I could be wrong as I don't know a lot about the Panigales. But I think the DES on the Pani S should be functionally no different than the one on the Multi S.
For me specifically I typically switch between Sport with full luggage, rider + passenger when going solo and a bit more aggressively in the twisties to Sport with just a rider when I am commuting. On longer rides I mostly use Touring. I haven't taken my MTS off the road yet. So never even tried the Enduro mode. I have tried the Urban mode. I almost never use it actually. Having preset rider, rider + passenger etc helps with being able to change suspension settings on the fly.
DES does not feel like a necessity to me. But having it is a nice add-on to a pretty great bike.
I see more use in it on the Multi since it deals with different types of terrains and different loads. That is why it might be beneficial. The panigale only did street, one a bit stiffer and one a bit softer.
Since you have a good relationship with your dealer get the standard and have them save the rear shock from an s that the electronics went out on and convert it to manual. That is what was done on my bike so now I have ohlins in the rear and the andreoni cartridges up front. I now have a premium suspension setup just without the des to worry about failing on me. As for ground clearance I have dragged the pegs but never once dragged the centerstand. You can always buy some higher pegs from ducati designs, they make the set that was on the pikes peak race bike.
I've heard some places that stock forks are acutally better for track and sport duty than the ohlins equiped. It also has that knob on the back which makes it somewhat easier to load the springs if I were to ride with a passenger or so.
Lsb, seeing that you are in Atlanta, is your dealer BMW of Atlanta?
Reason I ask is, Bob/Bobby/Linda/Richard are all great to work with and can easily find you a '12 MT(S).
My concern with your comments on the 'base' model is that the undertone is you might be minimalizing the 'want' portion of the bike in favor of the 'will work good enough' portion.
If you are sports bike enthusiast, particularly coming from a Pannigale, I would recommend giving more thought to an S model. Or, as you mentioned earlier, consider waiting for a '13. However, I like some others here am not a fan of doing the R&D for the manufacturer, so while I'm curious about the Skyhook, I am even more curious to get the feedback from actual riders.
Sorry if none of that is helpful, but I would hate the thought of making a Ducati investment and then spending years after thinking... "wish I'd gone with the Ohlins!"
Let me know when you get it, perhaps we can meet up at Suches for a piece of pizza and a quick Six Gap ride!
The dealer is NPR ducati in Bogart GA. Yes I am afraid I will always regret what I will missing but then again I could be lamenting paying that much for a bike and wishing I would have saved up. I would also have to include the Garmin GPS which ain't cheap, Scala Rider Mics and a tank bag for tools. That by itself is an extra 1000+ at least! Also some touring clothing, since all my gear is track oriented. Decisions, decisions.
As for the ride, will do. It would be nice to meet another fellow forum member and no better place than N. GA