When it comes down to the nitty-gritty, lap times are the important factor here, and the Honda had a comfortable margin with a best lap nearly a second quicker than the Ducati's: 1:07.81 for the CBR versus 1:08.72 for the 1098. Interestingly, the times are off compared with our recent literbike comparison test, and while conditions were not as ideal, some of the difference may be attributed to the traction control and the fact that the Ducati is a piece of moto-exotica. "The track was definitely slick in the greater part of the morning, and I didn't want to wad the 1098R," wrote Kunitsugu after some time to collect his thoughts. "However, I do wish we could have spent more time fiddling with both bikes; I think part of the lost time was due to the traction control hindering drives off the corners. When I turned the TC down on both bikes, their performance jump was great enough that it took a few laps to get accustomed to it, and that took time." Indeed, Kento turned his fastest lap on the Honda just after dialing the TC down a notch, dropping almost a half-second in two laps. Likewise, the Ducati's fastest lap was posted just three laps into a session after its DTC was backed off.
Our other riders could definitely feel the higher settings of traction control slowing the bikes down, and we've talked to many racers who encounter the same thing. While the advantage in safety and speed is clear, TC is definitely a case of "be careful what you wish for." Turning on the Ducati's DTC, or simply installing the Bazzaz setup, will not magically make you faster. "I think it would take more than a day of riding to fully exploit the advantages of traction control, especially with a setup like the Bazzaz unit," summed up Kento. "Attempting to find where the limit is in each setting takes more than a few laps, because forcing your mind to overcome your natural instincts is a lot more difficult than it appears. And with the literbikes' brutal treatment of their rear tires, it's easy to run out of rubber before you run out of exploring the benefits of TC."
In the final analysis, three of our four testers scored the Honda higher overall, and the modified CBR handily turned the quickest lap of the day. But as usual when comparing a piece of high-dollar moto art with a comparatively disposable Japanese machine, our numbers don't take into account the exclusivity or style associated with owning the 1098R. Read the SROs to find what our individual testers felt, and, as always, draw your own conclusions based on your own tastes and pocketbook.
60-80 mph, 80-100 mph
Ducati 1098R: 2.79 sec., 3.23 sec.
Honda CBR1000RR: 2.58 sec., 2.32 sec.
Ducati 1098R: 188.1 mph
Honda CBR1000RR: 178.3 mph
Ducati 1098R: 9.75 sec. @ 148.6 mph
Honda CBR1000RR: 9.73 sec. @ 147.8 mph
*Performance numbers are for a stock Honda CBR1000RR
The Ducati's accessory cans...
The Ducati's accessory cans and ECU bulk up the bike's bottom end significantly and add almost six horsepower on top. It should be against the law to keep a Desmo V-twin corked up with stock silencers-our test unit sounds fantastic with the open pipes.
The modified CBR1000RR shows...
The modified CBR1000RR shows a healthy increase in bottom-end and midrange power over the already strong stock curve. Our CBR1000RR has lost a bit of peak horsepower since our literbike test, and the modified bike shows little gain in that area. European dyno charts show more peak horsepower, and according to American Honda the U.S., models have been capped using ECU mapping to meet noise requirements. We were hoping the exhaust system and EFI mapping would bypass the limitations, but if anything the ECU may be preventing the modifications from showing their full potential.
The 1098R stomps all over...
The 1098R stomps all over the CBR until the Ducati's rev limiter kicks in at 10,250 rpm, where the Honda keeps going for an additional 2500 rpm. The Ducati certainly has the edge at low rpm, but the Honda's overrev lets it run shorter overall gearing, and the two bikes feel equally powerful on the track.