Ducati Desmosedici RR vs. 1098R - Money No Object

When Only The Best Will Do

By: Brian Catterson, Aaron Frank, Photography by Rich Chenet

Legends-And The Fall
Who Better To Rate Two Ducati Superbikes Than Three Famous Ducati Superbike Racers?

Paul Smart
1972 Imola 200 winner and the man who put Ducati on the world map as a superbike manufacturer

"This is the first time I've ridden a 1098R, and I've got to have one. I love it! It's just superb! I really enjoyed that-maybe too much. It's just in a different league. It's magic. I didn't have the slightest hairy moment, though I didn't rev it out too much. It's got so much torque that you can go into a corner two gears too high and it'll still pull through. It flatters you. You're just going to go that much quicker on it than anything else. It makes the job that much easier.

"The Desmosedici is a totally different motorcycle, a totally different feeling, riding position, everything. Maybe if I had one for track days I'd get more comfortable on it. Ducati gave me a Paul Smart Replica to ride at track days, but it does need a bit more horsepower..."

Cook Neilson
1977 Daytona Superbike winner, former Cycle magazine editor and one of the few men who could get away with crashing a Desmosedici RR

"The only problem with the Desmosedici is the 1098R! With the 1098R you don't really understand where that last $20,000 went until you get it on a racetrack. The traction control was set high enough that I could feel it cutting in at the apex. When you lean it over and turn the throttle, it says, 'That's enough horsepower for that.' It's not like the good old days, that's for sure!

"One of the great experiences I had was when we were in Misano a couple years ago for World Ducati Week and they gave me this old green-framed racebike sort of like my Old Blue racebike. Then I got on this New Blue thing, and there was something like 33 years of progress between them. As much as I loved the way things were in the late '70s, this is a much better deal for much more people than what we had to put up with back then."

Larry Pegram
1999 Willow Springs Superbike winner and tireless campaigner of 848cc Ducatis in the AMA Formula Xtreme Championship

"The Desmosedici has a totally different feeling than the 1098R. It wants you to run it into a corner and at the last second throw it in as hard as you can. It's like riding in the sand: If you try to go slow it's hard, but if you go fast it becomes easier. I didn't like it at all the first couple of laps!

"The 1098R is by far the best streetbike I've ever ridden at the racetrack. It's got a ton of power, and the powerband is perfect. You could leave it in third gear most of the way around the track. I've jumped on other 1000s that have a ton of power and they were moving all around. This thing feels as solid as my 848 racebike! You could probably make a Honda perform close to that for the same money, but it wouldn't look nearly as cool, and you'd still have a Honda that wouldn't be worth $40,000."

By Brian Catterson, Aaron Frank
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