The Ducati 1098S boasts some gorgeous bodywork and slick design cues, but its real masterpiece lies beneath those pretty plastic panels. Underneath is a tubular steel trellis frame optimized for stiffness, and an L-twin engine produces 160 horsepower and 90.4 lb-ft of torque, routing exhaust fumes through a lightweight 2-1-2 underseat system that culminates with twin stainless steel mufflers. A six-speed gearbox with straight cut gears is mated with a dry clutch, and MotoGP style instrumentation provides an all-digital light show that includes a nifty ambient temperature gauge.
Stopping power is provided by dual, radially-mounted 4-piston 330mm Brembo monobloc front brakes and 245mm, 2-piston rear brakes, which are situated near a sculpted single-sided aluminum swingarm that leaves the other side of the rear wheel exposed.
Utilizing the already capable 1098 as a platform, Ducati's 1098S incorporates premium components designed to satisfy the most dedicated sportbike riders, at a cost of $4,000 over the price of the standard 1098 (which has been bumped up a grand to $15,995 for 2008.) Upgraded 43 mm Öhlins FG511 forks use low friction Titanium Nitride-treated sliders while incorporating a steering damper, and the Öhlins 46PRC rear shock is engineered to offer strong dampening alongside decent ride quality. Marchesini forged and machined wheels shave 4 lbs of mass, and a carbon fiber fender and seat cooling ducts bring the total dry weight to 377 lbs (versus 381 for the standard 1098.)
If you plan on riding your 1098S on a track, you'll probably appreciate its Ducati Data Analysis (DDA) system, which uses a data retrieval USB key to interface with personal computers. The system is capable of downloading recorded data from the bike, and is intended to help riders improve lap times and ride more efficiently.
From the moment you start up the Ducati 1098S, you realize it's not like other bikes: between the chug-a-lug of its torquey twin as it idles and the roar of its rev, this engine screams to the bike's sporting nature.
Click the kickstand up, snick the foot lever into gear, and let out the clutch and you'll be treated to instant torque that pulls from seemingly no rpms whatsoever. The 1098S wants to move so insistently that just a touch of throttle is required to get it rolling. Clutch slip is required for the first few miles per hour, and once engaged, first gear goes a surprisingly long way.
The L-twin produces both strong low end grunt and high end power, and torque peaks at 8,000 rpm while horsepower maxes out at 9,750 rpm. Warm up the engine sufficiently and you'll notice that the underseat exhaust system heats up the seat, especially on warm days, making you want to stand up on the footpegs and lift off the seat-- anything to alleviate the bake.
Heat notwithstanding, the 1098S offers an involving ride that demands the rider's complete and undivided attention. Throttle response is sharp, handling is extremely crisp, and even the brakes respond with super sensitivity; it seems that merely thinking about stopping actuates the lever and scrubs off speed, the brakes are so strong. It takes time to get used to the ease with which the 1098S decelerates, and once you get used to these outstanding binders, it's hard to go back to other bikes.
All of these components work together to provide a ride that is more unrelentingly focused than sportbikes at a lower price point.
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