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Ducati has added aerodynamic wings to its V4 S and tamed the power, does it work on track?

Ducati’s ‘winged’ Panigale V4 dominated the hotly contested British Superbike series last year, taking first, second and third in the championship. In World Superbike, Ducati looked unstoppable at one stage. And in MotoGP, if you didn’t have wings, you were effectively bringing a knife to a gunfight. In fact, downforce-generating wings are dominating racing and now the technology is filtering down to the end-user on the road. This is great news for me and you. Not only do they look cool, I discovered they are a huge advantage on the track.

For 2020 Ducati has added its distinctive wings to the Panigale V4 S, further enhancing the beauty and desirability of the Bologna-made masterpiece – as our 2018 Motorcycle of the Year, it is already an astonishing piece of kit. But the wings tell only half the story; the other improvements include updated Evo 2 electronics, revised handling, and easier-to-use power characteristics with lower torque in the first three gears – the bike is much easier to ride fast.

So it was off to Bahrain to test out the new $40,490 (ride away) V4 S around the very fast 5.4km F1 Sakhir track. And yes, it rained, in the desert, where it never rains. But if Ducati is claiming its new V4 S is easier to ride, dare we say more ‘user-friendly’, then what better way to find out than in the wet at 290km/h? Will the clever electronics be able to control a claimed 158kW (212hp) over standing water? It was time to put on those big-boy pants…

See the full test in the current issue on sale now