Culprit: Aaron Frank
Average Fuel Mileage: 23 mpg
Accessories And Modifications:
Pirelli Diablo Supercorsa tires, custom appearance mods, crushed limestone
The boss man knows what he likes, and what he likes is exotic Italian sportbikes, preferably in red. Last fall, when all we knew about Ducati's all-new 1098 superbike was rumor and innuendo, Catterson had already claimed our first long-term tester as his own. "Don't even think about it," he warned me, "the 1098's all mine."
Like a kid counting the days until Christmas, Cat anxiously waited until March when Ducati finally delivered our 1098 testbike. Due to an oddity of scheduling, though, I was actually the first staffer to put any miles on it. Being the considerate employee that I am, I thought it only right that I properly "break-in" the boss' new ride so it would be all ready to go when he finally got his mitts on it.
The 1098 is pretty much ready to go right out of the box. The 138-horsepower V-twin is as strong as a mule and sings a sweet tune even out of its stock exhaust. The massive Brembo Monobloc brakes might have some enthusiasts scouring the aftermarket for less powerful alternatives. And the Showa suspension that comes attached to the base-model 1098 feels anything but base, even with extra-sticky Pirelli Supercorsa race tires wrapped around the Marchesini rims. But as strong as the stock package is, I still sensed some room for improvement.
Step one was to tweak the high-speed aerodynamics, which I accomplished by relocating the mirrors downward a few degrees. I also increased available lean angle by repositioning the footrests slightly inward and trimming a few inches off the ends. And finally, knowing that the bike would be ridden predominantly in urban Los Angeles, I wanted to give it some proper streetfighter appeal. Bye-bye to the glammed-up gloss paint, then, in favor of a more street-wise matte finish.
I sure hope the boss appreciates my efforts. Ducati staff at the track that day seemed to approve. Desmo guru Jeff Nash of Advanced Motorsports took one look at the bike and said, "Well, that'll make a great racebike for someone." And Ducati North America CEO Michael Lock was apparently so excited about my mods that he seized the bike immediately and took it back to company headquarters in Cupertino-no doubt so he could share it as a design concept with the stylists back in Italy. I just hope they send it back to Catterson soon, so he can finally enjoy the bike. He's been waiting so long.
Meanwhile, I understand Cat's finally got his current long-term tester, the MV Agusta F4 1000 S that he crashed a few months back, repainted and put back together. Maybe he'll let me work my magic on that one next.