Ducati 1098R (2008 - 2010) review

Quite simply the best V-twin ever.
It's a bit too much for 99.9% of riders!

If you can’t beat them, get the rules changed so you can then build a bike with all the bits you need to dominate the racetrack out of the box. Ducati’s 1098R is pure WSB homologation magic...

This time I’m going to be brave. Probably braver than I have been for a while. Ordinarily I wouldn’t put my trust in a small circuit board that in a few years time could well be found controlling my toaster, but the techno-boffin from Ducati has been consistently convincing and seeing as he had some flash diagrams on his PowerPoint presentation I reckon he knows his stuff. Well, that and the fact he claimed the technology wedged in a small box the size of a fag packet under my arse is the same as Casey Stoner uses on his MotoGP bike.

The reason for my attempted burst of heroism is simple. I need to see if the traction control system on Ducati’s new 1098R really works. Unfortunately there is only one way to do this – whack the throttle open while still leant over. This action could have a number of consequences ranging from exiting the corner like a scalded cat, to exiting it 10-foot up in the air while adopting the traditional star shape with my arms and legs.

To do something like this goes against all common sense, not to mention my accumulated knowledge of over 15 years of riding bikes. Mid-corner isn’t time to give it the ‘big one’, especially when this involves unleashing 180bhp on the rear tyre. But if they can put a man on the moon with less computing power than a TV remote control surely Ducati could invent a device that would keep both my wheels spinning at the same rate? So I grabbed a big handful, at which point it crossed my mind that Ducati hasn’t exactly got a reputation for electrical prowess. Admittedly, I’m being a bit light hearted about this whole traction control thing. Despite the fact it took some building up to the truth is I had no doubt that Ducati’s system would work perfectly. In both MotoGP and WSB the Italian firm has proved itself to be the masters of controlling spin, the motorcycling equivalent of Alastair Campbell if you will. So, as I expected (and hoped), the 1098R’s rear dug in, gripped and rocketed me out of the corner like a missile. So did the traction control worked? Well – sort of.

For the launch of the 1098R Ducati chose to equip the bikes with Pirelli Diablo Supercorsa tyres, in very soft compound. So much so that the rear tyre was changed every three 15-minute sessions and the front every six. On a warm MotoGP quality circuit with tyres this sticky I’m not actually convinced that they would break traction, so I checked with Niall Mackenzie, and he agreed it was unlikely as well. But in a lot of ways that’s almost the point of it. Even if I knew for a fact that the grip was there, I’m not convinced I would have had the balls to just hold open the throttle of a Japanese inline four. But because I had this safety net on the equally powerful 1098R, it’s all about completely trusting the electronics, which is why the ‘old school’ MotoGP riders struggled in recent seasons. This admission might make me sound like I wasn’t testing the bike properly, but given the parameters that Ducati launched the 1098R I reckon that much of the talk about the traction control kicking in is what is known in the medical world as a ‘placebo effect.’ You want to feel it’s there, so you do. There again, when I adjusted the settings to the most sensitive setting, number eight, the traction control certainly did cut in, but at this point it was doing it when there was absolutely no chance of the tyre slipping.

To completely convince me of the merits of the traction control I would have liked to test the bike on less sticky tyres and fiddled around a bit more with the system’s eight settings, but unfortunately we only got four session on track so I’d like to reserve judgement on the traction control system until now, especially as there is so much more to the 1098R than electronics.

Without a shadow of doubt this new Ducati is as close to a real race bike as I have ever ridden. It’s an amazing machine. In the finest traditions of Ducati homologation specials the 1098R is little more than a way of Ducati ensuring its WSB bike is as competitive as humanly possible. But, as the rules have changed for 2008 to allow 1,200cc twins into the series this has created a bit of a monster. In order to appease the Japanese 1,000 brigade, and calm the storm created by upping the capacity limit of the already super competitive V-twins, the WSB rule makers have imposed some very tight restrictions on what Ducati can change between its race bike and road one. So what has Ducati done? Simple, given the road bike everything it needs to race in WSB and sod the cost. This bike has more trick components than most of the WSB grid as standard!

Ducati call the 1098R a ‘pure and simple race bike,’ and it is. The new 1,198cc motor, up 100cc thanks to a bigger bore and stroke, has titanium con rods, titanium valves, a lightened crank, sand-cast cases, a slipper clutch, specially treated rocker arms to the same specification as the current WSB racer, the list goes on, see the tech panel for the full low-down. In stock, road legal, trim it churns out a claimed 180bhp and 99ft.lb of torque, which is amazing for a twin and not a million miles off the 200bhp area that the Airwaves BSB Ducati 999s had last year. Which isn’t surprising because all that Ducati is allowed to change for its WSB racer is the pistons, re-balance the crank and fit a new lighter fly-wheel and new gear ratios. In racing terms that’s not much, like I say, this truly is a race bike for the road. And it’s also a bloody missile.

Around the Jerez track the 1098R’s engine was mind-blowing. Often the term ‘lazy’ is used to describe a Ducati V-twin’s power delivery, I would use the term ‘frenzied’ with the 1098R, or possibly ‘rabid.’ The lightweight internal components, as well as the bigger capacity, have turned this bike into a rev-happy monster with a midrange that is like someone has lit an afterburner. It’s stunning. Exiting any second gear corners at Jerez and as soon as I gave the 1098R some throttle it reared up like an angry horse. You simply can’t give it full throttle until it’s into third gear, such is the ferocity of the power delivery. It’s not uncontrollable, far from it, it’s just very powerful and with a claimed weight of 168kg the 1098R is also very light. Which is another reason why I believe that the traction control wasn’t playing a noticeable part, you can’t open the throttle mid-corner with any gusto until third gear because it will wheelie, which gives the rubber an easier time.

If you can imagine riding an SV650 and then being given a TL1000 that is the difference between the 1098S and the 1098R’s motors, such is the magnitude of the engine work. But although the engine’s power deliver and fuel-injection system were stunning and very precise on more than a few occasions its enormous power and torque started to upset the chassis.

Read more: http://www.visordown.com/road-tests-first-rides/first-ride-ducati-1098r/5895.html#ixzz0xcR4H6qW

If you can’t beat them, get the rules changed so you can then build a bike with all the bits you need to dominate the racetrack out of the box. Ducati’s 1098R is pure WSB homologation magic...

This time I’m going to be brave. Probably braver than I have been for a while. Ordinarily I wouldn’t put my trust in a small circuit board that in a few years time could well be found controlling my toaster, but the techno-boffin from Ducati has been consistently convincing and seeing as he had some flash diagrams on his PowerPoint presentation I reckon he knows his stuff. Well, that and the fact he claimed the technology wedged in a small box the size of a fag packet under my arse is the same as Casey Stoner uses on his MotoGP bike.

The reason for my attempted burst of heroism is simple. I need to see if the traction control system on Ducati’s new 1098R really works. Unfortunately there is only one way to do this – whack the throttle open while still leant over. This action could have a number of consequences ranging from exiting the corner like a scalded cat, to exiting it 10-foot up in the air while adopting the traditional star shape with my arms and legs.

To do something like this goes against all common sense, not to mention my accumulated knowledge of over 15 years of riding bikes. Mid-corner isn’t time to give it the ‘big one’, especially when this involves unleashing 180bhp on the rear tyre. But if they can put a man on the moon with less computing power than a TV remote control surely Ducati could invent a device that would keep both my wheels spinning at the same rate? So I grabbed a big handful, at which point it crossed my mind that Ducati hasn’t exactly got a reputation for electrical prowess. Admittedly, I’m being a bit light hearted about this whole traction control thing. Despite the fact it took some building up to the truth is I had no doubt that Ducati’s system would work perfectly. In both MotoGP and WSB the Italian firm has proved itself to be the masters of controlling spin, the motorcycling equivalent of Alastair Campbell if you will. So, as I expected (and hoped), the 1098R’s rear dug in, gripped and rocketed me out of the corner like a missile. So did the traction control worked? Well – sort of.

For the launch of the 1098R Ducati chose to equip the bikes with Pirelli Diablo Supercorsa tyres, in very soft compound. So much so that the rear tyre was changed every three 15-minute sessions and the front every six. On a warm MotoGP quality circuit with tyres this sticky I’m not actually convinced that they would break traction, so I checked with Niall Mackenzie, and he agreed it was unlikely as well. But in a lot of ways that’s almost the point of it. Even if I knew for a fact that the grip was there, I’m not convinced I would have had the balls to just hold open the throttle of a Japanese inline four. But because I had this safety net on the equally powerful 1098R, it’s all about completely trusting the electronics, which is why the ‘old school’ MotoGP riders struggled in recent seasons. This admission might make me sound like I wasn’t testing the bike properly, but given the parameters that Ducati launched the 1098R I reckon that much of the talk about the traction control kicking in is what is known in the medical world as a ‘placebo effect.’ You want to feel it’s there, so you do. There again, when I adjusted the settings to the most sensitive setting, number eight, the traction control certainly did cut in, but at this point it was doing it when there was absolutely no chance of the tyre slipping.

To completely convince me of the merits of the traction control I would have liked to test the bike on less sticky tyres and fiddled around a bit more with the system’s eight settings, but unfortunately we only got four session on track so I’d like to reserve judgement on the traction control system until now, especially as there is so much more to the 1098R than electronics.

Without a shadow of doubt this new Ducati is as close to a real race bike as I have ever ridden. It’s an amazing machine. In the finest traditions of Ducati homologation specials the 1098R is little more than a way of Ducati ensuring its WSB bike is as competitive as humanly possible. But, as the rules have changed for 2008 to allow 1,200cc twins into the series this has created a bit of a monster. In order to appease the Japanese 1,000 brigade, and calm the storm created by upping the capacity limit of the already super competitive V-twins, the WSB rule makers have imposed some very tight restrictions on what Ducati can change between its race bike and road one. So what has Ducati done? Simple, given the road bike everything it needs to race in WSB and sod the cost. This bike has more trick components than most of the WSB grid as standard!

Ducati call the 1098R a ‘pure and simple race bike,’ and it is. The new 1,198cc motor, up 100cc thanks to a bigger bore and stroke, has titanium con rods, titanium valves, a lightened crank, sand-cast cases, a slipper clutch, specially treated rocker arms to the same specification as the current WSB racer, the list goes on, see the tech panel for the full low-down. In stock, road legal, trim it churns out a claimed 180bhp and 99ft.lb of torque, which is amazing for a twin and not a million miles off the 200bhp area that the Airwaves BSB Ducati 999s had last year. Which isn’t surprising because all that Ducati is allowed to change for its WSB racer is the pistons, re-balance the crank and fit a new lighter fly-wheel and new gear ratios. In racing terms that’s not much, like I say, this truly is a race bike for the road. And it’s also a bloody missile.

Around the Jerez track the 1098R’s engine was mind-blowing. Often the term ‘lazy’ is used to describe a Ducati V-twin’s power delivery, I would use the term ‘frenzied’ with the 1098R, or possibly ‘rabid.’ The lightweight internal components, as well as the bigger capacity, have turned this bike into a rev-happy monster with a midrange that is like someone has lit an afterburner. It’s stunning. Exiting any second gear corners at Jerez and as soon as I gave the 1098R some throttle it reared up like an angry horse. You simply can’t give it full throttle until it’s into third gear, such is the ferocity of the power delivery. It’s not uncontrollable, far from it, it’s just very powerful and with a claimed weight of 168kg the 1098R is also very light. Which is another reason why I believe that the traction control wasn’t playing a noticeable part, you can’t open the throttle mid-corner with any gusto until third gear because it will wheelie, which gives the rubber an easier time.

If you can imagine riding an SV650 and then being given a TL1000 that is the difference between the 1098S and the 1098R’s motors, such is the magnitude of the engine work. But although the engine’s power deliver and fuel-injection system were stunning and very precise on more than a few occasions its enormous power and torque started to upset the chassis.

Read more: http://www.visordown.com/road-tests-first-rides/first-ride-ducati-1098r/5895.html#ixzz0xcR4H6qW

Quite simply the best V-twin ever.
It's a bit too much for 99.9% of riders!