The 2012 BMW S1000RR and Ducati 1199 S Panigale represent the best of the best in the litre-class superbike segment. But choosing between the two can be tough...
For their Summer 2012 issue, the UK-based Superbike magazine has conducted a shootout between the 2012 BMW S1000RR and the Ducati 1199 S Panigale. The detailed and very comprehensive comparison test has been done by Chris Northover, while Ant Northover has written a brief ‘2nd Opinion’ piece on both bikes. Here are some excerpts from what Ant has to say about the two bikes:
On the Ducati 1199 S Panigale
“The quick throttle response and ridiculous surge of mid-range power make the Ducati feel faster than the BMW, and a mix of thrilling and terrifying every time you open the fast tap. The technology on the Panigale is something to behold [and] with the amazing TFT screen and limited buttons, it’s all fairly intuitive to use. It’s impossible to be subtle riding a bright red Ducati, especially one where the sound alone is enough to scare the pants off most people.”
“Roaring through London traffic gives you a headache as the exhaust noise echoes off the surrounding vehicles, but you can’t help but take satisfaction in gunning the engine away from the lights and making the world turn to see. The Ducati feels faster, has more technology, sounds better than the BMW and has the looks to make grown men cry. But the lumpy throttle response, exhaust that’s too loud for a lot of trackdays and uncompromising nature all puts it behind the S1000RR, for me at least.”
On the BMW S1000RR
“The BMW has a certain refined madness to it that can’t be matched by the Ducati. The beautifully smooth fuelling gives a user-friendly throttle response and makes the 200bhp machine seem like a pussy cat to ride on an average Monday morning commute. Take it out on a sunny trackday and it’s suddenly a whole different beast. The first few journeys up to the redline make you feel like you’re going to headbutt the horizon, as every little crest lifts the front wheel and every gear pulls as hard as the last.”
“The traction control seems a little unpredictable – sometimes it cuts in and not others and the same goes for anti-wheelie. The brakes feel strong but the lever feel is a little too spongy for my liking. The BMW isn’t loaded with quite as much technical wizardry as the Ducati but what is on it is very useful on the road. A quick press of a button allows wheelies, a longer press allows skids and another button keeps your hands warm. [Between the Ducati and the BMW], I would have to opt for the BMW for its usability on the road and refined feel, and that’s without taking into consideration the difference in price.”
At the end of this comparison test, Superbike magazine also dyno-tested both bikes and result was quite a shock – an almighty 199 horsepower for the BMW S1000RR and 172bhp for the Ducati 1199 S Panigale (both numbers measured at the crank, not at the rear wheel). What’s really interesting here is that BMW actually only claim 195bhp for the S1000RR while Ducati claim 195bhp for the Panigale.
Equipped with the optional ABS, traction control and quickshifter, the S1000RR costs £13,695 in the UK, while the Ducati 1199 S Panigale costs £19,750. And ultimately, for Superbike magazine, the Ducati’s beautiful styling and high-tech electronics prevail over the perhaps-more-sensible BMW. “For motorcycling, the heart should always lead the head, so it’s the Ducati that takes the victory. In terms of outright desirability and riding experience, nothing has left me in such a state of shock, exhaustion and satisfaction,” concludes Chris Northover.
For the full test, please buy the Summer 2012 issue of Superbike magazine, which is available on stands now!