2009 Ducati 1198 Test at Portimao!

4 May 2015 | Author: | Comments Off on 2009 Ducati 1198 Test at Portimao!
Ducati Superbike 1198

2009 Ducati 1198 S world launch – Baylisstic 1198

The new 2009 Ducati 1198 is the most evident example of the philosophy Ducati adheres to in sharing racing technology with us. At the fantastic new Portimao circuit, Ducati also shared another jewel with us in Troy Bayliss showing the way around the track. That’s not everyday stuff, and neither is the 1198 S.

Words: Tor Sagen/Photography: Milagro

The 1198 literally barks to life like a vicious animal. It’s narrow and agile like a cheetah but with the roar of a lion. This contrast makes it into an event in itself just pushing the starter button.

So the massive 1198cc L-twin roars to life in a way that would intimidate even those riding litre In-line fours. The 1198 is put simply exciting from beginning to end.

Troy Bayliss which doesn’t need any introduction guides us around the circuit on our first session. No one in the whole world knows more about going fast on a Ducati twin superbike than Bayliss. It was a privilege following the man himself for the first few laps despite the fact that I didn’t actually follow as I was more getting to terms with the power and how not to crash as soon as the pace was upped.

To help me I had the DTC (Ducati Traction Control) set to level 4. This I found is actually a brilliant way to both learn a new circuit and a new powerful motorcycle. Whilst ABS is a safety feature for ordinary people, traction control is a safety measure for hard-boiled racers. Up until now that is, and Ducati are toying with various ideas on how to perhaps implement race style traction control systems on all bikes.

The DTC would actually work well when you hit that wet patch accelerating out of a roundabout so it’s a real world safety measure too.

What I really like about this system is the adjustability and flexibility. The DTC has got 8 different level settings where level 8 is the most intrusive. DTC can also be turned off. Fast guys like Troy Bayliss will choose from level 2 down to no traction control. As opposed to Suzuki’s less advanced power mode system you can’t change levels whilst on the move.

This is a pure safety measure but I am pretty sure that I would have liked to be able to play with it whilst on the move. Let’s say you are riding your 1198 all day and suddenly it starts raining. Rather than having to stop to change to a more strict DTC level preventing wheel spin, I would have liked to be able to adjust whilst on the move.

The 1198/1198 S traction control differs from the 1098 R in the fact that Ducati have enabled DTC by cutting power at the fuel injection level rather than at the spark plug level. This prevents unburned fuel to enter the exhaust torching the catalyser. The result is true traction control on a road legal bike.

So how does it feel like to ride with traction control I hear you say? Well, I started out with a careful level 4 setting before moving down to level 2. If the traction control is activated red lights will show above the rpm indication. In four steps where a big red light shows when traction control is 100% active preventing rear wheel spin.

Out on the gorgeous Portimao circuit it’s bloody difficult to pay any attention to the instruments at all as there’s a lot of stuff going on all the time. The circuit may look straight forward on a map, but ride it and there’s lots of elevation, drops, blind corners and crests.

Coming over the blind crest just before Craig Jones corner and suddenly the tarmac just drops away in a steep downhill where wheelies are very difficult to avoid. It was nothing but good old fun to me, but short shifting early from third to fourth sort of fixes the little wheelie problem. In any case it’s full throttle here and into a fast left hander which I think I did in third most of the time.

Then full throttle up the hill before hard on the brakes for a wonderfully technical right hander where the exit is done sideways on one wheel in second gear. The circuit was slippery in parts, but the DTC took all the scary bits away. It really only is a matter of being careful with the front end. I’m not going through the whole circuit here, but all I can say is that it’s mind-blowing on the 1198 S!

The 2009 Ducati 1198S features a super strong 170 horsepower twin. Then count in 131Nm of torque @ 8.000rpm and you’ll have an idea. The S version also weighs 2 kilo less than the standard 1198 (mainly due to lighter wheels) and with a dry weight of 169 kilo the power to weight ratio is finally a 1 to 1. The main straight at Portimao is 969 metres long, but due to a very fast right hander just before the straight I could see 200km/h very early on the straight and more than 260km/h before my conservative brake mark. -Conservative because I saw Troy Bayliss fly past at the end of the straight at one point.

The Brembo monoblock brakes are as brilliant still as they always were and with such a stable bike as the 1198 S it’s only a matter of how much you dare to apply. The Ohlins fully adjustable suspension is also something we are familiar with from past S models and the setup worked well for me on the bike I was assigned. The 1198 wants to wheelie a lot so perhaps it would have benefitted me to stiffen up the rear shock a bit more, but I left it as I don’t mind a wheelie or two.

Twin power in this shape, 1198cc and massive horsepower is seriously addictive. There’s so much drive and from 8.000 rpm when the torque peaks I just had a big smile inside my helmet. The engine feels massively strong and it’s a completely different more brutal strong than on a GSX-R1000 or R1.

The power builds in a very linear way, but so much of it is available from very low rpm.

Ducati Superbike 1198
Ducati Superbike 1198

To handle all this power you need good tyres and that’s just what the new 1198 have in the new Pirelli Diablo Supercorsa SC. They come in the usual 120/70-ZR17 front and the 190/55-ZR17 rear. These tyres has been approved up to 320km/h which should be enough we should think. These tyres have been designed with the 1198 in mind.

The shoulder areas are designed to maximise the contact patch area and length and carcass specially designed for stiffness under heavy braking and precision during high speed cornering. On the S they sit on lightweight 7 spoke wheels whilst the standard 1198 have to settle for 10 spoke slightly heavier wheels.

As for ergonomics the 1198 S is pretty much identical to the predecessor 1098 and also the 848. It’s a true thoroughbred and you will feel it in your limbs after a while in the saddle. No pain, no gain as they say.

I’ll go through a couple of practical details here at the end. The 1198 S now comes with the DDA (Ducati Data Analyser) with twice the capacity compared to previous models. This involves a 4MB memory which should be enough for two full laps. On the 1198 this is not included as standard.

As an option you can also choose a spacer kit for the mirror stems should your elbows become too boring to look at. Looking at the specs the S model is now more than only Ohlins suspension and lighter wheels, there’s actually a fair few extras included as standard that makes it good value compared to adding bits and bobs to a standard 1198.


What can I say? The Ducati 1198 S is quite simply a fantastic sport bike. The Desmo power is ultra strong in performance and addictive for the soul. The traction control is a very high tech feature taken directly from racing and it works unbelievably well.

There are no half measures with Ducati these days and road products benefit more than with any other manufacturer. The Ducati 1198 S should cost more than a Japanese litre and is completely justifiable in any way.

Very powerful engine with spades of character

Ducati Traction Control is a real benefit also on a roadbike.

Ducati Superbike 1198
Ducati Superbike 1198

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