Race Technology As Standard Equipment
Our Bayliss Replica test unit came equipped with the race exhaust cans already fitted, and we weren't complaining; it's a shame to cork up what is surely one of the most stirring exhaust notes in motorcycling. The 1098R's engine is clearly distinguishable from even an 1198 with aftermarket exhaust. The 1098R barks ferociously to life when started, and its rumbling idle and lightning-quick throttle response have the unmistakable feel of a serious racing engine. This is one of those machines where it's easy to tell there's some major steam on call. Our test unit cranked out 160.7 horsepower at 10,000 rpm and 87.6 ft/lb of torque at 8250 rpm, a touch down from last year's test bike but still seriously powerful. Combine that with the measured weight of 419 pounds full of fuel (undercutting the already flyweight Honda CBR1000RR by 15 pounds), and it's pretty obvious that the Bayliss Replica gets with the program when the throttle is twisted.
We've covered the pluses and minuses of living with the Ducati on a daily basis on the street before, so there's no real need to harp on the fact that it's mostly minuses. The racetrack-stiff suspension rates and racebike ergos will pound you into submission and the heat from the underseat exhausts will toast your thighs medium well if you're not riding it like you stole it. The dry-plate slipper clutch on our test unit was even more grabby and groany than the 1198 or Hypermotard units, previously our chart-toppers in the most hated clutches list.
It's doubtful any of the 150 lucky owners in the U.S. will be riding them in such a manner, so let's concentrate on where they will probably spend most of their life-on the racetrack. We spooned on a set of Michelin's fantastic Power One DOT race tires (in the "Version A" front and "Version B" rear) and headed out to Spring Mountain Motorsports Park in Pahrump, Nevada with the TrackXperience track day organization (www.trackxperience.com, 925-788-0082).
The stylish mirrors are still...
The stylish mirrors are still barely functional, mostly due to the vibration from the engine that fuzzes out the images. Bar graph LCD tachometer is still difficult to read at a glance, especially in daylight, and the sequential shift lights are only slightly more discernable when riding hard.
The Öhlins TTX rear shock...
The Öhlins TTX rear shock provides noticeably better overall suspension action than a standard Öhlins unit, with improved damping control over both small and large bumps. We appreciated the side-by-side location of the rebound (black) and compression (gold) adjusters, in contrast to the stock 1198's rebound adjuster that must be accessed through a hole in the swingarm with a ball-end allen wrench.
Because we wanted to accurately measure any differences in speed with the different levels of traction control (the DTC has eight levels of intervention, plus the option of turning it off completely), we strapped on our Racepak G2X GPS datalogging system onto the Ducati. Yes, we know the 1098R also comes standard with Ducati's DDA (Ducati Data Analyzer) datalogging system built-in, but the DDA is only able to give you comparative data at a particular time; there is no method of determining actual location on the track at a given point on the graphs other than through guesswork, and its way of measuring speed is by comparing wheelspin/TC intervention with rear wheel rpm, a mostly inaccurate method due to the changing circumference of a tire across its tread profile. The G2X's GPS system allows excellent accuracy of determining speed at a specific location on the track, giving us the crucial ability to see where and how each TC setting affects the 1098R's acceleration. Don't get us wrong, the DDA is a nice tool to have, and we would've loved to be able to compare throttle position to acceleration in the different DTC settings (something that would have required extra time and effort with our G2X setup), and being able to see the amount of TC intervention would have been interesting.
It was much more enjoyable to ride the Ducati on a track lacking the nasty bumps and deteriorating pavement of the venue used in our previous test, with Spring Mountain Motorsport Park's medium and lower-speed turns playing right into the 1098R's responsive lower-rpm acceleration capabilities. Initial turn-in effort might be a little high compared to an agile inline-four literbike like the Honda CBR, but once banked into cornering mode the Ducati's precise, communicative steering and rock-stable chassis foster entrance and mid-corner speeds that easily make up for any minor turn-in complaints. As you'd expect, the Öhlins suspension provided superb chassis and wheel control in nearly every situation we put them through, with the TTX rear shock's action a noticeable improvement over a standard Öhlins shock. The TTX has a much better breadth of damping control through the shock travel, with excellent compliance over the small bumps yet easily and comfortably absorbing any larger hits (we also greatly appreciated having easy access to the rebound damping adjustment via a knob next to the compression damping adjuster on the top of the shock, versus the frustrating task of trying to access the stock 1198 rebound adjuster through a hole in the swingarm).
Braking power from the monster 330mm discs and Brembo monoblock calipers was vastly improved over last year's model, with none of the overly fierce and sensitive initial bite that required a deft hand to keep the chassis from getting upset from the weight transfer or even the front wheel from locking when you first applied the brakes in certain circumstances. Yet none of the power, feel, and modulation has been lost with what we're guessing is a change in brake pad compound; the 1098R's brakes are now in a league with the best we've ever experienced, allowing you to confidently charge deep into corners without having to spend an inordinate amount of concentration on brake application.
'09 Ducati 1098R
Bayliss Replica Le
Best performing V-twin ever
Improved traction control system
Top-shelf suspension, brakes
Lofty price tag
DTC not adjustable on the fly
Bar graph LCD tach hard to see
A very expensive entrance ticket to an exclusive club
Suggested Suspension Settings
||Spring preload—7 turns out from full stiff; rebound damping—8 clicks out from full stiff; compression damping—4 clicks out from full stiff; ride height—12mm (three lines showing) above top triple clamp
||Spring preload—20mm thread showing; rebound damping—14 clicks out from full stiff; compression damping—11 clicks out from full stiff; ride height—4mm thread showing on linkage strut