As immensely capable as the Panigale R and S may have been under those circumstances, racetrack riding is still a thin sliver of the environments in which most owners will actually ride their motorcycles.
That said, I decided to ask the favor of borrowing a Panigale S for street use and spend a week riding the red beauty around the streets and freeways of Los Angeles, if only to see if bike held up under more pedestrian usage.
Here are five things I learned about the Ducati 1199 Panigale from the street riding experience.
1. Sex Sells
Fleet, sculptural, and muscular all at once, this Italian creation's charisma is impossible to miss. Setting aside the parameter of outright performance, sex appeal is just one of those things you can't assign a dollar amount to, which lends the Panigale an almost intangibly cool skill set that makes nearly-as-fast, dramatically lower priced motorcycles seem mundane in comparison.
2. Scale is Sobering
But the first thing I noticed about riding the Panigale on public roads was that those economies of scale get blown to bits: the ease with which this sportbike accelerates and stops makes the realities of stoplights, traffic, and laws capable of getting you locked up in jail comically pedestrian. This bike accelerates to 60 mph in well under three seconds, and takes even less time to turn heads and attract the attention of your local constabulary.
Depending on your perspective, the Duc's space warping capabilities in the real world are either thrilling or terrifying-- and most realistically, a curious combination of both.
3. Improbable Proportions
And while the Panigale's ergonomics are vastly improved over its 1198 predecessor, virtually any amount of riding over 20 minutes will likely lead to numb wrists and a stretched spine. And unless you're completely immune to this bike's magnetic personality, you certainly won't complain.
4. There Will be Heat... and Noise
From the moment those big cylinders turn over and chatter to life, to the second you goose the throttle and feel it rev freely, this bike comes across as potent, stirring, and alive. Its deafening bark also makes you double-check to make sure it's not equipped with the optional, off-road only Termignoni exhaust (which, in the case of my loaner bike, turned out to be a stock pipe.)
Though Ducati's heat shield improvements for 2013 (which can be tweaked retroactively by '12 owners) are notable, you'll quickly find out that your knees are still only inches away from those massive cylinder heads. The proximity to those mini-me thermal reactors becomes evident after about 20 minutes, and 1st degree burn-worthy from then out. It's certainly not something anyone would want in a bike, let alone tolerate given the plethora of flawlessly performing Japanese superbikes available for pennies on the dollar. But when you think about sex appeal and all of those inherent tradeoffs, the flaws behind this bike's beauty also becomes a part of its inherent character.
5. Why Fiddle When You Can Ride?
Me? Well, I only had the Panigale for a week, so I spent less time on the electronics and focused my energies on simply riding the thing. At the end of the day, isn't that why we all come here anyway?