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2009 Ducati GT1000 Touring Comparison

Wednesday, September 2, 2009
2009 Ducati GT1000 Touring
The sleek looking Ducati GT1000 Touring is powered by an air-cooled 992cc L-Twin, which delivers an exciting ride.
It doesn’t take more than a block aboard the Ducati GT1000 Touring to realize that while the styling may be vintage, its 1000 Dual Spark L-Twin is most certainly not! Thwack the throttle open and your front wheel lifts, along with the sides of your grin.

Built in homage to the GT750 Twins that debuted in the 1970s, Ducati maintains the L-Twin roots but ups displacement a quarter-liter to 992cc via a 94 x 71.5mm bore and stroke. Personality at its core, the air-cooled GT1000 motor claps and rattles a wonderful cacophony, the two-valve desmodromic Twin turning our dyno drum up to 77 horsepower at the rear wheel and 58 lb-ft torque.

The fun factor aboard the Ducati ups considerably and its motor disparity with the Bonneville is quite remarkable. Acceleration, top speed, overall power… the Ducati more than covers the Trumpet and delivers enough oomph to keep hooligan-leaning misfits happy.

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2009 Triumph Bonneville SE vs. Ducati GT1000 Touring
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The high-revving Ducati Twin isn’t perfect. Fueling and throttle feel on the Ducati are more abrupt and engine braking makes deceleration less smooth as well. It’s easily forgiven and nothing that can’t be adjusted to, but the Ducati throttle definitely needs a defter hand. In the lower revs the Ducati Twin can be vexing as well, admonishing poor gear selection by bogging compared to the idiot-simple Triumph which will chug along content in even the lowest rpms.

The Duc’s 6-speed gearbox is effectively two gears too many. Unless you’re motoring derestricted on the Autobahn, or racing, gears five and six don’t make much sense. Even fifth-gear only works as an overdrive on the freeway at about 80 mph, and even then surging the throttle in either of the top two gears is met with shuddering fits. Gearing aside, the transmission, while not as smooth as the Triumph’s, is well sorted with only the occasional miss during out testing tenure. The clutch lever, however, is far stiffer than its rival.

2009 Ducati GT1000 Touring
The Ducati GT1000 Touring's chassis can take everything the raucous Twin can dish out.
The Ducati’s power train is of a completely different character. More challenging to ride, it is also more rewarding performance-wise. The deciding factor between the two models for consumers will depend on their experience, intended use and riding styles.

As fast as it goes, the Ducati comes to a halt with high-performance efficiency thanks to dual 320mm rotors pinched by 2-piston Brembo calipers. Initial bite isn’t as sharp as we expected, but lever feel is incredible with progressive stopping power brimming our confidence while blasting toward a fast-approaching corner.

The vibrant motor and brakes encourage spirited riding and the inverted 43mm Marzocchi fork is up to the task. The non-adjustable sticks up front are sprung stiffer, making the Duc ride not as smooth at lower speeds as the Triumph, but twist the grip and there’s no question which machine is better suited to high-speed exploits. The twin rear shocks aid the styling and also deliver smooth stability. The entire suspension package delivered ample confidence to our test riders.

The spec sheet confirms rider opinion of more aggressive steering geometry: with an inch-shorter wheelbase (56.2 inch) and three-degree steeper rake (24 degrees). Both bike source 17-inch wheels but the Ducati has higher ground clearance, allowing sharper leans than the Bonnie.

2009 Ducati GT1000 Touring
Though not a fully decked out tourer, the GT1000 Touring does deliver a comfortable platform for long-distance rides - like our 750-mile journey through Idaho and Montana's scenic mountains (the distinctive Sawtooth Range in background.)
The GT’s more conventional ergos were a better fit for us, with the 31.8-in. seat height towering over the Triumph. The slight forward pitch of the rider was less comfortable, yet more amenable to the sporting nature of the Ducati, and the higher-placed handlebars were again a more comfortable fit for our frame. As befits a bike carrying the Touring moniker, the GT delivers a comfy seat, though the riding position placed the tank a little snugger than my personal preference.

Style-wise the Ducati hits with its amazing wire wheels, which garnered a number of comments and clearly beat the SE’s rather dull (by comparison) cast units. Surprisingly, however, onlookers repeatedly commented that the Ducati just doesn’t scream vintage like the Bonneville – and we’d have to agree. The irony is that on top of delivering the authentic-looking wheels, Ducati stuck pretty close to the original lines of the GT750 it emulates. Perhaps the greater popularity of the original Bonneville in America plays a role in the replica’s edge here. More likely, the Parallel Twin of the Triumph, with its two header pipes anchoring the whole eye-catching design, simply looks the vintage part better than its rival.

The Ducati packs a premium price tag at $12K – a full $4300 more than the base Bonneville. The extra money buys the extra performance listed above and the Ducati also delivers a superior fit and finish too. The fuel tank, with its flip up gas cap, is much easier to use. The white-background and plain black lettering of the analog speedo and tach give a
Highs & Lows
  • Engine produces very modern street bike performance
  • Stout brakes deliver excellent feel
  • Ducati looks with clean fit and finish
  • 12K prices Ducati much higher than Triumph competitor
  • Snug tank in riding position with choppy throttle makes for some uncomfortable moments in the saddle
more authentic feel - the small LCD displays located within the two units are unobtrusive. The key ignition is also better, mounted in the traditional position at the head of the fuel tank, rather than the Bonneville’s unfamiliar location in a housing on the left side of the fork triple clamp. It should be noted as well, that the Touring model's standard windscreen delivers extra comfort and we were much obliged to the convenient luggage rack after riding three days with all our gear bungeed aboard.

After nearly a thousand miles riding both the Ducati and Triumph, we got to know the two bikes rather well and discovered two different approaches to the modern vintage motorcycle. Triumph has refined its older Bonneville as a more user-friendly ride, heavy on the style. Ducati has taken an opposite tack, heavy on performance. In a head to head performance test, there really is no comparison between these two. The Ducati excels in every measure, from engine to handling and braking. While the extra performance comes with a premium price tag, the Ducati can’t be beat by it British rival. Even though style plays a huge role in these bikes, in this case we’ll take the performance.
Ducati GT1000 Touring Photo Gallery
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jmmgarza -The British Triumph  May 30, 2010 09:49 PM
The British win by $5,000 and ease of use. A friendly and civilized bike. If I wanted to go fast I would by a sport bike.
Jon L -Bonneville vs. GT1000  May 17, 2010 10:32 PM
I have a 2008 Bonneville T100 and a 2009 GT1000. The Triumph is a nice, reliable, easy-riding bike. Fit, finish and paint job is beautiful. I do a lot of long-distance touring and the Bonny is comfortable but has a really annoying, teeth-buzzing vibration above 65mph and you are always looking for a non-existant 6th gear. Put on the 18-tooth front counter-sprocket and there is some improvement at higher speeds, but it is slow out of the hole. My old 1974 BMW R90/6 is a better tourer. The Bonny is fun around town, but you always get stopped by old guys asking if it is a new Triumph and then telling stories of their '68 Tiger or whatever.

The GT1000 is a great tourer and the speed and handling is phenomenal. Ditch the windscreen, lean forward and your body kites in the wind at speed for easy long distances. The GT1000 makes the Triumph feel like a novelty toy. No problem with the tranny at low speeds - just don't lug the motor. A 14-tooth front counter-sprocket makes it quicker and easier to ride around town.

The GT1000 is a great all-around bike and clearly the better of the two. My Bonny was 8,400 and the Ducati was 10,500. I

Phil -Personal rant about ergos, etc.  March 16, 2010 08:34 PM
I have been riding "sport touring" bikes for over 15 years, and have been riding over 50 years; and have come to the opinion that someone doesn't understand the concept of touring on a motorcycle. I have owned a Kawasaki Concours 14, and three Kawasaki Concours 1000s, the seating position with the feet below your backside is inimical to comfort for riding the 1000 mile days that accompany serious long distance riding. I am not thrilled with the H-D solution of foot boards or forward controls. The better solution is to be found in the "standard" models with mid pegs. You can, if it becomes necessary, raise up off the seat for the occasional rough spot in the road, and keep going. I like disc brakes, and tubeless tires, fuel injection, variable valve timing, and modern engines, and the sound of a crisp v-twin (think Suzuki SV 1000). I love the appearance of the Bonneville and have been considering one for years, this might just be the time for one for me. Just have to rid myself of the nightmare of Lucas electrics.
benroe -bonnie  October 14, 2009 12:17 PM
Having owned one of the first gen "new" bonnies I can say they take to mods well. After simple pipe, carb, intake mods the little bonnie will lay waste to big inch twins. I do love the new classic ducatis, but I just don't know if the man in the market for a bonnie is going to be looking at a new sportclassic as an alternative.
Bmanz -Gt1000 vs bonnie  September 24, 2009 07:29 AM
I recently sold my bonnie while owning a gt1000. the gt beats the bonnie hands down. The price difference is a no brainer. U can spend the xtra $4000 on the bonnie and it still won't stand up to the duke. As for the low speed issues with the duke (which u get used to, might look into a fatduc), i much rather prefer that to the bonnie when it feels like its flogging its guts out at 120km/hr. Go the DUKE.
Joe Barker -Bonneville  September 24, 2009 02:14 AM
I agree with the tester,both bikes are retro looking and as similar as you can get with that style of bike. I recently purchased a Bonneville and toured Canada and the USA on it. What great a bike,totally reliable,flexible engine performance and good brakes and handling. After riding a BMW1150GS and a Hayabusa for a couple of years,the Bonnie was compact and nimble,perfect for the backroads.My only issue was the fuel tank capacity ,a couple of extra litres would have been perfect. Also I agree that the wire wheels look nicer,but the alloy wheels and tubeless tyres win hands down when it comes to repairing roadside punctures. Great motorcycle !
Howard -GT1000 v. Triumph Bonneville  September 11, 2009 07:40 AM
I own both bikes. You quickly get used to the GTs seating positon. It's different, but comfortable, and well suited to the twisties, where the GT excells. The Bonneville's seat will kill you after 100 miles, every time. Adding a FatDuc O2 manipulator smooths out the GT's initially jerky sub 4,000 RPM throttle response for about $80, making for a very nearly perfect ride. All of that said, I still love the Bonneville; it's the more sedate and relaxing ride. Both bikes get well over 50 MPG on the road. In the city, the Bonneville's average MPG drops to under 40 (heavier bike with a big, heavy engine flywheel?) while the GT still delivers over 50 city MPG. I do find myself riding the Ducati far more often than the Bonnie.
Switchback -Fatduc is the cure!  September 5, 2009 08:46 PM
Euro 3 emission settings don't do the Duc justice. Less than $100 for a Fatduc and 10 minutes cures all of the low RPM abruptness.
Tom -Honda  September 3, 2009 07:16 PM
Agreed on the honda classic concept. I would buy that one over these two in a heart beat. (never seen it before, nice surprise). I know it's not coming... ever... but honda. PLEASE MAKE IT.

As far as 'retro' goes, I'd go more in the direction of retro, blend with a touch of modern. Guzzi Griso! Little bit retro/timeless, yet totally modern and 'up to date'. Use the past as a styling cue/inspiration. Not as a carbon copy paper...
Bonnie Black -Good but short sighted  September 3, 2009 04:48 PM
I've owned my Bonneville Black for 3 summers (25,000 miles). It isn't the fastest bike, but it is a blast to ride. Definitely skip the SE's thin seat, unless you can't touch the ground on the taller bikes. As for the Ducati, it just doesn't work aesthetically; the back half of the bike is terrible. You might as well compare the Bonnie to a Monster. That's certainly where I'd drop my money if I went Italian. Although, that new Moto Guzzi V7 might give the Triumph a run for its money in a retro shootout, but this time, use the Bonneville Black, the cheapest and best looking of the bunch.
WildpigUK -What a Stupid Comparison!  September 3, 2009 01:58 AM
Sorry Mr Mad Bart's Son - I agree and then some with R100Pilot and Mark - this makes absolutely no sense whatsoever as a comparison. 1st - The Author may have an English degree but he fails dismally by selecting ridiculous subject matter. 2nd - The Article is SUPPOSED to be about retro Design - How can the Bonnie come second in this respect? The author states - "Bonneville as a more user-friendly ride, heavy on the style. Ducati has taken an opposite tack, heavy on performance." "WTF??? " " gears you can't use - transmission I am really sorry - but there are a plethora of excellent performance bikes out there - if that was what you were looking to compare - compare the Triumph Tiger with the GT1000 - they both have "old" names. One of the main reasons people like to buy a 'classic' styled machine is because it is an excellent Launch Pad. They can accessorize - performance mod etc etc Which of these two makes the most sense both as a ride you can develop with and financially? I'll take the Triumphs $4300.00 better transmission, Better Gearing, smoother ride, better fuelling, lighter clutch, (fundamentally a better machine) and when I know what I want to change/improve I'll treat myself to some extra power, different shocks, extra brake disc, custom paint etc etc and still have change for several years worth of fuel. I would suggest that before Mr "Mad Bart's Son" is allowed anywhere near a bike comparison article again - he first goes and UNDERSTANDS the reasons why particular bikes are purchased.
keith -wire wheels vs mags  September 2, 2009 10:16 PM
them wire wheels are real pretty, but.... blowout on a wire rim can dis-inflate yore tire in 5 seconds; on a mag rim, 30- 90 seconds. The mag rim blowout gives you plenty of time to figure out which tire has had it, to apply the proper brake, and get after the process of pluggin' it, or limping home on it. A tubeless tire stays on it's rim MUCH better than the wire wheel tube-type.
Cap'n -Thanks  September 2, 2009 01:43 PM
I was hoping you guys would take a crack at these two. I get to ride a friend's bonnie pretty often, and I always enjoy it. He's got better pipes, removed the air injection system, and tossed on the rear shocks from a kawi ZRX 1200, and as others have said, it does make quite a difference. Besides, modding your bike is FUN, and the market out there of forums and parts suppliers for the bonnie is pretty huge. It's a bike you can take in a lot of different directions and come out with something that's not only unique, but very good at what you built it up to do. Not many bikes these days you can do that with. P.S. - I'd probably take that prototype Honda over either, in a heartbeat. PLEASE make that bike, Honda, I will sleep outside the dealership to buy one.
GW in the Rockies -More standard bike comparisons...  September 2, 2009 01:32 PM
I would like to see more standard bike comparisons... such as the BMW R1200R (modern classic!) and Aprillia Tuono; etc.; etc.
Thanks for a great website!!
thewall -Don't get it  September 2, 2009 10:22 AM
These bikes are definitely in the same class- standard retro's. Price doesn't define class. Riding style and the bikes purpose define class (really, in the end, the rider defines class, e.g.your R1 can be a touring bike if that is what you choose to do with it). Ducati models across the board cost much more than other manufacture bikes in the same class and this is no different. People keep saying you can buy upgrades for the Bonnie and it will be more like the Ducati. True, but then you've spent as much or close to the same amount as the Ducati to make it that way. If you want a retro with what the Ducati offers then you pay for it. If you don't you buy something else. It's great we have so many choices available to us.
Desmolicious -Excellent comparo  September 2, 2009 09:56 AM
I love both these bikes, but if I got the Trumpet it would be with the wire wheels - simply gorgeous.
I know this has been mentioned over and over again, but they are not in the same class. Too big a $ difference and engine size difference.

MotoFreak -Baffled  September 2, 2009 09:18 AM
Not sure when $8,500 would be considered a good price for an "entry" level bike. I guess when you put it next to $12,500 it does. The list of bikes that you could get for that price is too long to list, not even counting the used market. And for what? A bike that trys to look old. I don't get it.
Zooba -Triumph-Ducati Test  September 2, 2009 09:18 AM
Just put the first 200 miles on my new Bonneville T100 - much preferred it in the showroom to the SE- larger front wire wheel and more genuine Bonneville looks. Went for Triumph's less restrictive mufflers and the Gel seat. Truth is, this is my 62nd bike to date and honestly one of the most enjoyable back road rides yet. The stock mufflers are very bland, so the upgrade is worth the snorty tone and improved throttle response. Having owned many original British twins, the T100 is much smoother, tracks beautifully and gives the impression of solid quality, without the constant intensity demanded by many sport bikes. - Just checked the tires and there's little or no "chicken strip" left. - By comparison, spent 20 minutes on the Duke and was not comfortable with the taller seat / lower bars plus the jerky throttle response. Handling was only noticed when pushing at higher speeds, which seemed contrary to this model's vintage style mission. (Best upright sport bike I've ever owned was the new Aprilia Tuono, if you want a faster mount.)
mark -Not quite fair...  September 2, 2009 08:34 AM
Not really a fair comparison. That $4300 price difference will buy an awful lot of performance mods for the Bonnie -- and this is a bike that responds very well to mods. Simply uncorking the exhaust and intake and rejetting (or remapping the EFI) accordingly will gain around 10hp. Big-bore kits are available to further increase power. Frankly, though, I don't think a lot of extra power is really necessary. Many consider the V-Strom 650 to be one of the most versatile bikes on the planet, and it only makes 62hp. The Bonnie's engine likes to rev, and it's fun to ride hard. Also, suspension upgrades do make a big difference and are highly recommended. Think of a stock Bonnie as a blank canvas, ready for customization. It's a fun bike even in stock form, but with $1000 or so in mods, it becomes REALLY fun... and those mods can take it in any direction, from cafe racer to ADV tourer and anything in between.
Raton -Comparison  September 2, 2009 07:46 AM
Thanks for the comparison. At age 45, I bought a 2008 basic Bonneville, as my first ever owned bike. Mid-life crisis? Maybe, but aided by $4.00+ gallon gas. After some getting used to, now that I'm not hauling kids to school, it has become my daily ride. The gas I save, the kids waste going to high school, but I get a great entry level ride, on a super cool bike, and in a year or two, I might upgrade to the Duc, or to a Street Triple, or just keep modding the Bonnie.
R100Pilot -Odd choice  September 2, 2009 06:29 AM
Let's see... The Bonnie is down 150ccs, minus one brake disc, sans windshield, and with a seat and ergos designed for entry riders. The Duck is $3200 more, but has USD forks, bigger brakes, windscreen, etc... Not really an apples-to-apples comparison. I've ridden both, including a track ride on the GT, which was an interesting experience. The Duck's the better bike, for sure, but the Bonnie is a solid runner with a high coolness quotient. If it was my money? I'd get the Bonnie to use as a daily rider, and spent the money I saved on a track bike.
SAMxrl -Comparo  September 2, 2009 05:58 AM
Nicely done article! Having lived in Hailey Id. at the doorsteps of the Sawtooth Range, I can attest to how beautiful a trip that must have been. As for the bikes, the Bonnie brings riders "on the fringe" into the fold by pricing it's model competitively. Many of the riders I've spoken with dig the new 17" cast wheels and upswept pipes. Classic yet still more modern in form. If it takes a lower price and more modern styling to attract younger riders into the Triumph fold then "Good on you Truimph"! The Duc is nice but with the money you'd save getting the Bonnie one could take some nice trips and getting out and riding is what it is all about.