronic, fully adjustable Öhlins suspension.  
Refined rider aids, including TC and anti-wheelie. Cornering ABS, quickshifter/autoblipper, lean angle display, auto-adjust rider aids for different tyres and gearing.
Revised fairing, screen and mirrors.
MCN reader and sometime tester Ben Neeves has owned his 2013 Panigale R from new. He’s been all over Europe on it, so it’s no surprise he notices the new bike’s subtle differences straight away. “The mirrors don’t fold in and they’ve lacquered the tank now. Mine’s bare aluminium,” he says. 
“It doesn’t have electronic suspension now. Why’s that? Even the 1299S has it.” Our take is that Ducati realised that sometimes the old way of doing things gives better feedback and performance. 
“My bike doesn’t have the anti-wheelie,” Ben continues. “I’ve tested the 1299S and it comes in really handy on that, so I’m looking forward to riding this R with it. It’s also got an auto-blipper, and the pegs look more like a race bike’s.”
Riding the old Panigale R is always an occasion. There’s something very special about a Ducati homologation special. It’s light, direct, has eye-popping brakes and simulates a bomb blast when you tap the throttle. And of course it’s beautiful to behold.
But you need to spend hours figuring out how to ride it. It’s not like a super-stable, Aprilia, BMW or Japanese superbike that you can just jump on and go fast. You have to learn to let the Ducati dance beneath you and accept that all the time you’re hard on the throttle it’s going to shimmy and weave. 
Rockingham is too small for this beast. It feels like a caged animal here, trying to escape to the wide expanses of Mugello, where it was born.

Power and poise

Fellow road tester Bruce Dunn goes out to set some lap times. The old one blasts round in a 1:34.3 and the new one a staggering two seconds faster (1:32.2). For two bikes that look the same, with only two years separating them, that’s a big jump. No wonder the factory WSB Ducati Panigale R team can run at the front if the base bike is this good.
Bruce says: “The new R has a lot more midrange and top end. It makes the old bike feel lethargic by comparison. You have to rev the old one a lot more, but it does have a lot more grunt and power low down in the rev-range, so you don’t have to use the gearbox as much. You can short-shift more, which keeps the bike well settled.
“They’ve made the new one easier to turn and more stable on corner entry, with its new electronic engine braking control. I’ve more confidence with the non-electronic Öhlins, too, especially at the front. The forks feel a lot plusher.”
Ben adds: “I’m surprised. The new Panigale R really is powerful and when you open it up you feel how much more urgent it is. The rear doesn’t wave around when you change down, the pegs are grippier and the auto-blipper is brilliant.”
Panigales wag their bars and shake their rumps when you’re hard on the throttle, but they’re beautifully stable on the brakes and at full lean. They’ve roomy pegs and wide bars, so have space to move around and wrestle the beast when you need to. 
Ben agrees: “The new one still weaves but you’ve just got to let it happen.”
Bruce sums up both Panigale Rs: “There’s a lack of controllability with both of them. The older one is a bit more stable, simply because it doesn’t have as much power. But neither of them are pussycats. 
“Both need intricate and precise set-up to get the best out of them, but their potential is immense. You could spend all day getting them set up better, and with race tyres fitted you’d feel even more confident and your lap times would properly begin to tumble.”

How they tamed the R 

Factory Ducati WSB rider Chaz Davies helped transform the Panigale R from also-ran to race-winner in 2015. “It’s been incremental development, bit by bit, not just one area – a little bit to the electronics, engine and chassis. We really needed this new Panigale R for the extra power and all those special bits inside the engine, like the lightweight crank. It’s what we needed to give us that lift. 
“We also got a better anti-wheelie system last winter. It’s the first anti-wheelie where I thought ‘this is what anti-wheelie should actually feel like’. You obviously still need to close the throttle when the thing rears up but it doesn’t catch you by surprise, so it’s easier to control. 
“The main improvements are to the electronics and engine. We changed a lot of the chassis from the base machine, although there’s not much chassis to it. We’ve got a slightly different swingarm, too. It’s slightly longer, to try and get more grip from the rear tyre.

Verdict: ‘Significantly faster on track’

With its extra helping of power and grunt, sharper steering geometry, more refined electronic rider aids and engine braking control, the new Panigale R is significantly faster around a circuit than the old model, although still a handful compared to a conventional superbike.
Ducati are at last figuring out how to make their unique airbox chassis design work. In road trim it beat the R1M and RSV4 RF in our exotica test last month and it’s now finishing on rostrums for fun at WSB.
But built in limited numbers and costing a small fortune, the Panigale R isn’t going to change many of our lives. That is until its technology filters down to the Italian firm’s more affordable bikes, which is what Ducati are so good at.

Source: MCN
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Item Reviewed: 2015 v 2013 Panigale R Description: Rating: 5 Reviewed By: Unknown
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