Ducati 1198: 88.0 Pts
With a massive seven ft-lb torque bump over the old 1098, the new 1198's testastretta engine definitely makes it more fun to play with in the canyons. The big Ducati literally wants to wheelie at any opportunity-which is basically any time you approach full throttle over 6500 rpm in the first three gears. And with the Ducati's tall final gearing, that means at any speed below 100 mph. The sleek red desmoquattro has "Police Citation for Exhibition of Speed" written all over it.
Instantly responsive, major-league steam is available at the slightest twist of the throttle, although you need to make sure you're above 3500 rpm when you do it, otherwise the big V-twin vibrates and shudders as the torque pulses fight against the tall gearing. Coupled with the precise and communicative front end of the chromoly trellis chassis that also has loads of stability, it adds up to quick and easy speed in the canyons, aided by the superb grip and responsiveness of the Pirelli Diablo Supercorsa SP rubber fitted as standard.
But the Ducati's extreme racetrack orientation continually makes itself felt, even in canyon riding situations where you aren't approaching the speeds and aggression of the track, and this once again dragged down its street scores. The suspension spring rates are racetrack-stiff, and the ultra-tall gearing means you're often caught between gears in corners; you're either trying to avoid wheelies or lugging the engine. The dry clutch's durability certainly hasn't improved over the old unit, with the action on our test bike becoming grabby and noisy with even a moderate takeoff from a stoplight. Braking from the monster 330mm discs and Brembo monoblock calipers is extremely responsive, and requires a deft touch to avoid upsetting the handling during even very aggressive riding; most of our testers used only one finger for braking on the street. Mirrors are basically useless ornaments, and on warmer days you will feel the heat from the underseat exhausts.
||Even more torque and horsepower
|| Wants to wheelie everywhere
||Seems to rev slower than 1098
||Suspension not quite sorted
||But for a change of bar angle and
|SUGGESTED SUSPENSION SETTINGS
||spring preload—2 lines showing;
rebound damping—10 clicks out from full stiff;
compression damping—0.75 turns out from full stiff;
ride height—3 lines showing on fork tube
||spring preload—10mm thread showing;
rebound damping—2.5 turns out from full stiff;
compression damping—0.5 turns out from full stiff;
ride height—6mm thread showing on linkage rod