We mentioned earlier about how much longer the 848 EVO's underseat mufflers are than the previous model. Yet when we examined photos of the 848 EVO from Ducati's press kit, the mufflers seem to be the same size as before (take a look at the comparison shots). This led us to surmise that Ducati - as have many other OEMs - found some unexpected roadblocks in getting its latest sportbike onto U.S. shores.
Although the angle of the...
Although the angle of the studio shot of the non-USA 848 EVO is slanted more toward the front to make the muffler appear longer.
Note how much farther the...
Note how much farther the USA model's mufflers protrude past the taillight compared to the non-USA version. Getting past the EPA noise and emissions tests is getting tougher than ever for the OEMs.
As manufacturers squeeze more power from their engines, the incredibly complicated and laborious U.S. EPA emissions and noise standards become increasingly difficult to pass. One manufacturer rep confided to us that balancing these opposing forces has become "more of a juggling act now. In order to make more power, you have to cut back on noise somewhere, whether from the exhaust or somewhere else. And then you run into the emissions regs. It's becoming a very complicated and expensive battle." It's our theory that in its unhindered European form, the Ducati 848 EVO does crank out a bit more horsepower than the old 848 (Ducati claims six more horsepower at the crankshaft, equating to around five more at the rear wheel); stricter American emissions and especially noise tests forced the retrofit of the larger mufflers and most likely leaner fuel maps, killing off any power gains that would've been present otherwise.
At press time, there was no accessory "racing only" exhaust and ECU remap available from the Ducati Performance catalog, but you can be sure those parts will be available soon. We hope to get the 848 EVO back and do some fiddling with an aftermarket exhaust and fueling unit ourselves in the future.
New Brembo monobloc calipers...
New Brembo monobloc calipers offer superior feel and modulation at more aggressive braking levels, with none of the grabbiness that plagued the 1098. Showa fork's action was superb.
Braking duties are ably handled by the new Brembo monobloc calipers biting on 320mm discs. While we never really had that much complaint with the previous two-piece calipers, the power and feel generated by the four 34mm pistons and single-piece construction of the monobloc caliper allows a level of modulation at more aggressive braking pressures that can't be matched by the old units. And yet that braking power doesn't come at the expense of grabby initial response that can threaten to upset the chassis if you aren't careful when applying them midcorner; the responsiveness is softened just enough to allow aggressively quick application without adverse consequences.
Ducati Goes "Murdered Out"
Going with an all-matte black motif ("murdered out" in street slang) seems to be all the rage these days with automobiles, despite the fact that Ducati has been offering "Dark" versions of its Monster for many years. But outside of trend concerns, this 848 EVO Dark has more than a visual appeal - the Dark costs $1000 less than the Ducati Red and Arctic White versions. The lack of actual engine performance increase over the old model in stock form could be cited by some, but it should be remembered that this version of the 848 EVO is the exact same $12,995 price as last year - and we'd wager that the potential for increased performance is just waiting to unlocked with an aftermarket exhaust and ECU upgrade. Just as we'd be willing to bet that you're going to see more Ducatis in the AMA's Daytona SportBike class in '11.