Splitting Heirs: Ducati 998 v 1098 — 998 v 1098 — 2/2 — Page 2 — Road…

22 мая 2015 | Author: | Комментарии к записи Splitting Heirs: Ducati 998 v 1098 — 998 v 1098 — 2/2 — Page 2 — Road… отключены
Ducati 998

Splitting Heirs: Ducati 998 v 1098 — 998 v 1098 — 2/2

The 998R still feels sharp and focused. It’s hard to believe that this is a chassis that was designed 13 years ago because it still feels so good. Compared with the 1098 the 998R is slower to turn and requires more effort to get it on its ear, but once there is every bit as poised and balanced as the later Ducati. With the 1098 they’ve dialled out the lazy turn-in while retaining the mid-corner stability.

After a quick spin on the new bike 998R owner Ray said it felt like the 1098 had power steering while the 998R was good old fashioned direct drive, which sums it up nicely.

There is no denying that the 1098 is a better bike in the conventional sense of the word. Sit on it and the riding position feels instantly natural, rather than the narrow and slightly cramped 998R. When it was launched in 1994 the 916 was the first Ducati that was really designed as a racebike then had lights added, so by the very nature of its design it has no compromises for the road.

Little things like a lack of decent steering lock, fiddly ignition key location and firm seat are due to its design ethos. But there again, at least the 998R has mirrors that work. Back in 1994 mirrors were functional items, even on a Ducati sportsbike.

Today they are little more than a necessary irritation that designers spend ages making look aesthetically pleasing rather than actually work, a point proven perfectly on the later bike.

The rider-position differences between the two bikes is a huge factor in how they ride, because the 1098’s more natural and roomy seating position allows the rider to move around the bike easier, which in turn helps the bike turn. With the 998R I found myself getting caught in the bike and hanging off felt unnatural, mainly because of the tank’s shape.

The side of the fuel tank is very flat and your inner thigh doesn’t rest naturally against it when you hang off, meaning you adopt a strange spread legged hang-off style. Look at the photos of Niall or myself riding and compare the knee position on the two bikes.

But the thing is, does it really matter that the 1098 is a better handling bike than the 998R? The thing with a bike such as this is how it makes you feel, and the 998R makes you feel very special indeed.

Aside from the exquisite styling touches (such as the occasional bit of lacquered carbon-fibre fairing poking out of the Ducati red paint) the 998R has the feeling of a true thoroughbred about it. The engine feels like it was designed to be on track. And not just as a bystander, this motor has Ducati Corse blood in its veins and is designed to be a winner.

I honestly expected to be a bit disappointed by the 998R’s engine. After all, it’s a five-year-old motor that is going up against a larger capacity and modern technology. But not a chance. The 998’s engine is still a beauty, and very powerful. I couldn’t believe it when I saw the power charts.

The 998 is only 3bhp down on the 1098, which is amazing. Although it is lacking 8lb.ft of torque, something to be expected considering the capacity difference, this is still very impressive. But what the 998R’s engine lacks in grunt is more than makes up for in outright character.

Unlike the 1098 the R has a truly frantic air about it. Although it has a thumping mid-range, the motor loves to be fed revs and has a raw and menacing feel. That’s what I imagine a Ducati race bike would feel like, but Niall’s the expert here having actually raced one of these bikes and he said it felt remarkably similar to his British Superbike GSE 996R.

Compared to the 1098’s lazy but still shockingly fast power delivery, the 998R does require more gear changes, more revs and more attention to exactly where in the power range you are, but personally I want that. I like the fact it makes me feel like Foggy (although without the crack-addict face) and I like the fact it’s engaging to ride. As with the handling the 1098’s engine is ultimately better when it comes to raw riding, but when it boils down to the emotion of the riding experience, the 998R rules the day.

Which is the dilemma when it comes to splitting these two bikes. There is no doubt that the 1098 is a better machine. It has the better engine, the better handling and the better brakes.

But this isn’t really a surprise, it’s a brand new motorcycle that is using the latest technology. When you hand over your £11,250 you get what you pay for, the latest generation of Italian superbike. But you know what, I’d take the 998R over it any day, even though they cost almost the same money.

Ducati 998

There is something just so special about the 998R. It still knocks the spots of any other bike when it comes to styling. Parked next to the 998R the 1098 looks fussy and over-engineered.

The 998R is a model in less-is-more with subtle, natural beauty while the 1098 is a supermodel that has trimmed down and applied a bit of slap. I could look at the 998R for hours and still not get bored, the 1098 still has the hint of a Japanese bike about it hidden in its beauty.

Yes, some things do feel dated on the 998R. It does require more effort to turn, has a lazy feeling and doesn’t stop quite as well. But the engine is so engaging to use with a sound that reminds me of sitting on a crowded bank at Brands in a sea of red cheering on Foggy to yet another World Superbike title.

Even the clocks appeal to my retro-side, although the 1098’s digital wizardry wows anyone who stops and looks at them.

The 916 is my childhood dream and up until this point my ambition was to own a 1994 916SP. It had to be the first, the purest and the father of the 916 family. Now I have a dilemma. The 998R is quite simply the ultimate 916 and having now had the privilege to ride one I want one, badly.

While I reckon the 916SP would feel underpowered compared to modern bikes the 998R doesn’t, even compared to the latest and greatest Bologna has to offer.

Emotion plays such a large part in Ducati ownership, it has to. With the modern Japanese bikes now offering so much in the way of standard equipment, Ducati has to set themselves aside by offering something the Japanese simply can’t justify the extra cost, the problem with the 999 was that it was lacking in emotion, it wasn’t inspirational and wasn’t sexy. It looked like a bag of bits, the exhausts were ugly and it didn’t have any passion.

Riding it was like riding a Japanese interpretation of a Ducati, so it didn’t sell. The 1098 goes a long way to restoring the balance and brings Ducati back to where it should be, at the forefront of emotional biking. But for me and, I think, nearly everyone else, the 998R was, and still is, the ultimate Ducati superbike.

You shouldn’t mess with perfection, and that’s the 998R all over.

Ducati 998
Ducati 998
Ducati 998
Ducati 998

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