Put your trust in me and together we can rule these roads…I imagine the 1299’s IMU would say, if it could talk…
The last four months have really given me the opportunity to explore the rider modes on the 1299 and assess how the bike works on a day to day basis. If you’ve ever wondered what electronics can do to a bike, a very good way to find out, is go and ride the 1299 Panigale in Race and Sport mode, then switch it over to Wet. The sensation in Wet mode is very much of a bike being strangled. The first time I used it, I honestly thought there was something wrong with the bike. As if it wasn’t firing properly. I then realised this was Wet mode in all it’s restrictive (safe) glory. Here are a few of my thoughts on the default riding modes.
Wet Mode: Imagine my enthusiasm; standing in the garage, watching water run across the driveway knowing that I have 205 horses and Pirelli Supercorsa SP tyres on a £17k Ducati. Thank the little baby Jesus for Wet mode then I hear you say! It restricts the snarling beast 1299 to a mere 150bhp, perfect for wet weather riding. Well, actually it’s a strange feeling on the 1299. The 899 has an idiot-proof Wet mode. It’s so smooth it’s ridiculous. You would need to have taken real leave of your senses to crash an 899 in Wet mode. On the 1299 and Supercorsas though, it’s a different story. When it’s raining it’s easy to get a twitch from the rear in first, second and third, but fret not the traction control kicks in immediately and sorts your shit out for you. I found traction control was activating between every upshift. It’s good to know it’s got your back. You can feel the electronics reducing the power and reducing your throttle inputs, it’s a strange sensation. It’s like the bike is saying: “are you f**king kidding me, you moonbucket, I’m not giving you anywhere near that”. A very welcome intervention, in the pissing rain, on Supercorsas, on a bike like this.
The more I rode in the rain, the more I got frustrated. Not by the weather or the electronics intervention, but by the random throttle response. Especially the feeling when you shut it. It wasn’t doing anything I wanted it to do. So I changed the engine setting from Low to Medium. Yes this puts the bike back to full power, but it also gives you a more predictable throttle response. Especially rolling off. Funnily though, even with full power, the traction control stopped activating during every upshift in the rain. I can’t explain why but I think the throttle roll on and off in Wet mode needs some work. The main positive when you ride in Wet is it kind of builds your excitement for when you stick it back in Sport or Race mode and unleash hell!
Sport Mode: This is the mode that I imagine 99% of Panigale riders will ride in on the road. It’s superb, in that it allows you to put the many, many torques of this bike to the ground without doing a backflip or catapulting yourself into the stratosphere. The traction control is set two above the setting that permits sideways sliding and in Winter, in the UK, that is fine and dandy thank you. It’s not perfect though. The Medium engine setting is full power but with a smooth throttle response. I much prefer an instant throttle response so I’ve switched the engine setting to High. That’s the same as in Race mode and it’s what I prefer. The throttle response is instant but most importantly it’s always predictable rolling on and off.
Race Mode: Or as it’s really known…Legend Mode. This is it folks. Pretty much as close as you get to the full kamikaze experience without actually hurting yourself, or others. Race mode has just enough rider aids to stave off disaster. The handbook recommends it for expert riders and track only. So what’s it like on the road? Instant throttle response, allows sliding on the power, sliding on the rear brake, allows you to wheelie up to a point and it disengages cornering ABS and gives you a lean angle indicator, because let’s face it, if you’re in Race mode you need it, as you are a legend.
The best thing of course about all of these modes is that you can change them and unlike some other manufacturers they don’t revert back to default when you switch the engine off. For me, simple changes to Wet and Sport modes engine settings have give me a bike I prefer over stock. As the Summer starts to appear (although it’s April and snowing as I type this) I’ll dip into Race mode but turn the traction control up one and turn the cornering ABS back on.
Don’t fancy reading the manual? Then check out this video where I show exactly how to change the engine settings in Sport and Wet mode.