I had a good chuckle last week, you see one of my Facebook groups posted up some rumors they heard about the upcoming Ducati middleweight sport bike — namely that it would have a double-sided swingarm. “That’s ludicrous,” I said to myself, as I posted an even snarkier reply to the Facebook (oh sweet internet, how you bring the asshole out in all of us).

Hrmm…well, it appears I was wrong, as spy photos of the “Ducati 899 Panigale” surfaced just days later, and sure enough, there is a double-sided swinger bolted onto the Babigale™.

While it surely gets my goat that I was pie-in-the-face wrong on this rumor (on Facebook no less), what really grinds my gears was that the new model from Borgo Panigale flies in the face of my basic understanding of how Italy’s iconic motorcycle brand even thinks.

You see in motorcycling product cycle terms, it wasn’t that long ago that Ducati Motor Holding made the faux pas of debuting a massive revision of the Ducati aesthetic to motorcycles.

It was a crime against motorcycling, in the eyes of Ducatisti at least, and Pierre Terblanche was served a trial-by-fire for his Ducati 999 Superbike design, with its staked-headlight and double-sided swingarm being the biggest bones of contention.

As time has passed on, we can now recognize the Ducati 999 for the brilliance that it was, and with maybe even more duration, retrospect will show Terblanche to be just as much of the master as his mentor Massimo Tamburini.

Let’s be honest, the Ducati 916 and its progeny were a tough act to follow, but what Ducati and Terblanche failed to realize was just how massively conservative Ducati owners were when it came to the lines of their machines.

I have already argued that the 999 wasn’t as big of a sales flop as motorcycling’s gentry would have us believe, and I argue now that the machine will be as timeless of a piece as the 916 — but was it the right bike for Ducati at the time? Surely not, and the Ducati 1098 Superbike shows us that.

Call it pandering to Ducati’s core consumer, the Ducati 1098’s design was a direct response to the reaction of the Ducati 999. It was like someone took Tamburini’s 916, imagined what the maestro would have penned a decade later, and put that on the market — and to be frank, that is what Ducatisti were really expecting from Terblanche and Ducati all along — though whether that is right or wrong, I will let you decide.

Fast-forward in time to Ducati 1199 Panigale — Bologna has its groove back. The company has solidified its base, it made a bold, but calculated, entry into the adventure and cruiser segments, and was ready to go for the hat trick with a killer super bike design — something that’s easy to do in theory, but harder to do in practice.

“20 more horsepower, 10 less kilos” a voice whispered into my ear. Asphalt & Rubber was the first to report the two most important details of Ducati’s new superbike — a machine that would be sold on its peak horsepower figure, and dry weight mass.

Ducati had an ace up its sleeve, and it wasn’t until more information, spy photos, and rumors came forth that we knew how big of a step Borgo Panigale had taken with its namesake.

A “frameless” chassis, LED headlights, an alphabet soup of electronic systems, and of course more horsepower than had ever been seen before on a production Ducati superbike, not to mention it was the lightest machine on Ducati’s line-up at the time.

The gaff, if you can call it that, was Ducati knew what a winner it had on its hands, and raised the price accordingly (another tidbit A&R broke first, just saying).

Sales for the Ducati 1199 Panigale have been good — let’s remember that. But, they have not been great…they have not been the home run the Ducati had expected those many months ago.

Superbike shootouts with the Panigale rarely showed the Ducati as the victor (we would question the result of any test that did so), with the consensus being that Aprilia RSV4 and BMW HP4 were the better machines.

Another model year is now upon us, and while we expect Ducati to debut another exciting machine at EICMA later this year, we also expect some more minor bike releases as well — enter the Ducati 899 Panigale, or whatever its name is officially.

I expect to see this machine drop cover ahead of the November bike show in Milan, if for no other reason than it’s basically a 1199, only smaller (and thus, not the “big” release we’d expect at EICMA).

But that’s the point though, it’s not just an “1199, only smaller” bike — it’s missing one of the key elements we now associate with the Ducati brand, a single-sided swingarm.

It seems like a trivial thing really, after all unless you’re going endurance racing, a single-sided swingarm provides no benefit to the machine. But ah, it provides so much benefit to the soul, and that’s what Ducatisti are really after at the end of the day.

This is where I feel like I have lost my understanding of the Ducati brand. Didn’t the pushback from the 999 teach Ducati that there are certain elements we expect from the Italian brand when it comes from its motorcycle designs?

Doesn’t Ducati realize there are certain elements that its sport bikes must have in order to be accepted by the espresso bike night crowd?

Cost is surely playing a factor here; and if rumors of a 899cc displacement are true, then Ducati will certainly need to differentiate its now near-liter-bike sized “supersport” from its 1,200cc “superbike” counterpart (I could write even more pages about the displacement creep going on in the supersport category).

Beyond that, I just don’t get the decision here. The obvious expectation from Ducatisti was a very obtainable “X”, but Ducati has seemingly given us “X-1” instead.

I keep hoping to wake up from this dream, hoping to hear that this has all been an elaborate hoax — some photoshop mastery — because at least then I will feel like I understand what’s going on in the collective mind at Ducati HQ.

Until then…Chewbacca, it doesn’t make sense.

Photo: © 2011 Jensen Beeler / Asphalt & Rubber – Creative Commons – Attribution 3.0

  • eg

    i agree 100% with you

  • blah

    Who cares? Only posers, that’s who cares. I want one because I’m not man enough to get all the potential out of the big 1200 Panigrowly. The little one should suite me fine, sounds good, and be nice to look at. The double sided swing arms are usually lighter than the single ones anyway.

  • tony

    posers will care yes-babigale, that’s funny! but blah yous is wrong my man- singles is heavier! ax anybody!

  • triple

    Wow, what a hype about the swingarm… I´m really surprised that it is considered as so much elementary for a Ducati Superbike. No one batted an eye when they removed the dry clutch to install a common wet clutch into their current flagship (and other models). Wasnt that a “holy grail” too in the Ducati Universe not long ago? Or for the new hypermotard, when the classic desmodue engine was replaced by the more advanced and efficient testastretta, though the previous engine had more charm it was almost completely appreciated because its “technical progress”, and today no one cares anyway. The Swingarm after all its just a simple “hardware component”. I mean, seriously, its because you can see the whole rim from one side, thats it? Because otherwise it would covered a little bit by the swingarm? Hate me, but thats just silly in my opinion. Not to forget a DSS is superior in terms of performance. I may go along with the line “the ducati fans were not ready yet for the DSS” when the 999 came ot, but i like to add that they may be now. Oh, and the 999 was an awesome looking bike, so are the Desmosedici and the RSV4.

  • triple

    if its such a big deal then they should think about installing a single sided fork too, like the vespas have or the cannondale mountainbikes

  • triple

    Oh yeah, and they killed the iconic underseat exhaust too. Sorry, triple-post – just came to my mind, (maybe because i got used to it so fast ;) ). No surprise, they did that to improve handling performance…

  • Bruce

    I love my single side swing arm. Yes it looks cool, but hidden behind the saddle bags it is hard to see. I know it is heavier than a traditional two arm unit. But when it come time to replace the rear tire, up on the stand, remove that big nut and done. No chain to mess with. No need for a third hand when replacing the wheel and trying to hold the rear caliper in place while sliding the axle in. It is mechanical simplicity. As some one that does 90% of the wrenching on the bikes in the garage I appreciate that.

    The picture of the bike with the two arm swing arm might just be a development mule. Or it could be a marketing plan. For those that just have to have a single side swing arm, they will have to pony up more cash for the big bike.

  • albacete

    as a porsche and ducati fan (really fan), 24 years old, i have arrived to the conclusion (and i guess some others too but they fear to say it) this two iconic brands have such a problem related with conservatism. and the problem, nowadays in the 21st century, can only be solve with the incorporation of TWO more cylinders to their “iconic” and “historical” engines. they have to accept that their design are squeezed until the last drop. you can live in the past and please the “purists”, but if ducati wants the sales of their superbikes to be as great as they want and attract new costumers they have to move on and addapt to the reality of the superbikes nowadays, and the lack of power is the reality of the brand as it have been proved in most of the tests. as i said, i’m a big fan, and maybe what i’m telling may sound as a sin to most o the others fans, but i really wouldn’t die if they decide to use a single or double swimgarm, a wet or dry cluth or whatever. i just want to see my favourite brand winning everywhere, street and track.

  • kww

    As a one time owner of an R11s, I too, really appreciate the single sided swingarm. It is not just for looks, but ease of maintenance, and also the manufacturer flexing their engineering prowess – all commendable pursuits, imo.

    But let us not forget, the Germans are in charge of Ducati now, and logic may dictate over emotion on such components; which is shameful in the case of Ducati as you can clearly see that the spy photos swingarm are ‘sculpted’ as bad as you see on a Japanese bike.

  • paulus – Thailand

    I will reserve judegement and wait for Eicma to see what is being offered.
    Whether it has SSS or DSS… lots of people are talking about it.
    That is good for Ducati.

  • Harb

    Instead of looking at the negatives of the 899, let’s look at one thing Ducati really nailed with this thing. Thanks to it’s too-big-for-Supersport and too-small-for-Superbikes displacement, this is one frameless design that will never lose a race!

  • Gutterslob

    Still not quite sold on this “frameless” tech. Call me old school or out of touch or whatever, but if the thing falls apart when the engine’s removed, it’s just wrong. I mean, you can’t get a person to stand (let alone walk) without a spine, can you? Sure, you can point me to spineless animals, some of em predators even, but they’re all either slimy, creepy, or both.

  • Chuck

    Well I have to admit I’m a fan of single sided swing arms, it is so easy to remove the wheel, there is no messing with chain alignment, a pit bull stand for the single sided swing arm works in both direction and its much more secure than a standard stand with spools. Those don’t sound like a big deal, but when I had a dual side swing arm bike in between my 998 and my 848, I cussed at it every time I had to work on the back end.

  • Silas

    Unfortunately this article is all true. Anyone who’s bought a 1098/9 or 1199 can’t have ridden any other modern superbike during that process, except maybe the Gixxer. Trust me, I’ve tried with all my might to by a Ducati but made the huge mistake of test riding it first. Initially the 1098 (when I had a Fireblade) and then the 1199s whilst owning my RSV4 Factory. At the end of each, I would have paid the dealer NOT to take the bike. In fact, I did. I cancelled the Panigale order and lost 500 quid.

  • Sentinel

    Ducati will burn in motorcycle manufacturer hell for this blasphemy! >:(

  • Norm G.

    re: “I keep hoping to wake up from this dream, hoping to hear that this has all been an elaborate hoax — some photoshop mastery — because at least then I will feel like I understand what’s going on in the collective mind at Ducati HQ.”

    jensen, let you in on a lil’ secret. CARL FOGARTY himself had tested a DSS on his 996SPS as far back as like ’99…? true story. not sure if i personally have it…? (maybe on an old hard drive) but there’s even a photograph of it somewhere. stick wit me, got all the info.

    re: “Cost is surely playing a factor here”

    YAHHTZEE…! if you simply knew the history of the 848, 749, and 748 you’d know ducati has ALWAYS struggled with the price point on the Jr. model. just because the engine displacement was LESS doesn’t mean the bike was magically cheaper to produce…? casting a 90mm piston isn’t any different than a 100mm piston.

    in fact, since the 2 models shared 98% of their componentry, cases, frame, forks, swingarm, exhaust, fi, ecu, wiring loom, etc, the production costs were basically IDENTICAL. however (comma) they couldn’t very well charge you 1000cc money for a bike with less performance now can they…?

    that means they accepted less margin on every bike they sold. can’t run a business like that, though you can certainly RUN IT INTO THE GROUND.

  • Norm G.

    re: “No one batted an eye when they removed the dry clutch”

    which “no ones”…? laymen or ducatisti…?

    re: “the classic desmodue engine was replaced by the more advanced and efficient testastretta”

    let me help you. DESMOQUATTRO (water cooled 4V) was replaced. desmodue is the 2V air cooled stuff.

  • Mike Nailwood

    I would have preferred Ducati do more to differentiate their Jr. models in the past; like make them smaller and significantly lighter. That is the direction I wish they would go; ultra-light diminutive exotica, like the Honda vfr 400 is to the RC 30.

    Speaking of that; can you imagine an RC 30 with a double sided swing arm? Ugh!

    The SSS is a beautiful signature feature for Ducati sport bikes, that should be continued in this Jr version.

  • @ triple… you are right my friend the 999’s, D16RR, and Aprilia’s RSV4 are the 3 sexiest bikes from the past 10 years. Those are currently my 3 favorite in my collection especially the two V4s. Not sure why but I never really liked the 1098 not a fan of retro, copy the past styling of a previous bike styling.

  • Andrew

    I’ want Ducati to build a bike that will have the foot peg where I can put my foot without burning it on the exhaust (like on Diavel). The bike that will have electronics package that does not pack it in the moment it starts raining because water gets in (like Multistrada). The bike that is ergonomically designed to fit human body not some weird species with arms twice as long as their short stumpy legs (Monster) or just… just some other weird species (Hypermotard). THAT bike will stir my soul, that is the design that matters to me. Whether they use single sided swing arm or not doesn’t even enter into the equation.

  • triple

    @ Norm G. i never felt that there was like a tumult because of the wet clutch, wherever. And i´m pretty sure the previous Hypermotards were running an aircooled 2V Twin. Should´ve pointed it more out i was talking about the Hyper´, maybe.

  • Moot

    I agree with this article. Ducati is supposed to be about being different, being exotic. What is the point of buying a Ducati that will be more expensive than the Japanese supersports if it is only going to look like one? Not to mention too big to join the supersports race, and too small to join the litre bike race?

  • damn

    why all the fuzz about a swingarm? its a totaly bad bike just like the panigale. it needs all the alphabet soup to keep it riding. without it it would be the most dangerous most unreliable unthoughtfull bike ever in history and the baby fail-i-gale wont be any better. only the dumb duc lover would buy one, just like with the fail-i-gale, only because of the fairings? hahaha

  • DFR

    All these comments make me both grin and pause, sequentially. The group of adjectives that surface from those who ride a Ducati can’t be mirrored by most any other brand in the motoring world (2-wheel or 4-wheel). The Ducati experience is special. The brand is diversified and has stayed true to it’s foundation in making bikes that are always engaging ..if not usually visceral. Something Porsche has (mostly) lost (and I speak from experience here). At both the beginning and end of the day –when you swing your leg over a Ducati your delivered “different”.
    A single sided swingarm won’t mean squat at the end of the day. A frameless design or wet clutch, the same. But change the Ducati experience by dumbing down the physical nature and/or design — that would be a travesty. I don’t believe Ducati will do that.
    The larger question is…”What will Ducati do to attract younger riders?” They, as well as the rest of the motorcycle industry, are foundering here.

  • I don’t know about foundering. Last I heard, sales are booming for Ducati. You’re right though, it is “just a swingarm” at the end of the day.

    But the real interesting aspect of all this is that if it was any other motorcycle brand, we wouldn’t even take the time to be talking about a swingarm configuration, and this wouldn’t be the highest trafficked article on A&R this week.

    Now, that’s the real story here.

  • smiler

    The solutions that Ducati have used are logical. Why all the fuss about the SSS. It makes getting the rear tire off much easier. At that time the RC30 used one as well. If you are racing and have no side stand it is easy to drop the rear stand in easily if you do not have a team to support you!
    Dry clutches provide less friction and were usually used on race bikes. Also easier to change. Under seat pipes, especially on the Ducati raised the ground clearance.
    Until 2007 the steel trellis was a good frame, easy to modify, easy to add or take away flex and move the engine about. All the above also looked brilliant.

    Terreblanche was a designed with a name. So he could not follow the 916. If Tambo had stayed then Ducati would have had the MV instead. A worthy successor to the 916. So Ducati got the 999. Good to sit on but otherwise unfinished. It was a common situation. Look at Bangle at BMW. Same ideas and design result.
    2007 Stoner complains about the steel trellis because from bike to bike it is inconsistent. So Ducati go to Ferrari and ask about frames. hey presto carbon frame. And Stoner bombs to 4th for 2 years. Subsequently having moved from steel trellis, Ducati are lost bcause they have not other frame experience. Hence part of the problem in MotoGP.
    Ducati’s in tests are never the fastest. So the HP4 and RSV arguement has always been there. Be it the GSXR, HP4, R1 or Aprilia. But it has taken 10 years for Aprilia to get the RSV right.
    So Ducati have always been race orientated not conservative and wanting to make beautiful bikes.
    So the Panigale is a reaction to that. Cannot see the issue.
    A double sided swing arm is cheaper and exists on other bikes.
    What I do not get is that it is 899 and therefore not eligable for Supersport.

  • DFR

    I meant to say “floundering” (my early morning typo) in the context of the potential of attracting younger riders. This is an industry-wide challenge and, hopefully, an opportunity.

    I agree with your comment, “if it was any other motorcycle brand, we wouldn’t even take the time..”. This says so much about Ducati, past and present. Future…?? I’m certain Audi is listening.

  • Smitchell

    Jensen, I stopped understanding what Ducati was doing when the Diavel came out. It got worse when, as some have astutely added, they dropped under tail exhausts and dry clutches in favor of umpteen variations of the Hypermotard.
    But the gents above who made the Porsche analogy are absolutely correct. If you fell in love with Porsche before computers and flappy paddle gearboxes, you’re a lot like Ducatisti, pre 2009 (when I perceive the brand changed).

  • There are several things at play with Ducati superbikes that bother me.
    1- The Panigale is based no failed MotoGP tech. They bet the farm on Preziosi and his designs, and well, they sucked in MotoGP.
    2- The Panigale is as far from the 1198 as the 999 was from the 916. In fact farther, the 999 at least had a trellis and the L-twin
    3- The 848 was a capitulation to the WSS series. The 748/749 were in WSS, the 848 was Ducati saying, they can’t compete. And Ducati saying they don’t know how to compete, is a failure. The 899, if that is the final displacement, is even further admitting that. They should build the 750 version if this is SUCH a great motor and frame and compete.
    4- The 899 with a DSS, is just wrong. The 748/749 were smaller displacement copies of the big bikes. Having to go with a larger displacement motor and more costs to get the same styling is not in the tradition of the series.
    5- The big motors were always too much for the street. The midsize bikes always had the reputation of being better road bikes. and more usable motors on smaller tracks for the average rider.
    6- Costs – Ducati designs the series backwards. They should build the bikes to hit the small displacement price points, then add more electronics/suspension upgrades/wheel upgrades/motor displacement for the big motor bikes to get to the bigger price tags.

  • sunstroke

    The 899 design seems relatively straightforward. Prior to the 1198, Ducati were convinced that they couldn’t sell 1000cc SBKs b/c of the power deficit to the 1000cc four-cylinder bikes, which would continue to grow worse as Aprilia and BMW released their machines. But Ducati are tied to the American market where middleweights reign supreme. Twice, the AMA has contemplated 600cc SBKs. First, during the reboot of AMA FX to 600cc machines with SBK-esque rules. Second, when DMG took over AMA and promised to run Superbikes in the 200.

    In Ducati’s biggest market, they’ve had problems with the 848 cannibalizing 1198 sales. It looks like the 899 will get cheaper components and be cursed with designs like DSS (perhaps cheaper than SSS). If a Ducati customer wants an SSS, they’ll have to put at least $18,000 on the table for the 1199 Panigale.

  • Nick Napoda

    You can have the single sided swingarm… if you fork out the extra cash for the 1199. Seems like an acceptable differentiator between the two models. Anyone consider it might be a better market decision than to have an 1198 and 848 looking identical except for the details? Anyone also consider the issue that the smaller displacement version probably costs nearly as much to build, but retails for significantly less? Now if they get rid of the single sided swingarm on the 1199 and other models, then we need to start really worrying! PS, I really hope they are doing a 799ish, as has been rumored to make the bike more competitive in Supersport without restrictions. Then again, Ducati seems to be set on increasing displacement and power to unnecessary levels. -Ducati dealership employee

  • Norm G.

    re: “@ Norm G. i never felt that there was like a tumult because of the wet clutch”

    personally, I threw up in my mouth a lil’ bit.

    re: “And i´m pretty sure the previous Hypermotards were running an aircooled 2V Twin.”

    yes, 2V air cooled, but those weren’t Desmodue’s. those were 2V DS’s. the “dues” were from the carbureted era and had cams supported by roller elements. the modern heads had upgraded to plain bearings in addition to dual plugs.

    re: “Anyone also consider the issue that the smaller displacement version probably costs nearly as much to build, but retails for significantly less?”

    yup, Norm G. :)

  • Norm G.

    re: “Speaking of that; can you imagine an RC 30 with a double sided swing arm?”

    ‘fraid so. it was called the last iteration of RC45.


  • Norm G.

    re: “The SSS is a beautiful signature feature for Ducati sport bikes, that should be continued in this Jr version.”

    right then, i’ll need a check for $18,000. thank you for your support. (bartles and jaymes voice)

  • Norm G.

    re: “Doesn’t Ducati realize there are certain elements that its sport bikes must have in order to be accepted by the espresso bike night crowd?”

    don’t bikeworld beggars realize this is a business, and no where on the outside of the building will you find a RED CROSS…?

  • Dave

    DSS is acceptable if this thing can win world supersport races.

    The 2013 WSS Rulebook says 750cc max for 2 cylinders. Can a 750cc twin beat a 600cc four or a 675cc triple? Tall order, it’d be a screamer, but if you did make a go at it, you’d need a chassis that could put every ounce of power to the ground early in the exits (hence DSS).

    I really hope the 2014 rulebook shows 800cc max (or more) for twins. I wanna see the babigale win!!

  • triple

    @ Norm G. I dont consider myself as a Ducati expert, so thank you for the details (DS, Desmodue), good to know. From what i have heard so far, the Hypers engine was called “desmodue-evoluzione”, at least thats what the ducati prospect i have says (Hyper 1100 evo sp, in particular), also some websites. Same goes with the Monster 1100 Evo.

  • Mike Nailwood

    Norm G. Thanks for making my point form me. The RC 30 is the more sought after and sexy of the two, without question. Partially because of that SSS.

  • Mitch

    I… like the design of the DSS? Although it’s a little too much like Aprilia’s unit.

  • Judge

    SSS!!!!!!!!!! Jensen I could not agree with you more.

    Everyone here saying it doesn’t matter are other manufacturer types. And so they’re haters – but I’m saying that in the nicest possible way – they just don’t get it. Because it’s different and stands out, they say “ah, your special difference is stupid, you shouldn’t have liked such a stupid thing in the first place, glad that they’re getting rid of your unique feature (on a bike that I didn’t like before and would never buy with a DSS now)”.

    As someone else has pointed out – it’s possible (hope, hope) that this piece of shit is a version destined for India (not the US, etc), just like they mutilated the Japan 1199 adding that exhaust.

  • Norm G.

    re: ” the Hypers engine was called “desmodue-evoluzione”

    all that “evoluzione” crap came later from the marketing dept from these recent spate of so-called EVO models. it’s fundamentally the DS engine only now they give you the hop up parts from catalog. I’ve got the kit cams in my hyper, but as an early adopter, I had to buy mine seperate.

  • Alok

    One should not dismiss the ‘poser value’ of a SSSA.

    Let’s be honest: if performance and usability were what Ducati riders were after, they would not buy a Ducati at all and instead buy the BMW S1000RR or the “outdated” Honda CBR1000RR Fireblade (still the most rider friendly liter bike there is).

    Ducatis have never been about best handling, rider friendliness or most power. Their handling prowess is media hype. Ducatis are poser items, and I am okay with that. For some people visual aesthetics are more important than absolute performance. Live and let live, no one is being forced to buy Ducatis. And SSSA is a big part of the poser equation.

    If this is the replacement for the 848 -the most beautiful bike in the world IMO- then it is a step down in design.

  • Faust

    Ducatis are so poser that they have more WSBK titles than any other manufacturer in the history of the series…. If you ride a CBR (like me), then jump on an 1198 (like I did) and it doesn’t make you want to buy a Ducati, then don’t . Track time on a Ducati converted me completely. I used to be a Ducati hater too, but after riding them my mind has completely changed. I’m definitely going to get one. If that’s not what you want, then don’t buy one. Simple as that.

  • Faust

    On a side note, if you decide what bikes are better than others based on numbers on a spreadsheet that you read on the Internet, I feel really bad for you.

  • Norm G.

    re: “the highest trafficked article on A&R this week.”

    cha-ching $$$…! back up the brinks truck. beep, beep, beep (reverse warning tone).

  • DFR

    I spent 400 miles seat time on a 1098 last summer. I read all the rants/raves about comfort/fit, heat, torque, etc. The experience was simply terrific.

    Last November I bought a 1199. Think I liked the 1098??? Yes, I did! But I absolutely love the 1199.

    FYI… I seriously considered the BMW S-1000-RR. Everything seemed to point that was “the bike to own”.
    But, seriously, I not only wanted to ride it, but had to look at it, as well. I just couldn’t do the latter!!

  • irksome

    Jenson: I’d imagine the other high-traffic post this week was about Harley going water-cooled.

    HD and Ducati generating the most comments speaks volumes about their… fans. They are two sides of the same coin.

  • paulus – Thailand

    … any publicity is good publicity!

  • Any true Ducati fan wants them to build the best bike they can, or at least have read the reviews of it’s larger brother, all of which make the Panigale seem overly stiff and unforgiving for long rides.

    It’s incredibly difficult with a single piece of metal to control flex, stiffness and ultimately handling the same way an opposed double swing arm design can.

    For fans of the Honda line they already know that Honda been there done that and now has an asymmetrical swing arm design which results in one of the best handling and most forgiving series of sport bikes out there. The VFR has a single arm but it has a complete sub-frame that mitigates much of the inherent stiffness necessary with bolting the suspension to the drive train directly.

    It’s time for people to realize that Audi bought Ducati and just like they made Lamborginis much more reliable and tractable they will do the same to the Ducati line to bring it on par at least with the S1000RR

  • Alok

    >Ducatis are so poser that they have more WSBK titles than any other manufacturer in the history of the series

    And all those titles are meaningless since the Flamminis biased the rules to favor Ducati. In the fairer platform of motoGP, Ducati have mostly been mediocre. Only Stoner’s supernatural talent won them anything.

  • EA

    At least Lamborgini’s are still pleasant to look at. Regardless of whether or not they choose a single, or double sided swing arm, the one bolted on the bike in the spy picture just looks ugly and cheap. I own a Triumph Daytona 675. It has a DSSA, and it looks fantastic, unlike this bike which looks like they wrapped some plastic around the rear wheel. In addition even the DSSA on the 999 was so much easier to look at than this abomination. Bottom line is even though it’s possible to have a DSSA that is aesthetically pleasing, Ducati NEEDS to stay true to it’s SSSA formula. Honestly, I just can’t argue that it looks infinitely better than any DSSA, even though I LOVE my Daytona… From a performance standpoint, do you really think that 95% of the people who buy these bikes can actually tell the difference? After all if its an 899 it wont be raced anyways…Finally, from the perspective of a business that obviously cares about generating revenue, does anyone here know how much money would be saved on a bike produced with a DSSA as opposed to a SSSA? I don’t, but I can tell you that it probably wouldn’t break the bank… Spend a little more to make the bike more appealing to it’s potential buyers, and sell more bikes. I’d rather do that then make an ugly bike, that costs less, and will most likely sell less as a result.

  • Marc

    for racing – DSS will be a benefit.

    IMO – come out with the 899 in 750cc format and DSS.
    Offer 899 with “option” SSA
    Offer 1199 with a “racing” DSS – with price decrease or same price.

    Benefits of a DSS is lower weight – in a critical location.

  • Variable


    All of Ducatis titles are meaningless? So the two that Honda won with the RC-51 must be just as meaningless then, right? They were operating under the same rules, so I guess so. And of course it must of had absolutely nothing to do with Polen, Fogarty, Bayliss, Hodgson, etc. being great riders. Even if early on they got some help, have you read the FIM rules any time lately? Checa definitely didn’t get much help last time he won the title. The better that twins do, the larger the restrictors they put on. It really takes a lot of the incentive to race a big twin. In an earlier comment someone compared Ducati fans to Harley fans. I’ll take that a step further and say the same type of people who blindly hate all Harley riders based on their bike choice are the same ones who hate Ducati riders. I have yet to meet anyone who has ridden either of those brands extensively and didn’t enjoy themselves. If riding a buzzy high rpm inline 4 makes you happy, then do it. If not, then do something else, but the sheer hatred directed towards certain bike brands is insane. If it doesn’t make sense to you, then you probably haven’t ridden the bikes in question. Quit spewing hatred from behind a keyboard based on performance numbers and price points. I enjoy motorcycling for motorcycling’s sake. I’m not concerned with outright top speed, lap times, a tenth of a second here and there or an odd horsepower here and there. The bike needs to be a complete experience to me, from the way it looks to the way it turns to the way it sounds and vibrates. If a bike doesn’t speak to me, I’m not buying it no matter what A motorcycle journalist tells me. The S1000rr or the RSV4 is better on paper and if that matters to you then go buy one.

  • Silas


    A complete experience if part of that ‘completeness’ is owning a Ducati. As I said earlier, I really wanted to own a Ducati. I took a 1098 when I had my ’08 Blade and then a Panigale 1199s when I my RSV4 Factory was 2 years old. I’m afraid that both felt like tractors – not just the engine but how they are put together. It just doesn’t feel like a single unit.

    Once, when I was 12 I figured I would make a skateboard using a plank and the trucks and wheels from an old roller skate. The result is what my ride on both the 1098 and 1199 reminded me of. A piece of crap really. Although, I will admit the paint jobs are nice. Not nice enough that I was prepared to waiver my £500 deposit. Unfortunately my mate wasn’t as lucky – he sold his back to the dealer after 600 miles to get back onto an RSV4.

  • Hazbikes

    Interesting. The Porsche analogy can go even further….Porsche caved to its business side and made the cayenne…everybody howled but its their best seller. To a 911 purist 928’s, 944’s, cayman’s all sucked. Same with Ducati. Years of success and history are nice ….but they gotta make money, right? Don’t like a DSS? Don’t have $18K? Well, I reckon Ducati parts counters better be stocking up on 1199 swingarms for all the 899 guys who will want them. Personally, I am like some others who wish they would have made it a tad smaller and a tad more exotic. There is a place for small race bikes. Right now its two ends of the spectrum, you either are going to get a moto3 clone or a superbike. Not as much in the middle. Also it always aggravates me when 600’s, 750’s, and liter bikes all look exactly the same from a given manufacturer….its ok to have a 600!!!

  • MikeG81

    “And all those titles are meaningless since the Flamminis biased the rules to favor Ducati.”

    The Flamminis didn’t write the original rules of the series. Plus, they actually took away the weight difference between the fours and twins.

  • AC

    I’m pretty shocked that Ducati is going with the DSS and not because of my opinions on what it does to the bike’s aesthetics. The bike looks great either with swingarm solution.

    What shocks me is that these sort of product line differences during the 999 era is essentially what killed Ducati more than just the sales of the superbike. It was having to make superbikes in mono and bi-posto form, it was too many components, it was too many product lines within a single range.

    So rather than make one set of swingarms to fit all Panigales, there is going to be two distinct manufacturing lines. An 848 is essentially the exact same bike as the 1098/1198 and that never cannibalized sales of those bikes, so why does Ducati feel the need to make the 899 Panigale anything other than a Panigale with lower-spec components?

  • irksome

    @Variable: Hate is such a misleading word. I simply dislike the attitude of the majority of HD riders and Ducatisti I’ve encountered in the last 20 or so years of the 40yrs I’ve been riding. No “blind hatred” for any specific brand, silly boy; just a strong dislike for an attitude based on personal experience over decades.
    In my many years, I’ve owned inline 4s, parallel twins, thumpers, one v-twin Guzzi and my current triple, all of which were purchased used, all of which I mostly wrench myself, and all of which were chosen for both their aesthetics and their inherent riding characteristics. None of them were HDs or Ducs, granted but no Harley or Ducati ever fit my needs both as a ride I desired and could afford. And when I say afford, I mean over the long term as well as the sale price. I have ridden multiple examples of both factories. The HD mystique is a laugh and I don’t delude myself into thinking folding myself onto o 996 or 1098 to ride on the street makes me Foggy. If you do track days and believe you can discern the difference in a single- or double-sided swing arm, drop your $20K and knock yourself out.
    Thanks for assuming I ride a crotch rocket but my last 4cyl was a ’80 GS 1000. “Hate” goes both ways, eh?

  • @EA – numbers and feel are always going to be important – not just for bench racers but people who have no other way to decided what to buy than what the data says is fact.

    I agree the picture doesn’t make the swing arm look flattering but that may change before it’s unveiled, perhaps we’ll see a machine finished version?

    I understand when people say that you’ll never ride a modern bike to it’s limits, however I believe that as those limits continue to rise so does the capability to experience them in the proper environment. Or more basically I demand progress from new things or I’ll just save my money and buy old ones. :)

  • Norm G.

    re: “so why does Ducati feel the need to make the 899 Panigale anything other than a Panigale with lower-spec components?”

    these questions have answers. see my entry for aug 23 @ 11:05.

    re: “perhaps we’ll see a machine finished version?”

    perhaps we’ll add a labor step that adds cost/value to the part…? that “fan-sumers” will then devalue and try not to pay for…?


  • Variable

    Irksome, at least you live up to your name. I made no assertions about what make or model of motorcycle that you personally ride. I was merely speaking in generalities about the usual crowd that despises Ducatis (it certainly isn’t V twin enthusiasts). I simply disagree with judging people based upon them riding their motorcycle of choice. For example, I personally don’t understand the allure of Guzzis, but it’s not as though I’d do something as juvenile as call you a “silly boy” over it. That would be beneath me. As a person who admits they chose bikes partly for “aesthetic value”, doesn’t it cross your mind that other people may find different things appealing? Since “aesthetic” refers to the appreciation of beauty, can’t you admit that your definition of what is aesthetically pleasing is irrelevant to others? (just as my opinion of a bike’s appearance is irrelevant to you) I stand by my opinion. People should ride what makes them happy, not what others think they should ride. People who judge others based only upon their brand of preference are absurd. If this is a message of hate according to you, then I could only use one word to describe you: Irksome. On a side note, I don’t plan on dropping 20k because I believe I can tell the difference between swingarms. I intend on buying the 899 if it lives up to the hype, double sided swingarm and all. I think the 1199 is overkill for the street, but as I ride at the track a lot I want a bike that can do double duty. The 899 seems like it may be perfect, but I’ll need to wait till all the details come out.

  • EA

    @ Norm G.

    You seem to be having a very difficult time differentiating between the business models of a company like Ducati, and a company like Suzuki. If you honestly think that it would be a good idea to for a company like Ducati that is known for producing bikes of superior quality, to cut costs for the sole interest of maximizing profit you are sorely mistaken. This is what most of the Japanese manufacturers have done which is why when you see a GSXR 750 on the road it’s really not that interesting. There are simply far to many of them made. Even though this may be a bit extreme, a good analogy would be comparing the way companies like Ferrari, and Honda do business. You just can’t. If Ferrari decided to adopt Honda’s business model, they’d go under pretty fast. I’m not exactly sure what you mean by “fan-sumer”, but my assumption is an individual who buys a bike because they think it makes them look cool? Most of these younger individuals can’t afford a bike with a price point of around 15-16k, which is what i’m assuming the 899 will cost. Furthermore, I honestly don’t think Ducati produces enough bikes for their brand to ever be devalued, no matter who decides to purchase their products. My point is that I really don’t think that so called “spy picture” is going to look anything like the actual finished 899 at all… Ducati knows better.

  • Wesley Richardson

    Are you going to ride it without it’s engine?

  • Wesley Richardson

    And what do you ride? I’ll bet its a scooter….or you don’t ride at all…