Author Topic: Test ride the white knight Ducati's 848  (Read 3163 times)

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Paul Whittaker

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Test ride the white knight Ducati's 848
« Reply #1 on: 24 May 2009, 09:22 PM »
MotoOnline.com.au samples Ducati’s first edition of the 848 on both the circuit and the streets – and we love it!


SPECIFICATIONS

ENGINE
Engine type: L-Twin cylinder, 4 valve per cylinder Desmodromic, liquid cooled
Bore x stroke: 94 x 61.2 mm
Displacement: 849.4cc
Compression ratio: 12:1
Transmission: Six speed
Power (claimed): 134hp
Torque (claimed): 70.8ft-lbs

CHASSIS
Frame type: Tubular steel Trellis
Front suspension: Showa 43 mm fully adjustable upside-down fork
Rear suspension: Showa fully adjustable monoshock
Wheelbase: 1430 mm
Wheels (front/rear): 5.50 x 17” / 5.50 x 17”
Tyres (front/rear): 120/70 ZR17” / 180/55 ZR17”
Brakes (front/rear): 2 x 320mm semi-floating discs, radially mounted Brembo calipers 4-piston, 2-pad / 245mm disc, 2-piston caliper

DIMENSIONS
Weight (claimed): 168kg
Seat height: 830mm
Fuel capacity: 15.5L

PURCHASE DETAILS
Price: $21,495 plus orc
Colour options: Pearl White / Red
Test bike from: Ducati Australia (www.ducati.com.au)
There’s absolutely no denying that Ducati’s 848 has lived up to the hype of its much heralded big brother, the 1098, giving riders a similar sense of satisfaction as soon as it’s shifted into gear and ridden for the first time.

If the grunty power of the 1098 is too much for you but you long for Ducati’s class, the 848 is everything you ever dreamed of with a smoother powerband and lighter weight at a claimed five kilograms less than the standard 1098.

This torquey twin still has the ability to grunt between turns with ease, making it quite a bit easier to accelerate from corner to corner than a 600cc four-cylinder.

That’s actually a question that gets asked a lot when we have the 848 in our possession — is it a supersport beater? It’s hard to say without having them back to back at a track and on a road test, but the enjoyment of a twin in this capacity is difficult to overlook.


The 848 is available in both the traditional Ducati red colour, and white

Yes, a 600 four may lap the track quicker when pushed to the limit, but as far as having fun on the bike it is hard to beat the 848. The broad and easy-to-use power makes it a blast almost instantly and everybody I know who have ever ridden it agrees.

Just for a quick insight as to the performance of this bike, its power-to-weight ratio is better than the 999.

It’s amazing how quickly the White Knight revs upon acceleration when in our track segment of the test at Eastern Creek. Coming off each turn is filled with joy as you sit the bike up in an upright manner and twist the throttle before it quickly zaps up to 10,500rpm with the shift lights blazing before quickly shift through the next few gears.

Sometimes it feels like it revs a little too quickly and I find myself touching the limiter if I’m not careful, but once adapted to it then it truly is a blast. The 848 doesn’t have the arm wrenching power of the 1098, but the seat of the pants feel actually isn’t too far behind the Aprilia or KTM RC8 considering the displacement differences.

Handling on the track is razor sharp, just like the 1098, with trust in the front-end rewarded by lots of feel and confidence. Like all Ducatis, the 848 feels stiffer than the Japanese sportsbikes, but front-end grip is sensational once you get a feel for it.

Rear grip is excellent with the Pirelli Supercorsa tyres providing more than enough grip on track, and converting just as well to road use later on. The power of the twin conserves the tyres nicely on track.

Braking is aided by the engine deceleration, with the radially-mounted Brembo front brakes seemingly able to pull up on a dime. The rear brakes have a tendency to fade a little on track if you overwork them, but keep your foot off it and it is fine.

Once out on the road test the bike is just as well liked, with lightning fast steering allowing riders to place the bike exactly where they want it on the road without any hassle. It does take a bit to get used to though, not providing the plushness of the GSX-R and requiring a little more trust at first.

It may not be as soft, but the 848 does still ride the bumps well and the Showa suspension seems to soak up bumps in a way that is remarkable considering how stiff the bike feels. It doesn’t bounce off them or get flustered at all.

The engine is beautiful on tight and twisty roads as any gear will just about pull the bike from one corner to the next within reason, essentially allowing riders to concentrate on their cornering and flow nicely.

With a fuel economy of 6.3L/100km it is quite good compared to the likes of Aprilia’s big twin RSV 1000 R.


Handling is one of the 848's strong points
Ergonomics are good, but not great, for the long haul on the road, but it does provide a good riding position if you’re looking to do a few hundred kays of fanging with your mates.

It’s got a short reach to the handlebars and a slightly narrow tank, while the seat is quite comfortable and wide. Wind resistance is acceptable with the windshield and fairing flowing it upwards, giving a decent amount of wind protection.

Rear vision isn’t fantastic as we all have to do the occasional ‘wing flip’ to see in the mirrors, because if you don’t then it is a pretty good view of your arm when taking a glance.

The MotoGP-inspired Digitek dash is exactly the same as the 1098 with a lot of options and is operated from the handlebars, although the digital rev-counter takes a little bit to adjust to.

If there’s one thing that’s certain about the pearl white Ducati 848 it’s that it gains attention from everywhere. Love it or hate it, I personally love the white, the colour scheme packs a massive punch and if you don’t like it then there is always the Ducati red available.

For me though, I’ll stick with the white and it’s going to be the colour that I will always remember the bike for. This little bike’s a ripper and for $21,495 it is the most affordable Ducati sportsbike by a long way while still featuring many similarities to the powerhouse 1098 range.

 

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