Ducati Panigale V2 vs Ducati SuperSport 950S – which is best on the road?

You have £15k to spend on a red sportsbike… which should you pick?

7w ago
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If you walk into a Ducati dealership with about £15,000 in your pocket and the urge to spend it on something that's shaped like a sportsbike, then you have two choices. The Panigale V2 is the Bolognan brand's mid-weight sportsbike, a properly committed race-bred machine with a 155hp powerplant and a racy riding position. But there's another choice – the SuperSport 950, which in top-spec 'S' form costs only a grand less than the Panigale.

On paper, the SuperSport is massively down on power at 110hp and a bit less torquey – but it's a comfier bike, with plush and blingin' Ohlins suspension, a more relaxed riding position and it's just better set up for the road.

So which should you buy? We've hacked together a video review of each bike below (we rode the SuperSport after the Panigale so watch that video if you want more of a comparison). Or read on for more words.

Panigale V2 vs SuperSport 950S: engine comparison

The £15,695 Panigale V2 uses Ducati's 955cc SuperQuadro engine, a massively over-square, rev-hungry V-twin that puts out 155hp and 104Nm of torque – plenty of poke in a bike that weighs 176kg dry. For comparison, the SuperSport weighs 184kg dry (210kg wet).

The £14,495 SuperSport 950S (there's a £13,000, red-only non-S if you don't need the Ohlins… but you do) uses the 937cc Testastretta engine that also sees use in the Multistrada V2 and Hypermotard 950. Here it puts out 110hp and 93Nm of torque.

The Panigale V2 looks every inch the race bike… doesn't have gold suspension though, does it?

The Panigale V2 looks every inch the race bike… doesn't have gold suspension though, does it?

Both bikes fire up into an impressively loud idle, but it's actually the Panigale V2's unit that's easier to use around town. It revs a fair bit higher than the SuperSport, and this seems to translate into being smoother and more docile at low speeds. You can get the Pani's clutch out much more quickly than on the SuperSport, which takes some revs and speed for it to stop feeling lumpy.

The SuperSport only really looks softer when you spot the nice low, comfy seat

The SuperSport only really looks softer when you spot the nice low, comfy seat

The SuperSport's shorter overall rev range gives you the sense that there's torque absolutely everywhere, and it canters out of 30mph limits with real gusto – this is not a slow bike by any stretch of the imagination. Gear choice is a bit more important on the Panigale, where you really want to be above 6,000rpm to feel as if you're motoring. While the SuperSport is all done by 9,000rpm, the Pani V2 rips all the way to 11,500rpm. It's still torquey in the mid-range compared to a three or four-cylinder bike, but it also love to live at the top end, where it very quickly wangs you into licence-losing speeds.

It's worth pointing out that there's a significant difference in noise as well as feel once you're on the move. The SuperSport is all exhaust noise which soon gets lost in the breeze, but the Panigale V2 has an utterly addictive airbox roar that encourages you to get your chin on the tank and accelerate unneccessarily everywhere. Oh yes.

In terms of real-world performance, however, there's really very little to split these bikes. In terms of speed they're neck-and-neck up to about 70mph, and after then the Panigale sods off. But the instant low-down grunt of the SuperSport helps it nail the brief of a road-going sports bike.

Panigale V2 vs Supersport 950S: which handles better?

Both the SuperSport and Panigale V2 flick from side to side with real ease and can carve up corners with equal aplomb on the road. And yes, there's a but coming.

The SuperSport S gets quality Ohlins suspension which ticks off just about every cliche you can level at the Swedish suspension manufacturer – it feels oily, plush and (importantly), expensive (because it is). It's cossetting and soaks up bumps on lumpy backroads as if they weren't there. The result is that you can ride the SuperSport incredibly hard down real-world roads and thoroughly enjoy the experience.

The Panigale V2 has low-set clip-ons and Showa forks. Mirrors don't fold though, which is a pain in the bum

The Panigale V2 has low-set clip-ons and Showa forks. Mirrors don't fold though, which is a pain in the bum

Now, the Panigale V2 is clearly a race-bred machine and therefore its Showa suspension is set to be stiffer than the SuperSport's. It's also using a stiff aluminium monocoque chassis as opposed to the SuperSport's trellis affair, and as a result it bucks and jolts off bumps in the road. This means it's not actually as confidence inspiring on the road as the SuperSport, and we were happier going faster on the SuperSport than the Pani. On track it'd likely be a completely different story, but on the road the SuperSport strikes a brilliant blend of handling and comfort, and it's the more addictive bike to ride at legal speeds.

Panigale V2 vs Supersport 950S: which one makes you want to ride it more?

The SuperSport gets folding mirrors and bars that sit on risers, making it a far comfier bike to ride than the Pani V2

The SuperSport gets folding mirrors and bars that sit on risers, making it a far comfier bike to ride than the Pani V2

We should also talk about the ergonomics of each bike – the SuperSport has a plush, wide seat that might not look as sexy as the Pani's racing codpiece, but it's worlds better for real-world riding. You could do very big days on the SuperSport in complete comfort, whereas the Panigale will have your arse aching after an hour or two (the Panigale also roasts your bum and thighs even in cold autumn weather, the SuperSport doesn't). The SuperSport has an approachable 810mm seat height with a couple of lower and higher options in the Ducati accessories catalogue – the Panigale V2 has a 840mm seat height. To be fair to Ducati the Pani V2's seat is far plusher and thicker than the old 959 Panigale's, which puts more of your weight over the front of the bike. But it's still sporty.

The SuperSport's seat is lower, softer and wider than the Panigale's. Doesn't look so cool though

The SuperSport's seat is lower, softer and wider than the Panigale's. Doesn't look so cool though

As if to compound its road-going intentions, the SuperSport 950S has high-set handlebars that give you a semi-sport riding position but without any backache. They leave you sitting partially upright – just enough so that a short leather jacket and jeans won't leave you with some exposed bum crack. The Panigale is, as you've probably guess, fully sporty – albeit with nice wide-set clipons that make it more comfy than most other sportsbikes. Back-to-back with the SuperSport, however, it's a bit of a torture rack.

What else do I need to know?

Both bikes get a 4.3-inch TFT dash. This is the Panigale's…

Both bikes get a 4.3-inch TFT dash. This is the Panigale's…

Both bikes get a full complement of big-bike rider aids. Both get an up-and-down quickshifter as standard (it's smoother on the Panigale than the SuperSport), and both get six-axis gyroscopic brains. These mean you get lean-sensitive ABS on both bikes, but the traction control is only lean-sensitive on the SuperSport – the Panigale just gets regular TC. Both have 4.3-inch colour screens which look perfectly fine until you see the latest large Ducati screen on the Multistrada V4.

… and this is the SuperSport's dash. It gets a fuel gauge!

… and this is the SuperSport's dash. It gets a fuel gauge!

The Panigale is also possessed of one very annoying trait – the mirrors don't fold in. At all. So if you're planning on parking the bike in a tight spot, you're a bit stuffed. Thankfully the SuperSport's twiddle inwards with a hefty lift-and-twist action. The SuperSport's kickstand is also a hell of a lot easier to snag with a boot than the Panigale's minimalist effort.

Which should I get?

The Panigale is the sharper, firmer and faster machine…

The Panigale is the sharper, firmer and faster machine…

We had more fun on the road on the SuperSport 950S. It caught us by surprise – it never feels slow, it punches harder than you'd think and yet it's the more satisfying bike to ride quickly (on the road). Not only is it better suited for bumpy roads, it actually feels more fun to ride at legalish speeds. On a track we've no doubt that the stiffer, faster Panigale V2 would run much, much faster laptimes – but you'd still have a hoot on the SuperSport.

… but the SuperSport 950 is much more fun on the road

… but the SuperSport 950 is much more fun on the road

The only downsides to the SuperSport are that it does look a bit softer than the Panigale V2, and there's a certain cachet to having an uncomfortable, cutting-edge sportsbike rather than something with a *spits* comfortable seat and *vomits* comfortable riding position. But if you're more about riding than posing, the SuperSport 950S wins hands down. That's not to say the Panigale V2 is a bad bike – it's an astonishing bike – but on the road it's just not as fun as the SuperSport.

We were just as surprised as you are.

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Comments (7)

  • Non motorbike drivetribers can tell no difference..... whatsoever 😂😂😂

      1 month ago
    • Try squinting!

        1 month ago
    • Good proposition! 😂😂Also if u could get ur hands on one do a augusta superveloce ,it probably has one of the most uncomfortable seat tho.

        1 month ago
  • If I was in my 20’s the V2, as old as I am I’d have to go the comfort route and have the 950

      1 month ago
  • Jesus christ how many times was this article promoted

      1 month ago
    • Huh? Buh? Wha? Wasn't me! But it *is* great

        1 month ago
  • I’m 67 and own a V2. I love it. The acceleration is an amazing rush. I made a couple of modifications. Dumping the mirrors/turn signals for aftermarket’s. Also added heated handgrips because I live in Wisconsin. Took what most likely my last ride of the year yesterday:(

      1 month ago
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