New Ducati motorcycles don’t always cost exorbitant sums, nor are they always extreme sporty machines. But some of the most desirable bikes Ducati makes are both pricey and pack more tech and performance than many mere mortals can realistically access. Sure, the Ducati Panigale V4 is incredible, but it’s arguably overkill—and it costs almost $30,000. Though to be fair, it is a superbike.
However, there is an easier, more accessible way of swinging a leg over one of these Italian superbikes: buy used. You’ll save some cash and get a motorcycle that’s fun to ride even if your hair’s not on fire. And when it comes to approachable used Ducati super sportbikes, the 899 Panigale is one of the best options.
The Ducati 899 Panigale offers superbike tech in a middleweight package
|2014-2016 Ducati 899 Panigale|
|Engine||898cc liquid-cooled L-twin (90° V-twin)|
|Front suspension and travel||43mm fully-adjustable Showa BPF inverted fork; 4.7”|
|Rear suspension and travel||Fully-adjustable Sachs mono-shock; 5.1”|
|Curb weight||426 lbs|
Like the current Panigale V2 is to the V4, the Ducati 899 Panigale was to the 1199 Panigale. In other words, it was the ‘entry-level’ Ducati superbike of the mid-2010s before the 959 Panigale replaced it.
But while it’s not quite as advanced as its successor, the 899 is a significant upgrade over its predecessors, MCN says. And it doesn’t just look like its bigger sibling. Apart from the fork, engine, and swingarm, the 899 is essentially a mini-1199, Bennetts explains.
For one, that means the Ducati 899 Panigale’s L-twin acts as a stressed member of its aluminum frame. Secondly, while the 899’s standard quickshifter is upshift-only, its Brembo brakes have adjustable ABS. Also, it has adjustable traction and engine-braking control, as well as multiple riding modes. And while it doesn’t have a slipper clutch like the 959, Ducati did give the 899 a standard (non-adjustable) steering damper.
So, technologically, the 899 Panigale isn’t far removed from the current V2, Motorcyclist says. And while it’s not as powerful as the 1199, that’s actually to this used superbike’s benefit.
A used Ducati 899 Panigale “is one hell of a motorcycle,” Motorcyclist says
Because the Ducati 899 Panigale isn’t as “’wheelie-prone as the 1199,’” Ducati gave it more aggressive geometry, Motorcyclist explains. That means less rake and trail as well as a shorter wheelbase. As a result, while it’s slower in a straight line, the 899 carves corners just as well, if not better, than its bigger, heavier sibling.
But that’s not the only reason why Motorcyclist says the 899 is one of “the best used Ducati motorcycles you can buy.” This is a sportbike you can enjoy off the track as much as on it. True, its seat isn’t that comfy, the underseat exhaust gets toasty at low speeds, and as a sportbike, the riding position isn’t the most commuter-friendly, Bennetts notes. However, it’s significantly better around town than both the 1199 and the earlier 848.
For one, the Ducati 899 Panigale has “a surprisingly roomy riding position,” and compared to the 1199, “plush suspension,” MCN says. Yet because it’s lighter, less powerful, and has more rear stability, the 899 is exciting rather than terrifying to ride. And you can appreciate its handling prowess, and its extremely communicative steering, without going to a racetrack. But if you do, you’re in for a treat, because it’s “ideal for the average trackday enthusiast,” Motorcyclist reports.
Furthermore, the Ducati 899 has just enough tech to help you ride quickly safely but not so much that you’re overwhelmed. The traction control and ABS don’t make you faster, but rather prevent accidents in less-than-ideal conditions. And they only enhance what’s still a brilliantly-balanced bike, MCN explains.
This approachable secondhand superbike is still affordable and reliable
Although used Ducati motorcycles sometimes carry an unreliable air, that’s not the case with the 899 Panigale. The only issues MCN experienced during its long-term test were some premature gear-linkage lubrication loss and some squishy Brembos that needed bleeding. However, those appear to be isolated problems.
Otherwise, the only notable Ducati 899 Panigale issues are corroded lower fasteners and occasional starting problems. The former stems from not cleaning the bike properly often enough, while the latter isn’t solely an 899 fault. And Ducati reportedly resolved the starting issues with some software updates.
Overall, though, if you follow the maintenance schedule, the 899 Panigale is a stout superbike. It has a wet clutch, not a dry one, which is quieter, longer-lasting, and friendlier around town. Also, it has a timing chain, not a belt, so no expensive semi-annual service. Plus, it has a 15,000-mile desmodromic valve clearance schedule.
A used Ducati 899 Panigale is affordable, too. You can regularly find examples on Cycle Trader for less than $10,000. That’s cheaper than some brand-new Ducati Scramblers.
So, if you want a reasonably-priced secondhand superbike that’s not too super, consider taking a Ducati 899 for a test ride.
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