Soup :: 1098 Countdown: Ducati’s Red Rocket Launch :: 01-08-2007

25 Feb 2015 | Author: | Comments Off on Soup :: 1098 Countdown: Ducati’s Red Rocket Launch :: 01-08-2007

Kyalami was the perfect place to find the limits of the 1098. It paid to be precise on the 1098.

Turn two begins a series of sweeping lefts that are also very quick. Both entry and apex points are critical to a productive lap and, in this location, the track map doesn’t do justice to the circuit’s true layout. In this section, the 1098’s speed and agility transform this double-apex bend into two separate lefts, with each deserving its own identity on the map.

Turn two starts its approach descending into a bowl in the top of fourth gear, and on its exit starts to climb, tighten, and actually changes into a progression of two more lefts, the first of which changes to an off-camber exit. Riding through here, the 1098 first dips, then climbs, banks, apexes, downshifts, brakes and apexes again, all accomplished within a high-speed and very condensed period of time. Here, the Ducati exhibited stability, excellent ground clearance, and a willingness to turn.

In sparing Soup’s loyal readers the details of what the track map identifies as 11 turns, but we respectfully negotiated as 15, it will suffice to describe Kyalami’s technical layout as very demanding and affording the rider little time to rest. It’s a 2.65-mile-long combination of second-, third-, and fourth-gear corners; minimally short straights; and no less than eight changes in elevation.

As you might expect on a busy track with significant elevation change, Kyalami’s layout keeps the rider constantly up on the tank and focused. It places an emphasis on establishing a rhythm and has the majority of each lap exacting high corner-entry speeds, matched with a decent amount of limited but fairly hard braking for the hairpin and curbed chicane.

To work well here, the 1098 had to execute accurate entry lines required to intersect precise apex points, while also closely matching downshifts and aggressively changing directions. If we were to compare Kyalami’s layout with racetracks stateside–direction of circulation notwithstanding–the tracks that come to mind would be the old Sears Point and Loudon (Bryar Motorsports Park), as well as today’s Laguna Seca. One outstanding difference between Kyalami and everywhere else is in peak elevation.

The South African track may as well be nestled atop a mountain as our introductory notes placed Kyalami between 1,700 and 1,800 meters, or 5,909 feet high. Using the age-old mathematical calculation based on a measurement of five sandal-shod Romans with feet moving a length of one thousand paces (which was eventually substituted for the approximated distance needed for a nag to plow an Englishman’s field before requiring a nap, 660ft), this numeric formula eventually resulted in the distance being deemed a furlong.

Take the distance of eight furlongs and you have a mile. 5,909 divided by eight furlongs or 5,280 feet in a mile, and these Ducatis were circulating Kyalami at over a mile above sea level–1.11 miles to be exact.

Nothing, with the possible exception of a Sherpa, will function well at a mile high, especially when compared to performance at sea level, fuel injected or not. Even Senor Domenicali realized that the lack of oxygen here would prove an unequivocal factor, so he did two things; advised everyone that the standard-model machines we were preparing to ride would not be anywhere near full power, and next, he told everyone that each S version had been equipped with the Performance-Accessorized full-open exhaust, matching ECU, and high-volume air cleaner.

In other words, the full-performance upgrades that would normally only be supplied as original equipment on the Tri-Colore model were fit on each Ohlins-suspended S (you gotta love Ducati). Here, the kit parts were used to compensate for the unusual altitude and subsequent lack of oxygen.

Actually, the only time we noticed an obvious lack of power from the standard 1098 was during our first session when apprehensive riding had us spinning the Evoluzione well below any meaningful rpm. This performance deficit was most apparent during our initial sighting laps and was literally gone upon starting our second session. The 1098 in stock trim seemed to always pull hard above 4500 rpm and had no trouble pegging the rev limiter at 10,700.

Honestly, this tester felt the lack of air much more than it seemed the engine did and the way these engines gained rpm, we suspect the true rpm limit, perhaps with a slight revision to ignition programming would permit much higher rpm limits, even for the large 104mm slipper pistons. (Much closer to 12,000 Mr. Domenicali?)

Testing The Standard 1098 And Sampling The Performance-Accessorized S Model

While the 1098 is heralded as ‘all-new’ clearly the single-sided swing-arm has been seen on previous Ducati models. Regardless, it’s back.

Each press attendee was only permitted to experience the kitted S model for one session and, with Soup, it ended up being the final ride of the day. The obvious differences we noticed beyond the elevated roar of intake and full-open exhaust was its inclination to wheelie on demand, something the standard machine would not do willingly ay Kyalami’s altitude. This was not really a problem since everyone was pre-warned not to wheelie–purely a safety-driven decision delivered by track management.

Behave we did, admittedly only slipping-up twice. The S machine also seemed much crisper when accelerating and moving even more quickly through the rev-range. We also found that the two units we rode were as different in handling as in their model designation and components. After riding the standard 1098 in four straight sessions, our expectations of the S version should have had it behaving somewhat similar but actually it did not, as it seemed to turn more quickly and with less effort.

We suspect both characteristics of more aggressive baseline geometry and differences in its Ohlins suspension’s heights and travels.

For the 1098’s geometry, Ducati has omitted the previous three-way tank-seat-rider positioning, as well as variable steering head adjustability, all attractive features on the 999. The new machine now settles on a fixed rake angle of 24.5 degrees and what feels like an ample amount of trail, now 97mm. At Kyalami, our Ducati was plenty quick turning, yet it required a fair amount of input at the bar to really place the motorcycle where you wanted it, especially in the higher-speed corners.

This turning effort was most noticeable when driving towards the apex of Kyalami’s turn eight, a very fast flat left that you approach near the top of fourth gear. The entry here is straightforward, with your arrival speed being helped by completing two up-shifts while descending a steep hill that originated with a the drive from the second gear plateau exiting turn seven.

It was primarily in this corner that a sensitive riding feel and noticeable front tire wear on the Pirelli’s Dragon Supercorsa Pro confirmed that the new Ducati has no shortage of front weight. Although we never pushed this tire, feel and feedback told us if it were to happen anywhere in South Africa, the entry to turn eight would have been the place.

Here, in an effort to reduce front load once turned and aiming at the apex, instinct had us consciously picking-up the throttle again after corner entry. At least for us, this is a delicate technique, but we liked using it far more than the possible consequence of approaching the apex under a more normal neutral or trailing throttle and then counting on the left knee puck should the demand for traction here be too great. As with Kyalami’s turns one and two, the run into and around turn eight is a serious but awesome endeavor.

As in the past, when using the more conservative geometric configuration with steering head angle, Ducati’s superbikes are known for their stability. The 1098 now takes surefootedness a step further with its massive new single-sided swingarm–a component that adds 10mm to the wheelbase. Combined, the longer rear arm and greater front bias due to a more-forward engine placement are changes made possible by shorter more compact top-ends.

The desired results are better overall handling stability and more front weight to counter the Testastrettas stronger acceleration and ability to transfer weight more quickly.

Weighty Subjects

Virtually every shared aspect of both 1098s is lighter. Starting with the front is the now-unseen all-magnesium front headlight housing, dash and fairing mount. Here, this front sub-frame saves 2.6 lbs from atop the chassis.

The trademark ALS steel frame, already stiff, has been strengthened by 14% with the use of thinner-walled 34mm diameter tubing, an increase from the earlier 28mm down tubes. Savings on the new mainframe is also 3.3 pounds. The engine loses critical internal reciprocating weight by some 3.3 pounds and, combined with additional reductions in both internal and external parts, overall the engine loses a whopping 12 pounds.

Next comes the exhaust system where tubing diameter increases to 57mm, but wall thickness is thinner, shaving 3.75 pounds. All told, the overall machine’s weight numbers are down to an impressive claimed 381 pounds (dry) for the Standard and 377 pounds (dry) for the forged-wheel 1098 S.

Ducati 65 S
Ducati 65 S
Ducati 65 S
Ducati 65 S

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