Best of the Best 2007: Sportbikes: Ducati 1098 S
Ducati 1098 S
The ducatisti who were put off by the styling of the previous 999 model should agree that the new Ducati 1098 S superbike displays the Italian brand’s trademark charisma and glamour. The 1098 S’s elegant bodywork represents a strengthened version of Ducati’s traditional steel-tube trellis frame, and, as with the trendsetting 916 from the early half of the previous decade, its wide rear wheel hangs from a muscular single-sided swing arm. The front of the 1098 S has the popular feline features of the 916, and the dual headlights contribute to a contemporary, aerodynamic shape.
Ducati has improved more than just the appearance of the $19,995 machine. To increase the engine size from 999 to 1099 cc, the bike maker stretched both bore and stroke in this new Testastretta Evoluzione version of its legendary desmodromic V-twin motor. The extensive overhaul of the engine—which also included revising the cylinder heads to house larger valves and replacing the old exhaust system with a new one that increases gas flow—made it more compact and reduced its weight by 11 pounds. Ducati now touts it as the world’s most powerful twin-cylinder motorcycle engine. Producing 160 hp, the V-twin readily motivates the relatively light, 377-pound bike. With a broad spread of torque available at moderate engine speeds, the 1098 S exits corners with the extraordinary traction that is Ducati’s trademark. Then, in a burst of power, the engine revs to a 9,750-rpm tachometer redline before a gear change becomes necessary.
Predictably for such a pedigreed mount, the 1098 S provides precise control; its chassis includes an Öhlins fork and rear shock, and its Marchesini forged alloy wheels are ultralight. The Brembo brakes also are top-drawer components, although they may be a tad overpowered for street use. They employ one-piece calipers to minimize distortion and maximize precision. The 1098 S’s built-in data analyzer enables you to download your performance figures on a computer and review how well you were able to exploit the bike’s racing features.
The 1098 S’s exhaust system snakes around the engine and over the rear wheel, where twin stainless steel Termignoni tailpipes jut from under the seat to deliver the evocative V-twin staccato thunder—a sound that has become the fanfare of victory on the World Superbike race circuit.
The 1098 S looked like a winner when it debuted at the Milan show late last year. On the road and racetrack, it will demonstrate that looks are not always deceiving.