Did a test ride of the V4s today at Ducati Seattle. I have not ridden a sport bike for a number of years and for the last year my only bike has been my huge KTM 1290 Super Adventure R. My KTM has a flat panel display similar to the Ducati and also has quick shifter up and down, various ride modes, and lean sensitive ABS. It does not have the ability to customize the settings like the Doc has.
Subjectively the V4 seems smaller and lower than the old twin Panigale. It really is a fairly small motorcycle and feels pretty light. I rode the bike in street mode only and did a little bit of freeway riding and city riding. I did not have much chance to ride freely on any curvy roads. Unfortunate.
Chassis: The bike felt very solid and neutral. The suspension was great. Firm but compliant. Very much a feeling of control. I felt no great need to adjust anything. If I get a V4 it will be the S to get that Ohlins suspension. I am 6'2" tall and I was pretty folded up onto the bike and had a lot of weight on my wrists. No surprises there as it is basically a street legal track bike. The width and angle of the bars was fine. This demo bike had bar end mirrors which I was not that happy with. I would prefer to see if the stock ones work better. In some ways the chassis reminded me of my old RC51, which was another bike with mass centralization as a priority-that sense of being very compact and solid feeling although the RC51 was a physically larger bike. I was fine with the stock windscreen and the stock levers. Probably the only things I might change on the bike would be some carbon fiber parts just for looks and maybe some rear sets to lower the pegs. Also the stock footpegs are pretty short for my size 12 feet. I probably would get a taller seat too and maybe some bar risers just to fit my frame better on the bike. Brakes were fine to the extent I could test them. Progressive and strong. The display was bright and clear. The rider aid options are ample and all adjustable although I never changed anything.
Engine: I have never ridden a Ducati V-twin so no comparisons there, but I can compare to my old Honda RC51 twin and the KTM 1290 Superduke R that I sold a year or so ago. Even with a pipe and a tune, my RC51 was never a fire breather. It ran rough down low. My 1290 Superduke made 160 bhp and over 100ftlbs of torque and ran pretty smooth. It was a torque monster down low that transitioned to a hp monster as the revs climbed, but signed off around 10K rpms. A great street engine. Good fueling and throttle response. It was happy at 4K and above. The V4s in street mode makes decent torque and also likes to live at 4K and above. My old 1290 kills the V4s on torque maybe from 4-6 or 7k, but there the comparison ends because the V4s is just a beast even though I never got it above 8 or 9k and only then briefly due to traffic. Fueling seemed very good and engine power was pretty linear and limitless feeling. There was one instance when I was riding back on city streets when the bike started cutting out on me and I thought I was running out of gas. I could not find any fuel level on the display. Did I miss it or does it not have one? Anyway, I kept the revs up around 6,000 to keep it running and eventually it got back to normal. Not sure what happened there as I did not bog it in any way. Fuel pump or filter or just some electronics glitch? Overall the engine does feel like a twin/inline 4 hybrid. Maybe it sounds like a twin at idle due to the firing order but for me it felt a little like a twin and more like a four as the bike revved very freely and seemed happy at higher revs than a twin. I felt like the engine would make insane power above 10K. I much prefer this engine than a twin as it is much more flexible and on the track would require fewer shifts due to the much higher redline.
Gearing and transmission. The bike is geared quite high and on the freeway I never got beyond 3rd gear! Maybe with clear traffic and 85-90 mph I could run 4th. 5th and 6th just for high speed runs or track days with long straights. The bike has up and down quick shifting, but the dealer told me that to downshift you first have to close the throttle then downshift so the engine can properly blip. Almost easier to do it manually, but maybe with practice it works great. On my KTM Adventure bike you do not have to do that. Upshifts were fine. Neutral was easy to find at a stop. Clutch action was fine.
Overall impression: Due to caution and a limited riding environment I felt like I used maybe 1/6 of the potential of the bike. I really would have loved to have ridden on some curvy back roads with no traffic. But the bike really is a total package and the next step. The combination of the engine, electronics, and suspension really elevates this bike to another level. It really is kind of a MotoGP bike with lights, at least in my imagination. I would only use it for shorter spirited rides. Long distance would be painful.
Would I buy one? For sure, and they had one for sale, but this is going to take some time to wear my wife down
I really can't complain as she was OK with the purchase of a Porsche 911 C2s a couple of years ago and that car cost a LOT more than the V4s. Now that she is solidly hooked on the 911, it's time to move on to another bike. I think my best strategy might me to argue that I have kept myself in good shape over the years exactly so I can still have some fun after I turned 60. Honestly, it was a big question of how I would feel at my age trying to ride a radical sport bike again. The answer was I felt just fine. So yeah, if you are in the market for a cutting edge sport bike, then this is a prime candidate.
Hope these impressions were helpful.