While the Panigale 959 is a replacement for the Panigale 899, which the company discontinued once Euro-IV emission norms kicked in.
On the outside
This bike isn’t very different in terms of design when compared to the 899 – it uses the same monocoque chassis from the 899 and the larger Panigale 1299. Some of the body panels are new, to accommodate the wider front fairing that comes fitted with new attractive inlet scoops. The Ducati-typical headlights look aggressive and the windscreen visor is quite effective at deflecting windblast.
The full-digital LCD speedometer gets a cascading, race-style tachometer with digital readouts for speed, rider modes, electronic aids, engine temperature, real-time and overall fuel consumption, and there's the regular odometer and two trip meters. The unit looks and feels a bit dated now and takes time to get used to.
From the saddle
The Panigale 959’s compact tank is well-chiselled and looks muscular. The swept seat feels slightly on the stiffer side, but is comfortable. The tail, which is all-new, has wide air scoops that sit below the pillion seat. Then there are those stylish, signature Panigale twin tail-lights.
This bike is powered by a twin-cylinder engine, based on the motor of the 899, albeit heavily revised to meet Euro-IV standards. Power has gone up to 157hp from 148hp, while torque has increased to 107.4Nm from 99Nm. The gearbox is the same as the unit in the 899. In Sport mode, you get full access to all the motor’s power, however throttle responses are milder than in Race mode. Each ode comes with presets for each electronic aid, such as the eight-stage traction control, three-level engine brake control and three-level ABS system. Putting the bike in Rain mode makes the level of intervention high and it only gives you 100hp of power. The mid-range of this engine is impressive and the top-end is amazing - the punch from the Superquadro motor hits you almost immediately. For street conditions, it’s best to use the bike in Sport mode.
The tiny Panigale can hit 100kph in a super quick 3.9sec in Sport mode. Naturally, in the city, there is sufficient grunt for traffic, and there’s plenty of fun to be had once you get closer to the 11,000rpm mark on each gear before the shift light warns you to upshift. Thanks to Ducati’s Quick Shifter, all you need is a light tap on the lever when you’re exiting corners. From the saddle, this bike feels like an incredibly compact motorcycle - the seat tips you forward towards the slim clip-on handlebars. The ergonomics aren’t overly aggressive however and with a wet weight of 200kg, this bike is relatively light or a bike like this. The Panigale 959 though is heavier than its older sibling.
Riding through heavy city traffic can be a bit painful because of the heat that emanates from the engine. But at highway speeds of 100-130kph, heat from the engine is quite bearable. In the city, the heat is more noticeable thanks to the exhaust bend pipe of the rear cylinder, which goes right under the rider’s seat.
The bike comes fitted with Pirelli Diablo Rosso Corsa rubber tyres at both ends, which provide more than sufficient grip for the street, as well as the track of course. The Brembo M4.32 monobloc calipers offer more than enough bite to shave off speed quickly. On the highway, this bike returns 23.9kpl, and our city run resulted in an 18.3kpl figure – quite respectable for a bike of this category. Since it comes fitted with a 17-litre fuel tank, you can expect it to cover nearly 357km on a full tank.
Is it worth the money?
The 959’s mix of electronic sophistication, manageable power, confidence-inspiring handling and enjoyable agility, coupled with its price tag for India of ₹14.37 lakh (ex-showroom, Mumbai), make it a sensible sports bike to keep in your garage.