February 26, 2008 The Ducati legend continues to grow, and the latest chapter is again inspirational stuff. Ducati debuted its 1098 R Superbike in Qatar at the first round of the World Superbike Championship on the weekend, heralding the arrival of this truly landmark roadgoing motorcycle with a 1-2 victory administered by Troy Bayliss and Max Biaggi. The new 1098-based Ducati superbikes are, due to technical regulations, very similar to the US$47,000 roadgoing 1098R because they had to be, complete with eight stage competition-level traction control (absolutely identical to that used by Stoner), elliptical throttle bodies, suspension, brakes, wheels, slipper clutch, twin injectors and information-rich instrumentation all lifted straight from the World Championship-winning Desmosedici GP7. The bike uses the 180hp L-Twin Testastretta Evoluzione engine in a trellis chassis that tips the scales at a lightweight 165kg (364lbs) – regardless of price, the bike is as close to a genuine winning world superbike as you’re ever likely to get.
Ducati is claiming the 1098 R is the “most advanced, most powerful twin-cylinder motorcycle ever built, with the highest torque-to-weight ratio in the sport bike category” – given the illustrious history of the twin, that’s a big claim, but entirely appropriate. Indeed, with the DTC system, the 1098R may well lay claim to the title of the most advanced roadgoing motorcycle ever built.
Apart from its $100,000 brethren, the Desmosedici MotoGP replica, the 1098R is certainly the roadgoing bike with the most direct MotoGP technology – the bike is the first available with true traction control, but the DTC is just one aspect of the bike’s race tech heritage – all the carbon fibre bits are already there, plus the simple MotoGP digital dash – the whole thing is operated with one switch which scrolls through the numerous display options – from straight digital to a mixture of analog and digital, you can make your own dash layout. If computer analysis is part of your thing, the bike is equipped with Ducati Data Analyser (DDA) and stores all the data onto a thumbnail drive which can be swapped straight into a laptop when your session finishes.
The bike bristles with exotic race gear, and the suspension is even more special than normal in several ways – for starters, ride height is adjustable independent of suspension settings (the mechanism is straight from MotoGP), and secondly, the Twin Tube rear Ohlins (the front forks are TiN-coated 43mm Ohlins upside-down units) shocker is the first to offer rebound and compression damping adjustment that is entirely independent. On other shockers, changing one slightly changes the other. The Brembo brakes are also premium items.
When launched in November 2006, the 1098 and 1098 S introduced a number of ‘firsts’ for Ducati and production sport bike design. It was the first production motorcycle to have the amazing stopping power of Brembo Monobloc brakes, the first to have a data acquisition system integrated as standard equipment and the first to use an ingenious construction method for its weight-saving single-sided swingarm. More ‘firsts’ for a road-going Ducati included the direct application of MotoGP technology, like the power producing GP6-derived elliptical throttle bodies and the use of the information-rich instrumentation originally developed for the World Championship-winning Desmosedici GP7.
The ‘R’ version of the 1098 is not only the flagship of the Superbike family, but also the platform on which the very latest Ducati Corse technologies are expressed in street bike form. The 1098 R takes all the original 1098 features, reduces weight even further and adds an extra 20 horsepower, traction control, sand-cast crankcases, titanium valves and con-rods, TTXR rear suspension and much more to produce the most awesome performance ever seen in this category.
The 1098 R comes with a race kit, which is intended for track use only, boosting power output from 180 bhp standard to approximately 186 bhp. The kit consists of a 102dB carbon fibre slip-on muffler kit by Termignoni and a dedicated ECU.
The ECU not only has reconfigured mapping to suit the racing mufflers, but also initiates the system dialogue that controls the DTC (Ducati Traction Control) system. The 1098 R is the first ever production bike to be fitted with a true competition-level traction control and it’s by far the most advanced traction system in existence.
Though Magneti Marelli is the company’s electronics partner in the project, the software for the DTC is Ducati-developed and its competitive advantage is well guarded with encryption. The software is downloaded to blank ECUs in the Bologna factory prior to fitting to the bikes. The system uses front and rear wheel sensors plus software to hook up an eight-stage intervention package – monitoring wheel speed, throttle opening, gear and engine revs, the system advances and retards the ignition and selectively cuts the spark to give exactly the right amount of torque to give the targeted degree of traction. Sounds complex? It is, because its currently the best solution available for getting the most power on the road that exists, let alone that you can buy.
To buy a bike with a traction control system, you simply buy a Desmosedici RR or the 1098R – they’re the only two bikes with such a system available anywhere – it’s an easy choice because the entire production of 1500 RRs has been sold – if you don’t have one, the 1098R is your only chance, at least for the moment. Once you have a 1098R, you need to fit the race ECU at which point the digital dashboard gets an extra menu or two for the settings for the DTC and you’re in business.
In the event itself, Bayliss as one of Ducati’s favourite sons, was more aware of the significance of the win than most. It’s the third generation of V-twin Ducati he has won a World Championship race on – he’s won the title on the 996, then the 999, plus he also won on the team’s inaugural MotoGP machine. At several points in the race Bayliss appeared to have dropped from contention, but each time he rode the wheels off his machine to get it back to the lead, finally getting past Max Biaggi with just a few corners to go.
In the second race of the Superbikes (each round has two races), Suzuki’s Fonsi Neito took his first WSBK win on a Suzuki GSX-R, with Ducatis second through fourth – the points tally at the end of the weekend sees Ducati 1098R machinery in six of the top ten placings.