Ducati 959 Panigale Review and Buyers Guide (2016 to 2020)

The Ducati 959 Panigale was introduced in 2016 as a result of needing to meet Euro 4 emission standards and the preceding Panigale 899 just wasn’t going to cut it. 

Getting its name from Borgo Panigale, where the Ducati bike was born, the Panigale name is synonymous with Italian precision and quality. 

The 959 Panigale continued the ‘baby’ Panigale legacy when Ducati could have quite easily given it up and made way for something else.

After a 4 year run, in 2020 the 959 was reborn into the Panigale V2 and the ‘baby’ Panigale lives on. 

Much like when the 899 replaced the 848 and went out of its way to step things up a notch, the 959 Panigale did the same thing and the result was a genuinely brilliant sportsbike. 

Let’s take a deeper look at the 959 Panigale.

Table of Contents

Ducati 959 Panigale Review

Ducati 959 Panigale

In 2013 the 899 had received an all new engine, the Superquadro, a new chassis and a host of rider aids previously unseen on small bikes.

By 2015 rolled around the new Panigale had a new bigger Superquadro 955cc engine and exhausts; this meant for the 2016 model year the 959 Panigale met the new Euro 4 emissions.

Instead of losing power as a result of needing to meet emissions both max power and torque actually increased along with an extra 7 kg of weight added (mainly due to the exhausts and new bodywork).

It was also the first of the smaller Panigales to receive a slipper clutch as standard.

The same Chief Designer headed up the 959 as the 899. Gianandrea Fabbro. He is considered one of the most important designers in motorcycle history, having followed in Massimo Tamburini and Pierre Terblanche’s footsteps, those responsible for the Ducati 916 and 999 respectively. 

The Ducati 999 had stepped away from the 916’s stunning silhouette and this was deemed a mis-step by Ducati; Fabbro’s challenge was to get back on track using the 916 as a base concept but pushing it even further, so keeping the tradition and beauty but making his own mark equally. 

In an interview with MCN Fabbro says “We have done breaking away from Ducati’s image and heritage. We learned a lesson with the 999, and being influenced by the 916 still isn’t a problem for me. In fact, I want to push the 916’s design philosophy further. It was a bike that was straight from the track – it was very well designed and finished, but there was nothing extra.”

You can see that motion with the 959 Panigale. The bikes previously, while stylistically very nice, were more usable as road bikes than perhaps the bigger siblings.

This remains in place with the 959 Panigale. However, there is definitely more of an edge towards a pure race bike that is uncompromising. 

“My dream is to design a motorcycle just for racing, and then make it ready for production. The Panigale is a good example of this idea – it’s rationally packaged and well finished.”

It is likely as time goes on Fabbro’s plan of a pure racer first followed by a production bike will become more of a reality.

The 959 Panigale has had its engine stroked to reach a capacity of 955 cc as well as other internal components added and altered.

The 899 motor had no known issues and therefore you can expect the 959 Panigale to be perfectly reliable, albeit costly when it comes to servicing. The desmo-valve clearance service is the big one where you will feel the hit in your pocket. Although it is worth it to keep the bike immaculate.

Owners have complained about the exhaust being unsightly and swapping out the exhaust is probably the most common modification people make.

“When buying a used 959 Panigale, always check its recall history as there have been three recalls – a leaky oil cooler hose, brake master cylinder issue and the potential of oil leaking into the airbox.” Bennetts

The 959 Panigale shares the same monocoque frame as the previous 899, the main difference being that the swingarm is 4mm lower. This edges the weight to the front of the bike.

The bike handles with the exceptional quality and precision that people have come to expect from a Panigale. The V-twin engine keeps a narrow midsection of the bike, so even though it’s quite tall, it should be manageable for most people. 

This is also aided by the reasonable weight of the bike, so it is easy enough to maneuver around, but is also brilliantly agile to throw around in the bends.

Suspension is set up to be firm enough to give the sporty setup and handling expected for both on the road and track, but also won’t throw you out the seat if you hit a hole in the road. It is also adjustable at the front and rear to suit preferences.

It is always quite amusing when it comes to reviewing comfort on Ducati sportsbikes. The fact is they just aren’t comfortable, you won’t want to spend long days in the saddle and equally you won’t be touring anywhere on the 959 Panigale either. The seat is narrow and hard and the clip ons have you hunched in a traditional aggressive racing stance.

The Brembo brakes are exceptional and have more than enough stopping power. 

The only note is that they aren’t the higher spec found on the bigger 1299. If riders are used to riding the flagship Ducati’s then they will find the lower spec brakes notably less powerful on the 959 Panigale. 

In terms of rider aids Ducati didn’t slack on the 959 Panigale:

  • Ride by wire
  • ABS
  • Traction Control (Ducati Traction Control, DTC)
  • Engine Brake Control (EBC)
  • Three Riding Modes – Race, Sport, Wet
  • Ducati Quick Shift
  • Ducati Data Analyser and GPS as additional extras

All of this feeds into the bike’s tech brain and causes it to react appropriately as and when needed in the various road conditions and situations you may find yourself in, depending on the settings. 

The Ducati Data Analyser is a great feature for those that do track days and want to keep a tab on how fast they do laps and want to try to beat it each time they head out. 

The Ducati quick shift is also a lovely touch for the 959 Panigale as it is something the other previous bikes craved.

Cycle World refer to the 959 Panigale as the “The essential one-liter V-twin superbike”

As with the 899, there is a limited edition 959 Panigale Corse which shines in Ducati MotoGP colours and the upgraded Ohlins suspension really sets the bike apart from the standard version.

Is the Ducati 959 Panigale a good bike?

Much like the bikes that came before the 959, the judgement people tend to first make is:

“Well, it’s not the 1299, and so it’s not a true Panigale.”

That idea of it not being the biggest motorcycle in the range so it must be lacking somewhere is an outdated and simply silly concept. If that is the stance you take, then you are missing out on bikes that can provide you endless fun, excellent performance and real life usable power. 

It is best to view the 959 Panigale and those prior, as bikes in their own right, as their own models and almost pretend like the bigger brothers are non-existent. 

That way you unlock a mindset that treats the 959 Panigale as the superbike it should be treated and deliver an objective view of the machine. 

My take? 

The 959 Panigale is a brilliant iteration of its class, honoring the previous editions while at the same time edging forward to the future.

MCN rates the 959 Panigale 5 out 5 stars and had this to say about it in their review:

“All these changes adds up to a truly sensational sports bike – one of the best in any class. The 959 Panigale hasn’t moved the game on and that might sound like a backwards step, but what Ducati has actually done is saved the ‘baby’ Panigale from extinction.”

A sensational sportsbike is exactly what it is from the legends in Italy. 

959 Panigale Specs

Engine/Transmission

  • Engine – Superquadro, Four-Stroke, 90° L Twin Cylinder, DOHC, Desmodromic 4 Valves per Cylinder
  • 955cc
  • Bore x Stroke – 100 x 60.8
  • Liquid-Cooled
  • Compression Ratio – 12.5:1
  • Clutch – Wet multiplate, progressive self-servo mechanism
  • 6-Speed Gearbox
  • Max Power – 157 horsepower
  • Max Torque – 107.4Nm
  • Final Drive – Chain

Chassis and Dimensions

  • Frame – Monocoque Aluminium with the Superquadro Engine as a stressed member
  • Front Suspension – Fully adjustable BPF Showa Forks
  • Rear Suspension – Fully adjustable, Side-mounted, Sachs Monoshock
  • Front Brakes – 2 x 320mm discs, radially mounted Brembo monobloc calipers. ABS
  • Rear Brakes – Single 245mm disc, Brembo caliper, ABS
  • Rake – 24°
  • Trail – 96mm
  • Wheelbase – 1431mm
  • Seat Height – 825mm
  • Wet Weight – 200kg
  • Fuel Capacity – 17 litres

Ducati 959 Panigale Top Speed

The 959 Panigale is a genuine superbike with a claimed top speed in the region of 170mph. 

There have been some reports of owners exceeding this up to 178mph and some stating that they have only seen 168mph, so a little variance is to be expected. Most of this will be down to the rider’s skill, road conditions and state of the motorcycle.   

Ducati 959 Panigale 0-60 Time

The 959 Panigale can do 0 to 60 mph in 2.8 seconds covering a quarter mile in 10.3 seconds.

The Panigale V2 that recently replaced the 959 Panigale covers zero to sixty mph in 3.08 seconds.

959 Panigale current second hand prices

In the UK the 959 Panigale currently sits at an average of £10,000. 

On Autotrader this lovely 2016 motorcycle in white with Italian red and green accents sits at £9,495 with less than 4,000 miles on the clock. 

While the all Ducati red is now synonymous with the company, the Panigale white with red accents is a bike to die for. It’s a looker.

Panigale White with Ducati Red accents

In the US average 959 prices for a 959 Panigale sits around $12,000-$13,500. This example on Cycle Trader is a 2018 model, with just over 3,000 miles on it and priced at $12,000.

To get some perspective on that, the latest iteration of the super-mid weight Panigale V2 which recently replaced the 959 is priced from $17,495 in the US and £15,550 in the UK. 

So if you are looking for a Panigale of the lower capacity you could make a saving going for a 959 over and above the new V2; plus you’re getting an excellent bike for the money that can hold its own against the new model. 

Is the Ducati 959 Panigale likely to be a future collectable Ducati?

It is really hard to determine whether the 959 Panigale will be a future collectible model for Ducati. 

Simply because it was still in production up until recently.

What we do know is that the 959 hasn’t depreciated very much since it was first released in 2016.

We also know that its predecessor 899 Panigale hasn’t depreciated much either and holds its value very well. 

Pair both of these bits of information with the fact the 959 rides great and is known for its reliability. I would suggest it will continue to be enjoyed over the coming years and the used market will keep providing new owners the opportunity to own one. 

My own opinion is that the 959 will likely be considered collectible further down the line particularly for Ducati fans, and especially for those that enjoy the Panigale silhouette. 

Verdict

There isn’t really anything else left to say. 

Ducati keeps producing a Panigale in this class for a reason and that reason is because the market demands it.

Not everyone wants to dig deep for the flagship model and not everyone wants or needs extra power, some people just want a premium Ducati that makes them smile and that is what the 959 Panigale does.

Ducati 959 Panigale Review and Buyers Guide (2016 to 2020)

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