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Ducati 899

The Ducati 899 is a Budget Superbike

In the world of sport bikes, the big boys get all of the attention. Everyone wants a litre bike these days, but the middleweight bikes have a lot to offer, specifically the Ducati 899 Panigale.

In 2013 Ducati released the 899 Panigale, the baby brother to the larger 1199 Panigale. It was very well received as a cheaper alternative around the $15,000 mark depending on the paint job and was very easy to handle on the track and the roads.

In 2016 the 899 was upgraded to a 959 and now used examples with very low mileage are popping up around the nation. It might be a great time to buy that Italian superbike you’ve always wanted.

Ducati 899 Panigale Specs

Panigale Specs

Ducati 899 Panigale Summary

It was a cold fall evening when I went to pick up the 899. I didn’t have a proper winter jacket and it was brisk. I layered up as best I could and hitched a ride to the owner’s house, a gigantic place in one of the wealthiest parts of Dallas. The seller was a super friendly guy who injured his back. His loss was ultimately my gain.

It was obvious on first sight: The 899 is undeniably beautiful, like looking at a supercar. All Ducati motorcycles look this way. They have a true Italian design that makes everyone turn their heads. It’s one of the high points of riding an 899 Panigale.

Listening to it fire up for the first time was exhilarating. I fell in love with it right there. But I had never ridden a bike that powerful before. I was pretty nervous but didn’t want it to show. I shook the gentlemen’s hand, exchanged pleasantries, and carefully pulled out and onto the street. Beneath me was a brand-new superbike fresh out of its 600-mile service.

The Ducati 899’s motor is loud and roars with a distinguished sound. It sounds bad ass. When I first rode the bike home I was terrified and put it into wet mode. This reduces total power output, increases TCS and ABS, and also reduces throttle sensitivity. I have since utilized wet mode during torrential downpours and survived. It’s an extremely nice feature to have.

Ducati 899 right side

The 899 also has “Sport”, and “Race” modes. Sport mode is the standard mode I ride in and it’s enjoyable because it puts out the perfect amount of power and torque with excellent throttle response. The bike feels like driving a high-end sports car during everyday situations like on the highway or on side roads. I often call it the 911 of sport bikes. It’s just very flexible.

Race mode is nuts, but it’s great for the occasional track day. Certain people might ride daily in race mode, but I find that it’s a little aggressive for everyday use. The V-twin motorcycle has tons of low-end torque making it nice off the line and coming out of corners. The low-end torque lends itself well to daily riding because it allows you to effectively maneuver the bike through traffic and onto and off of highways with ease.

While it’s not a top-end screamer like a lot of inline four-cylinder bikes the Ducati 899 does seem to respond well in the high RPMs, especially on the track.

I could go on for days about Ducati’s traction control and all the tech on the bike, the adjustable front forks and rear suspension, and the different customized drive modes, but the only thing that matters is how usable these things are. Adjust the bike for the track, and easily adjust to ride into the office the next day. Set the bike up to utilize less engine breaking to make it a little smoother in traffic and turn it up on the weekends when you hit the twisty roads. It’s easy to navigate the menus and set up the bike and that’s a great feature. It makes using all of these features less of a burden and ultimately it makes you more likely to utilize them.

Ducati 899 left side

But let’s talk about the most appealing aspect of the Ducati 899 Panigale – the price. Right now, you can find used examples of this bike with low mileage for around $9,000. Many already equipped with Termignoni exhaust systems and tunes. There aren’t many exotic superbikes on the market that have as much versatility as the Ducati 899 for that price point. Plus, it looks like the Lamborghini of bikes.

I get compliments everywhere I go and often from some very surprising people. It’s always nice to receive the compliments on the bike.

Ducati 899 Pros and Cons

Pros:

  • Looks amazing
  • Very stable in corners
  • Performs well in low-end RPM range
  • Performs great in high-end RPM range
  • Sounds amazing
  • Perfect for track and daily use

There are a lot of Pros to riding a Ducati 899, but the most obvious is performance. The bike handles so well. Rush into a corner and let the engine braking work to your advantage, hang off and dip into the corner. The bike just feels glued to the pavement even when it slightly slides into the corner.

Roll on the throttle and you will feel the bike put all 148-hp to the pavement with viciousness. Upshift using Ducati’s Quick Shift (clutch-less upshifting) and it’s so fast you aren’t even prepared for it. Then slow it down, toss on your blinker and make your right turn. You were just heading up to Starbucks after all.

And therein lies the beauty of the Ducati 899 – it makes every corner, every straight away, and even the smallest of chicanes a little brief moment of excitement no matter where they are. But, all great things have drawbacks and no one’s perfect.

Ducati 899 front

Cons:

  • Riding position is aggressive
  • Very hot seat
  • Not much storage
  • Cost of ownership and mods

Let’s talk about the most obvious which is the riding position. The bike is a superbike and the body position it employs can be aggressive to some people.

Even I find myself a little uncomfortable and stiff after a few hours straight of riding.

The heat that comes off the heat is intense too. It’s probably the number one complaint you hear about the bike. There are ways to remedy it but nothing prepares you for sitting on the surface of a volcano.

If you’re looking for storage or intend to use the bike daily, be prepared to carry a pack, the only thing you’re fitting under the rear seat is your Organ Donor’s card.

The cost of ownership might be top on the list. So, let me be very clear on the maintenance cost I’ve had after 15,000 miles with the bike.

Ducati 899 Cost of Ownership

  • Insurance – approx. $95/month
  • Oil Changes – approx. $100, (Check oil every 600 miles and service when needed)
  • Tires – Range between $300 – $500 (Rear-2,500 miles; Front-5,000)
  • 7,500-mile service – $400
  • 15,000-mile service – $2,000
  • GPS sensor replacement – $150
  • Rear Seat lock – warranty replacement
  • 520D Chain – $100-$200
  • 14 tooth front sprocket – $100
  • Termignoni Slip-on – $1,300

These include all of the items I personally have encountered with the 15,000-service interval being the costliest, but also the most invasive. This is due to the valve adjustments needed on the Desmodromic valve system. While this list might not be exhaustive it’s representative of what I have paid for the bike to be worked on at AMS Ducati Dallas, one of the most premier shops in North America.

Ducati 899 ride

Ducati 899 Final Thoughts

The Ducati 899 is likely the closest thing to an exotic car that I will ever own. When it comes to bikes, it’s an extremely satisfying machine and ticks a lot of boxes that I’m looking for. Superbike performance without sacrificing my ability to ride the bike daily.

These days It’s not uncommon to see huge displacement bikes putting out tremendous amounts of power and torque. But is it really necessary? Middle-weight sport bikes have a sweet spot as far as daily driving goes. They aren’t so crazy that they are trying to constantly throw you off the bike and they aren’t as costly to repair (or to lose) as a liter bike. Let’s be honest, few bikes are practical and while the Ducati 899 might not be the most practical purchase I’ve ever made, it sure has been an enjoyable one, and maybe it will be for you too.

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