2009 Ducati 1198S - Bigger And Better

By Brian Catterson, Photography by Milagro

When Ducati introduced the 1098 Superbike in 2007, the only question was why 1098cc? Bowing to the Italian manufacturer's own demands, the World Superbike rules makers had just agreed to a 1200cc limit for twins, yet the 1098 fell short of that figure. Sure enough, the inevitable 1098R homologation special displaced 1198cc, and in true Ducati fashion (think 996R-998-999), that motor has now made its way into the new 1198 and 1198S.

The biggest difference is, of course, the displacement, the new 1198cc mill measuring 106 x 67.9mm compared to its predecessor's 104 x 64.7mm. Power is up, naturally, to a claimed 170 bhp at 9750 rpm and 97 lb.-ft. of torque at 8000 rpm. But the real shocker is the breadth of those gains, overlaid dyno charts showing a solid 10-bhp advantage throughout the rev range.

There's more to the engine upgrades than a bigger bore and stroke, however. Both the intake and exhaust valves were enlarged by 1.5mm (to 43.5 and 35.5mm respectively), though they remain steel rather than the 1098R's titanium. Cams are higher-lift and compression is up from 12.5:1 to 12.7:1 thanks to new double-ribbed pistons similar to those in the 1098R, mated to 2.5mm-shorter connecting rods.

Upstairs, the oval throttle bodies have been enlarged from 60 to 63.9mm, same as the R-model's, though the 1198 gets by with one injector per cylinder instead of the R's dual injectors. Downstairs, the crankshaft was strengthened and rebalanced, while the transmission was beefed-up with wider, shot-peened gears, plus closer-spaced ratios from third through sixth a la the R. Even the engine cases were redesigned. Where the 1098's cases were die-cast and the 1098R's sand-cast, the 1198's are vacuum die-cast like the 848's and Monster 1100's, resulting in lighter-weight components with less porosity. One benefit of this is the ability to heat-treat the aluminum, which couldn't be done with die-casting because the heat would expand the gases contained in the tiny air bubbles. This allows the metal to be thinner yet no less strong.

While the engineers were re-tooling for the new crankcases, they also reshaped them, eliminating the lower front portion that used to surround the oil filter. As a result, the 1198's cases are 6.5 pounds lighter than the 1098's, offsetting increases in the weight of the heavier valves and crankshaft.

The 1198's chassis remains the same as the 1098's, with a steel-trellis frame and single-sided aluminum swingarm. Brakes are Brembo Monoblocs, while suspension on the 1098 comes from Showa and on the upgraded 1098S from hlins. The S-model also gets new Marchesini forged and machined, seven-spoke MotoGP-replica wheels said to weigh 4.5 pounds less than the base model's 10-spoke hoops. Pirelli Diablo Supercorsa SC radials are standard fitment on both models. Lighting was also upgraded, with a lighter-weight headlamp case held by a magnesium front subframe plus LED turnsignals and taillight and a dash that adjusts its backlighting according to the amount of ambient light. Included with purchase this year is a set of spacers that will let the owner move his mirrors up and out for an improved rear view should he so desire.

By Brian Catterson
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