A Used Ducati 959 Panigale Is a Great Entry-Level Superbike
Shopping for a used motorcycle instead of a new one isn’t just a good idea for inexperienced riders. It’s also an opportunity to get affordable access to previously pricey machines—including some Ducati steeds. But while you can get a used Ducati 999 for about the price of a new Scrambler, the former will be more maintenance-intensive than the latter. However, if you’re looking for a secondhand superbike that won’t break (much)—or break your budget—the Ducati 959 Panigale is a great introduction to the segment.
The 2016-2019 Ducati 959 Panigale is still a match for the newer V2
|2016-2019 Ducati 959 Panigale
|955cc liquid-cooled L-twin (90° V-twin)
|Six-speed manual with slipper-assist clutch
|Front suspension and travel
|43mm fully-adjustable Showa BPF inverted fork; 5.1”
|Rear suspension and travel
|Fully-adjustable Sachs mono-shock; 5.1”
If the Ducati 959 Panigale’s specs seem familiar, it’s because they’re almost identical to the current Panigale V2’s specs. But that makes sense, as the Panigale V2 is essentially an updated 959. Take away the V2’s single-sided swingarm, upgraded electronics, five extra horsepower, and V4-style bodywork, and you have the 959, Cycle World explains.
However, while it doesn’t have all the V2’s electronic features, the Ducati 959 Panigale still ticks the major superbike tech boxes. It has a standard electronic quickshifter, Brembo brakes, three riding modes, rear-wheel-lift mitigation, and adjustable traction control, engine-braking control, and ABS. Also, LED lighting and a Sachs steering damper. Furthermore, its L-twin is a stressed member of the aluminum frame for extra rigidity.
And for those who want some extra performance, in 2018 Ducati introduced the 959 Panigale Corse. It swapped the standard with upgraded fully-adjustable Ohlins units; it got an adjustable Ohlins steering damper, too. And in addition to the MotoGP-style paint job, the Corse got a racetrack-ready stainless-steel-and-titanium Akrapovic exhaust. The louder exhaust, together with the new lithium-ion battery, shaved about five pounds off the 959 Panigale’s curb weight.
A used Ducati 959 Panigale is still “the essential V-twin superbike,” Cycle World says
Although the Panigale V2 isn’t quite as tech-heavy or as powerful as its V4 brethren, that makes it far more approachable for less-experienced riders. And it’s a similar story with the Ducati 959 Panigale, Bennetts reports.
Even if you don’t get the Corse model, a used 959 Panigale is more than fast and agile enough to be fun on normal roads. Although it’s a literbike, it has the overall dimensions and weight of a middleweight machine, Cycle World notes. So, it’s easy to flick into and out of corners, with the chassis and suspension offering plenty of feedback. And while it has more than enough power and low-end torque on the street, the L-twin’s output doesn’t overwhelm you as the revs rise.
These features also benefit the Ducati 959 Panigale as a track bike. It has enough electronic aids to keep you safe, but not so many that you can’t make the most of them. The L-twin is powerful enough to be exhilarating but not so powerful that it covers up poor riding skills. And because it’s relatively light for a literbike, long sessions won’t leave you feeling like your arms were pulled out of their sockets, Cycle World muses.
Admittedly, the Ducati 959 Panigale is a super sportbike, not a sport-touring machine. So, while the stock suspension isn’t overly firm, the stock seat is, Bennetts notes. Plus, the low clip-on bars and elevated engine/exhaust heat throw aren’t ideal for city commuting. If your riding plans include long-distance journeys, there are more appropriate used options. But if you’re set on a used superbike, this Ducati is a solid option.
These secondhand superbikes are more reliable and affordable than you might think
When it was new, the Ducati 959 Panigale started at $15,495. And because it only left production in 2019, used examples haven’t depreciated significantly. Still, you can pick one up for as little as $12,000 these days.
Given that a used Ducati motorcycle is still an exotic bike, a pre-purchase inspection is recommended. As with all Ducati Panigales, desmodromic valve and timing belt maintenance is critical. And keep in mind that Ducati issued recalls for the 959 Panigale’s oil cooler hose, brake master cylinder, and airbox, Bennetts notes.
However, recalls aside, this is one of the most reliable used Ducatis on the market. Firstly, it has a wet clutch, not a dry one, so it’s quieter and longer-lasting. Also, being a modern Ducati, the 959’s 15,000-mile valve service is fairly long. It’s also not time-based, which isn’t the case in older models. And while some early 959 Panigales had some occasional starting issues—potentially related to the ‘decompressor’ starting aid—a software update solved the problem.
So, if you want a user-friendly used superbike that’s enjoyable even if you’re not chasing lap times, the 959 Panigale makes a lot of sense.
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