|DUCATI 1098R |
|TEST NOTES |
|+ ||Incredible v-twin power and sound |
|+ ||Lightweight, quick-turning chassis |
|+ ||Real traction control on a production bike |
|- ||Stiff and harsh suspension |
|- ||TC is not adjustable on the fly |
|- ||$40,000! |
| ||TC for the street? not yet. |
|SUGGESTED SUSPENSION SETTINGS |
|FRONT ||Spring preload: 6 turns out from full stiff; rebound damping: 4 clicks out from full stiff; compression damping: 3 clicks out from full stiff; ride height: 12mm fork tube showing above triple clamp |
|REAR ||Spring preload: 20mm thread showing; rebound damping: 12 clicks out from full stiff; compression damping: 22 clicks out from full stiff; ride height: 2mm thread showing on adjusment rod |
Prelude: The Street
While our thoughts on the CBR1000RR's street prowess were well documented in our June issue, this was our first opportunity to sample the 1098R in that arena. Before we ventured to the racetrack we snuck the Ducati out along with a standard 1098 for a day in the hills. As expected, some of the base model's traits-like the strong-but-grabby monoblocco brakes, stinkbug ergos and roasting exhaust-are found in the R model. But in many respects the high-dollar version is both more and less: The 100cc-larger mill offers more power and definitely more torque, the lighter weight is noticeable in transitions, and the R steers both lighter and quicker. But that additional power comes at the expense of drivability: The 1098R's larger throttle bodies and lighter crank require a more subtle hand on the throttle for smoothness. And while the stiffer, more track-oriented Ohlins suspension may likewise offer better performance on the track, not only is it less comfortable than the standard bike's bits, but it offers less overall control over the variety of bumps encountered in canyon riding.
Ironically, in EPA-safe form the 1098R's DTC is inactive, and even though the Ducati may be the first to offer such a system on a production bike, traction control for the street is still not currently a reality. Our testers' verdict after a day in the mountains? The 1098R may have a slight performance advantage, but certainly not $24,000 worth-the standard model more than held its own in the R's company. But the 1098R is not intended as a streetbike.
"The R is a race bike, pure and simple," says the Ducati's press material. To better explore the full capabilities of the 1098R and modified Honda, we chose our usual battleground of Buttonwillow Raceway Park and the usual cast of misfits (Kunitsugu, Trevitt, Siahaan and guest tester Lance Holst) to conduct the testing. We fit both bikes with Bridgestone's latest DOT-race tire (see the sidebar on page 42 for more information about the new BT-003) and set our riders loose for the day on Buttonwillow's west loop.
All our testers were immediately enamored of the sheer power output of both the Ducati and Honda. "The Ducati has power everywhere and more than you can use in most instances," wrote Holst. "The Honda is more of the same: power everywhere and delightfully more than you need or even can use. It's an embarrassment of riches." Kunitsugu proclaimed the 1098R to be the most exciting V-twin sportbike he'd ever ridden, while Holst noted that the Honda's midrange lunge had it feeling like a V-twin but with the advantage of a four-cylinder's overrev. Though the 1098R's lighter internals and racing ECU don't increase redline higher than the standard or S model's limiter, the wider powerband gives much more choice in gear selection. Still, care must be taken to avoid slamming into the abrupt rev limiter at inopportune times, especially when compared with the Honda's acres of overrev.
|HONDA CBR1000RR |
|TEST NOTES |
|+ ||"R" performance at a fraction of the cost |
|+ ||Well-sorted and easily adjusted traction |
|+ ||Amazing fun on the track |
|- ||Skittish handling for some |
|- ||Add-ons are relatively pricey |
|- ||Still down on top-end power |
| ||What to do with the $25,000 leftover? |
The Honda's dyno chart may not show much of an improvement in top-end power compared with the stock bike, but fueling is more precise and the midrange even stronger. Part-throttle power is definitely beefier, turning the Honda into more of a missile. "Both bikes make gobs of power," raves Siahaan. "It's a wash as far as that's concerned." The score sheets show a slight advantage for the CBR in the power department, although the dyno says otherwise with the 1098R having a commanding advantage. "The more important thing," continues Siahaan, "is how it gets to the rear tire. And with both bikes being so powerful, the electronics come into play."
Ahh, the electronics. Interestingly, the Ducati's TC setup is adjustable with the left-handlebar switch but requires you to scroll through the menu options to select the DTC, make the change and then apply that change-it's far too awkward to do on the track, so that in turn it's difficult to experiment with the system. "Once you figure out the right settings it really does help the rider achieve better times," wrote Boy Toy in his notes. "The lower settings will let the bike slide a bit before engaging, whereas the higher settings do most of the thinking for you." While some of our testers could hear and feel the electronics cutting in on corner entries, others couldn't-the effects are very subtle, especially as you venture into the lower numbers. "Although its settings are rather coarse," noted Kunitsugu, "it still has enough adjustability to fit riders of all skill levels." El Jefe decided on setting number 3 for his fast laps, feeling that a higher setting (with more electronic intervention) slowed the bike too much.