Review: 2013 Ducati 1199 Panigale R

Reviews -



What’s Good:
The 1199 R is the fastest way to lap a track on a motorcycle you can buy from a showroom, period. Everything is good.

Power is absolutely astonishing, as is the delivery. Forget your fears that Ducati has dropped some low-down torque in pursuit of top-end horsepower, this thing still pulls harder than any other motorcycle, anywhere in its rev range.

Luckily, feel is also peerless. The R keeps you informed of what’s going on in every single one of its components at all times. Other than being shocked by how fast it is, you will never, ever be surprised by it. “Hey buddy, I’m gonna slide out of this corner, you ok with that? Ok, cool, here we go. You should probably hang on.”

Revs pick up incredibly quickly thanks to the motor changes. Blipping downshifts only takes a tiny movement rather than the big arm jerks you see on other bikes.

The Brembo M50s are as amazing as the motor. I’d get out of a 200mph tuck, whack them on, then end up in 2nd gear, all ready for the corner, 100 yards too soon.

Ergonomics! I once did a trackday on a 748 and couldn’t last a full 20-minute session without my back going into spasms. A full day on an 1199 R? Not even a tiny bit sore, anywhere on my body. That also facilitates control, making body position easy and natural.

And don’t forget the handling. Oh, the handling. It’s a cliché to say a superbike handles like a 600, but this thing honestly handles better. It’s quick to turn in, utterly stable once its over, capable of impossible angles of lean and puts its power down with merciless composure.

All that electronic stuff helps, of course. The TC works imperceptibly, making it feel like you’re the one correcting the slide. And, the way I’m riding at the moment, it’s definitely not me.

What’s Bad:
Those incredibly powerful M50 calipers are also pretty grabby through the first few millimeters of the levers throw. I wouldn’t want to use them on a cold, damp morning on the street.

There’s also some non-linearity in the throttle through the mid-range. This is actually something Ducati designed in to aid aggressive riding. Go faster than me and it won’t be a problem.

This is not a friendly bike. If you’re of average ability, it will make you slower, not faster. That experts-only focus is very welcome and results in an incredibly involving experience, but it’s no joke. Come into riding one of these aware of that.

The Price:
I almost want to ask, “who cares?” There’s nothing else like this out there, at this price or any other.

The $7k increase over the S brings relatively few changes, but for those of you that plan on racing or seriously tracking it, you’ll benefit from the additional adjustability and those motor changes add up to more than they appear to. Of course, there’s the whole buying-into-an-exclusive-club thing, too.

What Others Say:
“Without doubt, this is the best stock, production motorcycle I’ve ever ridden…” — Cycle World

“…worth every penny…beautiful, exciting and involving.” — MCN

The Verdict:
Wow. This is the highest performing motorcycle in the world right now. No caveats, no asterisks, you cannot buy anything faster than this. Unlike more anodyne, inline-four rivals, it’s also the most exciting and involving experience too.

And, the lists of mosts and bests and whatnot continues: electronics, adjustability, components, nothing on the R is second best, it is the absolute best.

That’s all in a daringly-designed, technically advanced package that amazes where you look, where you touch and in every facet of its performance. Claudio is right, the 1199 R is the ultimate.

RideApart Rating: 10/10

Helmet: Schuberth S2 ($700)
Gloves: Racer Sicuro ($240)
Boots: Alpinestars Supertech R ($450)
Leathers: custom Icon one-piece (n/a)

  • josh

    Hurrah for actual content!

  • Soph Tsangarakis

    Why does Icon not sell that suit to the public? Looks like a nice piece of kit.

    • Bruce Steever

      Believe me, i’ve asked so many times. At the end of the day, full suits don’t sell very often and Icon doesn’t want to dilute their “by and for the street” brand message.

      To get one of these, you basically have to be: A. a mover and shaker in the powersports industry, and B. on Icon’s good-guy list.

      Wes is both; I am neither.

      • Soph Tsangarakis

        That’s too bad. I love a lot of icons stuff, seems like a suit would be up their alley now that they sponsor a race team.

        • Mitchel Durnell

          I’ve seen a couple people with an ICON onesie. But Bruce is right, plus trying to duke it out with the established players is probably a dead end (as Scorpion and Speed and Strength have most likely learned.)

          • Bruce Steever

            Wes, Jason Britton, a couple of folks over at Primedia, and maybe a few celebs are all i can think of.

  • Jose Manuel

    Hi Wes… how about the S2? I am thinking in one these for use with the tuono, right now my Arai RX-Q wants to fly it self….

    • ClassB4Ass

      I have the S2 and Tuono V4 … takes a little getting use to, extremely comfortable great aerodynamics.. love the comms package

    • Wes Siler

      Fantastic helmet, as are all Schuberths. Stable and comfy at 200mph. We’ll review it in the very near future.

      • Jose Manuel

        Thanks!!, by the way… good review on the Duc !

  • DucMan


  • TP

    Better writing and quick turnaround. One day the print mags will figure it out :/.

  • Jon Bekefy

    I put two laps in on the old 1098R at a track day once, after having come off a Hypermotard. Absolutely scared the pants off me.

    Great review.

  • The Blue Rider

    “This is not a friendly bike. If you’re of average ability, it will make you slower, not faster.”
    Au contraire. I’m pretty sure I’ll be way fucking faster than I’ve ever been in my life… Once, for at least a couple of hundred yards.

  • Wes Siler

    Hmm, these photos got pretty bad quality when they resized. I’ll fix them after lunch.

  • Scott Sweeney

    Is it faster than the Desmocedici?

    • Wes Siler

      Oh yeah. I mean, the 1198 was too though.

      • mugget man

        Ahhh… *sigh*

        I had always held the D16RR in high esteem as my “#1 ultimate dream bike of all time”.

        I’m sure it’s still a special bike to ride, but I guess I’m a bit old fashioned in that I think going flat out fast is what’s really fun. Now I’m conflicted…

  • fliegerad


    Please don’t do the usual destroked/underbored 8xx cc version that weighs about the same. Instead keep the bore & stroke the same, remove one cylinder, and stick it in something almost Moto3 sized that’s about 90 lbs lighter.

    Then there would be 2 new bikes at the top of my need/want list…

    • yipY

      The Supermono race bike was a great idea that won races.As a sales concept it is a non starter because it would cost virtually the same as a twin to manufacture.Nobody will pay serious cash for a half a Duc when a twin is a similar price.Reality bites.

      • fliegerad

        Couldn’t care less whether or not it would be a great sales concept. Few of the bikes I’ve bought new and ridden were great sellers, but they sure sold for a lot more than the “good sellers” years later.

        What do people pay serious cash for RIGHT NOW when they pop up for sale: Supermono, or “cost virtually the same” 748/749/848?

        • yipY

          “Couldn’t care less whether or not it would be a great sales concept”,well manufacturers do and it is their call.

          • fliegerad

            True. I’m not holding my breath for a call from the local Ducati dealer telling me that one is in stock.

            And, true, it wouldn’t be any cheaper (Probably more expensive, due to low production runs of unique parts). But it sure would be a LOT cheaper to maintain.

  • Damien Gaudet

    Congrats on surviving dude. As much as I’d love to ride one, I know I couldn’t handle a beast like that yet.

  • Robotribe

    I LOVE this livery; very reminiscent of the MH900 (of which I also love).

  • Dan

    I think that chopping off the first half of the line in the MCN quote makes that review sound more positive than it was. It seems like the most palpable improvement could be achieved by a $100 gearing change on an S or Tricolore, so if you want this bike its either (a) because its shinier and more exclusive than the others (ie, “exotica”) or (b) because you’re a serious racer and need an adjustable swingarm pivot and titanium conrods. That pretty much matches the conclusion in this review, but isn’t the glowing praise the quote suggests.

    Heres the full paragraph from the quoted line:

    “As a piece of exotica, it’s worth every penny, if you’re lucky enough to have the cash – it’s beautiful, exciting and involving. The chassis and engine mods will be a must for top teams in superbike and superstock, too, but the R doesn’t feel different enough to warrant trading up from your Panigale S or Tricolore.”

    • yipY

      Yup.Agreed.I can’t work out why a guy would not be better off to just fit lower gearing to an S for freeway flights of fright and spend the R’s big cash difference on a 1st gen SV650 race bike to actually ride in anger at track days.I very much doubt the claimed tests top speed of over 200mph.The much slipperier Hayabusa on salt lakes has trouble getting to the true double ton.The Panigale has been a great disappointment worldwide as a true race bike except in Italy.

      • Wes Siler

        I think that sorta misses the point. 99.9% of riders would be better off buying a used 600 for $6500 and spending the rest on tires and gas. But Ducati still manages to sell one or two bikes…

        • yipY

          I think the whole point off this review is this “R” costs 7K more and 99.99% of non-racers gain only a few little bits of bragging rights.Like most High spec Ducatis it will gain a coat a dust in a garage for about 18 months waiting for “the next lucky guy” to buy it “as an investment.”

          • Afonso Mata

            Point. But Ducati’s point is only to sell one or two of these bikes to “normal” costumers. As explained by Wes at the beginning of the article, this is the homologation model for the SBK racers.

  • Dan

    @ Wes: did you guys get to play with the adjustable swingarm pivot yourselves (or see their techs do it)? How involved is making a change?

    I ask because the Triumph 675 also (technically) offers an adjustable pivot, but in practice it might as well not exist. “Adjustment” requires special inserts/brackets for the pivot point, but these must be fabricated one-off because they arent made/sold by Triumph or anyone else. That means you need a CNC machine and a development rider to make a change, so not exactly a system that it friendly for casual users.

    From the sound of it, the Ducati system seems much easier!

    • Wes Siler

      Yeah, it’s just a case of rotating the “bolt.” Different times on the clock are different settings.

      • Dan

        Very cool. Thanks!

        Random site-related ask: could you guys add a menu to sort/navigate the collection of HFL bike reviews? Especially as the list grows, it would be awesome to be able to browse them by manufacturer, style, displacement, etc.

    • MrMotoWise

      You need around 30-40 minutes to do it, no special brackets etc required.

  • Daniel Lemontt Dulaney

    Really? First time? and spent equivalent would not touch it… the competition is complaining about it in SBK

    • Daniel Lemontt Dulaney

      But then again have you ever ridden a duc? Its a jet you gotta learn and not tell..

      • Caleb Smith

        Don’t get me wrong, I like Ducatis! The only one I’ve ridden is a 1098, which was a cool bike, but I wouldn’t want to own one. I never thought I could never justify the price over more affordable, more friendly (for the street) bikes. This bike made me think twice.

  • The_Doctor

    Very enjoyable review. I cannot wait to see one of these at the Austin GP. I am sure someone, somewhere will have one for stylin’ purposes.

  • stever Made in San Jose, California.

    • Marc Fenigstein

      This. There are a number of folks that do high quality custom suits at prices competitive with off the shelf suits and at equal or better quality/protection. Helimot has a cult following here in CA (and thousands of AFM crashes to prove their worth), and I’ve heard good things about Zooni and Pilot as well. I’m sure there are others out there.. maybe something local to you, but any of these guys will sort you out by email if you get someone to help measure.

    • Francisco Gomes

      Most ridiculous pictures I’ve seen in my life. Just absolutely ridiculous. I mean, look at this

  • ducman916

    “like the rest of the Panigale range, steering angle is adjustable too.”

    • Wes Siler

      Am I incorrect in saying that?

      • ducman916

        I don’t know actually, you may be correct. If so, this is the first I have heard of this and nobody else is talking about it. I thought the head angle was fixed on the Panigale. Unfortunately I do not have one of my own (yet), so I can’t go out to the garage and check it the old fashioned way…

      • MrMotoWise

        Yes, it is incorrect. None of the 1199s have an adjustable steering head angle.

    • DeanIverson

      lol, pretty sure he meant the rake but yea you don’t miss a beat do ya?

      • ducman916

        No part of the steering geometry of the 1199 is adjustable, other than pulling the forks up in the triple clamps like on any other bike. But yeah, as you say, the lean angle is adjustable. As is the pitch angle.

    • DeanIverson

      “adjustable lean angle” lol

  • Sven Ram

    Those pics are pretty hilarious.

  • Wes Siler

    Cortech. Really? yeesh.

    • Soph Tsangarakis

      It’s literally the only suit I came across that fit properly. Fit from a stars or dianese isn’t there. I’m looking at upgrading to a custom heroic suit if I can’t find anything off the rack that I’m comfortable in.

    • Bruce Steever

      Cortech’s new stuff is actually pretty damn good, especially their high-end gloves.

      • DeanIverson

        only sissies ride with gear! :-)

  • mugget man

    “American cut”? ROFL… I don’t think that means what you think it means…

    I thought most suits were already fitted for the average male, meaning quite a lot of room in the gut and skinny arms and legs (especially when you start getting into the larger sizes).

    I know what you mean though, I am only 5’11″ but needed a suit that was way too baggy in the gut just so I could fit my legs, shoulders and arms in comfortably.

    Well-muscled people and bodybuilders just need custom suits, simple as that. Never going to find something off the shelf that fits really good.

    • DeanIverson

      naw, American cut has material removed to accommodate for the gash and the European cut has extra material sewn in for the extra large boles, ‘wink’