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2009 Ducati 1198 Comparison Street

Monday, May 11, 2009
2009 Ducati 1198 - 4th Place
2009 Ducati 1198
MSRP: $16,495
Curb Weight: 447 lbs.
Horsepower: 150.36 @ 9700 rpm
Torque: 86.73 lb-ft @ 8100
Quarter Mile: 10.09 @ 139.9 mph
60 to 100 mph Roll On (fourth gear): 4.6 seconds
Top Speed: 178 mph
Average MPG: 27.8
The Ducati 1198 Superbike incorporates the least amount of street into its race-inspired design. All it takes is one quick spin to realize the 1198 was developed first as a racebike before adapted to life on the street. It starts as soon as you ply you’re body onto its track-oriented control surfaces. Everything from the tall narrow seat, that’s virtually devoid of any padding, to its low-slung handlebars and raised footpegs are all engineered because they’re optimal on the track, plain and simple.
 
Depress the engine start button and the sheer energy required to move the Ducati’s two humungous pistons sucks so much juice from the battery you can’t help but think that it is a bit underpowered for its application. Nevertheless, the Ducati starts every time with a fury of mechanical clamor and sets into its lumpy idle cleanly, albeit with noticeably more vibration than any of the other bikes. Fan the hydraulically-operated clutch lever and enjoy the chang-chang-chang rattle of its racing-style dry clutch.
 
In terms of engine performance, we thought that last year’s Ducati’s 1098 Superbike couldn’t have gotten much better. Yet it has, as Ducati wedged the up-spec 1199cc L-Twin engine in its production superbike. Like most of the literbike competitors there is plenty of power to loft the front wheel in the first three gears, but perhaps, it was the easiest on the Ducati. With over 80 lb-ft of torque from between 7000 and 10,000 revs, any time you hammer the throttle you’re almost guaranteed to be on the back wheel.
 
It’s crazy what an extra 100cc of engine displacement can do for a motorcycle. Where last year’s 1098 Twin was ideal on the streets, the new 1198 is complete overkill. Therefore it’s no surprise that we all love it. There is so much more torque and horsepower all across the rev range that it is impossible to accelerate hard without the front wheel hanging in the sky. Its 427-lb curb weight (tying the Honda as the lightest) surely helps and has allowed Ducati to obliterate the gap on the Inline engines. Just look at the quarter mile times: The Ducati, Suzuki and Kawasaki are separated by a mere 0.08-seconds and all boast trap speeds over 138 mph with the 1198 actually crossing the stripe at a hair under 140 mph. That’s the kind of performance numbers you expect to see from a half-million dollar supercar.
2009 Ducati 1198
A race bike for the streets. That in essence is the Ducati 1198 Superbike.

 
Thus if you prefer to keep yourself from going to jail, avoid any sudden bursts of acceleration in a low gear. Otherwise you’ll find yourself standing on the rear brake pedal just to keep from accidentally being rewarded with a reckless driving ticket. Yes, it’s that crazy. 
 
Said performance does come at a price though. No we’re not talking about its $16,495 MSRP, but its horrific 27.8 MPG average. Add in the fact that the 1198 has the smallest fuel tank, with a capacity of only 4.1 gallons, and you’ll be lucky if you can get 100 miles out of a full tank.
 
On the road the Ducati’s chassis translates more feedback to the rider, which is great on the track, but on the broken highway pavement it can be uncomfortable. Add into the fact the Ducati’s massive engine power output and its non-adjustable steering damper and you have a recipe for massive amounts of headshake in the right scenarios. Another problem is the excessive heat radiating from the underseat exhaust.
 
“While riding the Ducati on the street is cool because everyone seems to get ga-ga over its sexiness, it does tax you a bit,” says Kenny boy. “For starters the underseat exhaust is hot, but not as hot as the R1, and the riding position is aggressive as we all know. But add into the mix this even more powerful engine and now suddenly you’re a high-dollar hooligan as well. This boost of displacement seems to be just what the doctor ordered to keep you thinking about the speed limit instead of how bad your wrists are hurting after a long street ride.”
 
Keeping the front wheel on the ground is harder than it looks aboard the 2009 Ducati 1198.
The 2009 Ducati 1198 is the torque king. It pumps out nearly 10 more lb-ft than the Honda CBR1000RR.
The same six-speed transmission is carried over from last year, as is the final drive gearing, which on the street it feels like it is geared to the moon. Launching the Ducati from a stop requires the most amount of clutch work this side of the R1 and at 60 mph you can’t even use sixth gear, or fifth for that matter. The gearing is so tall, in fact, that if you’re going less than 100 mph in top gear the bike resists a bit as it begs for more mph. We also weren’t too impressed by how much gear shifter free play and how long the actual shifter throw is in order to change gears. It just makes the bike feel not as high-quality as it is. Although the Ducati is the only bike in this test without a slipper clutch, the only time you’d ever be able to tell is during grossly negligent downshifts or pushing for lap times around the track - but that’s another story…
 
Throttle response at low rpm, especially below 5000 revs is particularly hasty and you can feel the Ducati’s FI-system is mapped super lean, no doubt to ensure compliance with California’s strict air and noise standards. Of all the bikes in this comparison the 1198 would benefit the greatest from an ECU remap and aftermarket mufflers. We still love the sound emanating from those twin underseat canisters but after hearing Ducatis uncorked over the years, they sure sound better sporting a pair of Termignonis.
The Ducatis Digitek display is easy to read whether in daylight or at night.
Ducati's Digitek display not only looks cool but it works as well. It's especially legible with its new fonts and can easily read day or night.

 
“On the street the Ducati sucks. It’s even worse than the Kawi,” muses tech-dude Wallace in regards to Ducati’s racy riding position. “The Ergos have you stretched out really far. Plus you have to literally be careful not to give it too much throttle because it’ll just wheelie everywhere. Not to mention it’s got a hard ass narrow seat and the same crazy heat issues as the Yamaha. It rides stiff and rattles my kidneys. But…And this is a big but: It just looks and sounds so bad-ass, and it’s a Ducati, and that in a nutshell is why I have one in my garage.” 
 
A quick glance at the spec sheet proves that the same powerful Brembo radial-mount monobloc calipers operated through stainless-steel brake lines and a radial-mount master cylinder return from the 2008 model, yet the brakes just don’t feel the same as last year’s. Specifically, they have less initial braking bite and also sound noisier than before. While both power and feel are still exceptional, you need to use a bit more lever input initially to get things slowed than what we expected. The limited range of front brake lever adjustment will also irritate riders with small to medium sized hands. 
The 2009 Ducati 1198 has no shortage of power.
The Ducati has so much power on tap you actually have to try to not do wheelies.

 
Ducati’s multi-function Digitek dashboard display returns and is ever-so slightly more readable this year due to more legible number fonts. The dash is clean, informative and easy to read day or night. Plus it provides a wealth of data all controlled via an up/down toggle button on the left handlebar.
 
There’s no doubt this year’s Ducati 1198 is faster and more powerful, but on the street it’s become borderline overkill. Where the outgoing version was loud, fast and uncomfortable, the new one is so fast that it can be a handful on public roads. However, the reason we’ve always liked Ducati Superbikes on the street because they’re a racebike first and foremost.

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Ducati 1198 Dealer Locator
2009 Ducati 1198 Specs
When the road starts to zig zag the Ducati 1198 is in its element.
Engine: Liquid-cooled 1199cc L-Twin; 8-valves
Bore and Stroke: 106 x 67.9mm
Compression Ratio: 12.7:1
Fuel Delivery: Marelli electronic fuel-injection 
Clutch: Dry multi-plate; Hydraulic actuation
Transmission: Six-speed; chain final drive
Frame: Steel-Trellis
Front Suspension: Showa 43mm inverted fork; 3-way adjustable for preload, compression and rebound; 5.0 in. travel
Rear Suspension: Showa gas-charged shock; 3-way adjustable for preload, compression and rebound; 5.0 in. travel
Front Brakes: 330mm discs with radial-mount Brembo four-piston monobloc calipers
Rear Brake: 245mm disc with twin-piston caliper
Tires: Pirelli Diablo Supercorsa SP; 120/70R17, 190/55R17
Curb Weight: 447
Wheelbase: 56.3 in.
Rake: 24.5 deg.
Seat Height: 32.3 in.
Fuel Capacity: 4.1 gallons Average MPG: 27.8
MSRP: $16,495
Colors: Red; Pearl White
Warranty: Two years unlimited mileage

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Comments
Aussie Phil 74 -You only live once !!!  September 27, 2010 11:27 PM
Hi Guys & Girls ,we all know that you only get one chance in life , so if you can afford it why not hace a Ducati in your shed. Im looking at getting one very soon either 848/1198 but at least when i get old i can look back with a smile and say, i owned & rode that beast of a bike. Long live the DUCATI !!!
Washingtonk -1098 and CBR929 owner  February 9, 2010 05:45 AM
This review reads like the standard of excellence is a sport-touring commuter streetbike, spend a little more time pondering the essence of what us moto-GP fantasizing superbike lovers really want. I'm not sure this negative tone review of ergonomics and position doesn't convey a positive review for those of us who want the fantasy and feel of mounting and owning one of these DOT legalized siblings of their racing brotheren. I want the, and to, feel the road/track as I process how the race-inspired machine is reacting to my input in sweeping corners and high speed straights. Speak on that in your review, why try to make an eagle a swan.
conrman -Ducati Dealerhip woes  January 5, 2010 01:01 PM
Great looking bikes, great fun to ride, usually outperformed by the jap bikes....but I never cared. What I hated about Ducati ownership was the pompous attitudes of the dealership staff. Arrogant and unhelpful when issues arose with the bike (often). Seemed that I paid for the privilege to enter their dealership. Switched to ordering parts online, and performed my own service. Had very good experiences with Suzuki....more time to ride, less down time. Might try the Honda this year.
It's All Good -....It's All Good  December 22, 2009 09:01 PM
Guys, do you ever see a Ducati win in the superbike races? They are good machines no doubt, but the Japs have their stuff dialed. Pick a color, sit on it and if it feels good ride it, but regardless, just ride and have fun no matter what your on. It doesn't matter what the other people ride. You can make any bike faster and sound better.
ZubesCubes -1098s  December 13, 2009 08:43 PM
I've owned my '08 1098s now two summers, and can't wait for next warm weather to arrive. See I live in the great white north where winter lasts six months so my riding season is a might short. There is only one 1098 of any model within 400 miles and it happens to be mine [cool by itself].This mechanical exotica is everything any mere mortal could expect and the time it would take me to explain all of its positives would leave just enough to touch on the two or three negatives [small tank,small tank, small tank. I love my Duc and you know what,so does everyone else.
john (ex r1) -new 1198  October 5, 2009 01:30 PM
my 1st duc lands next week 10/10/09!
2007 r1 has now gone
i feel as if i have just arrived.
i have loved buell xb12r in past but need more power/speed
i wont probably see you dudes on road ......... i live in birmingham uk !
97llb tourqe rocks!
dukemysta -1198s  September 10, 2009 01:51 AM
I ride a black 1198s and eat baked beans so that i can.The only bad thing ive got to say about it is the 15.5 litre tank that duati claims, only holds 13.9 litres.Someone screwed up there i reckon.Although if cruzin at 120kph to 130kph i can stil get 240km to 250km out of a tank of which 75km from when the light comes on and the ometer starts tickin again, and as any ducati rider will be more than happy to remind you that youl always look cooler pushing a duke than jap bike! Seeya out there....
benjamn -ducati vs. crotch rockets  September 7, 2009 05:14 AM
after owning an interceptor, ninja, gsxr, and two r1's, i bought a ducati 999s. it was a fabulous machine, when it ran right. no japanese liter bike had the available torque and wide power band that i found on the ducati. the japanese bikes i've owned did better on the top end than the ducati, and they were also MUCH more reliable. after having to replace the clutch three times and numerous other mechanical failures on the duc, i sold it to go back to a crotch rocket. still, i'll miss the torque, the look, the sound, and the prestige of being a ducatisti.
Tommy G -Ducati reliability  July 29, 2009 06:18 PM
I've owned a 1098S for a year and a half (7200 miles) and in that time it has broken down 3 times, each needing towing. I've owned Hondas R1's and a Ninja and never was left stranded in many 10's of thousand of miles of riding. Despite is beautiful appearance, its poor reliability and excessive heat is driving back to a Japanese model. Buy at your own risk.
Sd80 -Ducati  July 2, 2009 04:13 AM
I have a 1098 and its an excellent handling bike. But in addition to the extra cost to buy one, you need to keep in mind the annual cost to own. The 7500 mile service cost almost $800 and that was without needing the valve adjustment. Then there's the Tires, the rear only last 4000 miles, so that being said it cost me at least $1000.00 dollars in maintenance alone to own a Ducati for the first year and the 15000 mile service is more expensive than the 7500 mile service. Do not think of the Ducati as only a few thousand more than the Japs because it will cost you at least $1000 a year to maintain.
Stewart -Ducati Love them or leave them..........  May 31, 2009 11:30 PM
Matt, Just wondering if you have ever ridden a 1098 or 1198. If you had/have and can/could ride it hard enough you would probly think differently. Yes I own a 1098,I also own a GSXR1KK7 with ohlins forks and shock, full Akro, Marchesini mag wheels etc and after buying the Ducati I havn't ridden it for 6 months. There is nothing like the ffeeling a hard ridden ducati gives you. JMO
cloud9 -not only about speed.  May 19, 2009 10:20 PM
Well being as though all these machines are as fast as they can get, we really are splitting hairs in that department. Seems as though we've hit the wall when it comes to increasing speed for liter bikes. After all any of these machines can hit the speed limit in 1st or even 2nd gear. So it comes down to the minor things that set them apart. The Ducati is exotic for the exact reasons they mentioned in the review. Pull up to a stop light, gas station, local hangout and everybody wants to check out the bike. The traction control, single sided swing arm, dry clutch and sound is what sets the Ducati apart from the pack. Still doubt I would pay that money though but I'm sure we all dream of a ducati in our stable.
Matt -Ducati  May 18, 2009 12:09 AM
Hi Guys. Dont mean to sound like a smart ass but you are saying that it costs thousands and thousands more to buy a Ferrari or Lambo but at least those cars are 12 sec quarter mile machines and are much quicker than the average high performance car. The Ducati on the other hand costs only a few thousand more but for what exactly are you getting? This bike does not perform as well as most Jap bikes so why pay more for less performance? A mate used to own a Ducati and believe me the quality isnt much better. There is no way they are equivalent to a Ferrari when the majority of 1 litre sports bikes can beat a Ducati. And just how extic are they? There are nearly just as many Ducatis as other bikes on the road these days? Just my opinion.
Superlight -Bikes vs Cars  May 14, 2009 12:35 PM
cloud9 - I couldn't agree more. Ducatis are the two-wheeled equivalent to Ferrari/Lamborghini. Same idea, only affordable to mere mortals.
cloud9 -ducati factor  May 14, 2009 11:16 AM
What I like about the ducati is that you can have one of the most "exotic" motorcycles for only a few grand more over the "plain janes". Of course a few grand more sounds like ten's of thousands to motorcyclist but if you consider what you must pay in the car world for an "exotic" the duc is a bargain. That's where the appeal of a ducati comes in. Try upgrading from bmw 3 to an M class for a few grand more. Not happening.
vwjamie17 -1198S?  May 14, 2009 08:03 AM
Your gallery has photos of both an 1198 and an 1198S? What gives guys? :)
Superlight -1198  May 14, 2009 06:17 AM
This is what a Superbike should be - just a half-step away from the racetrack. There are plenty of other, better choices for commuting, but these are supposed to be 2-wheeled, ultimate power sports cars, with styling you would die for, and the Duck does that better than the competition.