Author Topic: Test ride the Red Demon Ducati 1098R  (Read 5335 times)

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Paul Whittaker

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Test ride the Red Demon Ducati 1098R
« Reply #1 on: 24 May 2009, 09:35 PM »
 ;D I couldn't forget the Awesome Ducati 1098 even if it is a R and not a S  ;D discovers the ins and outs of Ducati’s SBK-homologated 2008 model 1098R superbike racer.


Ducati’s 1098R comes with a race kit, which is intended for track use only, boosting power from 177hp up to an impressive 186hp.

The kit consists of a 102dB carbon fibre slip-on muffler kit by Termignoni and a dedicated ECU, with a mapping suited to the slip-ons and the Ducati Traction Control System (DTC).

With eight stages, the DTC is the first ever production bike with competition-level traction control, featuring front and rear wheel sensors and software that monitors wheel speed, throttle opening, gear and engine revs.

The system advances and retards the ignition and selectively cuts the spark, essentially giving the perfect amount of rear grip off each corner.

Extra mumbo out of the exhaust is brilliant, although you can only use the loud exhaust on the race track as it doesn’t have catalytic converters to meet to strict emission rules.

That also means you can only use the DTC on track too, because the unburnt fuel left behind when the electronics cut out the ignition spark would ruin the catalyst in the stock exhaust.


Engine type: L-Twin cylinder, 4 valve per cylinder Desmodromic, liquid cooled
Bore x stroke: 106×67.9mm
Displacement: 1198.4cc
Compression ratio: 12.8:1
Transmission: Six speed
Power (claimed): 177hp @ 9750rpm
Torque (claimed): 99ft-lbs @ 7750rpm

Frame type: Tubular steel Trellis frame
Front suspension: Öhlins 43mm fully adjustable upside-down fork with TiN
Rear suspension: Fully adjustable Öhlins TTXR monoshock
Wheelbase: 1430mm
Wheels (front/rear): five spoke in forged light alloy 3.50 x 17 / five spoke forged light alloy 6.00 x 17
Tyres (front / rear): 120/70 ZR17 / 190/55 ZR17
Brakes (front / rear): 2 x 330mm semi-floating discs, radially mounted Brembo Monobloc calipers / 245mm disc

Weight (claimed): 165kg
Seat height: 820mm
Fuel capacity: 15.5L

Price: TBA
Colour options: Red/gold
Test bike from: Ducati Australia (
Take one glimpse at Ducati’s 1098R and those predominant white number boards painted on the red masterpiece signify a new leader in sportsbike performance. A racer at heart, the 1098R has earned those racing-styled number plates, with a breathtaking performance on track that rivals Troy Bayliss’s factory Ducati Xerox 1098 F08.

I can safely say that this bike is the best road-going superbike to ever grace a race track, better than the best that Ducati’s Japanese rivals have ever produced and is most likely the fastest ever production bike to lap a race track.

Not only does it smash the Japanese, but it crushes the standard 1098, with its only real competitor being the MotoGP-derived Desmosedici RR. But both of these weapons are on a different level to all other production bikes.

It’s not completely fair to compare the 1098R with its Japanese rivals, but it is safe to say that it is superior in almost every way if you’re looking for pure race track performance. It costs a heck of a lot more than the top four-cylinders on the market, but Ducati has crossed a new line in terms of technology available to the street punters.

With standard features such as traction control, data acquisition, a slipper-clutch, twin injectors, and lightweight materials throughout the engine and chassis, Ducati’s new superbike class leader is a step ahead of anything before it. Maybe even a few steps.

Those features mentioned above piece the puzzle together that makes the 1098R so special (and expensive), with its 1198.4cc Testastretta Evoluzione 90-degree V-twin desmo engine strapped into Ducati’s signature Trellis chassis.

With an extra 99.4cc at its disposal over the over 1098s in the model line, the 1098R has 177hp (186hp with race kit — see sidebar) of power and a massive 99ft-lbs of torque.

Moto Online's Gobert at Phillip Island

But it’s not just the capacity that has given the 1098R extra power. It also features sandcast cylinder heads and crankcases, titanium connecting rods, forged aluminium three-ring pistons, chrome nitride (CrN) coated titanium valves that are approximately five percent larger in diameter than the standard models, the rocker arms are super-finished for reduced friction, the double overhead camshafts have 16 percent more lift thanks to aggressive profiles, and the elliptical throttle bodies are 6.5 percent bigger, with twin injectors on each cylinder.

Compare the 1098R’s power output with the standard 1098 and 1098S’s statistics of 160hp/90ft-lbs and that jump up in performance is almost unbelievable.

As far as the chassis goes, the 1098R weighs just 165 kilograms — a whopping eight kilos less than the standard 1098 and six kilos less than the S model. This is all due to light weight materials used in the engine as well as lighter components sprinkled throughout the chassis — including trick carbon fibre parts and super-light forged aluminium Marchesini wheels.

The engine actually weighs 2.2kg less, with the chassis a substantial 3.8kg lighter. Combined with the extra power, the 1098R really is a massive step ahead.

Ducati’s decision to release the Desmosedici RR road-going MotoGP replica last year created massive excitement throughout the industry, with everybody from journalists to racers acknowledging that there was finally a bike out there that could compare with the likes of Casey Stoner’s real prototype racer.

But the 1098R is different again. It isn’t a replica of Troy Bayliss’s 1098 F08 world Superbike — it basically is his bike. The 1098R has been developed to help the 1098 reach its full potential under the new SBK rules, which allow 1200cc twin-cylinders in against the 1000cc four-cylinders.

With heavy restrictions compared to what was allowed when Ducati raced its 999 under the 1000cc twin-cylinder rule last year, Ducati developed the 1098R homologation model up to an extremely high specification to help make the bike competitive against the fours.

But it isn’t like the homologation specials in former years where only 150 bikes were necessary. Manufacturers now have to build at least 1000 bikes to be homologated, with that number increasing to 3000 as of the 2010 season.

So just how close is the 1098R’s engine to one in Troy’s Toy? They only differ in the fact that the race bike has two-ring pistons for reduced friction, a rebalanced crankshaft, different camshafts, a lighter flywheel and a different set of gear ratios. A full system Termignoni exhaust is also used on the race version.

The 1098R with the 1098 F08 Superbike race bike
Bayliss’s bike obviously has had the cylinder heads modified for extra power, but that’s about it. Even though Ducati is allowed to change the airbox, the team is still currently using the standard unit.

Xerox Ducati team manager Davide Tardozzi told onlookers at the recent Phillip Island World Superbike round that the closeness of the factory bike to the 1098R has taken the pressure off trying to hide the factory goodies.

Unlike when the team ran the highly modified 999 in recent years, the team doesn’t cover the bikes when in the pits without fairings or anything. There is nothing to hide — it’s all the same as the 1098R that is available off showroom floors.

The standard 1098R is actually three kilograms lighter than the SBK Ducatis, because they are required to weigh 168kg — with that possibly going up or down depending on the bike’s results in the series.

Same goes with the elliptical-choke throttle bodies. The SBK rules require the 1200cc bikes to be restricted, with 50mm restrictors on the F08 much smaller compared to the R’s standard equivalent of a 63.9mm circular choke.

What that means is that the R actually has some features that make it perform better than the Bayliss’s bike — on paper anyway. Those extra three kilos of weight and choke on the engine really do make a difference to a bike’s performance.

As for the chassis, the major difference is that the Superbike racing spec bikes have the pressurised Öhlins forks, compared with the TiN-coated 43mm upside-down forks on the 1098R. Along with the usual race bodywork etc, Troy’s race bike also uses 320mm front brake discs instead of the 330mm units on the street version that are clamped by the awesome Brembo Monobloc callipers.

The 1098R comes with the revolutionary fully-adjustable Öhlins TTX36 shock absorber, which is currently used by MotoGP teams and Superbike teams all around the world. Its big feature is its twin tube technology, which allows totally separate damping adjustment in rebound and compression — unlike a conventional shock, where changing rebound slightly changes the compression and vice versa.

This allows more precise adjustment through the 20-click adjusters on each damper tube.

The factory 1098 F08s of Bayliss and Michel Fabrizio are even still using the MotoGP-derived Digitek digital dash that comes on the bike in standard form.

It is simply amazing to be able to purchase a bike so close to the likes of what Bayliss, Max Biaggi and the rest of the Ducati riders are racing in world supers.

Compare the 1098R to the Ducati Xerox Junior Team’s Superstock 1000 FIM Cup contender, which will be ridden by Aussie Brendan Roberts and Italian Domenico Colucci, and they are almost identical.

In fact, considering Niccolo Canepa won the championship last year on the 1098S, things are looking pretty bleak for Ducati’s competitors in the Superstock ranks for this year. Keep an eye on the team’s progress for a true indication of what the 1098R can do on a race track.

In looking at the 1098R’s technical features and performance numbers in road trim, I have to compare it to the Australian Superbikes that I have ridden over the last couple of years.

Ducati has created a Superbike for the streets
Jamie Stauffer’s championship-winning Yamaha Racing Team YZF-R1 has around 194hp in race trim compared with the 1098R’s 186hp with the race kit mounted, while the Aussie Superbike weight limit of 165kg is spot on the money of the 1098R in road trim.

With those numbers in mind, the 1098R is in the ballpark with the top Superbikes in the country. Compare it to a standard R1’s power of 177hp and weight of 177kg, and the 1098R simply leaves it behind — as does its hefty price tag of $54,995+orc.

And you can feel that performance on the track. Riding the 1098R at Phillip Island for the first time at the Australian launch almost had me lost for words. What I expected to be another standard street bike, turned out to be as close to a full-blown Superbike racer as I had ever imagined.

Former MotoGP rider Jeremy McWilliams also proved just how quick it is around a track at the Jerez world launch, setting an incredible time of 1:49.50sec. For comparison, the fastest lap at Master Bike last year was by the Yamaha R1, set by Stephane Chambon, with a 1:52.539. Admittedly, those times at Master Bike were set on Continental control tyres, but you get the idea.

The power is simply unbelievable and is delivered in a brutal rush just like most race bikes I have ever ridden — forcing me back in the seat almost every single time I twisted the throttle.

Whether I was accelerating hard out of the tight right-hand turn four or sprinting around the sweeping left-hander onto Gardner Straight, the power was instant and responsive — often getting me from A to B much quicker than I anticipated.

That doesn’t usually happen on street bikes, with their tame power and smooth characteristics mostly proving to be perfectly fun joy rides ready for a Sunday afternoon spin. The 1098R is different though, it’s a racer at heart and if it wasn’t for the lights on it I’d be fooled into believing I was doing a Racer Test.

There’s power all the way through the range, picking up big time at around 7,000rpm with a shifting point of around 11,500 when the shift lights start to shine. It feels as though it is still pulling hard at the shift point too, with no signs of the power dropping as it starts to scream.

Its power isn’t its only racing similarity. The way it steers and handles is just like a Superbike racer in disguise. Get hard on the wonderfully powerful Brembo brakes into a turn, throw it in and trust it with your life, because the 1098R will not fail you.

Unless you can push the limits like a top SBK racer, the 1098R can take all you can give it and much more. I’d like to see just how fast Bayliss could lap on the R around Phillip Island in standard trim. I think it’d surprise you.

The addition of a slipper-clutch on the R is something that takes a while to get used to on a Ducati, especially for long-time Duc riders, as it causes the bike to freewheel much faster into corners than the standard 1098s.

There is absolutely no chatter with the standard settings on the Öhlins suspension, unlike the 1098S which takes a bit of dialling in for track use, but I did add two turns of compression in the rear to get it to ride higher in the stroke — allowing it to turn sharper and finish off corners better with more weight on the front.

The engine's torque is unbelievable out of turns
Pirelli’s Diablo Supercorsa Pro tyres also help in this department, with plenty of feel and side-grip being translated to the rider at all times.

The forks are the same as the S, although internal settings are valved a little stiffer and this is instantly noticeable. The TTX shock in the rear is unbelievably sensitive, catering to many different rider weights and styles. The 1098R could be set up to meet almost every target. But get it right and experiment, because it would be just as easy to make it worse as it would be to make better.

Lighter weight on the R is also very noticeable, making it that little bit easier to change direction and man handle, although the powerful engine means you need to be right on the ball at all times. The grippy texture on the pegs also allowed me to use my body weight more without slipping.

Simply put, the 1098R is firm and precise like a Superbike racer and doesn’t squirm or move around like most street bikes. It’s stiff and set for the track, although not in a rigid manner like the D16RR is.

The 1098R likes to be told what to do on the race track, but it is still more than enjoyable even when cruising — unlike the D16RR, which begs to be thrashed hard at all times.

A second dance with the 1098R at an Eastern Creek ride day saw yet further revelations, as the tighter circuit at the Creek allowed me to get more of an in-depth feel of the bike’s behaviour.

The outrageous torque curve is much more apparent at Eastern Creek, as acceleration off every turn catapults you toward the next. Riding with 1000cc fours at the ride day, it was phenomenal just how fast the power picks up on the 1098R — especially out of turns three, five, seven and nine.

Gearing isn’t perfect on the 1098R for track use, with the same gear ratio for first and second gears as the standard 1098, while through-sixth are all taller to accommodate for the extra power.

Second should have been made taller too, because I had to use third gear through the tight right-hand second corner at the Creek, basically because if I used second I would be too high up in the rev range as soon as I grabbed the throttle.

In most places where I usually use second on the standard bike, I was opting to use third on the R.

The Ducati Traction Control System (DTC) is the biggest asset that the 1098R has going for it. Ride with it once and you’ll appreciate it. On the second outing you’ll love it. And by the third ride, you’ll never want to spin a wheel without it again.

It’s damned impressive. At Phillip Island I enjoyed it and could feel the benefits of it as I spun the wheel with confidence that it wouldn’t do anything too silly — which can happen pretty easily on a 186hp missile.

Through the sweeping corners it allowed me to drive a little better with more grip, while accelerating off the slower ones made the ride a little friendlier.

I felt I needed more time to experiment, so we organised extra track time at Eastern Creek and that’s where I really felt the benefits. Snap the throttle open anywhere, at anytime (almost), and before it does anything too drastic the DTC will kick in cut the engine in a seemliness way before it spins up and shoots you over the high side.

The transition is smooth, with only a slight cut of spark when on the correct setting for your riding ability. I felt most comfortable on setting two out of the eight stages available, although when I really got going I felt I could have dropped to one for less interference off some turns.

As for the slower riders, I couldn’t really see anybody using any higher than five or six, as it cuts it out quite often when in the higher settings — even when simply rolling around. Find a setting that suits you, and as your riding advances, bring it down a notch. It’s that simple.

My trust literally grew by the lap with the DTC set on level two, and my confidence shot up to match. In turns where I would usually sit the bike up and get it perfect before getting hard on the gas, such as turn seven before Corporate Hill at Eastern Creek, I found myself just giving it a handful earlier in anticipation of a few subtle splutters as the bike found its appropriate grip before shooting off up the hill.

Number boards indicate its racing heritage
I’m no Casey Stoner, but the more time I had on the bike then the earlier I felt I could open the throttle and get a feel for what it’s doing. Don’t get me wrong though, it can still spit you off.

The DTC is not crash proof by any means, but it does allow you to accelerate that little bit earlier to improve the laptime. A major thing for amateur riders is that confidence will increase much sooner than if you were controlling the wheelspin manually.

With Ducati claiming it is the same traction control system that is used by Stoner, you might wonder if it feels the same as his Desmosedici that I rode last year. To be honest, it feels similar, but maybe even feel it more than what I could on the MotoGP bike.

The 1098R’s traction control is obvious when in the saddle, while the GP bike’s was much more subtle. But again, it is all up to the rider skill level. When at Casey’s race pace on the edge of adhesion, he can probably feel the DTC big time, but I couldn’t get to that level for it to kick in very often.

And the DTC is a good place to end this test on the Ducati 1098R. It’s a marvellous bike with many amazing features, and one that has moved the benchmark up once again for every other manufacturer to match.

It’s an expensive bit of gear, but one that proves that MotoGP and Superbike technology is going to be available to us mere mortals more and more, each and every year. Lucky for us, hey?


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