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Review: 2008 Ducati Panigale, Tour de Melbourne

November 11th, 2008
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…from dawn to dusk with a light and ever so fast 2008 Ducati Panigale urban street bike.

Ducati Panigale Ducati Panigale

Ahh there’s nothing like a Sunday with no prior commitments. With my fiancé at work I was able to spend some guilt free time with a sexy Italian which makes grown men bend at the knees. The Ducati Panigale is made in Italy, has curvaceous lines made from the finest 7000 series aluminium like the stuff used by Nasa, however this bike isn’t high maintenance thanks to an internal 8 speed transmission.

For someone who lives in the heart of the city of Melbourne, I was more than happy to keep out of a car for a day and instead spend my time getting my heart pumping whilst aboard the Panigale.

 Ducati Panigale

Red ducati with a white racing stripe getting close to white chicken with a red racing stripe…. Hey good looking?

My first destination for the day was a short trip up to Pellegrinis Bar for my morning coffee fix. Pellegrinis is a true classic Melbourne institution where the staff still speaks to one another in an Italian tongue.  As a recommendation if you haven’t yet eaten there, you must as the Pasta is authentic and rich, try to get a seat on the dining table out the back in the kitchen where you can watch the beautiful cook serve the food right under your nose and chat about all sorts of Italian things.

Fixed with my caffeine hit, I saddled back aboard the ‘Duke’ (it is worthy of the abbreviated name because as I rode past a pedestrian he commented ‘nice Duke’ and nodded with appraisal to himself) and criss-crossed my way through Melbourne’s inner city lanes, loving how responsive, yet stable this bike is.

 
 

The first thing I noticed is the stiffness of the frame. Put some power down on the pedals and this baby accelerates forward, with no sloppy frame flex sapping your momentum. Thank the quality alumiunium frame which is built by legendary Italian bicycle builder Bianchi. Unlike a number of prestige car brands who have put their name on less than desirable bicycles in recent years, and charged a considerable sum, the Ducati range of bikes are the real deal. Some of the most epic Giro d’Italia stages in history have been won aboard the Celeste green coloured Bianchis.

The gears, the sweet stopping disc brakes, and crankset are of the new Alfine componentary group from leading cycling parts manufacturer Shimano with the big news being the internal hub gear - 8 speed transmission. Change a gear via the rapidfire plus shifters and it all happens away from view and rain and dirt in the oversized rear hub. The gear-change is sweet and slick, with no noticeable delay and you can keep pedaling with confidence as you shift up or down through the gears. 

The Ducati Panigale is a bike you can ride to work on and not fear that your suit pants are getting covered in grease thanks to the sizeable chain guard.

The Mavic 317 alloy wheels and Shimano Deore hubs do a perfectly fine job of keeping the speed going once up and rolling and look strong enough to cope with the occasional pot hole. The Hutchinson Top Slick tyres suit this bike perfectly, not too skinny like a road bike that you fear riding over tram tracks, yet ‘slick’ enough that rolling resistance is never a problem. And once again, the Mavic and Hutchy rims and tyres on the Panigale are made in Europe, France to be exact, but let’s not hold that against those Italian fans, as the Tour de France is still bigger than any Italian race.

According to the importers the target market for the Panigale is ‘Fashionable Cyclists’. Whilst this term is a little too metro-sexual for my liking, this is still one handsome machine. With this in mind I made my way across to Carlton where a gathering of Italian motorcycles were congregating. 

The number of people who approached me to ask about the Panigale was surprising, with a few even asking if they could take photographs. This Italian stallion turns heads everywhere you ride. Jonathon Nunan from BikeSportz - the importer of the Ducati bicycle range in Australia - told me that when he stopped off at a café recently, riding his $8,000 plus bike, and his wife was riding a shiny red Panigale, which has an RRP of $2,799, it was the red Ducati that got all of the attention.

After taking some more photo’s and chatting to some of the owners of the exotic machinery, I made my way down to Brunswick Street, another iconic Melbourne strip, with more than one or two famous Italian Cafes. However as all this cycling was making me thirsty I had to stop off at the Little Creatures Dining Hall, for a light Ale or two... (Little Creatures is a boutique Western Australian brewery that has been making quite a name for its self over the last few years).

As I was leaving, i noticed a classic looking Vespa was parked on the sidewalk nearby. Whilst the two machines are both targeted for the inner city streets, the Panigale is smack up to date as a 21st century unlike a very cool, yet old school scooter.

The next stop off point was to return a DVD rental from the local video store in Carlton. Parking is always a headache around Lygon Street, and especially on the weekend, aboard the Panigale I didn’t need to waste a minute as I leaned my bike against the window of 'Video Dogs', which by the way may take the title for Australia’s coolest named Video rental store.

The Panigale was made for the concrete jungle so I decided to see how this bike would cope with some gentle rolling trails. Heading along the smooth gravel tracks by the side of the Yarra River, with the fast 1.2 inch Hutchy slicks pumped up to 120 psi, it was easy to get the rear end a little sideways around corners.

This bike is first and foremost an urban street bike, smooth tracks are well within its limits, however, the Panigale frame has no holes for a waterbottle cage, so if you’re going to ride this for more than 30 mins at a time, think about purchasing a camel back style drink bottle.

Off to the side of the smooth tracks were some sweet looking single tracks, which looked like many a mountain bike had ventured on. I decided to give it a go and whilst I focused on staying smooth the ride was understandably a little rough. You’d need to swap the slick street tyres for something fatter and with off-road tread to enjoy yourself on dirt single tracks.

As I rode back home I began to think that Christmas isn’t too far away and how much I really liked this bike. “Do I have to return this one?” I asked myself.

If you’re interested in riding seriously off-road buy a mountain bike with suspension, 27 gears and then hit the trails. If you want to spend three hours plus riding super kilometers in one session buy a road bike and a tight lycra outfit. However, if you want to get or keep fit, don’t want to live in the car 7 days a week and would enjoy spending anywhere up to 2 hours riding on the streets I’d recommend placing this shiny red beauty on your shopping list.

Our photos don’t do justice to the luscious shiny red duco. The swooping lines on this beauty definitely contribute to its attractiveness and the green, white and red stripes on the rear triangle is a sweet touch. It really is sex on two wheels, perfect for those who enjoy the finer things in life.

It comes very highly recommended from me. It’s very close to the top of my Christmas list so if my fiancé is reading this…hint, hint.

Rating: 4.5 out of 5

2008 Ducati Panigale Specifications

  • Frame - 7000 Series Aluminium
  • Fork - Alloy straight
  • Stem, Handlebar & Seatpost - Easton EA30 Aluminium
  • Shifters - Shimano Alfine Rapidfire Plus
  • Rear hub - Shimano Alfine Internal Hub gear 8-Speed
  • Brakes - Shimano Alfine Disc-Brake
  • Rims - Mavic XM 317
  • Tire - Hutchinson Top Slick 26 x 1.20
  • Saddle - WTB Rocket V SLT Silver

The Ducati Panigale can be purchased at the following stores

Ducati City Melbourne, p: 03 83412900
Frasers Motor Cycles Sydney, p: 02 9704 2901
Elite Racing Perth, p: 1300 785 552
Bicycle Superstore Melbourne, p: 03 9764 2233



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