Up-Close with the Ducati 1199 Panigale S Tricolore

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The pinnacle of Ducati’s Superbike offering for 2012 is the Ducati 1199 Panigale S Tricolore. Incorporating the key features from the Ducati 1199 Panigale S, like its traction control (DTC), electronic quick-shifter (DQS), forged Marchesini wheels, and Öhlins-made Ducati Electronic Suspension (DES) front forks and rear TTX shock, the Tricolore package adds anti-locking brakes and the GPS-assisted DDA+ Ducati Data Acquisition system as standard items to Tricolore’s technical list.

Add in bounty of carbon fiber, and a stunning three-color paint scheme (hence the name), and you’ve got a stellar motorcycle that should please all of a rider’s senses. Helping celebrate Italy’s 150 year anniversary of unification, the Tricolore is Ducati’s ultimate expression of Italian design and engineering. Up-close the Ducati 1199 Panigale S Tricolore instantly makes the plain Rosso Corsa-clad Panigale look pedestrian and commonplace, which is a shame. However, if this is the new Corse paint scheme for future bikes, we could get used to that.

Common to all the Ducati 1199 Panigale superbikes, the LED headlight really is something to behold. In its low-beam setting, the two groupings of LEDs near the center of the Panigale’s nose illuminate the way ahead. They are noticeably bright, with a slightly bluish hue. Flipping the switch to the high-beam setting though, and the lux value doubles by our estimates, with the entire headlight array projecting photons. Sources have told us that the entire headlight package is very thin, and surely there is some significant weight savings occurring here because of the LED implementation.

Especially intriguing is the Ducati Electronic Suspension (DES) by Öhlins and the new DDA+ data acquisition software. Having played with the DES on the Multistrada 1200, the package is really more of a convenience than something earth-shattering, and merely makes adjustments from preset settings easier and wrench/screwdriver free. Similarly the GPS-assisted data acquisition is also a step forward, but again is how all data acquisition packages should operate (who are OEMs kidding with manual lap timers?), since the DDA+ uses the GPS data to know what turn you are in on a track, and when you’ve crossed the start/finish line.

However what compels us the most about these two systems is the fact that now a motorcycle not only knows where it is on a race course, but also has the ability to adjust its suspension setup on-the-fly while on the track. At this point, it is only going to take some clever individuals to make the two systems talk to each other, and finally bring dynamic body control to the motorcycle industry. We imagine such a system already exists somewhere in Sweden, though it is anyone’s guess as to when the public will see it. Best guesses would be another 10 years. How long will it take a systems hacker to achieve the same feat? We give it 12 months.

Photos: Jensen Beeler / Asphalt & Rubber – Creative Commons – Attribution 3.0