Nerd's Eye ViewDucati 1199 Panigale 

by Khiem Dinh

Khiem Dinh is an engineer for Honeywell Turbo Technologies at the time of this writing.  All statements and opinions expressed by Khiem Dinh are solely those of Khiem Dinh and not reflective of Honeywell Turbo Technologies.

I love sport bikes.  Why?  They are pretty much the only track-ready vehicle you can buy straight off the showroom floor.  They come with fully adjustable suspension, sticky tires, lightweight this, titanium that…  you get the picture.  Sure, you can buy some very high performance cars, but the only one that I can think of that's street-legal and truly a track-ready vehicle is the 2008-2010 Dodge Viper ACR (which happens to come with fully adjustable KW Suspension, Brembo brake calipers and StopTech brake rotors).  Back to the subject at hand, this is Ducati 1199 Panigale a friend brought over.  Being an engineer, I like to geek out over stuff, especially high-end Italian machinery.  Keep in mind this is just the base model Panigale (which retails for about $17.5K), but Ducati is to motorcycles what Ferrari is to cars; I wouldn't kick out a base model Ferrari 458 from my driveway.  If you want to know the specs on the bike, you can do an internet search.  I'm just here to point out stuff I thought was cool.  So on with the close-up through the eyes of a nerd.

Let's start with the front wheel and move on back.  There are a few interesting features of note here.  The first thing that caught my eye are the spokes; the bigger spokes are like a U-channel instead of being solid or a box section.  Cutting out all of that material reduces weight.  The wheels are said to be at least 0.5kg lighter than the previous versions.  A little further back, you can see a toothed wheel.  At the minimum, that's used for the ABS system.  I imagine the wheel speed data is also used for traction control.  The brake rotor assembly is two-piece consisting of a rotor floating on a very minimal material rotor hat.  With sport bikes, minimizing weight is the name of the game and you'll see this evident all over the bike.  This bike had just over two hundred miles on the odometer and there was still some cross-hatching visible on the rotors to aid the brake pad break-in.  The one nice little touch is the valve stem which comes off at a 90 degree angle; this makes it much easier to hook up the line from a compressor or just to put on a tire pressure gauge.
Lightweight Brembo monobloc 4-piston calipers handle the braking duties up front.  Notice how unnecessary material is removed from the brake caliper to reduce weight.  The front axle is hollow all the way through saving weight.  The little red knob at the bottom of the fork is the compression adjuster.  Lastly, some super sticky Pirelli Diablo Supercorsa SP tires.


Why are the fork sliders black?  They are low-friction, hard-anodized black aluminum.  Low-friction is very important for forks to reduce stiction and allow the suspension to function properly.  Behind the front wheel are the radiators.  They have some seriously high fin count!  A lot of cooling is required from a 1.2L twin making 195hp.


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Tuesday, August 07, 2012 12:14 AM
Great looking bike Khiem. I'm not knocking on what you wrote or observed but most of the stuff you mentioned is plain normal for sports bike these days.
From the CNC machined fork caps to reduce weight, to the machined triple crown, or the tricky aluminum hat (look up Galfer, they've been making aluminum brake-hats like that for ages).

The black coating you mentioned for low friction is so 90's.....companies like Marzocchi (Italian company that make mountain bike forks, has been using it for a LONG time).
Ohlins on the other hand uses Titanium nitride coating (which gives a shiny gold finish to the legs).
While Pro Circuit uses a similar Titanium nitride coating but its finishing is rainbow.

I'm surprised Ducati uses Enkei as their supplier.
Marchesini (Italian wheel manufactures) is been making mag wheels for decades and most top notch bikes use Marchesini. If I recall it, in the past Ducati did use Marchesini mag wheels at some point.
The magnesium cover for the oil is pretty standard these days (even on dirt bikes), and so is the Titanium muffler.
The hollow axle are pretty common too on most big bikes (600cc+), and there are companies that even make Ti 6Al/4V axles to reduced the weight even further.

Interesting observation about the holes behind the seat, but I think the hip of a normal person would cover/obstruct those holes making the whole aero-concept obsolete.
I look at the rear mirror, and by judging by their size, they (Ducati) could have come up with something sleeker (if they wanted to reduce drag).

Other than that, Ducati cost so much because of the components and material they use, and not so much for it's chassis design (Japanese manufactures are ahead of the game on that).

Dan DeRosia
Dan DeRosialink
Tuesday, August 07, 2012 3:46 AM
Just to quick comment on the front forks... I'm actually pretty sure those are DLC coated, not anodized. They're inverted forks so I'm pretty sure the sliders... or whatever the proper term is... are steel of some sort.

One of the cool tricks with the master cylinders is that they're what the bike guys call radial. Something about reducing seal drag by having the master cylinder move the same way the lever is, instead of on the other side of pivots and stuff.

What was actually really awesome was a year or two back I got to tour the Erik Buell Racing factory local to here. At the time (this may have changed) their sole product was a $50k more-or-less pure track bike... it was streetable, but really was designed for AMA racing first and foremost. Some really interesting stuff going into those; I'll see if I can find my pics.
Tuesday, August 07, 2012 4:33 AM
No airbags or seat bealts? Not even and AM/FM radio? Heat or A/C?

Crack Pipe.
Tuesday, August 07, 2012 7:03 AM
Amazing motorcycle. Nice general write with some nice photos but barely touched on the technological tour de force that is the new Panigale. The Desmodromic Engine is all new. There is no frame so the engine is the primary stressed member. The headstock is aluminum and also doubles as the airbox. Gone is the previous timing belt now replaced with gear driven cams similar to the MotoGP Desmocedici. Should help in servicing and no more worries about replacing or adjusting belts every 6k/12k miles.

The fact that such a small company like Ducati can mass produce and build such a pure performance machine is amazing in today's time.

I would love a more in depth review highlighting some of the engine developments, a dyno, and of course a few wheelie shots.

Between this and the Rotary article MotoIQ is on a roll for the week!
Dan DeRosia
Dan DeRosialink
Tuesday, August 07, 2012 7:51 AM
Unf Desmo. Okay, I know it's not the most practical idea and has proven to be mostly a technological dead end... but I'm a rotary guy, I like things that aren't practical ideas that proved to be mostly technological dead ends! ;)
Tuesday, August 07, 2012 7:56 AM
@JDMized, all the details have been done before, but usually not straight off the showroom floor. My 600RR doesn’t have any of the detail work for weight reduction; though the liter bikes tend to be more weight conscious and also features lots of weight reduction like the machined out triple clamps. But stuff like cutting out weight from the mounting brackets for the fluid reservoirs? That’s pretty obsessive.

The forks on the base model Panigale are actually Marzocchi forks with the rear shock being a Sachs. Ohlins are used on the Panigale S front and rear and are electronically adjustable; the shock settings are tied into the riding modes.

The S model uses forged aluminum Marchesini wheels, but this is the base model so it gets the cheaper Enkeis. It’s kind of like the base Evo 8 getting Enkei wheels but the MR getting BBS.

While in a full tuck in a straight line, the rear holes might not come into play much, but I imagine they do when hanging off the bike in a corner. And the mirrors are apparently actually useful (i.e. bigger) as compared to the old 1098/1198. The mirror mounts are of a relatively aero profile. I was actually wondering if they were designed to provide a little bit of front-end downforce as they seemed to have some rake to them. Last season on the MotoGP bikes, Ducati messed around with adding little winglet things on the side fairings to try to help keep the front end down.

On the chassis… I’m not sold on the concept of using the engine as a stressed member just based on the difficulty they had in MotoGP last year and the fact they went to a more traditional frame for this year (like the Japanese bikes).

@Kenku, I initially thought they might be DLC or some moly surface coating, but I could find no reference to as such. I’ve seen the Erick Buell bike up close. The front brake is interesting as it’s a single rotor (instead of typical dual front rotors) and on the perimeter of the wheel. So it has this insane dry carbon brake duct to keep the caliper cool.

@ohmfab, the details of the engine and chassis have been covered extensively elsewhere. The Ducati website itself is decent in showing the tech. I bet none of them showed that underbody air exhaust duct with the fan on the heat exchanger though! The service interval is up to 15k miles on the valves now; something they had to design it to handle because the Japanese bikes have the long service interval, are as fast, and cheaper. The Ducati name only goes so far…. At some point, practicality kicks in. I would love to take it apart and do dyno testing, but my buddy wasn’t letting me anywhere near his bike with a wrench. We did go ride Angeles Crest Highway though. This is also where he realized the rear suspension was set on the ‘flat’ setting more targeted for track use because his butt was pretty sore after the ride. In his words, the Panigale is horrible to ride on the street, but an absolute blast in the twisties.
Tuesday, August 07, 2012 9:23 AM
A few notes and corrections on some of the observations:

The holes in the steering stem nut aren't for lightening, they're so the nut can be removed with a tool like that below.

Your CBR doesn't have a clutch master cylinder bleed nipple because it has a cable clutch. Most of the Japanese bikes have had cable clutches for a while because they are much lighter than hydraulics. Ducatis have historcially had hydraulic clutches, presumably to give greater mechanical advantage over stronger springs on the pressure plate due to the high torque of a twin. My RC51 has a hydraulic clutch as well, so there's probaby some merit to that observation.

The exhaust valve is probably there for no other reason than to get the bike through noise emissions tests. The big Japanese bikes have had the valves for a while now, and most of the aftermarket exhaust systems eliminate the valves because they hinder outright performance. The engine braking is controlled via the ride by wire throttle.
Tuesday, August 07, 2012 10:25 AM
@Crarrs, correct on the clutch. I had a bit of a brain fart. That does remind me, I need to tighten up the clutch cable a bit on my CBR. I wished my brake MC had a bleed valve at the top though!

Interesting on the steering tool. So the holes have the added benefit of reducing weight, so a secondary function. I don’t doubt they would have done it regardless considering they bothered to mill out the tops of the forks (extra cost associated with extra manufacturing time, tool wear, tool fixtures, etc.). Thanks for the link.

The Panigale is freakin loud even at idle. Though I completely agree the valve is there to quiet down the bike as a primary function. Riding next to the Panigale, I could hear it over my own bike. It would be interesting to know exactly how they use that valve in the control schemes for the electronic aids and ride modes. For the engine braking, I suppose they vary the level of braking by varying the level of air/fuel injected; maximum engine braking by full fuel cut and closed throttle plate? And then lower levels by continuing to spray a little fuel? I know the traction control systems among the different manufacturers tend to use a combination of ignition, fuel, and rear brake adjustments depending on the situations. I could see using the exhaust valve also, though maybe the modulation would be too slow.

No surprise on the deletion of the valve for performance applications. Same deal with cars which have flap/butterfly valves in the exhaust. Or WRXs with TGV valves in the intake manifold.

Anyways…. Always appreciate extra insight and comments guys! Keep them coming! I learn just as much from you guys which is why the MotoIQ readers are awesome.
Tuesday, August 07, 2012 10:53 AM
Those holes may reduce weight some, but I still dont know why Ducati sticks with that design for steering stems, the thing is freaking huge and is probably much heavier than the standard nuts that most other manufacturers use. It looks nice, but...there's probably a better way to do it.

Tuesday, August 07, 2012 10:57 AM
Compare to what you can get for a GSX-R.

Tuesday, August 07, 2012 1:38 PM
Probably so that the owner has to take it into the dealer to be worked on. Like why VW and Ford use Torx head fasteners. It's annoying!
Dan DeRosia
Dan DeRosialink
Tuesday, August 07, 2012 2:25 PM
Forumites but... http://www.ducati-superbikes.com/index.php/topic/15917-nitride-coating-on-the-fork-tubes/ seems to indicate it's DLC coated. Ducati site mentions the Diavel having DLC coated Marzocchi forks too, so seems likely.

Thing I find really funny about the current EBR bike... it's still fundamentally the same Rotax v-twin in the 1125R. Except they take the engines, as delivered, throw away more or less every component except for the castings, and then CNC port those. Or the genetic FEA analysis used to design the subframe.

Oh wait, here they were. http://lolinter.net/KJ_carstuff/Erik%20Buell%20Racing/ Note that all the pics are kinda big; I seem to have lost the password to that webspace though so... well, deal. ;)
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