Best of the Best 2013: Motorcycles: Sportbike: Ducati 1199 Panigale R

The word refined is rarely associated with brutally powerful motorcycles, but the descriptor does suit the 2013 Ducati 1199 Panigale R, a still-menacing yet more polished version of the 1199 model that preceded it. The Panigale R has a starting price of just under $30,000.

The alterations begin with the 1,198 cc L-twin powerplant. The engine’s new titanium connecting rods and lightweight flywheel produce more responsive revs and a higher ceiling of 12,000 rpm. Complementing the higher redline is a larger rear sprocket, which enables lower final-drive gearing for quicker acceleration. The engine’s output remains at 195 hp and 98 ft lbs of torque, but the middle range is more robust, which results in a mighty high-end wallop all the way to the rev limiter.

The Panigale R also has a new swing-arm pivot that adjusts the rear wheel’s articulation, lending the bike greater agility or stability depending on surface conditions. Brembo monoblock brakes reduce speed with confidence-inspiring efficiency. Riders can adjust the antilock-braking thresholds, the engine-braking characteristics, the traction control, and the front and rear electronic Öhlins suspension. The suspension system enables steep lean angles and nimble turns.

The bike weighs only 417 pounds wet, making it the lightest model in Ducati’s superbike lineup. It is clad in carbon-fiber trim and carbon-fiber shielding, the latter of which protects the rider from the heat of the hardworking engine.

Ducati, www.ducati.com