Ducati 1098S VS. 999 – Motorcyclist Magazine

12 Feb 2015 | Author: | Comments Off on Ducati 1098S VS. 999 – Motorcyclist Magazine


Ducati Superbike 1098

Ducati 1098S VS. 999 | The Real Deal

How Much Better Is Ducati’s New Superbike Than The One It Replaces? Former AMA And World Superbike Champion Doug Polen Helps Us Decide.

It’s the eternal question whenever a manufacturer brings out a new model: How good is it? The answer is more important than normal in the case of Ducati’s 1098 Superbike, which follows on the heels of the firm’s star-crossed 999. The latter was a superb motorcycle functionally, winning three World Superbike Championships. But its styling, penned by former Ducati design chief Pierre Terblanche, was almost universally panned.

Message boards were positively inflammatory when the 999 debuted in 2003, one infamous posting going so far as to say, Shoot Terblanche and his dog. But the most public condemnation came from Italian racing hero Pier-Francesco Chili, who flat refused to ride it, preferring to stay with the previous-generation 998 on largely aesthetic grounds. Sales were predictably flat.

It comes as little surprise, then, that when it came time to pen a replacement, the job went not to Terblanche (who has been demoted to a consultant), but to his understudy Giandrea Fabbro. The resultant 1098 draws heavily from the bike the 999 replaced, the legendary 916/996/998 series designed by the equally legendary Massimo Tamburini, who went on to create the exquisite MV Agusta F4. The 1098’s twin headlights, dual underseat mufflers and single-sided swingarm all pay homage to the 916, while the bodywork blends elements of that and the Desmosedici MotoGP racer.

Looks alone might have been enough to attract a new generation of buyers, but when word got out that the 1098 made more horsepower than the limited-edition 999R, weighed 30 pounds less than the standard 999 and would retail for just $14,995-nearly $3000 less than the 999 and literally half the price of the 999R-dealers were deluged with deposits. The two upgraded special editions-the $19,995 1098S and $24,995 1098S Tricolore-sold out almost immediately. And if you don’t have a deposit on a standard 1098 by now, you might not get one this year.

Amazingly, much of this money traded hands before buyers even knew if the 1098 worked-such is Ducati’s reputation for quality. And while reviews from the international press launch at Kyalami, South Africa, were largely complimentary, the question of how the 1098 rates next to the 999 remains. So when Ducati gave us a 1098 testbike-an S-model with Marchesini wheels and hlins suspension, since those were first off the assembly line-we asked for a comparably equipped 999S to conduct a shootout.

First order of business was seeing if the 1098’s specs lived up to Ducati’s claims. According to the materials distributed at the press intro, the S-model produces 160 crankshaft horsepower, 90.4 lb-ft.of torque and weighs just 377 pounds dry. The dyno at Carry Andrew’s Hypercycle shop (www.hypercycle.com) backed up those performance claims, the 1099cc V-Twin producing 144.9 bhp and 80.9 lb.-ft. of torque at the rear wheel-about what you’d expect given drivetrain losses.

Ducati Superbike 1098

That’s 3 more horsepower than the last 999R this magazine tested and 12 more than the 999S tested here, both equipped with Termignoni exhausts.

As for the weight claims, the Motorcyclist scales protested, the 1098S weighing in at 410 lbs. with an empty fuel tank-33 more than Ducati claimed. That kind of discrepancy is fairly common with Japanese bikes, but European makers are usually more accurate. Still, that’s 23 lbs. lighter than the 999S, so Ducati’s weight-loss claim wasn’t too far off.

Given the 1098’s superior power-to-weight ratio, dragstrip testing was utterly predictable: The new bike beat the old one by a half-second and 8 mph, helped, tester Gene Thomason said, by a better-acting clutch and smoother-shifting gearbox. The roadrace track, however, wouldn’t be that definitive.

To put the 1098S and 999S through their paces, we called in Doug Polen, who won the 1991-1992 World Superbike Championships and the 1993 AMA Superbike Championship for Ducati. Surely the transplanted Texan (who now resides in Southern California) could give us a clear indication of how the two bikes stacked up.

We convened at a Take It 2 The Track (www.ti2tt.com ) track day at Buttonwillow Raceway, where Polen has turned countless laps over the past few years on a Ducati 999R while conducting his One on One riding schools (www.dougpolen23.com ). After a quick morning photo shoot with lensman Kevin Wing, he saddled up the 999S to re-familiarize himself.

Ducati Superbike 1098
Ducati Superbike 1098
Ducati Superbike 1098

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