After an unsuccessful detour with the heretical 999, Ducati designers put things solidly back on track with the 2007 1098. Though predictably less comfortable for everyday street duty than its immediate predecessor—goodbye adjustable seat, footpegs and steering geometry—the 1099cc Testastretta Evoluzione twin is shamelessly biased toward fast, twisty roads and even faster racetracks. Still, it’s a competent if vastly overqualified commuter if you can endure hard-nosed ergonomics enforced by a long reach to the bars and a high, hard seat.
Pushing its 443 lbs. with 138 horses, the basic 1098 is a full 25 lbs. lighter and 19 bhp stronger than an equivalent 999. Armed with a stiff, stable chassis and the astonishing stopping power of Brembo’s Monobloc calipers, it dominated Motorcyclist’s “Class of 2007” sportbike comparison, getting around Northern California’s Thunderhill Raceway quicker than any of its classmates. Shifting is lighter and more precise than earlier editions. A MotoGP-style LCD tachometer tells you most of the big twin’s cavalli live between 6000 rpm and the electronically enforced limit at 11,700. Surf the power peak at 9850 rpm and you can cover a quarter-mile in about 10.3 seconds at 139 mph. If that’s not enough, try a 1098R: 163 horses pushing 422 lbs. through the same distance in 9.7 seconds at 149 mph for a few grand more, if you can find one.
Maintenance is notoriously expensive, but assuming the previous owner had everything done by the book, the 1098 is quite reliable. Still, as with any upscale Italian supermodel, there are a few things to watch for. According to Jeff Nash at Advanced Motorsports in Dallas, Texas, the charging system is one of them. “Most bikes had the voltage regulator and battery box replaced under warranty,” Nash notes,“and radiators occasionally crack near the top-left bracket, causing a slow leak.” Make sure the potentially fragile stock rear sprocket has been replaced under warranty, too. Iron out a few wrinkles and the 1098 delivers all the panache and performance that made Ducati legendary for the price of something ordinary.
Big power and bigger brakes in a razor-sharp package.
Punishing ergonomics, pricy maintenance and the disdain of the covetous.
Leaky radiator, hard starting, stalling, false neutrals, dim headlights.
Thoroughbred performance with a powerful desmodromic backbeat.
2007 | $10,250
2008 | $11,250
2009 | $18,900 (1098R)
2007 BMW R1200S
2006 Honda RC51
2009 KTM RC8
Underappreciated, overlooked and eventually discontinued; a 122-horse über-Boxer despised by sporting riffraff. No matter, civility and speed can still co-exist.
2006 | $6650
Japan’s best sporting twin is porkier and less powerful than our archetypical Italian, but a used one sells for half as much. With a few tweaks, it’s just as much fun.
2009 | $12,750
All straight lines and sharp edges, Austria’s 135-horse alternative is easier to ride than Ducati’s Desmo, cuddly as a 9mm Glock 17 pistol and just as effective.