Typically, the Ducati which would be appropriate to compare with the S 1000 RR, from BMW, would be the 1299 Panigale. However, Ducati’s ‘supermid,’ the 899 Panigale, has recently been replaced and its replacement is pushing ever closer towards the S 1000 RR’s sights.
The 1299 Panigale has a 1285cc engine which produces 205HP. Though it has a larger displacement than the BMW, in terms of horsepower, the two are quite comparable. The Bavarian bike produces a slightly lesser 199HP. The 1299 and S 1000 RR are, in fact, comparable in many ways, except for one; price.
The BMW starts from $15,695USD but the Ducati starts at nearly $20,000USD. Now, admittedly, if you’re choosing between a BMW or a Ducati, price is likely not a big factor in your decision making process. However, in terms of price, there is another Ducati which appears to be more comparable with the BMW.
New for 2016, Ducati has replaced the 899 Panigale with something quite special; the 959 Panigale. The 959 Panigale, though still categorized as a middleweight because it has an engine displacement lesser than 1000cc, utilizes a 955cc motor. This is far more comparable to the S 1000 RR’s 999cc engine than the 1299’s engine. Also, unlike the 1299, the 959’s starting price is separated from the S 1000 RR’s by hundreds rather than thousands, $700 to be exact.
The new changes in the 959 include a larger displacement, a slipper clutch, a boost in horsepower and more torque, among others. However, the new 959 is more than simply a more powerful 899. It has a new chassis and has much improved riding characteristics. With all of the improvements, there is a modest increase in weight, a mere 4lbs.
The BMW S 1000 RR was first introduced in 2009 and as BMW’s first true sportbike, often referred to as a supersport, the S 1000 RR has been very successful. However, as a liter bike, it can, at times, feel like a bit of a handful, particularly to less experienced riders. This is where the new 959 comes in.
The S 1000 RR is good bike for track use but can feel a bit harsh on the road, whereas the 959 has been designed, specifically, to be a perfect balance between a road and track bike. The 959 was intended to be the most accessible Ducati sportbike. By accessible, Ducati and I mean the easiest to use. This enables a rider of typical capability to put the bike through its paces with a lesser likelihood of the bike biting back.
Whether or not ease of use is of more or less importance really depends on the rider’s individual preferences and experience. Too, it’s all relative. The S 1000 RR seems quite tame and road ideal when compared to the now discontinued BMW HP4 and Ducati Desmosedici RR. However, when comparing the 959 and S 1000 RR, there are some differences which cannot be overlooked.
The BMW produces 199HP, significantly more than the 959, at 157HP. The 157HP is more comparable to the 160HP in the naked-standard S 1000 single R, which utilizes a detuned version of the S 1000 RR’s engine. Yet, the 959 weighs 20lbs less than the Beemer when comparing wet weights, coming in at just 429lbs.
The S 1000 RR is now in its seventh year, though, it has been refreshed in the past. As a result, the bike is beginning to feel a bit older. Still, both bikes can be equipped with the most modern technologies. Potential consumers are unlikely to be disappointed by either bike.
The Ducati, of course, has a certain je ne sais quoi. With that being said, BMW Motorrad, too, has become a more emotional premium brand in recent years. The BMW doesn’t lack that intangible, though still very much real, passionate riding experience but the Ducati provides it in greater abundance.
One plus for the S 1000 RR is that, due to its age, there exists a plethora of aftermarket parts which can improve performance even further and increase the bike’s individuality. This is, however, only a temporary advantage as aftermarket manufacturers will begin to produce goodies for the Ducati.
In conclusion, the BMW offers a bit more performance for your buck but the Ducati provides more flair and personality. That the middleweight Ducati is at all comparable to a bike which is technically outside of its class, speaks volumes about what an amazing bike it is.