Class of 2010: European Sportbikes - Foreign Exchange

While Japan throttles back, Europe delivers its most serious sportbikes yet

By Aaron Frank, Photography by Adam Campbell, Joe Neric
Ducati 1198S | Price: $24,995
Tech Spec
Engine type: l-c 90-deg. V-twin Front suspension: 43mm Öhlins inverted fork with adjustable spring preload, high/low-speed compression and rebound damping Seat height: 32.2 in.
Valve train: DOHC, 8v desmodromic Rear suspension: Öhlins shock with adjustable spring preload, high/low-speed compression and rebound damping Wheelbase: 56.3 in.
Displacement: 1198cc Front brake: Dual Brembo Monobloc four-piston radial calipers, 330mm discs Fuel capacity: 4.1 gal.
Bore x stroke: 106.0 x 67.9mm Rear brake: Brembo two-piston caliper, 245mm disc Weight (tank full/empty): 438/413 lbs.
Compression: 12.7:1 Front tire: 120/70ZR-17 Pirelli Diablo Supercorsa SP Colors: Red, black
Fuel system: Marelli EFI Rear tire: 190/55ZR-17 Pirelli Diablo Supercorsa SP Availability: Now
Clutch: Dry, multi-plate Rake/trail: 24.5º/3.8 in. Warranty: 48 mo., unlimited mi.
Transmission: 6-speed Contact: www.ducatiusa.com
Measured horsepower: 144.9 bhp @ 9500 rpm
Measured torque: 85.3 lb.-ft. @ 7750 rpm
Corrected 1/4-mile: 10.02 sec. @ 145.32 mph
Top-gear roll-on: 2.68 sec.
Fuel mileage (high/low/avg.): 40/31/35 mpg
Frame: Tubular-steel trellis with single-sided aluminum swingarm

Dyno
Engines with this kind of torque at 3000 rpm usually have "Cummings" stamped on the head and diesel in the tank. The Duc's massive V-twin hits hard right off idle, and those big midrange numbers and early power peak make short-shifting mandatory.

Ergos
Despite its pedigree and aside from some vibration and radiant heat from the underseat exhaust, the 1198 is surprisingly comfy. A broad and softer-than-expected seat, narrow tank and wide clip-ons make the bike easy to move around on.

KTM RC8R | PRICE: $19,998
Tech Spec
Engine type: l-c 75-deg. V-twin Front suspension: 43mm WP inverted fork with adjustable spring preload, high/low-speed compression and rebound damping Seat height: 31.7/32.5 in.
Valve train: DOHC, 8v Rear suspension: WP shock with adjustable spring preload, high/low-speed compression and rebound damping Wheelbase: 56.1 in.
Displacement: 1195cc Front brake: Dual Brembo Monobloc four-piston radial calipers, 320mm discs Fuel capacity: 4.4 gal.
Bore x stroke: 105.0 x 69.0mm Rear brake: 190/55ZR-17 Pirelli Diablo Supercorsa SP Weight (tank full/empty): 439/412 lbs.
Compression: 13.5:1 Front tire: 120/70ZR-17 Pirelli Diablo Supercorsa SP Colors: Black/white/orange, IDM replica, Akrapovic edition
Fuel system: Keihin EFI Rear tire: 190/55ZR-17 Pirelli Diablo Supercorsa SP Availability: Now
Clutch: Wet, multi-plate Rake/trail: 23.3º/3.8 in. Warranty: 36 mo., 36,000 mi.
Transmission: 6-speed Contact: www.ktmusa.com
Measured horsepower: 145.1 bhp @ 10,000 rpm
Measured torque: 79.6 lb.-ft. @ 8250 rpm
Corrected 1/4-mile: 10.06 sec. @ 143.36 mph
Top-gear roll-on: 2.61 sec.
Fuel mileage (high/low/avg.): 39/28/33 mpg
Frame: Tubular-steel trellis with aluminum swingarm

Dyno
In stock trim the KTM makes the same peak power as the Ducati with its accessory exhaust and ECU installed, but those 145.1 horses arrive 500 rpm later and aren't sustained as long. The torque curve is admirably flat.

Ergos
The RC8R wins the comfort crown, hands down. Even before you start experimenting with the adjustable rearsets, seat height and clip-ons, it has the most neutral ergonomics. The only thing holding it back is a slippery seat and tank.

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