If you're a current owner of the Ducati 1098 and are happy with it, I'd suggest you stop reading here. Otherwise you're just going to get mad reading about Ducati's latest offering. Consider yourself warned. For the rest of you who are interested in how Ducati's involvement in World Superbike has helped improve their road-going models, then the 1198 is for you.
At the start of the year Ducati introduced the 1098R as its entry into the World Superbike arena. This $40,000 machine was full of exotic materials and top shelf components, making it as close to the factory bike that Troy Bayliss piloted to his third WSBK title as one could get.
Back home, however, and the wheels in the Ducati brain trust started spinning over how it could improve the rest of the road-going superbike line. The boys from Bologna were well aware that the 1098 hadn't fared too well in magazine shootouts (including ours), and if there were ever a group that hated losing a competition, it's the ones at Ducati. Armed with motivation (and the engine tooling from the 1098R), the new 1198 was born.
From The Track To The Street
As the name indicates, the new model's engine size is 1198cc. Dimensionally, it and the 1098R share the same bore and stroke figures of 106 and 67.9mm, respectively. The 1198's pistons also utilize double-ribbed undercrowns with minimal piston skirts to reduce piston wall surface area. Compared with its 1098 predecessor, the new model's valves are four percent larger, now measuring 43.5mm on the intake side and 35.5 for the exhaust. The new model also receives new camshafts with 10 percent more lift than those on the 1098. Because of its increased capacity, the engine breathes through elliptical throttle bodies measuring 63.9mm equivalent diameter, the same as the 1098R. However, where the R is fed fuel through dual injectors, the 1198 uses a single injector to meter its premium unleaded. The new model also adopts the same gear ratios as its racing cousin, although the physical teeth on the gears are bigger for added strength.
Other differences on the 1198 include forged steel connecting rods and steel counterbalancing tablets screwed into the crankshaft (as opposed to titanium on the R). A slipper clutch is also absent on the 1198--another method of differentiating the two models and also a means to lower the 1198's price point. All this equates to a claimed 170 horsepower and 97 lb-ft. of torque--ten horsepower and nearly seven more lb.-ft. of torque than the 1098 it replaces.
Weight reduction is always...
Weight reduction is always a primary target when designing a superbike. Instead of the aluminum alloy used on the 1098, the 1198's new magnesium alloy front subframe is distinguishable by its gold color.
First seen on the 848, the 1198's crankcases were formed using Ducati's vacuum die-cast process. During this process, a vacuum is continuously pulling out air and other vapors present in the die as the aluminum is being injected. This allows for thermal treatment of the aluminum which wouldn't otherwise be possible under the normal die-casting process because of the vapors expanding and jeopardizing the metal's integrity. What does this mean in simple English? It means that the crankcases can be made with thinner walls without sacrificing strength. And of course, thinner walls mean less weight--always a good thing. Other weight saving measures include the use of magnesium alloy valve and engine covers. The alloy is also used in the front fairing bracket, reducing weight at the point furthest away from the bike's center of gravity.
Suspension duties on the base 1198 are handled by Showa with its fully adjustable 43mm inverted forks coated with a low-friction titanium oxide treatment to reduce friction. A fully adjustable Showa shock with a separate link to adjust ride height sits in the back and handles the bumps. Brembo monoblock four-piston calipers biting on 330mm discs bring the bike to a stop, while a 245mm disk mated to a twin piston caliper settles the rear.