First Look: 2011 Ducati Superbikes

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Trickle-down technology is the story with Ducati's 2011 Superbike lineup, featuring a substantially upgraded base 1198 and a trick new model dubbed the 1198SP. The base-model 1198 is now identical to last-year's S-version, complete with traction control and a quick-shifter as standard equipment. The S-model, meanwhile, has been discontinued in favor of the higher-spec SP that benefits from suspension upgrades and-finally-a slipper clutch.

In addition to eight-level adjustable DTC traction control and a new, electronically activated DQS quick-shifter, the base 1198 also features the DDA data analyzer as standard equipment. The latter is basically a value-added lap-timer that allows performance-savvy owners to gather, download and compare speed, rpm, throttle position, gear selection and other pertinent data from lap to lap during any given riding session. Despite these substantial electronic upgrades, MSRP remains unchanged at $16,495, making the 2011 1198 a great value and a serious sales threat to the similarly equipped BMW S1000RR.

In addition to the Öhlins fork and other upgrades that distinguished last year's 1198S, the 1198SP is further improved this year with the addition of a top-of-the-line Öhlins TTX shock and the Ducati Performance slipper clutch-something we've long wished for on this big twin. Just like the base model, the traction control, quick-shifter and data analyzer are standard equipment here. The aluminum fuel tank is likewise carried over from last year's S-model, with new graphics incorporating an unpainted stripe down the center to show it off. The SP sees a slight $100 increase to $21,995.