Now a little more about the bike. Due to ever tightening emission norms, Ducati had to stop selling the Panigale 899. They had two realistic options to continue, reduce the power on the existing bike to meet emission norms, or spend tons of money, time and resources to produce the same power while meeting emissions norms. With the numbers that the 899 pushes, it wasn’t very feasible to walk down the latter and the Italian manufacturer couldn’t possibly reduce power on their motorcycle! That would be unthinkable! So Ducati chose to increase the engine capacity to ensure power increased, and still meet Euro4 norms.
This would be almost unthinkable on a 600cc supersport motorcycle, considering that it would make it ineligible for competitions like World SuperSport. A problem which Honda is facing with the CBR 600RR and Euro4 norms. That bike from Honda will possibly be phased out soon, unfortunately. Ducati could save the baby Panigale because the 899 was in any case a stretch at calling it a supersport. Now the bike is just 45cc shy of being in litre class territory, but to be honest it doesn’t belong in either, it has made a niche for itself.
Ducati increased the stroke of the 899 to get the 959. The bore remains constant at 100mm, while the stroke has been increased from 57.2mm to 60.8mm, the same stroke length as used in the big brother Panigale 1299. This increase in stroke necessitated a new crankshaft and connecting rods. The piston crown also gets a different design, while the compression ratio remains the same as the 899 at 12.5:1.
Possibly the biggest visual and emission norm change has come in the form of the dual barrel exhaust. This rather visually obtrusive exhaust was essential to get the bike ready for Euro4. That is why the American and Australian versions of the 959 will continue using the underbody exhaust that looks gorgeous on the 899. The exhaust diameter has also been increased by 5mm to 60mm. And at the other end of the fuelling, the throttle bodies get dual injectors. The showerhead type injectors has a primary injector which is assisted by the secondary injector post 6500RPM.
The new Panigale 959 also now comes equipped with a slipper clutch and a softer clutch lever. The slipper helps tremendously while riding aggressively and was a boon while downshifting on the race track where we rode the bike. You can really hammer through the gears without worrying about a lockup.
Thanks to the increased displacement, power is bumped by 9Hp to 157Hp as compared to the 899. Torque also sees a substantial jump to 107.4Nm from the 99Nm on the 899. And this increase in torque is the one thing that is the most prominent while riding. The bike is so much easier to ride, hold steady through the corners and in general more rider friendly. We are sure this increased torque will also make it a better machine for the streets.
The Ducati Panigale 959 gets the entire gamut of electronics from the 899. The electrowizardry on this bike are Ride-by-Wire, Ducati Traction Control, Engine Braking Control, Ducati Quickshift and ABS by Bosch. Thought the electronics are the same the parameters have been tweaked for the larger capacity 959. You get three ride modes to choose from, Race, Sport and Rain. Race being full blown power delivered super aggressively, while Sport is fun to ride in without scaring the bejabbers out of the rider, while Rain is a bit soft with a power reduction of around 35%! The Traction Control is 8-step adjustable and ABS gets 3 options. One of the downsides is that the bike needs to be stopped to change the settings and cannot be done on the move. The quickshifter assists the already smooth 6-speed gearbox, which results in flawless shifting through the rev range.
The Brembo M4.32 Callipers and 320mm discs get the job done of stopping the bike without any problems, but a bit more bite would be helpful, especially when riding on track. A fully adjustable Showa 43mm Big Piston forks and fully adjustable Sachs at the rear work well, with the rear feeling a trifle soft for the track in its default setting.
On aerodynamics the front fairing is taller and wider as compared to the 899, which is a boon for larger sized riders. Though it is very difficult to notice visually except if you have both bikes in front of you. The chassis which allowed the 899 to be such a sweet handling motorcycle is employed on the 959 as well. Though the swingarm pivot is 4mm lower which increases the wheelbase by 5mm. This was done to accommodate the exhaust, and will also aid in corner exit according to the company. Probably help with straight line stability as well, even if just a fraction. The downside of the exhaust is that it makes the bike 7kg heavier, with the 959 weighing in at 200kg wet. Though the increase in weight would not make considerable difference in real world riding conditions. The bike also sports a rear sprocket with one tooth less as compared to the 899.
The 959 is much cheaper than its elder sibling the 1299 and comes with a few tricks less up its sleeve. Including engine casings which are aluminium instead of magnesium in the 1299. Weight saving measures such as this helps the 1299 be a whopping 9.5 kg lighter than its younger brother! Though now the two bikes do share the stroke length, there is one other takeaway from the 1299. The super slippery pegs from the 899 have been replaced with the machined pegs from the 1299, which are a boon when riding on the track. The 1299 might be a different kettle of fish as compared to the 959, but for the price difference, you just can’t complain!
Ducati has priced the Panigale 959 at 13.97 Lakh INR (Ex-showroom) Delhi for the red, with the white not available currently in the country. At that price point it stacks up nicely with the Triumph Daytona 675R which is priced at 12.14 Lakh INR (Ex-showroom) Delhi.
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