2009 Ducati 1198 Comparison Track

Posted on 5:12 AM by My_revival


Ducati 1198
MSRP: $16,495
Curb Weight: 448 lbs.
Horsepower: 150.36 @ 9700 rpm
Torque: 86.73 lb-ft @ 8100
Quarter Mile: 10.09 @ 139.9 mph
Outright Top Speed: 178 mph
Racetrack Top Speed: 152.87 mph
Superpole Best Time: 1:58.12
Overall Ranking: 4th Place

If any motorcycle in this group doesn’t need an introduction, it’s the Ducati 1198. The pure-bred Italian Twin is known far and wide as the Ferrari of the Superbike world, both inside our industry and out. Ask any stranger on the street to name the coolest sportbike, or “crotch rocket” as most so horridly refer to them, and many will say Ducati. There is a reason for this.

Gorgeous styling, the Italian way, has always been a trademark of Ducati (sans the ahead-of-its-time 999) and it extends well beyond our niche of a two-wheeled kingdom. Every famous actor who says they ‘ride’ simply has to have one, as well as all the rich motorsport enthusiasts I know. I live in Orange County, California – trust me, I know. Without question there are more 0-mile Ducatis in this world than any other brand of bike ever mass-produced. But the real beauty for us who actually ride, and ride hard, is that Ducati backs-up this style with loads of performance. Like Ferrari, it is a company rooted in racing.

It’s one of their flagship models, the 1198, which we have for this test. For ’09 the base 1198 gets an added 100cc and a black frame and swingarm, which essentially rounds out the changes. The more expensive ‘S’ model does get the impressively-good DTC traction control system, but for our test that just plain wouldn’t be fair, so we opted for the base edition. And while an added 100cc may not seem like much, just have a quick glance at our dyno graphs. It went from the lowest horsepower last year to the third-highest this time around, while also producing more torque than any of the other machines by a healthy margin. Enter four very worried Japanese manufacturers.

Having spent a good deal of time on the previous 1098, hopping onto the 1198 instantly feels very familiar. The stretched out riding position, stiff chassis and thumping engine note are all exactly as they have been the past few years. But where things start to feel different is once the chattering dry clutch engages and your right wrist begins to twist on the throttle.

Noticeably more low- and mid-range greets the rider as you attempt to turn the right grip to the stop as quickly as possible. I say attempt because in the first three gears this is easier said than done. The early-onset torque lofts the front tire with haste in first, then again in second, though a bit later and much more controllable, with third bringing on just the slightest of power wheelies.

2009 Ducati 1198 Smackdown Track Test
2009 Ducati 1198.

“This thing has so much torque. Just when I though they couldn’t make a bike with more low-end grunt than the 1098 they went and did it with this bike,” exclaims Waheed. “Just anywhere you are in the revs twist the throttle and the bike jumps forward and goes, then grab another gear and hammer the throttle and it keeps pulling. It’s got such an easy-to-use engine with quite a bit more power than last year. I didn’t really expect 100cc to do that much.”

“The power and torque of the Duc has always been one of my favorites, it doesn’t have the warp speed rush on the top end like some of the other

2009 Ducati 1198 Smackdown Track Test
How do you not love that rear end?

bikes, but if you look down at the speedometer you will be going a similar speed as the other bikes, you just don’t notice it,” reveals Sorenson. “The Duc is meant to be ridden like a tractor, shifting early using the torque to your advantage. The 1198 motor does seem to have more grunt down low now, but to me the big difference over the 1098 seems to be in over-rev, it pulls cleanly past 10,000 rpm now whereas the old bike would fall on its face around 9500 rpm.”

And while we all know Waheed and Sorensen are somewhat Ducatiphiles, performance testing backed up these sentiments. The rear wheel twisted the dyno drum to the tune of a whopping 150.36 hp and 86.73 lb-ft of torque,

2009 Ducati 1198 Smackdown Track Test
Changing direction was where the Ducati struggled in this group, costing it valuable time in Superpole.

some 11 hp up on our bike from last year and the highest we’ve ever seen from a production V-Twin to date. At HPCC it recorded a top speed of 178 mph, which could easily have been much higher had it not run out of gearing and hit the rev-limiter. At the racetrack it was at the low end as well, with a best top speed of 152.87 mph. Quarter-mile times were right in the mix, though, with the Ducati ticking off a 10.09 @ 139.9 mph, substantially faster than last year’s 1098 did (10.41 @ 130.99 mph).

As for backing it up with the data acquired at the racetrack, it’s easy to point out it had the lowest top speed as well as the lowest max acceleration exiting both Turn 6 and Turn 14. This baffled us at first glance, until we went back and replayed the laps, which revealed one of the Ducati’s weaknesses – gearing. The final drive ratio of the Ducati just plain didn’t mesh well with Thunderhill, causing the bike to be between gears in many places, especially coming onto the final corner. This hurt acceleration, top speed and lap times greatly, holding the Ducati toward the back of the pack in terms of performance numbers. But just because it’s not reflected in the numbers, Ducati’s 1198 has plenty to brag about.

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