‘Baby brother’ Panigale: Bigger engine, racing technology

2016 Ducati 959 Panigale
2016 Ducati 959 Panigale

Ducati’s new 959 Panigale is to become a larger capacity, even more versatile “Supermid” model through 2016 with the same innovative style that characterise its ‘bigger brother’, the 1299 Panigale.

The difference? An engine designed for more-enjoyable everyday riding but also more thrills on the track. The new 955cc, 118kW, twin-cylinder engine comes with a new stroke length (57.2 to 60.8mm) and other innovations that have given rise to an even more impressive torque curve and increased maximum power at 10 500rpm.

The increased torque and power, Ducati insists, does not imply shorter service intervals: valve clearance inspections are still needed every 24 000km while the engine continues to be part of the monocoque frame – the bike’s dry weight is still only 176kg – and the 1299 Panigale-derived silhouette, even with a redesigned nose fairing, headlight and tailpiece, underlines the family DNA.

The Ducati Quick Shift, Riding Mode technology (including ride-by-wire), triple-stage Bosch anti-lock brakes traction control and engine brake control are in line with Ducati’s technical standards.

2016 Ducati 959 Panigale
2016 Ducati 959 Panigale

Every last detail of the 959 Panigale, Ducati says, pays tribute to the brand’s racing heritage. The wider nose fairing and screen improve aerodynamic and, the bikemaker says, the split tailpiece design “is the final touch to a real work of art”.

The 959 Panigale fairing has redesigned lateral air intakes and new mirrors, there are aluminium billet-machined footpegs and the new 959 Panigale is available in traditional Ducati red with black wheelrims or a stunning Arctic White Silk with red rims.

There’s a slipper clutch, three riding modes (Race, Sport, Wet) and a Sachs steering damper

The 90° L-twin Superquadro engine, Ducati says, is a further step from that of the 899 Panigale and has a smooth power delivery. The engine size increase was possible thanks to the longer piston stroke – the bore is still 100mm. Compression ratio is still 12.5:1.

The combustion chamber design allows large valve diameters: 41.8mm intake, 34mm exhaust, driven by race-derived rocker arms ‘super-finished’ and with a special low-friction facing.

2016 Ducati 959 Panigale
2016 Ducati 959 Panigale

The transmission is six-speed and the clutch assembly features a progressive self-servo mechanism that compresses the friction plates when under drive from the engine without any extra effort required from the rider to release. This also results in a light clutch lever “feel”.

Under sport conditions, Ducati says, the same mechanism reduces pressure on the friction plates, enabling a true racing “slipper” action to reduce the destabilising effect of the rear-end and providing a much smoother feeling when closing the throttle or during aggressive down-shifting.


The bike’s traction control has software developed and used by Ducati Corse for their its MotoGP and World Superbike motorcycles with eight settings. Level 8 activates the system if even the least wheelspin is detected; Level 1 has a much higher tolerance and the least intervention.

The 959 Panigale has a compact instrument panel with a data-rich, black-on-white, liquid-crystal display and three levels of backlighting. The rev counter is prominent at the top, along with road speed and selected riding mode with the corresponding EBC, DTC and ABS settings.

The rider can navigate the menu with the left-hand switchgear buttons and change the display of secondary information – fuel-consumption, time, odometer, and trip data.

The 959 Panigale has 10-spoked, 3.5″ front and 5.5″ rear wheels shod with Pirelli Diablo Rosso Corsa tyres: size 120/70 ZR17 front and 180/60 x ZR17 rear.


The tyres were developed with World Superbike-derived Pirelli technology. The rear tyre uses a three-zone multiple compound to optimise the contact patch and achieve superor road and track grip.

The front brakes are twin radial-mounted M4.32 Brembo monobloc callipers actuated by master cylinders. The front callipers grip 320mm discs, the rear Brembo single calliper a single 245mm disc.


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