Ducati has never hesitated to celebrate its racing success on the showroom floor. Ever since the Imola-inspired 750 Super Sport and the Mike Hailwood-edition 900 of the 1970s, racer replicas have highlighted the Italian company's model line. The modern era is no different, and the Troy Bayliss Edition 1098R built to celebrate the Australian legend's third and final World Superbike Championship comes with the purest pedigree of any race replica yet.
No other manufacturer has had as much success in World Superbike racing as Ducati. The Bologna-based brand has won 13 world championships and 15 manufacturer's titles in the 30-year history of the series, Ducati-mounted riders winning more races than all other manufacturers combined. And no rider is more strongly associated with recent Ducati domination than Troy Bayliss.
Aside from 2005, when he rode a Honda in MotoGP, Bayliss spent the last decade aboard Ducatis. He won the '99 British Superbike Championship with Team GSE, then replaced an injured Carl Fogarty on the World Superbike squad the next year. This launched his successful partnership with team manager Davide Tardozzi and crew chief Ernesto Marinelli, with whom he won his first SBK title in '01. After a frustrating, three-year foray into MotoGP, Bayliss returned to his beloved Superbikes in '06. He won another title that year, followed by his third in '08, then promptly retired from the sport, the first world champion to go out on top since John Surtees a half-century earlier.
Bayliss locked up his third championship during '08's penultimate round at Magny-Cours, France-his 50th SBK win in 150 starts. To celebrate his final race appearance (and what turned out to be his 51st victory) in Portimao, Portugal, Ducati commissioned famed graphic designer Aldo Drudi to create a unique look for his bike. Drudi designed a scheme that combined elements of the red-and-white Ducati-Xerox team branding with dark-blue details from the Australian flag. It was the perfect tribute, and the best-looking bike on the grid.
Ducati brought this celebration into the showroom in '09 with the 1098R Troy Bayliss Limited Edition. Only 150 were destined for these shores, for the substantial sum of $43,995. If you want one, you'd better write Santa post-haste-at press time, they were nearly sold out.
The Bayliss Replica looks right, with the champ's #21 reproduced on the nose and lower fairing sides and the Aussie flag on both flanks. Bodywork is all carbon-fiber, with just enough left unpainted (lower tail, kickstand recess, front fender) to tastefully make that point. A special Bayliss Edition logo on the tail is more explicit, for proper peacocking at Bike Night.
But the pretty paint barely scratches the surface-the mechanical attributes of this machine bear Bayliss's signature as much as any decal. This is indeed the bike that Troy built, the end result of his 10-year tenure developing Ducati Superbikes in the World Championship arena. Bayliss won world titles on three distinct generations of Ducati Superbike-996, 999 and 1098-and this record gave him a unique influence into the development of this machine. Everything about the 1098R-the look, stance, chassis attitude and power delivery-is the result of input from factory team riders.
The 1098R's Testastretta Evoluzione engine is unchanged from '08. The powerplant actually displaces 1198.4cc, and puts out 10 more horsepower than the base 1198 thanks to race-spec titanium connecting rods, oversized chrome nitride-coated titanium valves and higher-lift cams. Gaping 63.9mm elliptical throttle bodies fitted with twin injectors-a first for any road-going Ducati-contribute to the claimed 180 horsepower. And that's just the starting point: Each 1098R comes with a race kit containing a pair of 102-decibel Termignoni carbon-fiber slip-ons and dedicated ECU, good for an additional 6 bhp.
Superb Öhlins suspension and World Superbike-derived chassis geometry make the 1098R
Radial-mount Brembo Monobloc calipers slow the Bayliss bike. The extra wire mounted to the
An engraved, numbered plaque on the upper triple clamp insures authenticity. Digital dash
Ducati's traditional steel-trellis frame is present, paired with a monoposto subframe made from aluminum instead of steel for a 50 percent reduction in weight. Matte-black, Y-spoke Marchesini forged-alloy wheels slash more precious ounces, contributing to the feathery, 364-pound claimed dry weight. The tandem rear-suspension linkage features separate lower pick-up points for the pushrod and shock, saving weight and reducing stress around the linkage for increased compliance. The suspension comes from Öhlins: a 43mm inverted fork up front paired with the spectacular TTX-R twin-tube rear shock, which features separate compression and rebound damping circuits to optimize adjustability and performance.
As we did in '08, we spent the day after this year's Red Bull Indianapolis Grand Prix at nearby Putnam Park Road Course in Mount Meridian, Indiana, taking part in a track day put on by Ducati Indianapolis and Sportbike Track Time. This year we had the opportunity to play with a Troy Bayliss Edition 1098R and one of the new Nicky Hayden Replica 848s. Like last year, laps on the 1098R were a revelation: Roll out of pit lane and this bike immediately elevates your game, making the outrageous price tag seem justified.
Throw a leg over the saddle and you find the 1098R has a purposeful, no-nonsense riding position. The controls are crisp and responsive, and acceleration is instant and brutal-as expected from a torque-rich twin transmitting in excess of 160 bhp to the rear contact patch. This motor remains one of the most ferocious ever to roll out a showroom door, only it's even easier to control this year thanks to a revised version of the DTC (Ducati Traction Control) system. Unlike last year's system that cut spark only, this year it cuts fuel as well, for even less intrusive engagement. Uploaded with the same software as Noriyuki Haga's and Michel Fabrizio's World Superbikes, this is the ultimate rider-assist.
The most impressive aspect of the 1098R, however, remains the chassis. Ridden back-to-back with the 848, which uses less sophisticated Showa suspension, the R-model felt like it was circling a completely different racetrack. Entering Putnam's super-fast Turn 1 revealed a nasty streak of mid-corner bumps that upset the 848's chassis. Trace the same arc on the 1098R, with its vastly more compliant and reactive Öhlins components, and you could barely detect the ripples. Predictable, perfectly balanced suspension action lets you rail right to the limit of the super-grippy Pirelli Diablo Supercorsa SC tires, venturing deep into toe-dragging territory with supreme confidence.
If you want to lap a racetrack as quickly as possible and have money to burn, you can't beat the bike Bayliss built. So what if the cost of entry is equal to a middle manager's annual income? You won't have to upgrade anything. Pull the mirrors, tape the lights and you could conceivably win some wood at a local club race. Not that that's likely to happen: Most Bayliss LEs will likely go to collectors and connoisseurs more interested in profiling than podiums. Still, it's nice to know that at least one race replica lives up to its name.
||l-c 90-deg. V-twin
||DOHC, 8v, desmodromic
|Bore x stroke
||106.0 x 67.9mm
||Dry, multi-plate slipper
||180 bhp @ 9750 rpm
||99.1 lb.-ft. @ 7750 rpm
||Tubular-steel trellis with single-sided aluminum swingarm
||43mm Öhlins inverted fork with adjustable spring
preload, compression and rebound damping
||Öhlins shock with adjustable spring preload,
compression and rebound damping
||Dual Brembo four-piston radial calipers, 330mm discs
||Brembo two-piston caliper, 245mm disc
||120/70ZR-17 Pirelli Diablo Supercorsa SC
||190/55ZR-17 Pirelli Diablo Supercorsa SC
||24.5 deg./3.8 in.
|Claimed dry weight
||Ducati Corse Team Graphics
||48 mo., unlimited mi.
Verdict | Naughty
4.5 stars out of 5
With 160 real-deal horsepower, big speed is guaranteed. Thank goodness it's got traction control!