Monday, June 21, 2010

Horsey on d road

The most advanced superbike models coming from the Bologna, Italy house are the Ducati 1198, 1198 S, 1198 S Corse and 1198 R Corse, all which might look like the discontinued 1098 R, but are in fact entirely different creations with enhanced all-around performance and decent price tags.

Built using experience gathered in years of racing, the 1198 series is composed of uncompromising superbikes representing the unique Italian styling and the innovative maker’s solutions to keep things safe and interesting on the track as well as on the road.

Ducati has the good custom of creating one hell of a bike and then add a special version next to it in order to address to a larger crowd of potential buyers. They do so with the 2010 1198, 1198 S and the Corse Special Edition models that come to continue the 999’s and 1098’s legacy in the style that consecrated the initial models.

There’s simply no other L-Twin engine that is more refined than the 1198.4cc Testastretta Evoluzione unit powering the 1198 models. Thanks to that, the four new bikes benefit of 170hp at 9,750rpm and of an incredible 97lb-ft of torque at 8,000rpm.

Not only the new engine is powerful, but it is also claimed to be the lightest ever used on Ducati superbikes. Using a new crankcase manufacturing technology, which reduces weight by a significant 3kg (6.5lbs), we have the main reason to believe that, while the magnesium-alloy cam covers and alloy outer clutch help too.

The engine’s pistons are derived from the world of racing and feature a distinctive double-ribbed undercrown in order to reduce friction. A system inaugurated and made famous on this last mentioned model is the Desmodromic system, also present in 1198’s engine configuration. This opens and closes the valves mechanically, ensuring great effectiveness at high rpm and so bringing a major contribution to the engine’s impressive performance.

For the 1198s, Ducati had the elliptical throttle bodies of the Marelli electronic fuel injection system enlarged with 13.3 per cent compared to the 1098, while the new models get an aggressive 2-1-2, exhaust equipped with a catalytic converter and two lambda probes, ensuring smooth engine performance and helping meet Euro3 regulations.

The racy engine is coupled to a close-ratio six-speed transmission through a dry multiplate clutch, meaning riders will get a very accurate impression of what riding a racing bike actually means.

Competing in MotoGP and the World Superbike has made Ducati very perseverant in developing new systems and Ducati had the first ever production motorcycle fitted with a traction control system that was available to the large public last year. The Ducati Traction Control (DTC) is standard on the 1198 S, 1198 S Corse Special Edition and 1198 R Corse Special Edition and not even optional on the simple 1198. The system intervenes mostly during mid-corner acceleration and prevents the rear wheel from sliding. The rider will be aware of the system’s intervention thanks to a warning light.

Also, the Ducati Data Analyzer is another justification for the bigger retail prices of the S and Corse models and is optional on the standard model. The system automatically records information such as throttle opening, vehicle speed, engine rpm, engine temperature, distance travelled, laps and lap times in order to make it possible for everyone to lay back and analyze their performance to see what more can be improved. The usual answer to that is riding skills.

While all four 1198s feature the same Brembo braking system acting on two 330mm discs up front and a single 245mm one at the rear, the wheels and suspension differs much. On the 1198 it is all about the fully adjustable 43mm upside-down Showa fork with TiO and a progressive linkage with fully adjustable Showa monoshock as well as stylish light alloy 17-inch 10-spoke wheels. On the three 1198s you get the same front and rear suspension capabilities, but with the Ohlins name on as well as also 17-inch, 7-spoke in forged light alloy wheels that are veritable GP replicas.

Speaking of MotoGP derivations, the digital dash (displaying all possible information) definitely fits in this category.

Features such as the suspension and wheels set a slight weight difference between the 1198 and its more exclusive siblings. Be it wet or dry, the S and Corse models weigh approximately 5 pounds less than the standard bike.

Ducati sees the 1198 series as the perfect way of evolving from the discontinued 1098 R and the Bayliss LE model. These last two have evolved from the simple 1098, which was launched in 2007. So it is history being written with small, but fast and well calculated steps.

Being powered by the 1200cc, twin-cylinder engine, the Ducatis compete with the 1000cc in-line four-cylinder Japanese superbike models. The Honda CBR1000RR and the Yamaha YZF-R1 are among its fierce opponents, while the Suzuki GSX-R1000 and Kawi ZX-10R stand by their side in this concern.

While the four from Japan are, indeed, different blasts, they don’t offer the unique riding feel that Ducati shown it can deliver with the 1198 and that’s what buyers are looking for when prospecting the 1198s.

Most likely, the first thing that attracts the eye is the distinct Italian style that sets every single Ducati Superbike model apart from the crowd. Ducati owners plan to stand out from the crowd and that’s what these two bikes are here to make possible.

Ever since the introduction of the 1098 back in 2007, Ducati proved it was up to something big and the original fairing brought in a look that was to stay and spread on all future models. The 1198s make no exception and this is how we end up contemplating at those same sharp headlights and overall smooth fairing and low windscreen. This is probably the cleanest looking motorcycle we’ve seen, but it also receives an aggressive note in the form of the air intakes, which are found under the headlamps. The front fender is as sharp as the bike’s nose and overall defining lines, making it easy for everyone to spot Ducati’s style with a single glimpse in the rear view mirror.

The tail section is tall and introduces us to the 32.2-inch high seat and the fairly robust, but definitely stylish 4.1 gallons fuel tank. The reason why the rear end aims for the sky is the underseat exhaust, a Ducati characteristic. So is the single-sided swingarm, which allows the rear wheel to stand out both in the case of the 1198 and the 1198 S. We appreciate the standard 10-spoke wheels even though the GP replicas look much better and sharpen the overall aggressive look of the bike. Also, fans of the S model will know where to look and spot the carbon fiber front fender and Ohlins suspension in order to make it clear to everyone this is no regular model that they’re looking at.

Mentioning the color options requires a little bit of Italian practice because (ok, wish me luck on this one) the 1198 comes in Rosso or Bianco Perla (both with Nero frames and Grigio wheels) while the 1198 S model adds Midnight Black apart from the first two schemes. Ok, that wasn’t so bad after all.

If there’s one chapter where the 2010 Ducati 1198 S Corse Special Edition and Ducati 1198 R Corse Special Edition stand out best, this has to be styling. Featuring factory team-style aluminium fuel tanks, carbon fiber front fenders and carbon fiber muffler kit by Termignoni, not to mention the exclusive Ducati Corse liveries, we’re not wrong in saying these are homologated racing bikes.

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