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Is it possible to make a good-looking Ducati Panigale streetfighter?

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July 11, 2014

The Ducati 1199 Panigale looks like a bucket of slop with its clothes off

The Ducati 1199 Panigale looks like a bucket of slop with its clothes off

Image Gallery (16 images)

The Ducati 1199 Panigale is one of the hottest superbikes on the planet. It's also the first to come out with a gutsy, "frameless" design that, frankly, looks very odd when you pull its fairings off. But an engine like that deserves the love and attention of custom bike builders. So we ask the question: is it possible to make the Panigale look good as a naked streetfighter? Here's eight different attempts from designers around the world.

To those of us who love streetfighters, the stripped-down superbike represents the raw essence of road riding. Take a red-hot performance machine, pull off all the ugly, redundant racetrack plastics, stick a nasty headlight on and a flat bar, perfect for the street. Shred rubber.

To streetfighter lovers, there's form in the function. With the skin stripped bare, you can admire the bone and muscle. Engines and frames have their own brutal beauty when they're not draped in a harlot's rags.

Typically, the frame is the launching point for a 'fighter build, because it defines the primary lines. That's what makes the early Suzuki Bandit 1200 such a great base – that frame presents the engine and carbs like a rolling artwork. Rip the inessential away, tidy up the lines and you can make something really special, like Bad Bikes did to create "Hot Chocolate" here:

Bad Bikes: 'Hot Chocolate' Bandit 1200 streetfighter

But what happens when one of the top superbikes of our era gets released with no frame at all? The Ducati 1199 Panigale has a stressed aluminium airbox/steering head, a thin subframe and the swingarm all bolted directly onto the engine without a traditional frame to speak of. We took a look at some nude shots of the 1199 back in 2012 and wondered aloud how the heck the streetfighter community, or indeed Ducati's own designers, were going to get a presentable nakedbike out of such a jam-packed, unattractive, frameless body as this:

The Ducati 1199 Panigale looks like a bucket of slop with its clothes off

Ducati has not yet released a naked Panigale, but a few custom shops and designers have had a crack at it. Let's take a look at how they've attacked it.

First, the designers, who are free to experiment visually without having to necessarily make the things buildable or rideable.

Gannet Design

Gannet's founder Ulfert Janssen is a fascinating and highly productive guy with a wealth of experience designing cars, motorcycles and everything in between. He's had a couple of bites at what a naked Panigale might look like, starting with an understated cafe racer:

Gannet Design's 1199 Panigale Cafe Racer concept

The hugger and smooth seat unit dominate this design, but the overall look is very clean and pleasant. Then there's his more recent "cafe fighter" concept:

Gannet Designs: 1199 Cafe Fighter concept

The MT-03-style headlight looks fantastic and the chunky tank cover provides some flow to the bike's lines, but the giant plastic/carbon hugger seems to be more or less just there to cover up the engine – and while it works, you've got to take away some purist streetfighter points there.

Holographic Hammer

Sylvain Berneron is a Motorcycle Designer at BMW Munich and in his spare time he … designs motorcycles. Here's his crack at the Panigale 899 as a cafe racer:

Holographic Hammer's 899 Panigale cafe racer.

It's long, low, and flat. The junction between the tank and air box is nicely done and the retro taillight is a nice touch. This is probably the nicest presentation of the engine, and something about it gives the overall bike a kind of steampunk feel.

VAST

Ducati1199 forum member VAST "threw together a very quick photoshopped image" of a Panigale streetfighter that's worthy of mention:

Ducati1199 forum user VAST's photoshop mockup of a Panigale Streetfighter

Sticking closely to the stock 1199's tank and tail units, this design throws bright Ducati red plastics over the chunky airbox and the uninspiring void behind the lower radiator. In search of an "OEM look," he threw some standard-looking mirrors on it and added a nasty looking fighter headlight. Looks good!

KRAX Moto / Pierobon

Frame specialists at Pierobon weren't interested in making streetfighters. They simply wanted to produce a kit for their racing customers that allowed the 1199 engine to be removed more easily and that could build a bit of torsional flex back into the design. They came up with an idea, and a product, that brought the traditional Ducati-style trellis frame back into the Panigale design:

Pierobon's 1199 Panigale frame kit

In addition to adding a touch of flex back into the frame, it also took the sub-frame mounting points off the rear cylinder of the engine, and attached them back to a central frame piece.

Either way, they produced some beautiful product pictures of a modified naked Panigale, which allowed a designer from krax-moto.com to get his photoshop on and create this:

Krax-moto-com reinterprets the Pierobon frame kit into a Panigale Streetfighter concept

Now we're talking! All it took was a headlight and front end cleanup, a leather seat and a few color changes on the engine to create a tough, cafe-inspired fighter look. Still, can you really call it a successful Panigale streetfighter if you need to bring a trellis frame back into the design to give it some visual flow?

Daidalgas

Italian designer Daidalgas has put a truly unique spin on things with this Panigale streetfighter design:

The Daidalgas Panigale Streetfighter concept

This concept creates a chunky, solid front end by extending the tank upwards and creating a downward sloping line that finishes softly at the headlight. A further chunky plastic side guard ties the headlight to the bottom of the lower radiator and the cutout from the plastics perfectly frames the 1199cc Panigale motor. The seat unit follows the angle of the tank and the taillight gives it a bit of hot-rod style flair. It's by far the most "out there" of the designs, but it's nicely done!

Moto Puro's Elite II

Finally, one that's actually been built and not just photoshopped! Moto Puro is a Dutch Ducati dealer and workshop and workshop chief Martien van Stipdonk has clearly put a lot of work into the Elite II:

Moto Puro's Ducati Elite II - a Panigale cafe racer

Thoroughly reconceived from the engine out, the Elite II takes a very retro approach. A new trellis sub-frame unit holds up a tiny monoposto seat, dual upswept megaphones recall the look of a Paul Smart Sports Classic with Termis on, and a simple painted plastic cover deals with the ugly airbox/steering head – note the lines drawn to extend the tank as a flatter shape. Spoked wheels, a camping-bottle overflow reservoir and a bug-eye headlight complete the classic look, making the Elite II one heck of a sleeper. It wouldn't look out of place at a classic bike meet, and yet it's a 200-horsepower thoroughbred. Lovely work!

Hertrampf

And finally, from Germany, Hertrampf Racing has produced a road-ready Panigale Streetfighter that really looks the part:

Hertrampf Racing's Ducati Panigale 1199 Streetfighter

Leaving the tank and seat unit more or less unmolested, Hertrampf uses simple red covers over the airbox and behind the lower radiator in a way not dissimilar to the VAST design above. A flat bar, a set of very beautifully machined triple clamps, some miniature bar-end mirrors and an angry German-style headlight mask round it out.

Headlight and mirrors aside, this work is by far the closest to what we'd imagine coming out of the factory if Ducati was ever to make a Panigale Streetfighter of its own. But then, with the recent overhaul of the Monster range to include a water-cooled 1200, and the discontinuation of the 1098 Streetfighter model, we'd suspect that Bologna might not ever bother with the exercise.

Either way, to answer our original question, can the 1199 Panigale be made into a good looking streetfighter? On the evidence above we'd have to say yes – but it sure doesn't look like an easy task.

About the Author
Loz Blain Loz has been one of Gizmag's most versatile contributors since 2007. Joining the team as a motorcycle specialist, he has since covered everything from medical and military technology to aeronautics, music gear and historical artefacts. Since 2010 he's branched out into photography, video and audio production, and he remains the only Gizmag contributor willing to put his name to a sex toy review. A singer by night, he's often on the road with his a cappella band Suade.   All articles by Loz Blain
8 Comments

i think for the next 100 years, "designers" should be barred from 2 wheel vehicles

wle

wle
11th July, 2014 @ 08:34 am PDT

Well, one man's "bucket of slop" is another man's steak dinner. I think the exposed powerplant is quite nice to look at. The picture of you, however, does look very odd.

BillL
11th July, 2014 @ 09:34 am PDT

There were a few interesting attempts, but the Moto Puro Elite II really missed the mark IMO. That exhaust system is tragic, hanging there like an ill-fitting J.C. Whitney offering along with the plastics that look like they came from the same catalog. Maybe it's the photo, but it looks like a really heavy guy went off-roading on it and bent it in the middle. The exposed parts would look much better behind a well-designed fairing.

Bassmandan
11th July, 2014 @ 01:21 pm PDT

Is it just me, or are trying to make a silk purse out of a sow's ear ?

The Panigale is no different than, say the latest Ferrari. Strip off the body work and you are left with a damn ugly array of pipes, hoses, castings etc. Sure, it all works but no one would buy it without the bodywork. I admire some of the attempts to make something ugly into something you would want to sit astride, but why bother. You have it backwards. Start with something beautiful, like a simple steel tube frame, add a simple engine - with plenty of fins - and go from there. Something where you can look at any item and appreciate its form and its function.

Martin Hone
11th July, 2014 @ 02:41 pm PDT

Hmm...a frame-less design sounds good for reducing weight, but also sounds like a good way to go from what might be a mildly tweaked frame in a accident to catastrophic engine block damage instead. Ah well, that's progress I guess....

BleedingEdge
12th July, 2014 @ 04:37 pm PDT

Problem is that riding an unfaired bike with that all that speed will get old real fast. I have nothing against the bike's unfaired looks but living with it is wholly another thing. I personally like riding for fun and hanging on against the wind for life would lose it's allure within an hour.

Buellrider
13th July, 2014 @ 02:26 pm PDT

I'd take it just as it came out of the factory thanks!

As for the examples imagined above, if YOU like it, ride it! But expect as many jeers as praises for what you make of it.

Almost any factory bike can be "street fighter" converted, (even 'just' a Harley) but most look better in the original form.

The Skud
13th July, 2014 @ 08:03 pm PDT

Here's my attempt at making a Streetfighter based on the Ducati 1199 Panigale. The idea was to keep it modern, and resist the temptation to go retro:

https://www.behance.net/gallery/19747557/Ducati-1199-Streetfighter?share=1

shantanujog
13th September, 2014 @ 04:07 pm PDT
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