Ducati V2r and V4R

V2R versus V4R - Are 2 More Cylinders Really Better?
The 2015 Ducati Panigale V2R compared to the 2019 Panigale V4R Superbike

The introduction of Ducati’s all-new V4 Stradale powered Superbike in 2018 brought to an end Ducati’s V2 Desmo Superbike dynasty of 5 Superbike generations from 1987 to 2017, 30 years in which Ducati had garnered in SBK World Superbike 17 rider’s championships and 17 constructor’s titles – more than all other manufacturers and riders combined in the SBK Championship’s 28 year history, and included in there are 341 race wins, 890 podium finishes… All five previous Generations of Ducati Superbikes employing highly successful desmodromic 4-valve V-twin cylinder engines.

          The earlier introduction of the 5th generation Panigale 1199 V2 Superquadro in 2012 saw the introduction of Ducati’s best designed Superbike model yet, but it occurred during a period when the Ducati Corse factory team had withdrawn from the WSBK Championship to concentrate its effort and budget on MotoGP racing with big salaried superstars like Valentino Rossi and Jorge Lorenzo, leaving Ducati’s WSBK effort in the hands of the Althea privateer team with no factory support and development of racing parts. When Ducati finally returned to World Superbike in 2014 they had to play catch-up with Aprilia’s title winning V4R and the dominant factory Kawasaki Z10Rs of Tom Sykes and Jonathan Rea.

          Ducati’s Chaz Davies would win 20 World Superbike races on the factory Corse 1199RS from 2014 to 2018, making it the 2nd winningest bike in the Championship for 4 years through the 2018 race season, but Ducati and Chaz could never match the consistency of Jonathan Ray and the Kawasaki ZX10R. And it wasn’t like the factory Ducati V2RS was slow, in fact, Davies usually made his passes on Jonathan Rea on long straightaways where the Ducati would blow past the Kawasaki with something like a 10mph top speed advantage. The V2RS was still the fastest bike in World Superbike.

          Where Kawasaki beat Ducati was in their electronics package and engine mapping on their smaller displacement 1000cc inline-4 for different tracks where Jonathan Rea could manage his tires and pace the entire race, while Davies and his team mate Marco Melandri often found their tires going off in the closing stages of a race. Kawasaki and Rea could put together a more consistent race, and its consistency that wins a Championships.

          Even though the Ducati 1199 would be their only model Superbike to never win a Superbike World Championship title, it did many individual WSBK races, and the World Superstock 1000cc Championship title and many National titles to retire as a significant championship winner. And with its 200cc displacement advantage and a  stronger / wider powerband offered by its Desmo  V-twin engines in the FIM Superbike class, the 1199 Panigale still held a big advantage over its 1000cc in-line 4 cylinder competitors. And under FIM WSBK balance of performance rules where the bikes are supposedly capped around 220 horsepower, the Panigale 1199RS had the potential to easily make 240hp on race octane gas and could remain competitive for years to come.

          Plus the Panigale V2 has a number of cool features like the easy access side mounted rear shock with easily adjusted straight or progressive linkage. This feature was lost with the new V4 because its increased engine width prohibited keeping the side mounted shock and linkage. The V4 returns to a more difficult to access center mounted rear shock with no adjustable rate linkage.

          So why did Ducati abandon their much beloved trademark and successful V twin engine design for for a 4- cylinder and make the new 6th generation Ducati V4 Superbike in 2018? It’s all about marketing, plain and simple. Ducati wanted to capitalize on the race winning V4 MotoGP bike and be the first manufacturer to bring an affordable  Grand Prix derived bike to production (Not withstanding their limited production V4 Desmosedici RR of 2004-2005. Or the fact that Aprilia won the 2012 and 2014 SBK Championship with their 1000cc V4R Superbike in the hands of Max Biaggi and Sylvan Guintoli which then became the premise for their MotoGP bike). Aprilia had already shown a V4 Superbike could be a Championship winner. but Ducati would make it even better with their trademark Desmodromic valve train that could rev higher and hence, make even more power.

          So is the Generation 6 Panigale V4 better than the previous 5th Generation Panigale V2?
I own both the 2015 V2R and the new 2019 V4R to complete my Ducati Superbike R collection off all 6 generations. I only own the R models for a number of important reasons. One being the adjustable steering head where you can change it from the 24.5 streetbike to 23.5-degree race bike steering angle. And the other the high-end Ohlins mechanically adjustable rear shock and front forks. The computer controlled electronic suspension on the S-models is fine for the street, but I don’t want any surprises with damping changes on the track. And the R models score you the lightest forged aluminum wheels.

          I’ll cover the question of which bike is the best by saying they are both and incredible Superbikes in their favorite environments.

          The Panigale 1198cc V2R Superquadro twin cylinder has that incredibly famous Ducati Low-end torque where you can relax and short-shift it from 3-7,000 rpm all-day long in canyon riding and never have to go near its 11,500rom redline. Plus the R model has a slighter higher compression and hotter cam that makes it sound like a NASCAR V-8 race car, and with the full Akraprovic Racing Exhaust raises the 210ho V2R from 210hp with the street exhaust to 224hp –actually above the FIA power limit for World Superbike.

          The Panigale 998cc VR Stradale four cylinder can make more peak horsepower than the V2R because its four smaller lighter pistons have more surface area and can reach higher RPMs  - making 221hp @ 15,000 rpm in street form (214hp @13,000rpm  for the base 1103cc V4) . Install the Akrapovic full-race exhaust system and the V4R makes 234hp at 15,500rpm. Engine redline on the V4r is 16,500rpm thanks to its desmodromic valve train which allows it to turn much higher RPMs than the other brands’ in line-four cylinder bikes with conventional steel coil valve springs. And this gives Ducati the potential to make as much as 280ph like their MotoGP machine if they tuned it even hotter with higher compression to race on high octane racing fuel.

Chaz Davies

          The 5th Generation Panigale V2RS was the first Ducati Superbike not to win a World SBK World Championship, but it was still a Championship winner. It won the SBK 1000cc Superstock Championship in 2013 its first year of introduction, and went on to win numerous hard fraught National Championships in countries like Italy and Great Britain.

          Ducati's Chaz Davies (left) won 6 races in 2017, and 2 races in the final 2018 season at Thailand and Laguna Seca on the Panigale V2RS.
It retired as a winner.

Rea davies action

During the V2R Panigale's 6-year foray in SBK World Superbike from 2013 to 2018 it proved could be a coemptive bike against Kawasaki's dominate ZX10R, but the Panigale never received full factory support from Ducati. The first years it was raced by the independent Althea who had to develop the bike by themselves with no factory parts.

Then when Ducati took over their own factory team in 2014, they still spent most of their time and budget in MotoGP, at the expense of their Superbike effort. And it proved difficult to catch up with Kawasaki's bike development and the consistency of their super human Jonathan Rea.
Engine mapping for each track was crucial to ration tire life through the full length of the race, back up by Rea's consistent race pace. No other team / rider could prove as consistent.

Shown here, Chaz Davies (7) could run with Jonathan Rea (1) at most races, and the Ducati twin actually had more top speed to the ZX10R on the straightaways, but Rea had his riding skills and the Kawasaki dialed-in to perfection and would usually take over the lead by the end of the race.


Left, Newly signed 2019 Ducati Corse rider Alvara Bautisa who came over from MotoGP alread racing 1000cc four cyulinders, made the new Paniagle V4 a winner right from the start of the 2019 season, racking up 8 straight race wins in the 4 opening rounds ahead of reigning champ Jonathan Rea and the Kawasaki ZX10R. But then Bautisa lost his MoJo and started crashing, and Rea would go on to win a record 5 SBK World Championships.

Team mate Chaz Davies, meanwhile, who had never raced a higher reving four-cylinder, struggled with his new V4RS' powerband and setup the first half of the year, and it wasn't until Laguna Seca USA in July that Chaz was able to trade podium 1-2 steps with Rea.

The new V4RS was a race winner just like the previous generation V2RS, but no one could match the race winning consistency of Jonathan Rea and his fully dialed-in Kawasaki ZX10R.

Duvati Corse Here is the Ducati Panigale 959 Corse which was the only V2 Superbike offered by Ducati in the 2018-2019 model years along side the new V4 Stradales.

We think Ducati may have been planning to drop the V2 Superquadro from its Superbike lineup in 2020, but we felt there was still a demand for the lighter, smaller, more nimble V2. We even told Ducati this in a letter to Ducati CEO Claudio Dominicale back in early 2018 when the big displacemetn V2s Superbikes were dropped from Ducati's lineup.

Update 10/23/2019
Ducati 2020 Models World Premier

It's Nice to see that in the Ducati 2020 New Model Presentation that they followed up with our suggestion to keep the V2 Superbike. They have brought back the lightweight Panigale V2 Superbike as a more affordable, rider enjoyabe alternative to the bigger Panigale V4.

Unfortunatley the 2020 V2 Panigle Stadard and S Models only come in the smaller 959cc displacement of the 150hp 2019 Panigale V2 Corse. We suspect Ducati did not want to offer the previous larger 1199/1299cc size V2Superbike to compete directly with their top of the line V4 Superbike.

So if you want more displacement, torque and power in a lightweight V2 package, you should seriously consider picking up a nice used 1199/1299cc V2 Superquadro.


Ducati V4R

Above, the 2015-16 Panigale 1198cc V2R was Ducati's most powerful twin cylinder Superbike ever. It was retired from World SBK in 2018 in V2RS form as still a very competitive race winner under WSBK restrictions.

Panigale 1198cc V2 Performance
          You can see (above) in this rear wheel dyno chart (rear wheel dynos shows about 15% less than advertised crankshaft horsepower because of drivetrain losses) the base Panigale V2 1199 with an Akrapovic Race Exhaust makes massive amounts of torque from 3,000 rpm straight across to 7000 rpm. For street riding and canyon bashing the flat torque lets you short short shift and rocket out of corners all day long without screaming the engine. On the race track you'll move up the RPM range from 6-11,000 rpm for full power, but if you happen to fall out off the track powerband there's no real delay in getting back into the power. The V2R is even more potent than this. The BLACK lines are with stock engine TORQUE and POWER maping,g and the RED lines with a remap for even better performance.

Panigale V2 Superquadro versus V4 Stradale Power and Torque
          The only problem with Ducati, or any manufacturer’s 4-cylinder 1000cc Superbikes are they have to turn a lot of RPMs to get usable power and torque. Power that doesn’t really start until around 6,000rpm for the street, and 8,000rpm for the track. This is why Ducati made the Base and S model Panigale V4 with a "cheater" larger displacement 1103cc engine, to try and make up for some of the lost bottom-end power compared to the Ducati V-twin that their enthusiasts love. But even with 10% more displacement the 1100 base V4 motors are gutless below 5,000rpm when they just begin to match the power and torque of the old 999 Gen3 V2 Superbike of 2003. Hardly an endorsement for traditional Ducati low end power. And the higher tuned 998cc V4R isn’t any better.

          In these two charts you can see the base V2 1299 Panigale compared to the base V4 1098cc Panigale . The hotter tune V2R 1199 (not shown here) probably matches the 1299 for much of these charts, but the 4VR 's rev limit is 1,000rpm higher at 12,000rpm and makes its peak 224hp at 11,000rpm.

          Unfortunately I wasn't able to find any direct comparison dyno charts for the 11199cc V2R versus the 998cc V4R, but you can see the V-twin always makes significantly more torque that the V4,and power is not lacking with the V2 having a much easier easier to ride power band in the lower RPM ranges. As they say, there's no substitution for Cubic Inches, or Cubic CCs!

Panigale 998cc V4R versus 1103cc V4
          These two charts (above and below) show the 998cc V4R has more peak horsepower 13,000rpm than the the 1103 cc V4, but suffers significantly in torque because of its smaller displacement to homologate it for Superbike racing. For street riding and club racing the larger displacement, less expensive base V4 motor is the way to go.


Desmosedici Stradale - Ducati's V4 Superbike Engine for the Future
Ducati V4R 1000cc and V4 1100cc Main Technical Data:
• 998 cm³ 4-cylinder 90-degree V     (Standard 1103 cm³ on the standard models)
• Bore x stroke 81 x 48.4 mm      (Standard models Bore x stroke 81 x 53.5 mm)
• Compression ratio 14:1
• Maximum power 162 kW (221 hp) @ 15,250 rpm      (exceeds 210 hp at 13,000 rpm on the Standard models)
• Maximum torque exceeds 112 Nm (83 lb-ft) @ 11,500 rpm     (Standard Models 120 Nm from 8,750 to 12,250 rpm
• Counter-rotating crankshaft
• Twin Pulse firing sequence, crank pins offset at 70°
• Euro 4 emissions
• Desmodromic part chain, part gear timing with dual overhead camshaft, 4 valves per cylinder
• Wet multiplate anti-patter servo clutch
• Semi-dry sump lubrication with four oil pumps: 1 delivery and 3 return
• Fuelling with four oval throttle bodies (52 mm diameter equivalent) and variable-height intake horns
• 6-speed gearbox with DQS up/down system
• 24,000 km “Desmo-service” maintenance interval (15,000 miles

Ducati Panigale V4R

Above, the 2019-20 Panigale 998cc V4R Is Ducati's most powerful production Superbike ever. In V4RS race form (shown below)
it has the potential to make as much power as its 280hp MotoGP brother, but under WSBK restrictions it will always be held back to 220--230hp, the same output as its previous V2RS cousin, but without the glorious larger displacement big twin's torque and broad usable powerband.

Panigale V4RS

On a fast, flowing race track where you can keep the V4 and V4R on the boil above 7,000rpm the Panigale V4s are rocket ships, incredibly smooth and powerful. No other bike can touch them. When I first rode the V4S at the Misano Grand Prix Circuit during World Ducati week I was blown away how easy and comfortable the bike was to ride at racing speed. Everything was perfect from the power, handling and braking, to having complete confidence in a brand new model bike I had never ridden before. On the track the bike was faultless.

Then in the spring of 2019 I received my new V4R with the Titanium Akrapovic race system installed and start dialing it in for the canyons in the Santa Monica Mountains where I love to ride. I immediately noticed how taller and physically larger the V4R is.
It’s 32ins higher at the seat compared to the V2R at 31.5ins, and nearly 4 inches wider at the back of the gas tank 11ins for the V4 and just 7ins wide for V2R. And with two more cylinders it’s a bigger wider, taller engine in a bulky bike and I have a hard time getting on and off it, even using the kickstand, let alone trying to touch the ground when seated with my 5’8 height and 28-inch in-seam. The wider seat reduces my in-seam stretch to the ground and makes the bike feel even taller.

And you can feel the increased weight and bulk of the V4R which weighs in wet with a dry fuel tank at 410lbs, a full 24 pounds heavier than my V2R15 at 386lbs. Both bikes are modified similarily with the full Akrapovic Titanium Racing Exhaust, lightweight 520 Aluminum Sprocket & Chain Kit, no handlebar end weights, and billet gas tank caps. In SBK World Superbike where they have an FIM 364 lb. mimimum weight limit, the race bikes are easily built to be 40-50 pounds ligher.

The big V4R needs to be set up and guided for every corner (in the canyons and moutina roads where I ride), and can’t really be moved around mid-corner. The stability I loved with theV4 bike on the 40-60 foot wide race track at Misano, was now providing too much of a dentrament on the street. I was finding myself quite nervous riding the bike on tight roads and trying to keep the engine revving high enough to pull myself through the corners….

When Ducati's 5th Generation Superbike the Panigale V2 Superquadro (above) wasfirst introduced in 2012 it was a landmark design for Ducati Superbikes, featuring a much hyped easy access side mounted rear shock for the single sided swingam, with an easily adjusted variable / straight ratio shock linkage for street / track use. No other manufacturers' Superbike had this feature.

With Ducati's 6th Generation Superbike the Panigale V4 (below) the wider four cylinder engine forced Ducati to move the rear shock assembly back to the normal position in the center of the bike behind the engine, and the shock linkage ratio is no longer adjustable. The Panigale V4 Stradal ewith two extra cylindersbecaame 4-inches wider and 24 pounds heavier than the Panigale V2 Superquadro, and with an entirely different powerbad. If you loved the old V-twin, this won't make you happy, but if you're coming from an in-line four, you'll love the the improved power of the twin pulse MotoGP derived backward rotating engine.

          The V2R on the other hand….. It’s a BIGGER displacement 1198cc engine with tons more V-twin torque down low, making it easier to ride, pulling harder out of corners with a nasty snarl from a wack on the throttle. It's light and nimble enough to throw the bike into turns,and catch and make line changes instantly with full confidence. It’s a bike you feel a part, an extension of your body, that quickly responding to your input. The Panigake V2R (and the other V2s) are like a scalded cat Ferrari 458. Whereas the Panigale V4 which feels like a charging Rhino 800hp Corvette Z06 that needs an open line of sight before the throttle can be pegged.

Important 2018-2019 Panigale V4R Rear Spring Change
          There is an immediate need to change to a softer rear spring on the 2018-2019 Panigale V4s, and in particular the V4R, as all th V4S and V4R models come over sprung (too stiff) with the Ohlins #21141-36-100 spring.

          I've found every Ducati Superbike I've ever purchased from the Gen One 888 to the Gen Six V4 comes spec'd from Ducati with an overly stiff spring to accomodate carrying an added passenger (180lbs?) on the bike. Even on the R model which only has a solo seat, you get the same stiff spring spec'd for a passenger carryingon the V4 /V4S. For the race track this stiffer spring might be fine because you don't need the rear suspension's full travel on a smooth road course and this makes the bike more stable. But still, be sure to dial back the spring's preload to give you some ride-height sag / compression - about 2ins. 

          But for solo street riding and canyon racing, even for me weighing 225lbs plus 35 pounds of riding gear, the stock V4R spring at 105Nm / 550lbs just too stiff. Your Ducati dealer won't stock a lighter spring, but he or you can order it from your Ohlins Distributor, cost USD $200. Ohlins only offers a 1-step lighter spring for the Ducati TTX Shock which is the 100Nm /525lb spring Ohlins Part # 21141-34-100. With the softer rear spring, in my following rides on the bike, it rode so much better over the bumps and felt / handled so much better on the street and pushing it hard in the canyons. And be sure to soften up the spring preload in your front forks to match. I also always drop the front Ohlins forks in the triple clamps calmps by 20mm from the fork tupe top to equal the reduced rife height at the rear, and to help quicken up the steering.

Wrapping it Up
          If you’re a physically big guy wanting a comfortable street profiler and track day weapon. The V4R is your hot ticket. But if you are smaller in stature or want a light, nimble, fast-as-hell torque monster with a real snarling personality that is just as quick as the V4R, the V2R is my favorite Ducati Superbike ever. It surpasses the iconic 2nd generation Ducati 916/998 Superbike  in every category from beauty, to handling, power, comfort and zen. It may not have ever won a World Superbike Championship, but that wasn’t its fault. Carl Fogarty, Troy Bayliss and Carlos Checa just retired too early.  

          The 2012-2017 Ducati Panigale V2 and V2R are now instant classics. It’s a shame they are now out of production, but if you want a new Ducati V2 Superbike, Ducati now offers the 959cc V2 Panigale which you could call the modern day reincarnation of the iconic 916. Don’t let these now affordable new and used V2 Ducati Superbikes pass you by.

Ducati World Premier 2020 Model Update 10/23/2019
          Nice to see that in the Ducati 2020 New Model Presentation that they followed up with 2 of my suggestions / recommendations in this FastDates.com Panigale V2 vs V4 Superbike Review:

1). They have brought back the lightweight Panigale V2 Superbike as a more affordable, rider enjoyabe alternative to the bigger Panigale V4. Unfortunatley it only comes in the smaller 959cc displacement of the 150hp 2019 Panigale V2 Corse. I suspect they did not want to also offer it in the previous larger 1199/1299cc displacement size to compete directly with their top of the line V4 Superbikes. So if you want more displacement and power, you should seriously consider picking up a nice used example.

2). They have gone to a softer rate rear shock spring on the Paniagle V4, Ohlins #21141-34-100, a problem I pointed out in my reviews of the bike, and a modification which I had made to my own V4R a few months ago back.

                                                                            Ducati Panigale V2R Superbike Review

                                                             2019 Panigale V4 and V4R Specification Sheet PDF

                                                                            Ducati Stradale V4 1100cc Superbike

                                                                            Ducati Stradale V4R 998cc Superbike

                                                                            Ducati Stradale V4RS Corse WSBK 998cc Superbike

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