I just spent the better part of 3 days with a Ducati Panigale 1199 in California. It was kind of a bucket list thing, I wanted the experience. Would I buy one? Only if I win the lottery.
The good, bad, and beautiful –
It was loud, even with earplugs, but in a way the best rock-and-roll should be loud to be done right. The Ducati sound is so sweet, so iconic, it just seemed the way it’s supposed to be – like the potato-potato of a Harley, it is a musical experience that reaches deep into your soul and makes you feel like Superman. All I could think about was “The cops are gonna hear me coming”.
It was more comfortable than I expected, but stiffer than previous race bikes I’ve been on. The body position is not so extreme it puts too much pressure on your hands, legs are a bit cramped, but overall it did not tire me out, I can ride it for days. The suspension was designed for speeds never attained on the street, ideal for the triple digits, but brutal on a normal road. I once missed a freeway exit as I was chattering so harshly on a rough section I couldn’t read the signs. You must ride like a jockey to see where you’re going if the road gets rough.
It’s hot as hell if you’re not clipping along at 70 mph+. The heat coming off that highly tuned engine cooks your thighs, butt and all the sensitive spots, especially at low speeds. Combined with a thin hard seat I swear I’m bruised down below. Freeway traffic demands lane-splitting just to keep moving and tolerate the burn.
It’s not the best canyon carver. This bike is made for the velvet-smooth high speed sweeping turns of a race track. It doesn’t fall into tight turns, you don’t flick it about. It can cut through the tight stuff but you’ve got set up properly and be smooth as glass as it will easily run away from you if you’re not focused. You can get in trouble in a blink on this thing.
Which brings us to the best part – the power seems infinite. It’s always there. More than you need. I never got confident enough to really let it rip – it was ripping at mid range. Hitting the upper revs was insane. With a quick-shifter, keeping the front wheel on the ground in the first 3 gears required gentle use of the throttle even in “Sport Mode”. I never switched to “Race Mode”. Enough was enough. I was suitably impressed.
Would I rent one again from RentADucati.com? Maybe. I barely missed getting tickets this time. Coming down off the Angeles Crest Highway (Route 2) at twice the speed limit I made a snap decision to pull off and get a photo just before a trooper rounded the curve ahead of me. I would have been nailed. Coming up behind a car on the Maricopa Highway (Route 33) east of Ojia saved me a second time. My luck and license wouldn’t last with a bike like this. But on rare occasions, maybe I’ll do it one more time!
Special thanks to Andy, our companion, photographer, and a great rider! He made this trip come together.
For more info see – http://www.rentaducati.com
– Wayne Busch lives in Waynesville, NC, where he produces the most detailed, comprehensive, up-to-date motorcycle pocket maps of the Blue Ridge and Smoky Mountains to help you get the most of your vacation experience. See them here – AmericaRidesMaps.com