The most beautiful thing about the Ducati Panigale V4 S is the fact that it underlines Ducati's core brand value as one of performance, not an engine configuration. Sure, the departure from using a V-twin in its flagship superbike shook the faithful a bit, but the Italian company clearly understands its position as a performance leader means it has to bring MotoGP to the masses.

2018 Ducati Panigale V4 S
The 2018 Ducati Panigale V4 S brings the Italian company’s MotoGP technology to the street and ends its V-twin engine superbike line.Jeff Allen
Panigale’s complete redesign
The Panigale's complete redesign started with the reverse-rotating crankshaft of the V-4 engine. It made 188 hp on the Cycle World dyno.Jeff Allen

Okay, "masses" might be stretching it a bit. The 2018 Ducati Panigale V4 range starts at just over $21,195, and the V4 S model we chose for its higher-spec electronic suspension and other fancy bits is $27,495. And maybe the physical presence of the bike itself is more beautiful than what we think this new model represents, so perhaps we're just overthinking things here.

reverse-spinning crank
That reverse-spinning crank cancels some of the gyro effect of the wheels, making the bike easier to steer and more agile.Jeff Allen

But, damn, the V4 S is so fast and so capable it does cause your mind to race. When Ducati hit the reset button on its superbike and set the four-cylinder path, it really hit the reset. There is some resemblance to Paniagles past and certainly the company’s design DNA continues, but sound, feel, and layout are new for the streetbike range.

Akrapovic exhaust
The Ducati accessory Akrapovic exhaust is partly responsible for the excellent dyno performance.Jeff Allen

And what you really need to know is that this isn’t just by far the fastest, easiest-to-ride Ducati superbike, it’s the finest road-going superbike we’ve tried.

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Marchesini wheels
Forged Marchesini wheels wear Pirelli Diablo Supercorsa tires.Jeff Allen

From the reverse-rotating crank up, this engine wails. With the accessory Akrapovic exhaust, our V4 S testbike made 188 rear-wheel horsepower and 81 pound-feet of torque on the Cycle World dyno. Peak power is at 13,100 rpm, and the engine hit the limiter at about 14,250, so there's plenty of overrev.

Brembo Stylema monoblock calipers
Brembo Stylema monoblock calipers work on 330mm discs. Braking power and feel are world-class.Jeff Allen

In multiple track tests, we found power tractable and controllable even if it is fantastically abundant. Electronic rider aids intervene as much or as little as you like, while the electronic-damping-control 43mm Öhlins NIX 30 fork and TTX 36 shock work near magic for stability and grip. Brembo's beautiful Stylema monoblock calipers and 330mm discs complete what feel like your supernatural powers when riding this bike at race pace. That reverse-rotating crank pays dividends in directional changes by partially canceling out the gyro effect of the wheels. There might be a reason every MotoGP racebike has such a crank setup.

Panigale
The redone chassis and Öhlins electronic suspension maintain the Panigale’s composure.Jeff Allen
compression and rebound damping
Wires connected to fork tops control compression and rebound damping. Similar wires connect to the shock.Jeff Allen
TFT dash
TFT dash is bright and easy to read, and is your interface to rider-aid settings.Jeff Allen

Bottom line is the Ducati Panigale V4 S is magnificent to ride fast.

Ducati superbike crown
The Panigale V4 S is a more-than-worthy successor to the Ducati superbike crown and is the Best Superbike of 2018.Jeff Allen

A lot of people are fond of saying Ducatis are the Ferraris of motorcycling, but that’s a disservice to Ducati. For even at just under $28,000, the Ducati V4 S is one of the greatest exotic performance motorcycles ever made. The very fact that you can buy such a thing for so little, relatively speaking, makes it one of the great accomplishments in performance transportation.