Ducati Panigale Complaints and Problems – Is Your New Bike A Lemon?

Brakes, fuel system and engine issues among the top complaints from motorcycle owners

Updated on Author: Brian Jones

The Ducati Panigale is a sport family of bikes that have been produced since 2011. It derives its name from Borgo Panigale, a small manufacturing town. What’s unique about this bike is the monocoque frame instead of the conventional trellis frame that Ducati is known for. The manufacturer claims that some of these bikes come with a “Racing Attitude,” but owners haven’t been impressed. It appears that many of them are dealing with faulty brakes, a leaky engine and poor visibility

Brake Problems

For anyone hoping to ride a sportbike, it becomes necessary that the brakes work as intended. Otherwise, it’s just a disaster waiting to happen.

On the NHTSA website, there is a complaint that illustrates what owners are facing. “I was riding up to a red light intersection and applied the rear brakes. They seized closed almost washing me out into cross traffic. They did not release for about 15 seconds once stopped. There was no dirt, water or fod in the hydraulic lines or the pad/rotor. I had just bled them, so it was not the expansion of an air pocket. The return channel was clear and the spring was functional. I searched for other problems and found a known recall for faulty rear brake pads on my bike. I suspect that they thermally fused to my disc during the incident above. I removed the brake pads to inspect them. Sure enough, the pads were trashed. Not only was the friction material completely gone, but about 80-90% of the backing plate on which the pad is adhered was worn through. This is extremely unsafe. The motorcycle has 3,500 miles, well before EOL for a healthy rear brake pad. If a motorcycle is driven for 3,500 miles with no front brake application, only rear, that would still not be enough to wear the rear pad out to this degree. It appears to be a defect. The rotors are scored due to the contact with the faulty brake pad. I have replaced the rear pads to temporarily allow rear braking, but efficiency is reduced against a non-flat rotor.”

The recall referenced in that complaint is labeled with NHTSA Campaign Number 18V480000. It states that the rear brake pad friction material might detach and lengthen the stopping distance. This involves the Panigale V4, Panigale 959 and Panigale 1299 FE. It requires a brake replacement at the dealer for repair. One thing about creating a racing attitude mentality is the importance of stopping. Otherwise, the manufacturer might not have enough return customers to justify creating more bikes.

Problems with the Engine

Ask anyone what creates a sportbike and most people will agree that it is the engine. This motor must be powerful and dependable to ensure a spirited ride. Yet, riders of the Ducati Panigale find themselves having trouble with leaks and other defects.

Just look at this complaint posted on the NHTSA website. “Potential oil cooler failure at the ‘B’ nut joint as observed on three motorcycles worldwide. Vehicles in Hungary and the United Kingdom were in motion when failures occurred. Owner that submitted this incident information has photos of what appears to be an oil cooler joint that is about to fail. Photo shows oil residue in the joint area.”

Before brushing this off as something only occurring internationally, consider evaluating the numerous recalls happening with the Panigale. The first one, NHTSA Campaign Number 18V854000, indicates that the timing chain tensioner might loosen, causing an oil leak. It requires the dealer to tighten the timing chain tensioner bolts. That’s not all; there’s another recall, labeled with NHTSA Campaign Number 18V834000. This states that the oil cooler port can crack, which also leads to an oil leak. While Ducati wants to create race-focused machines, it can’t fail to think about retaining its oil. It’s possible that the engineers don’t understand how vital oil is to finishing a race.

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Fuel System Problems

While oil lubricates the engine, fuel keeps it running. Just when it appeared that the major problems would be engine related, it becomes evident that the fuel system is just as faulty.

Another NHTSA review states, “This new bike is cutting off and on the fuel. Leading to one bucking motorcycle that could cause serious problems or death. Very bad on deceleration. Not on acceleration. Extreme danger for this type of machine.”

Again, Ducati released a whole list of fuel-related recalls to fix the problems. The first one, NHTSA Campaign Number 19V382000, declares that owners face spraying fuel when the cap is removed. It’s a result of the excessive pressure in the tank and requires an update to the fuel cap venting system. By the way, the dealer will also add a warning label to the fuel tank to prevent injury. That’s a big help.

Another recall, NHTSA Campaign Number 18V239000, relates to how the fuel can leak from the tank breathing system valve plug. This further increases the chance of a fire. To repair this problem, dealers must replace the O-ring and plug. At this point, more parts are being replaced than were initially on the sportbike.

Problems with the Rear View Mirror

While there aren’t many obstructions while riding on the back of a bike, owners still need all the help they can get to see what’s around them. With the Ducati Panigale, there are numerous complaints that the visibility isn’t what it should be.

Another NHTSA reviewer wrote, “The rear view side mirrors are very fragile and break very easily, either while riding on a rough road, adjusting the mirror while stationary or a light bump in a parking lot. This is the 2nd time one has broken on me and it has happened to several other people.”

Interestingly enough, the manufacturer has nothing to say about this – neither through communications nor with a recall. It appears that they currently have too much of their time wrapped up in putting out the literal fires. If they had truly created a bike with a racing attitude, then it would contain high-quality performance parts that stand up to the abuse, but that’s not the case. Instead, riders looking for an adventure are stuck cleaning up oil leaks and adjusting their mirrors.

Your Lemon Law Legal Rights

Think you have a lemon? Sit back and let the experts work out your lemon case at no cost to you. The law makes Ducati pay legal fees. You may be able to get your lemon out of your life. Every year, auto manufacturers buy back, replace or pay cash settlements to thousands of ‘lemon’ owners like you.

Brian Jones

About the Author:

Brian Jones spent more than 30 years working as an ASE Certified Master Tech and Parts Specialist at multiple dealerships. Brian has become an authority in the industry, traveling across the country to consult for car dealerships and contributing his expertise as a writer for several major automotive publications. In his spare time, Brian enjoys working on pickup trucks, muscle cars, Jeeps and anything related to motorsports.

See more posts from Brian Jones
  • JJ

    I looked up every one of these Panigale Campaign numbers, they appear to only affect 2018 or 2019 models (mostly 2019). Whew! Year models to avoid, unless you know they’ve been fixed on the bike you’re considering, though you may still harbor doubts about the overall reliability and quality.

    A place I take my bikes to in Marietta GA put a Panigale on the dyno — 198 hp. Stock. I don’t know what year model, but recent.

    And Ducati issued recalls for all but the mirror issue.

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