Ducati Panigale 899 and 1199 S Test Ride

Ducati 1199 SSo today I rode both the Ducati 1199 S and the 899. I’ve read a few reviews and watched Baron Von Grumble’s vlogs on YouTube about both bikes and everyone says the 1199 is too brutal for the road but I wanted to see for myself. Side by side with my Kawasaki ZX10R, they are similarly powered. In fact my Ninja is a bit more powerful by 2bhp on a rolling road, but actually a good 12bhp (listed as 207bhp at 15,000 revs) with the RAM air involved. That said, the 1199 is a twin and that makes all the difference.

It has a lot of torque from low revs and the Baron was spot on with his criticism of the throttle. It’s either on or off and it’s hard to deal with when manoeuvring at slow speed. I found myself not wanting to use my indicator when exiting roundabouts because I was feathering the clutch and I didn’t want to wobble the lever and unleash hell, and that’s what it feels like – a mad animal that you’re trying to keep contained all the time.

The first thing I noticed when I sat on the 1199 was that I felt much more upright than I do on my Ninja. I had a better view all round, and felt more comfortable than I’m used to. The dash has a full colour TFT screen, similar to what you have on your mobile phone. There are apparently all sorts of things you can configure in there but I just used it to switch to Sport mode, which you do using the indicator cancel switch. Other options were Wet and Race and I thought Race mode sounded a bit ambitious.

Ducati 1199 SFiring up the bike involved the engine turning over a few times on the starter motor before it wanted to play but once it woke up it sounded wonderful. It’s certainly much more satisfying to blip the throttle on a twin than on an inline four. It’s a sublime sound.

My wife, Becki, and I set off up the M60 to get to some roads we knew. She was following on the 899.  Upon accelerating on to the motorway I felt the front wheel lift, which I wasn’t expecting as I wasn’t accelerating hard. I’m not sure if it lifted because I was sat a bit more upright or if it was because of the torque. I know my Ninja wouldn’t have done that. The bike made me feel like I was going faster than I actually was. Either the fairing doesn’t deflect air as well as the Ninja or the more upright position made me prone to more buffeting. After my experience yesterday, it’s probably a good thing to be reminded of how fast I’m actually going.

Soon after setting off, I noticed the seat getting warmer.  The exhaust system loops around under the seat making the whole seat warm.  That’s probably a lovely feature in Winter but in the other months, I can see Ducati Sweaty Arse being an issue.

After we left the motorway, the 1199 really became quite a pain to keep under control, but it got a lot of looks.  As did the 899.  They both look very similar, after all.  We pulled in for fuel in Rawtenstall and the cashier at the desk exclaimed his delight in his Asian / Lancashire accent.  “Nice one, mate.  How much is that?”  Well quite a bit more than my Ninja actually, but is it worth it?  I’m not sure.  It’s just that you get so much for your money with a ZX10R Race ABS which starts at £13,199 while a 1199 S like the one I was riding starts at £20,250.  But with its electronic suspension, it’s hardly a base model.  The regular 1199 starts at £16,250.  Quick-shifters seem to be standard equipment across the Panigale range.

Some have complained about the indicator cancel button being a problem because if you press it to check your indicators are off, it changes the HUD.  While that’s true, the speedo is visible at all times.

899 with 1199 S In Background

Ducati Manchester let us have the bikes for 2 hours, so we swapped half way though.  Becki jumped on the 1199 and I swung my leg over the 899.  The 1199 must be slightly taller than its baby brother because Becki was struggling to reach the ground but was happy to carry on anyway.  The 899 is a completely different beast but has inherited all the good looks and wonderful sounds of the 1199.  At first glance, the only differences that are obvious are that it lacks gold forks and the single swing arm and that it says “899” on the side.

It started up in a similar manner – the engine turns over a fair number of times before it sparks to life with that aggressive growl.  Riding it is a delight.  It is very light and agile with the perfect amount of power.  Where the 1199 becomes a scary monster, the 899 really inspires confidence and I found myself effortlessly flinging it over from side to side and thoroughly enjoying it.  The dash isn’t as sexy without the TFT screen, but it has an LCD screen that presents more than enough information

Ducati 899 PanigaleIt is much smoother to ride and loads more fun.  Basically everyone else is right – the 899 is a much more practical and fun bike.  The 1199 is very race focused, and although many super bikes can be ridden on the road with comparative ease, the 1199 isn’t one of them.  I’ve been told by several people that super bikes only go as fast as you twist the throttle, implying they’re quite docile unless you decide to make them misbehave.  That is true of the 899 but not the 1199.  The only thing I’ve really noticed that’s missing on the 899 is a nice slipper clutch.

I had all sorts of preconceptions about Italian bikes.  I presumed they would be all flashy and poor build quality and I’m happy to be wrong.  The bikes have a nice solid feel about them.  Even closing the fuel cap is satisfying because it’s not clunky.  I’m certainly very tempted by the 899 and Becki’s already put a deposit down on one.  It’s a brilliant bike.

  • Ducati 899 Panigale
  • Ducati 1199 S
  • Ducati 1199 S
  • 899 with 1199 S In Background
  • Becki on 899

6 Responses to “Ducati Panigale 899 and 1199 S Test Ride”

  1. Kchuds

    Bought the 899 myself after testing both and agree100%… 1199 is just too much and you feel like all you’re doing is keeping it under control.

    Happy riding!!

    Reply
  2. Jaime

    Thank you for the review. I find myself trying to decide between the two… not because of engine displacement but because of features. I would love to be able to by a 899S, but no such thing is available. I like the suspension, LED headlight, brakes, and wheels on the 1199S… but I want that in the 899 package. This will be only a street bike for me as I do not plan to take it to the track.

    Anyway, I still have a few months before I buy it (Feb 2015) so maybe by then Ducati will have a Panigale 899 with some additional features (still hoping for that 899S 🙂 )

    Thank you again for taking the time and sharing your experience riding both bikes.

    Reply
  3. Hello from Orlando - Page 2 - Ducati 1199 Forum

    […] is that I do not need the additional cc's from the 1199… and then I read reports like these: Ducati Panigale 899 and 1199 S Test Ride | void7 and watch the videos of a few folks that have ridden the two back to back, and confirm that for […]

    Reply
  4. Larry

    Thank you for taking the time to write this! It was a great read and refreshing to hear non-biased or sponsored feedback. Money luckily isn’t an issue and I think the only reason I’d get the 1199 is just to have the ‘best’, but if I can’t enjoy it as much, then it’s not the ‘best’ for me!! I’m more into enjoying it for me than showing off to the random person next to me! Thanks again for a great review!

    Reply
  5. martin

    Interesting read. Which bike did you get in the end?

    I’m in the same position myself right now, but I have more comments to make as I’ve test ridden them both. Strangely ducati Manchester only let me out for an hour on the 1199, but woods of abergele let me out for 2. In fact, their words were come back before we close.

    Anyway, having read all the same stuff as you I’m not sure I agree with most of it.

    Pros
    – I was expecting an utter beast but I found the fueling to be smoother than reported and use able on the street. I only had it set to 195lo. I certainly had no problems with it, but I am used to lumpy twins. I’ve never owned a 4 cylinder bike. Feathering the throttle is no issue for me, and struggling to press the indicator is something I’m familiar with and have coped with for years
    – I prefer the extra low down torque of the 1199. It goes like it looks but I could easily ride it in traffic. It filtered easily and the clutch was light (to me)
    – 1199 has a deeper, hit you in the chest, sound than the 899, on standard exhausts. Both are loud but, to my ears, the 1199 was better
    – the looks of the single sided swing arm, colour screen, led lights etc are more pleasing to me than the, still beautiful, but more basic looking 899
    – bizarrely, I can insure an 1199 cheaper than an 899 and I can buy it around the same price as nearly new

    Cons
    – 1199 feels useable until it gets to about 8k rpm and then goes ballistic and is far too much for the road. I found the opposite from what you said though and was cruising at a higher speed than I realised until I looked. Over taking cars there was a nice surge and then it hit 8k and my acceleration doubled suddenly
    – the heat around your legs would be an issue on a warm day. Thankfully not many of these in Manchester, but if I was in traffic it would be uncomfortable. Perfect winter bike though… I remember the 899 not exactly being cool though, but it isn’t as bad
    – I tried an 1199s simply because the 1199 I went to see was sold. Suspension is impressive, but once you set it once, who actually changes their suspension? 899 seemed plusher to me, but I didn’t get chance to play with the settings

    That’s about all I can think of but I’m off to test ride another 1199 today to get more of a understanding if what I actually want. I was set on an 899 until I started to check insurance and realised prices of 1199s are cheaper now, with barely 3k miles on them. The 899 has now gone up to £13k!

    Reply

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