2009 Ducati 1198S | Motorcyclist

2009 Ducati 1198S - Bigger And Better

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.

The big news, though, is Ducati Traction Control (DTC), which now comes standard on the 1198S (though not on the base 1198). This system is significantly different than that on the 1098R, in that it works right off the showroom floor instead of only after installation of the accessory Ducati Performance racing exhaust and ECU. Why? The R-model's system cuts spark to cut power, which lets unburned fuel escape into the exhaust. That would be a fire hazard on a stock bike with a catalyst, so the S-model's system first retards timing and then cuts fuel. The row of four shift lights atop the dash illuminate sequentially to tell you when-and how much-the traction control is working. As on the R-model there are eight levels available, displayed on the dash and adjustable via a switch on the left bar cluster-the lowest number is the least intrusive and vice versa. The Ducati Data Analyzer (DDA) system also comes standard, now displaying DTC level and function along with the previous (and relatively primitive) parameters. As before, data is downloaded to your computer via an underseat memory stick, and you can overlay and compare two laps at a time.

To put the 1198S to the test, Ducati invited the press to the beautiful new Autodromo do Algarve circuit in Portimao, Portugal, site of Troy Bayliss's career-capping double-victory a mere three weeks before. The 2.9-mile, 14-turn circuit is truly world-class, its challenging, undulating layout reminiscent of a larger Barber Motorsports Park or a newer (and safer) Infineon Raceway.

First impression is that the 1198's power increase effectively bridges the gap between the 1098 and 1098R. It's noticeably torquier than the base model right off the bottom, yet not as mind-numbingly fast as the R-model on top. Even so, it's incredibly easy to ride quickly, especially in light of the standard traction control.

The bikes we rode were stock save for fitment of Pirelli's latest Diablo Supercorsa SP radials, which will be the spec tire for the '09 World Supersport and Superstock Championships. Like at the 1098R intro a year ago, we started off with the traction control set approximately in the middle, at Level 4. On the R-model, that resulted in pronounced sputtering when you cracked open the throttle at the apex, but on the S-model it's much less noticeable, and as a result, smoother. Even when all four LEDs were flashing, there was no surging or backfiring-just smooth forward progress at the limit of tire slip. No doubt there's more power on tap, as the bike felt monstrously fast, particularly through the final fourth-gear downhill corner and wheelying over the rise onto the front straight. But it never felt remotely unmanageable.

Our one and only gripe has to do with the shift lights pulling double-duty as the traction-control alert. It's not a problem when DTC is set at a higher level and the lights illuminate mid-corner; then you know you're not about to hit the rev limiter. But with DTC set at Level 1 or 2, the lights don't come on until higher revs and larger throttle openings, at which point you suspect it might be the shift light-and as abrupt as the rev limiter is, you don't want to chance hitting it. Certainly there's no harm in short-shifiting. Before the advent of traction control that was an effective way to control wheelspin. But with it you want to leave the throttle pinned and let the electronics do their work. So it would be beneficial if the warning lights were separate-or at least different colors.

In all other regards, the 1198 is a natural evolution of the 1098, and the S-model's Ohlins suspension elevates its already superb handling. Ducati twins have always been easy to ride quickly, and the 1198S is the easiest/quickest yet. Some purists have scoffed at traction control, saying it ruins racing, etc., but they probably haven't ridden with it. If they had, they'd be whistling a different tune. There's no denying that traction control lets you go faster, safer. Ducati deserves props for being the first sportbike manufacturer to bring it to market.

Tech Spec

Mass-production version of the $39,995 1098R with traction control and data acquisition standard.

All of its would-be World Superbike competition: Aprilia RSV4, BMW S1000RR, KTM RC8 R and the four 1000s from Japan.

Price $21,795
Engine type l-c {{{90}}}-deg. V-twin
Valve train DOHC, 8v, desmodromic
Displacement 1198cc
Bore x stroke 106.0 x 67.9mm
Compression 12.7:1
Fuel system Marelli EFI
Clutch Dry, multi-plate
Transmission 6-speed
Claimed horsepower 170 bhp @ 9750 rpm
Claimed torque** 97 lb.-ft. @ 8000 rpm
Frame Tubular steel trellis with single-sided aluminum swingarm
Front suspension 43mm Ohlins inverted fork with adjustable spring preload, compression and rebound damping
Rear suspension Ohlins shock with adjustable spring preload, compression and rebound damping
Front brake Dual four-piston Brembo Monobloc calipers, 330mm discs
Rear brake Dual-piston Brembo caliper, 245mm disc
Front tire 120/70-ZR17 Pirelli {{{Diablo}}} Supercorsa SP
Rear tire 190/55-ZR17 Pirelli Diablo Supercorsa SP
Rake/trail 24.5,/3.8 in.
Seat height 32.2 in.
Wheelbase 56.3 in.
Fuel capacity 4.1 gal.
Claimed dry weight 373 lbs.
**Colors ** Red, black
**Available ** Now
**Warranty ** 48 mo., unlimited mi.

Ducati North America, Inc.
10443 Bandley Dr.
Cupertino, CA 95014

Verdict 4.5 stars out of 5
World Superbike technology comes to the street. Shame it's not on the base model!

They say: "More world championship-winning race technology than ever before."
We say: "Yes, but can Noriyuki Haga fill Troy Bayliss' boots?"

The 2009 Ducati 1198 sells for $16,495 and comes in red or pearl white, while the 1198S goes for $21,795 in red or midnight black. Upgrades to the S-model include Ohlins suspension and Marchesini seven-spoke MotoGP-replica wheels.

MotoGP-derived digital dash features displays for everything including Ducati Traction Control, here set at Level 8.

Thirty years later and the venerable Ducati 90-degree "L-twin" is still going strong. New vacuum die-cast cases reduce weight.

Three-time World Superbike Champion Troy Bayliss may be retired, but he still knows his way around a racetrack. He reportedly was just 3 seconds off his best Superbike time on the stock 1198S, and quicker than the Superstock lap record.


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