Ducati 1098 (2007 - 2009) review

After the hype comes the reality. And for lucky Niall that reality is served on the silver platter that is Kyalami circuit in South Africa. And the verdict? Oh my word, are you ready for this?

Ben Cope's picture
By Visordown on Mon, 1 Jan 2007 - 12:01

Details
Manufacturer:
Ducati
Category:
Sportsbikes
Price:
£ 11250
Overall
4
Need Insurance?
Unbelievable engine, fresh new look.
Power delivery can be too brutal.

It only happens once in a while but most of us instinctively know when a new bike has that special something and will be remembered for many years to come. With that in mind I'd like to introduce you to the latest creation from Bologna. Striking looks, stunning performance and technology never seen before on a road bike are just three of the boxes ticked by the new Ducati 1098. Like the original 916 and Yamaha R1 this bike has just moved superbikes for the road into new territory, and will be the must-have bike for 2007. While its predecessor, the 999, didn't lack success on the race track, it's unusual styling meant it never achieved the iconic status of 916. So to put things right Ducati have gone back to the drawing board.

At first glance it's clear to see the 1098 takes much of its styling from Capirossi's Desmosedici, but delve deeper and you'll find technology from both MotoGP and WSB has been used throughout the engine, chassis and electronics. Just looking at it gives me a warm feeling, and I have to admit that's a first for me when it comes to Ducati. I even like the look of the simple '1098' digits. How sad is that?

I'd like to begin with a quick visual tour. Starting at the back you'll find, back by popular demand, the single-sided swingarm, which looks like it's straight from Bayliss's race bike. Next is the bodywork, and when it can look this good with no graphics and only four tiny digits just below the handlebars, then I need to say no more. Onto the trickest mirror-mounted LED indicators, and then it's down to the amazing sculpted Brembo calipers, only ever seen before on factory racers. The Siamese-like lights above the intake ducts give the look of a friendly face, while behind this you'll find a neat, fully digital dash that wouldn't be out of place on a MotoGP grid. Finally there are the black five-spoke lightweight alloy wheels taking you back to another stunning creation, the Desmosedici-style seat unit.

If the truth were known I had a fair idea of just how good the 1098 really was even before I flew 10,000 miles south to Johannesburg for the launch. Brendan Roberts, my friend from Oz, has just been signed up by the Bologna factory to give Japan's best some grief in next year's European Superstock Championship. He was courted by a number of teams but quickly signed up when a certain Ducati insider - one Troy Bayliss - told him he'd seen what they were working on and reckoned it would easily take on any of the four-cylinder competition from the east. Aussies can be a little rough around the edges at times, but they're normally pretty honest and tend to look after their own.

My first few laps of Kyalami were quite tentative as I reacquainted myself with a circuit I hadn't ridden round since the last GP there in 1992, riding for Yamaha France. Heavy rain had left the track quite slick so the 1098's Pirelli Dragon Corsa Pros, which would normally offer more grip, were struggling. Turn one is a fourth gear right-hander followed by a heave over to the left while back-shifting to third, then you drive through a series of left turns before climbing onto the back straight. Here direction change was light and easy, as was driving through corners where I know I would have been back an extra gear on a four-cylinder machine. Initially I found gear selection quite stiff, and while I wasn't missing gears I had to use the clutch until I was up to speed. My bike had only a few miles on the clock so as the day progressed shifting seemed to get easier as everything bedded in.

Although the 1098 has exactly the same geometry as the 999 it sits higher at the rear giving a quicker steering, racer-like feel. However, the riding position is still very roomy and comfortable. Everything has been lightened, including the tortsionally stronger trellis frame, allowing a dry weight of 171kg. After the back straight there's a quick dip downhill before a long fourth gear climb up to the highest part of the track. The next section involves hard braking over a crest before laying into another double apex left-hander. All easy meat for the new Testastretta Evoluzione engine. Revving to 10,700 rpm, it pulls like a Scania on steroids from 7000rpm with peak power at 9750rpm. Around the whole circuit I only used three gears (second to fourth) which gives some indication of the wide spread of power. Yet this is a revvy, short stroke motor, which shouldn't lend itself to such a broad power spread. The performance apparently comes from a totally redesigned cylinder head using MotoGP induction technology. There is also a brand new Marelli fuel injection and engine management system using elliptical throttle bodies. All this and 7500-mile service intervals. Quite remarkable.

I don't normally get too excited about brakes but Brembo have supplied the most impressive stopping power ever seen on a street bike. The huge 330mm discs are made directional for maximum strength and weight saving, and are gripped by one-piece machined monobloc calipers using two large-surface pads. The instant braking response takes some adjusting to but after a few laps I found using one less finger for braking was the solution.

The 1098's not totally sublime though. I found the Showa rear shock struggled to give me a constant feel through the next double apex left and I was proved right as I later rode the 'S' model with the full …hlins suspension, and that had a much more planted feel.

One of the most exciting corners in the world comes next. As the name suggests it could be straight from some mad ride at Alton Towers. The Mineshaft is a 110mph, fourth gear, steep downhill left-hander that scared the pants off me every single lap. I watched Troy Bayliss on his 1098S go through this section a few times and, as much as my head said 'keep the throttle pinned like him', my right hand said 'no way'. I guess that's why Troy is arguably the best rider in the world. After the heart recovers it's more heavy braking the final stop-start section of the track, and then another second gear left-hander onto the start finish. My lap times aren't worth mentioning but Troy was just five seconds off the WSB lap record - not bad for a standard bike on bog standard road tyres.

I initially found the forks too soft so I added one ring more preload. I also added more rebound damping to give it a bit more control on the brakes and to help hold the front down through the tight low speed corners. I never became totally happy with the instant fork dive but the suspension was working well pretty much everywhere else. I put the diving problem down to a very strong initial bite from the brakes, something that riders need to be aware of on greasy or wet roads. On launch reports the dash on any bike is only ever worth a few words - not the case on the 1098. Apart from the normal speedo, trip, temp and time, the dash is very much the brain of the 1098. It will also provide malfunction reports, battery condition, an immobiliser facility plus store three-and-a-half hours of data logging that can be downloaded from the USB port under the seat. You'll never be bored again waiting for your mate to turn up for the Sunday run!

Being around race teams, data logging has been very much the norm for me for the last 15 years, but I can't tell you how great it is to see a simple but very efficient system appear on a road bike. It comes standard on the S model but for £150 you can have it as an option on the standard bike. I guarantee you will have hours of fun analysing your riding, especially if you've been on a track day. Throttle position, engine rpm and wheel speed are monitored together with gear position and engine temperature. You can also sync-in and overlay lap times so you know what you're doing on every single part of the track. All this information can help your riding and adds a whole new dimension to enjoying your bike.

It took me a few sessions but I found the harder the 1098 is pushed the better it responds. It is no coincidence that race bikes react in exactly the same way - they are set up for performance and not for the Tesco run. For the everyday road rider the standard model with the Showa suspension will be fine, but if you're a serious track day rider I would remortgage my granny and get the lighter S model. The …hlins suspension and adjustable steering damper work properly with the immense power from the engine and brakes.

And with the data logging as standard you can spend hours at home analyzing your fantastic riding. The missus won't be happy though as you have a capacity of three-and-a-half hours to look at. So best take your laptop and sleeping bag to the garage and live there full time.

It only happens once in a while but most of us instinctively know when a new bike has that special something and will be remembered for many years to come. With that in mind I'd like to introduce you to the latest creation from Bologna. Striking looks, stunning performance and technology never seen before on a road bike are just three of the boxes ticked by the new Ducati 1098. Like the original 916 and Yamaha R1 this bike has just moved superbikes for the road into new territory, and will be the must-have bike for 2007. While its predecessor, the 999, didn't lack success on the race track, it's unusual styling meant it never achieved the iconic status of 916. So to put things right Ducati have gone back to the drawing board.

At first glance it's clear to see the 1098 takes much of its styling from Capirossi's Desmosedici, but delve deeper and you'll find technology from both MotoGP and WSB has been used throughout the engine, chassis and electronics. Just looking at it gives me a warm feeling, and I have to admit that's a first for me when it comes to Ducati. I even like the look of the simple '1098' digits. How sad is that?

I'd like to begin with a quick visual tour. Starting at the back you'll find, back by popular demand, the single-sided swingarm, which looks like it's straight from Bayliss's race bike. Next is the bodywork, and when it can look this good with no graphics and only four tiny digits just below the handlebars, then I need to say no more. Onto the trickest mirror-mounted LED indicators, and then it's down to the amazing sculpted Brembo calipers, only ever seen before on factory racers. The Siamese-like lights above the intake ducts give the look of a friendly face, while behind this you'll find a neat, fully digital dash that wouldn't be out of place on a MotoGP grid. Finally there are the black five-spoke lightweight alloy wheels taking you back to another stunning creation, the Desmosedici-style seat unit.

If the truth were known I had a fair idea of just how good the 1098 really was even before I flew 10,000 miles south to Johannesburg for the launch. Brendan Roberts, my friend from Oz, has just been signed up by the Bologna factory to give Japan's best some grief in next year's European Superstock Championship. He was courted by a number of teams but quickly signed up when a certain Ducati insider - one Troy Bayliss - told him he'd seen what they were working on and reckoned it would easily take on any of the four-cylinder competition from the east. Aussies can be a little rough around the edges at times, but they're normally pretty honest and tend to look after their own.

My first few laps of Kyalami were quite tentative as I reacquainted myself with a circuit I hadn't ridden round since the last GP there in 1992, riding for Yamaha France. Heavy rain had left the track quite slick so the 1098's Pirelli Dragon Corsa Pros, which would normally offer more grip, were struggling. Turn one is a fourth gear right-hander followed by a heave over to the left while back-shifting to third, then you drive through a series of left turns before climbing onto the back straight. Here direction change was light and easy, as was driving through corners where I know I would have been back an extra gear on a four-cylinder machine. Initially I found gear selection quite stiff, and while I wasn't missing gears I had to use the clutch until I was up to speed. My bike had only a few miles on the clock so as the day progressed shifting seemed to get easier as everything bedded in.

Although the 1098 has exactly the same geometry as the 999 it sits higher at the rear giving a quicker steering, racer-like feel. However, the riding position is still very roomy and comfortable. Everything has been lightened, including the tortsionally stronger trellis frame, allowing a dry weight of 171kg. After the back straight there's a quick dip downhill before a long fourth gear climb up to the highest part of the track. The next section involves hard braking over a crest before laying into another double apex left-hander. All easy meat for the new Testastretta Evoluzione engine. Revving to 10,700 rpm, it pulls like a Scania on steroids from 7000rpm with peak power at 9750rpm. Around the whole circuit I only used three gears (second to fourth) which gives some indication of the wide spread of power. Yet this is a revvy, short stroke motor, which shouldn't lend itself to such a broad power spread. The performance apparently comes from a totally redesigned cylinder head using MotoGP induction technology. There is also a brand new Marelli fuel injection and engine management system using elliptical throttle bodies. All this and 7500-mile service intervals. Quite remarkable.

I don't normally get too excited about brakes but Brembo have supplied the most impressive stopping power ever seen on a street bike. The huge 330mm discs are made directional for maximum strength and weight saving, and are gripped by one-piece machined monobloc calipers using two large-surface pads. The instant braking response takes some adjusting to but after a few laps I found using one less finger for braking was the solution.

The 1098's not totally sublime though. I found the Showa rear shock struggled to give me a constant feel through the next double apex left and I was proved right as I later rode the 'S' model with the full …hlins suspension, and that had a much more planted feel.

One of the most exciting corners in the world comes next. As the name suggests it could be straight from some mad ride at Alton Towers. The Mineshaft is a 110mph, fourth gear, steep downhill left-hander that scared the pants off me every single lap. I watched Troy Bayliss on his 1098S go through this section a few times and, as much as my head said 'keep the throttle pinned like him', my right hand said 'no way'. I guess that's why Troy is arguably the best rider in the world. After the heart recovers it's more heavy braking the final stop-start section of the track, and then another second gear left-hander onto the start finish. My lap times aren't worth mentioning but Troy was just five seconds off the WSB lap record - not bad for a standard bike on bog standard road tyres.

I initially found the forks too soft so I added one ring more preload. I also added more rebound damping to give it a bit more control on the brakes and to help hold the front down through the tight low speed corners. I never became totally happy with the instant fork dive but the suspension was working well pretty much everywhere else. I put the diving problem down to a very strong initial bite from the brakes, something that riders need to be aware of on greasy or wet roads. On launch reports the dash on any bike is only ever worth a few words - not the case on the 1098. Apart from the normal speedo, trip, temp and time, the dash is very much the brain of the 1098. It will also provide malfunction reports, battery condition, an immobiliser facility plus store three-and-a-half hours of data logging that can be downloaded from the USB port under the seat. You'll never be bored again waiting for your mate to turn up for the Sunday run!

Being around race teams, data logging has been very much the norm for me for the last 15 years, but I can't tell you how great it is to see a simple but very efficient system appear on a road bike. It comes standard on the S model but for £150 you can have it as an option on the standard bike. I guarantee you will have hours of fun analysing your riding, especially if you've been on a track day. Throttle position, engine rpm and wheel speed are monitored together with gear position and engine temperature. You can also sync-in and overlay lap times so you know what you're doing on every single part of the track. All this information can help your riding and adds a whole new dimension to enjoying your bike.

It took me a few sessions but I found the harder the 1098 is pushed the better it responds. It is no coincidence that race bikes react in exactly the same way - they are set up for performance and not for the Tesco run. For the everyday road rider the standard model with the Showa suspension will be fine, but if you're a serious track day rider I would remortgage my granny and get the lighter S model. The …hlins suspension and adjustable steering damper work properly with the immense power from the engine and brakes.

And with the data logging as standard you can spend hours at home analyzing your fantastic riding. The missus won't be happy though as you have a capacity of three-and-a-half hours to look at. So best take your laptop and sleeping bag to the garage and live there full time.

It only happens once in a while
but most of us instinctively know when a new bike has that special something and will be remembered for many years to come. With that in mind I'd like to introduce you to the latest creation from Bologna.
Striking looks, stunning performance and technology never seen before on a road bike are just three of the boxes ticked by the new Ducati 1098. Like the original 916 and Yamaha R1 this bike has just moved superbikes for the road into new territory, and will be the must-have bike for 2007. While its predecessor, the 999, didn't lack success on the race track, it's unusual styling meant it never achieved the iconic status of 916. So to put things right Ducati have gone back to the drawing board.

At first glance it's clear to see the 1098 takes much of its styling from Capirossi's Desmosedici, but delve deeper and you'll find technology from both MotoGP and WSB has been used throughout the engine, chassis and electronics. Just
looking at it gives me a warm
feeling, and I have to admit that's a first for me when it comes to Ducati. I even like the look of the simple '1098' digits. How sad is that?

I'd like to begin with a quick visual tour. Starting at the back you'll find, back by popular demand, the single-sided swingarm, which looks like it's straight from Bayliss's race bike. Next is the bodywork, and when it can look this good with no
graphics and only four tiny digits just below the handlebars, then I need to say no more. Onto the trickest
mirror-mounted LED indicators, and then it's down to the amazing sculpted Brembo calipers, only ever seen before on factory racers. The Siamese-like lights above the intake ducts give the look of a friendly face, while behind this you'll find a neat, fully digital dash that wouldn't be out of place on a MotoGP grid. Finally there are the black five-spoke lightweight alloy wheels taking you back to another stunning creation, the Desmosedici-style seat unit.

If the truth were known I had a fair idea of just how good the 1098 really was even before I flew 10,000 miles south to Johannesburg for the launch. Brendan Roberts, my friend from Oz, has just been signed up by the Bologna factory to give Japan's best some grief in next year's European Superstock Championship. He was courted by a number of teams but quickly signed up when a certain Ducati insider - one Troy Bayliss - told him he'd seen what they were working on and reckoned it would easily take on any of the four-cylinder competition from the east. Aussies can be a little rough around the edges at times, but they're normally pretty honest and tend to look after their own.

My first few laps of Kyalami were quite tentative as I reacquainted myself with a circuit I hadn't ridden round since the last GP there in 1992, riding for Yamaha France. Heavy rain had left the track quite slick so the 1098's Pirelli Dragon Corsa Pros, which would normally offer more grip, were struggling.
Turn one is a fourth gear right-hander followed by a heave over to the left while back-shifting to third, then you drive through a series of left turns before climbing onto the back straight. Here direction change was light and easy, as was driving through corners where I know I would have been back an extra gear on a four-cylinder machine. Initially I found gear selection quite stiff, and while I wasn't missing gears I had to use the clutch until I was up to speed. My bike had only a few miles on the clock so as the day
progressed shifting seemed to get easier as everything bedded in.

Although the 1098 has exactly the same geometry as the 999 it sits higher at the rear giving a quicker steering, racer-like feel. However, the riding position is still very roomy and comfortable. Everything has been lightened, including the
tortsionally stronger trellis frame, allowing a dry weight of 171kg.
After the back straight there's a quick dip downhill before a long fourth gear climb up to the highest part of the track. The next section involves hard braking over a crest before laying into another double apex left-hander. All easy meat for the new Testastretta Evoluzione engine. Revving to 10,700 rpm, it pulls like a Scania on steroids from 7000rpm with peak power at 9750rpm. Around the whole circuit I only used three gears (second to fourth) which gives some indication of the wide spread of power. Yet this is a revvy, short stroke motor, which shouldn't lend itself to such a broad power spread. The performance apparently comes from a totally redesigned cylinder head using MotoGP induction technology. There is also a brand new Marelli fuel injection and engine management system using elliptical throttle bodies. All this and 7500-mile service intervals. Quite remarkable.

I don't normally get too excited about brakes but Brembo have
supplied the most impressive
stopping power ever seen on a street bike. The huge 330mm discs are made directional for maximum strength and weight saving, and are gripped by one-piece machined monobloc calipers using two large-surface pads. The instant braking response takes some adjusting to but after a few laps I found using one less finger for braking was the solution.

The 1098's not totally sublime though. I found the Showa rear shock struggled to give me a
constant feel through the next
double apex left and I was proved right as I later rode the 'S' model with the full …hlins suspension, and that had a much more planted feel.

One of the most exciting corners in the world comes next. As the name suggests it could be straight from some mad ride at Alton Towers. The Mineshaft is a 110mph, fourth gear, steep downhill left-hander that scared the pants off me every single lap. I watched Troy Bayliss on his 1098S go through this section a few times and, as much as my head said 'keep the throttle pinned like him', my right hand said 'no way'. I guess that's why Troy is arguably the best rider in the world.
After the heart recovers it's more heavy braking the final stop-start section of the track, and then another second gear left-hander onto the start finish. My lap times aren't worth mentioning but Troy was just five seconds off the WSB lap record - not bad for a standard bike on bog standard road tyres.

I initially found the forks too soft so I added one ring more preload. I also added more rebound damping to give it a bit more control on the brakes and to help hold the front down through the tight low speed corners. I never became totally happy with the instant fork dive but the suspension was working well pretty much everywhere else. I put the diving problem down to a very strong initial bite from the brakes, something that riders need to be aware of on greasy or wet roads.
On launch reports the dash on any bike is only ever worth a few words - not the case on the 1098. Apart from the normal speedo, trip, temp and time, the dash is very much the brain of the 1098. It will also provide malfunction reports, battery condition, an immobiliser facility plus store three-and-a-half hours of data logging that can be downloaded from the USB port under the seat. You'll never be bored again waiting for your mate to turn up for the Sunday run!

Being around race teams, data logging has been very much the norm for me for the last 15 years, but I can't tell you how great it is to see a simple but very efficient
system appear on a road bike. It comes standard on the S model but for £150 you can have it as an option on the standard bike. I guarantee you will have hours of fun analysing your riding, especially if you've been on a track day. Throttle position, engine rpm and wheel speed are monitored together with gear
position and engine temperature. You can also sync-in and overlay lap times so you know what you're doing on every single part of the track. All this information can help your riding and adds a whole new dimension to enjoying your bike.

It took me a few sessions but I found the harder the 1098 is pushed the better it responds. It is no
coincidence that race bikes react in exactly the same way - they are set up for performance and not for the Tesco run. For the everyday road rider the standard model with the Showa suspension will be fine, but if you're a serious track day rider I would remortgage my granny and get the lighter S model. The …hlins suspension and adjustable steering damper work properly with the immense power from the engine and brakes.

And with the data logging as standard you can spend hours at home analyzing your fantastic riding. The missus won't be happy though as you have a capacity of three-and-a-half hours to look at. So best take your laptop and sleeping bag to the garage and live there full time.

Score Breakdown
Overall
4
Crash Media Group
Visordown is part of the CMG Full Throttle Network© : welcoming over 3 million consumers each month