The New 848 And 1098R Sportbikes Cause A Stir At The Milan Show, As Well As The New-Generation Monster 696
Instead of making an early splash at the Paris Show that is held in September, Ducati held its '08-model cards until the rival Milan Show in November. Making their public debuts were the new 848, the replacement for the aging 749 middleweight; the 1098R, the platform upon which Ducati will base its World Superbike campaign since the FIM/FG Sport ruling allowing 1200cc twins into the series was finally approved; and the new-generation Monster 696, the latest version of the bike that started the "naked" design trend and basically saved Ducati from financial ruin.
Following the displacement progression of its 1098 brother that debuted in 2007, the old 749 gains a 100cc boost in size with the new 848. Taking the bore/stroke configuration of the 749R (which at 94x54mm was much more oversquare than the standard 749 at 90x58.8mm), Ducati engineers added a significant 7.2mm of stroke to arrive at the 848's 94x61.2mm layout for a total displacement of 849cc. The cylinder head features the same included valve angle as the 1098,with larger bi-metallic valves; the intakes grow to 39.5mm from the 749's 37mm and 749R's 38mm units, while the exhaust poppets increase to 32.5mm in diameter from the previous 30mm components. Compression ratio increases to 12:1 from the 749's 11.7:1, although it's below the 749R's 12.7:1.
The same elliptical throttle-body design introduced on the 1098 finds its way to the 848, albeit with a smaller 56-sq-mm area compared with its bigger brother's 60-sq-mm size. Following the lead of many newer Ducatis, the 848 also trades the previous fragile dry clutch for a wet multi-plate unit that not only has superior durability but is also 3.5 pounds lighter. The entire engine adopts the same guidelines as the 1098, so besides being more compact, the cylinders and heads utilize fewer parts (plus many magnesium ones, such as the camshaft cover). The 848 is the first Testastretta Evoluzione engine, however, to use a new type of forced-vacuum die casting for the engine cases called Vacural that prevents porosity and oxidation, allowing higher strength with less material-enough to cut an amazing 7.7 pounds of weight from the engine.
All these changes result in a whopping 30 percent increase in claimed power, with the 848 powerplant peaking at 134 horsepower at 10,000 rpm and 70.8 ft-lb at 8250 rpm of torque.
The trademark chromoly-steel-tube trellis frame has a simplified layout with larger-diameter main-section tubes (34mm from 28mm) that have a wall-thickness reduction from 2mm to 1.5mm. The result is a 14 percent increase in rigidity along with a 3.3-pound weight reduction. The swingarm is the same as the 1098's hybrid construction, utilizing cast- and stamped-aluminum-sheet sections, with the rear suspension also following suit in its usage of a tandem shock linkage that saves weight and reduces stress on the trellis frame's shock mount area.
Suspension at both ends is Showa, with the 43mm inverted fork sporting radial mounting for the Brembo monoblock calipers that are mated to 320mm discs. Wheels are the forged-aluminum Y-spoke Marchesinis first seen on the '07 S-model Ducatis; the front wheel is said to be 250 grams lighter, while the 5.5-inch-wide rear wheel has a claimed 2.2-pound weight reduction.
The 848's streamlined and more efficient design results in a whopping 44-pound drop in heft from its 749 predecessor. Combined with the tremendous increase in power, it should make for an exciting ride. We'll be getting our first taste of the 848 (MSRP is $12,995) in the next issue of Sport Rider. Stay tuned.
The R version of the 1098-the bike that will be the foundation for Ducati's Superbike racing activities for the immediate future-finally makes its appearance for 2008. The 1098R comes equipped with numerous features that put it a big step above the standard and S-model 1098. One of those is the fitment of a true traction-control system that can be accessed with the race-kit ECU that comes with the bike.
The reasoning behind Ducati's ultimately successful campaign last year for a change to a 1200cc displacement limit for V-twins in World Superbike competition is apparent from the 1098R's engine size. By increasing bore from 104mm to 106mm and stroke from 64.7mm to 67.9mm, the engine displacement grows from 1098cc to 1198cc. The monster bore allows a corresponding ncrease in valve sizes, with the intakes growing to 44.3mm (from 42mm) and the exhausts enlarging to 36.2mm (from 34mm); all four valves in each cylinder are now titanium. The combustion chamber has been reworked, with compression ratio jumping a bit from 12.5:1 to 12.8:1, and cam covers are specially cast magnesium.
With such large pistons running at high rpm, considerable work went into their design to keep rigidity high and combustion blow-by/oil consumption to a minimum. The underside of the piston has double ribbing for increased strength to endure the high inertia loads, and titanium connecting rods (130 grams lighter than the steel con-rods in the standard 1098) are fitted to make sure the bottom end can handle the loads as well.
The 1098R's transmission sports a different sixth-gear ratio along with stronger construction that includes a controlled shot-peening process on the gear teeth. A slipper clutch with the same design as the unit first fitted to the 749R (although available as an accessory through the Ducati Performance catalog) is used on the 1098R to eliminate wheel hop during aggressive corner entries.
To complement the increased breathing requirements of the 1098R's engine, the elliptical-shaped throttle bodies' cross section has increased from the 1098's 60.0 sq mm to 63.9 sq mm. In order to guarantee enough fuel flow the 12-hole side injector in each throttle body is joined by a single four-hole shower-style injector. On the other side of the combustion equation, the 1098R's stainless steel exhaust is even lighter than the system fitted to the 1098, though it shares the same 2-into-1-into-2 configuration with 52-57mm-diameter tubing that has 30 percent thinner wall thickness (0.8mm).
The biggest news with the 1098R, however, is the inclusion of a racing kit with the bike that contains a pair of 102-dB carbon mufflers and dedicated ECU permitting access to the Ducati Traction Control (DTC) system developed from Ducati Corse's World Superbike campaign. When the DTC is activated, the rider can choose among eight different traction-control programs depending on tarmac conditions and rider skill.
Major changes to the chassis include the fitment of an -hlins new-generation TTX twin-tube rear shock. Developed straight from the MotoGP grid, the TTX shock's innovative design allows better damping control, more oil volume and less internal pressure than conventional shock designs. A 43mm inverted -hlins fork is used up front, holding radial-mount Brembo monoblock calipers gripping huge 330mm discs for superb stopping power. The same lightweight Y-spoke forged-aluminum wheels as the 848 (albeit with a 6-inch-wide rear wheel) are fitted. Claimed dry weight is 367 pounds.
Owning the most powerful and advanced twin-cylinder sportbike ever produced (claimed power figures are 180 horsepower at 9750 rpm, with 98.82 ft-lb of torque at 7750 rpm) won't be cheap; suggested retail price for the Ducati 1098R is $39,995. If it performs as well on the pavement as it looks on paper, though, the 1098R will surely give the dominant four-cylinders a very hard time.
Revamping a best-selling icon like the original Miguel Galluzzi-designed Monster is always a risky proposition, but after 15 years of enduring appeal it was time for a refreshment. Most of the changes center around the Monster's chassis, with the Ducati's overall silhouette remaining basically the same-you don't want to mess too much with success-but with some slight refinements.
Ergonomics have been revised, with a shorter reach to the bars, a slightly lower and more forward footpeg location and the lowest seat height of any Ducati ever. The traditional chromoly-steel trellis frame sports larger-diameter (with thinner wall) tubing, with the rear subframe now aluminum. The swingarm is made from aluminum instead of the tubular steel unit of the previous version. Brakes are radial-mount units with 320mm discs.
The fuel tank has grilled intake vents at the forward portion of each side and features removable outer "skin" that allows owners to quickly and conveniently customize their bike's look.
The Monster's 696cc engine has received some upgrades that boost horsepower by nine percent (now a claimed 80 horsepower) and torque by 11 percent (now a claimed 50.6 ft-lb). Bore and stroke are the same, but the new Monster benefits from the revamped two-valve cylinder heads used on the Multistrada and Hypermotard. A more efficient combustion chamber and porting, along with cams that are now plain-bearing instead of ball-bearing, reduce weight as well as increase power. The exhaust has moved from a conventional upswept design to a semi-underseat configuration similar to the Triumph Speed Triple. Improved casting processes allow more cooling fins to be packed onto the cylinder head and cylinders for better heat management.
Overall weight has dropped by 11 pounds to a claimed dry weight of 359 pounds. The MSRP of the new Monster 696 was not listed at press time. -K.K.
New Pirelli Diablo Rosso
SR Gets A Crack At The First Of The Next Generation Of Pirelli Diablo Sport Tires
Since the original Pirelli Diablo sport tire debuted in 2004, many sportbikes have made major leaps in both peak power and handling performance, which places additional demands on the tires. In order to keep pace, Pirelli has released the successor to its Diablo sport tire, designated the Diablo Rosso.
Most of the changes to the new Diablo Rosso center around the tread pattern, profile and compounds. The rear tire joins the trend toward slick tire design on the edges for maximum grip at aggressive lean angles, while the middle portion of both the front and rear tire on each side actually has slightly more tread grooves for better water dispersal. The front tire's profile has been slightly redesigned for more "linear response," as Pirelli feels that the intended market for the Diablo Rosso-riders who mostly ride on the street-doesn't want a tire that steers too quickly. Compounds on both front and rear tires have undergone changes aimed at increased grip on wet and dry tarmac without compromising mileage-and maintaining that performance over the course of the tire's life.
Pirelli introduced the Diablo Rosso to the American press with a 75- to 100-mile street ride along some of Southern California's superb canyon roads, followed by an afternoon spent running laps around Willow Springs International Raceway's Streets of Willow course. We quickly found during the street ride that the Diablo Rosso's steering characteristics were definitely more neutral than the original Diablo's, with slightly slower steering response. Trail-braking into corners tended to make the steering a little heavier than what you'd expect, but nothing obtrusive. This is not to say the Diablo Rossos felt truckish in any way; they were still able to carve tight lines, and midcorner line corrections weren't a problem. We also found the Rosso's overall ride to be a little stiffer than the previous Diablo, although it wasn't exactly harsh; Pirelli reps stated that there were "very minor changes" to the carcass construction and that the change in ride is mostly the result of the different compound. That said, feedback from the Diablo Rosso was more communicative than that of its predecessor.
Speaking of different compounds, the Diablo Rosso's new mix is certainly a step forward from the previous tire. Overall grip is much better than the old Diablo (which was no slouch in the traction department), especially when leaned over on the tire's edge. While we never encountered any issues during the street ride, even numerous laps on the Streets of Willow racetrack failed to cause a significant deterioration in grip. Only at the very end of the day did traction start to drop, and even then it was a very gradual slide-and it should be remembered that the Diablo Rosso was not meant as a track-day tire in the first place. Overall wear after a spirited 75-100 miles in the canyons coupled with numerous laps in the afternoon on the track was barely moderate, with plenty of life left in both tires.
Although no retail prices had been set at press time, Pirelli reps did state that predicted prices will be about 10-15 percent more than the Diablo. Numerous sizes will soon be available for many current bikes, although the initial availability will be limited to the more popular 120/70-17 front and 180/55-17 and 190/50-17 rears until the spring. -K.K.
**After several months of downtime, our SuperFlow CycleDyn dynamometer is finally back in action. The interruption is the result of the shop hosting the dyno moving to a new location and a soundproof room being built to keep disturbances in the new neighborhood to a minimum. There is good news, however: The insulated room and its huge fan make for more consistent, repeatable dyno runs, and while the enclosure was being built we took the opportunity to completely update the computer system and its software. Look for dyno charts from the CycleDyn beginning with the Suzuki B-King test in this issue.