If there is one rider who remains dear to the hearts of Ducati, it's three-time World Superbike champion Troy Bayliss. The affable Australian has won world titles on three different generations of the Ducati flagship superbike (in '01 aboard the 996R01, in '06 riding the 999R F06, and finally last year astride the 1098R F08), making him truly unique among the riders who have won championships for Ducati. This history with the brand has earned Bayliss legendary status within the company, something that isn't taken lightly by the Italians.
So it wasn't entirely unexpected that Ducati would introduce a special commemorative bike to celebrate Bayliss' retirement and storied career with the red desmos. But instead of taking the standard 1098 and fluffing it up with accessories, Ducati decided to get as close to the real thing as possible-by taking the company's superb 1098R homologation model superbike and running with it. This testastretta evoluzione is much more than just an average sportbike with an autographed fuel tank.
The 1098R For '09
SR's associate editor Siahaan sampled the original 1098R for a day at the Jerez circuit in Spain back in May '08 ("Superbike for the Masses"), and then we later took one to compare against an aftermarket TC system-equipped Honda CBR1000RR ("Red Rockets", August '08) on U.S. soil. For those who missed those episodes, here's a quick rehash on the 1098R's particulars: even though the new 1198 standard model now boasts the same displacement as the 1098R, the R model's valves are still larger (44.3mm versus 43.5mm intake, and 36.2mm versus 35.5mm exhaust), in addition to being made from titanium compared to the standard 1198's steel poppets; likewise for the R model's lightweight titanium connecting rods. The fuel injection throttle bodies on the 1198 are now the same elliptical equivalent to 63.9mm in diameter to the 1098R's, but the standard 1198 still only uses one injector per cylinder in comparison to the R model's twin injectors. Compression ratio is still a hair higher on the 1098R (12.8:1 versus 12.7:1), and the camshafts are much more aggressive than the standard 1198. The 1198 inherits the same gearbox ratios as the 1098R, but still lacks the 1098R's slipper clutch that allows banzai corner entries. Chassis bits include an Öhlins 43mm inverted fork up front, with the latest TTX model shock out back (the standard 1198 must do with lower-spec Showa items, and even the S-model only has a standard Öhlins rear shock). The 1098R also still one-ups the 1198 with forged aluminum Marchesini wheels, while the standard model still comes with cast items.
Where does the Bayliss Replica differ from the regular 1098R? A nice blue/white/red Australian flag-inspired paint scheme emblazoned with Bayliss' number 21 and "Ducati Corse" along the bellypan, along with a carbon fiber heat shield for the pipe to accompany the rest of the carbon fiber bodywork. A numbered plaque on the triple clamp displays the bike's lineage among the 500 units made worldwide (only 150 in the U.S., and there will be no "standard" 1098R available here, only the Bayliss Replica), and also includes a commemorative desktop plaque with the scribed signatures of Ducati CEO Gabriele Del Torchio and Bayliss.
But what we were really interested in was the revised Ducati Traction Control (DTC) system for '09. Exclusive to the 1098R last year, the previous version required the usage of a full racing exhaust system (included with the race kit ECU that allowed access to the DTC) due to its method of pulling back spark to the point of cutting it completely in extreme cases in order to reduce power and avoid wheelspin. Because the spark was killed while fuel was still being delivered into the intake tract, unburned fuel would make its way to the catalyzer, a lethal situation detrimental to the life of the catalytic converter.
The newest DTC still retards the ignition when anything less than extreme intervention is needed, but now if serious power reduction is required, the system cuts fuel-thus leaving no unburned gas to poison the catalyzer. The new DTC has also been refined to make it as transparent as possible when it does engage. And it is no longer exclusive to the 1098R; the new generation DTC also comes on the 1198S model.