2008 Ducati 848 and 1098R First Look

November 5, 2007
Bart Madson
By Bart Madson
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Bashing away at the MotoUSA keyboard for nine years now, Madson lends his scribbling and editorial input on everything from bike reviews to industry analysis and motorcycle racing reports.

2008 Ducati 848
The Ducati 848 is an all-new design representing Ducati’s effort to “redefine the middleweight sportbike class.”

At the 65th EICMA International Motorcycle Exhibition, Ducati has unveiled two new Superbikes to its lineup in the form of the all-new 848 and its ’08 World Superbike entry – the 1198cc 1098R. Although similar in appearance to the 1098, whose debut was the headline at last year’s EICMA show, the all-new designs sport internal differences beyond the obvious displacement discrepancy. The most notable perhaps being the 1098R using the DTC (Ducati Traction Control) system. Developed from the MotoGP and World Superbike technology, Ducati promises “the 848 and 1098 are the lightest, fastest stopping, quickest lapping Ducati Superbikes in history.”

Ducati 848

Describing the new 848 as “agile and light,” Ducati intends its new superbike design to “redefine the middleweight sportbike class.” Much closer to the regular 1098 than its middleweight 749 predecessor, at a claimed 369 lbs the 848 is lighter than both designs – 44 lbs lighter than the 749 and 11 lbs less than the 1098. The real difference from its predecessor, however, is the 849cc Testastretta Evoluzione engine.

Utilizing the typical L-Twin Ducati configuration, the 848 arrives at its displacement via an oversquare layout of 94mm bore and 61.2mm stroke (compared to a 104mm bore and 64.7mm stroke on the 1098). Compression ratio on the 848 is 12:1. The claimed power output from the smaller-displacement Testastretta Superbike mill is a remarkable 134 horsepower at 10,000 rpm and 70.8 lb-ft torque at 8250 rpm. Those claims coming from the crank, we assume, but still significant gains over the rear-wheel 106 hp and 55 lb-ft readings sourced from the 749 we tested in our 2006 Supersport Shootout.

2008 Ducati 848
In power-to-weight ratio the new middleweight Ducati 848 not only bests the 749, it betters the 999 superbike.

While utilizing the same valve angle from the 1098, the desmodromic system on the 848 uses smaller diameter valves – 39.5mm inlet and 32mm exhaust (42mm inlet, 34mm exhaust on 1098). Like its 1098 sibling, the 848 utilizes MotoGP-derived elliptical throttle bodies, although the cross-section of the bodies is smaller – 56 square mm to the 60 square mm on the 1098.

Engine weight on the 848 is kept low thanks to the same cylinder head design and magnesium covers found on the 1098. The 848 goes a step further, however, by utilizing Vacural casting of the engine crankcase. A first for the Testastretta Evoluzione lineup, Vacural is a forced vacuum die casting method.

One major difference between the 848 and its larger sibling is the use of a wet clutch. A change which figures to be more durable for street use.

Recognizable from the 1098 are the 848’s dual underseat exhaust system and the single-sided swingarm. The trellis frame also appears the same, but the main section tubes have increased in diameter from 28mm to 34mm. The frame is not heavier, however, as the thickness of the tubes has been reduced from 2mm to 1.5mm. The end result is a design which Ducati claims increases rigidity by 14% and drops weight by 3.3 lbs.

2008 Ducati 848
Displacing 250cc less than its 1098 forbear, the 848cc Testastretta Evoluzione L-Twin produces a claimed 134 horsepower at 10,000 rpm.

The 848 chassis sources fully-adjustable Showa suspension components, with a 43mm fork up front and a single shock mating the rear frame and swingarm.

Marchesini Y-spoked wheels add to the sleek design, with Brembo Monobloc brakes completing the high-performance package. The 848’s braking system is a showcase for Brembo’s four-piston M4 radial-mount calipers which bite down on a pair of 320mm rotors.

A significant upgrade over the 749, Ducati claims the power-to-weight ratio of the new 848 is better than even the 999 literbike. If true, the 848 sounds like a stick of dynamite on wheels. One we can’t wait to ride. The all-new model will be available in two colors, Red and Pearl White, for an MSRP of $12,995.

Ducati 1098R

Ducati says it all when it says of its ’08 World Superbike machine: “The new 1098R is the most powerful and lightest twin-cylinder bike ever produced by the Borgo Panigale factory, with the highest torque/weight ratio in the sportbike category.” This is the 1198cc machine that the World Superbike Championship changed its rules for – the bike that two-time champion Troy Bayliss and second-year rider Max Biaggi will campaign in the 2008 season as the 1098 F08.

2008 Ducati 1098R
Producing a whopping 186 claimed horsepower in full race kit trim, the 1198cc Ducati 1098R figures to be a major player in the 2008 World Superbike Championship.

Purpose-built with racing in mind, the 1098R showcases technology developed by Ducati in the world’s two top racing series. An accompanying racing kit makes the Ducati a full-blown racing platform, with its ECU teamed with the DTC (Ducati Traction Control) system. Fitted for the first time to a production Ducati, the DTC is controlled by the rider, who chooses between eight profiles on the MotoGP-sourced instrument display.

As you would expect from a bike built for competition on the world’s highest stage, the 1098R produces ample power. Frightening power really, as Ducati claims the new mill delivers 180 ponies at 9750 rpm and 98.8 lb-ft of torque at 7750 rpm. In racing kit trim, Ducati ups the peak power claims to 186 horsepower.

Generating those impressive numbers is an engine which Ducati claims is “the most powerful twin-cylinder production engine in history.” Using the new SBK ruling that pushes Twin displacement to 1200cc, Ducati took its 1098 and increased bore by 2mm and lengthened stroke by 3.2mm. The end results is an oversquare 106mm x 67.9mm configuration that displaces 1198cc.

2008 Ducati 1098R
With its single-sided swingarm and styling lines, there’s no denying the 1098R is a descendant of last year’s 1098, yet the juiced up 1198cc motor delivers 20 more claimed horsepower.

Sand-cast aluminum cylinder heads and crankcases aim at decreasing weight. Although set at the same angle, the desmodromic valve system is altered from the 1098 with larger intake and exhaust valves – 44.3mm intake and 36.2mm exhaust on the R compared to 42mm intake and 34mm exhaust on the regular 1098 and 1098S. The new R’s valves are also made from Titanium, with the new configuration compressing the air/fuel mixture at a 12.8:1 ratio. Internal engine changes include weight-saving titanium conrods.

Like the 848 and 1098, the new 1098R sources MotoGP-derived elliptical throttle bodies. To feed the monster motor, the R’s throttle body surface openings are 63.9 square mm – 3.9mm more than the regular 1098. The fueling also uses two injectors for each cylinder – a four-hole central injector and 12-hole side injector.

Changes to the R version of the Testastretta Evoluzione engine result in a 7.7-lb reduction from the standard 1098 and 14.3-lb drop from the 999. The exhaust system on the R is also lighter than that on the regular 1098, due to the exhaust wall thickness being reduced by 30%.

2008 Ducati 1098R
Not just a speed demon, the Ducati 1098R benefits from the power of Brembo Monoblock brakes.

The trellis frame on the 1098R resembles that on the 1098, but Ducati promises “several modifications were required to allow it to be used on the racing bike in next year’s World Superbike Championship.” The R’s swingarm is the same, except it has been painted black to compliment its racing look.

Although SBK teams are allowed to swap out suspension components, Ducati saw fit to equip its production racer with the best. As such, fully-adjustable Ohlins components adorn the R. The Ohlins TTX rear shock allows a rider to change the rear ride height of the bike, while the front fork sports low-friction Titanium Nitride sliders.

The Brembo Monobloc M4 calipers used on the 848 decorate the new R, although even larger 330mm rotors are sourced. Although larger in diameter, Ducati claims the disc weight has “not increased due to the use of racing-style narrow braking surfaces.”

Overall claimed dry weight is a remarkable 364 lbs. Aiding in the feathery claim are Marchesini forged and machined wheels, which together tally a 4-lb weight reduction from the 1098S. Weight is also shaved by the liberal use of carbon fiber in some of the fairing components as well as the front fender.

2008 Ducati 1098
The regular 1098 is not replaced by the larger-displacement R model. It will return with a new yellow color option, along with the Ohlins-equipped “S” model.

As a full-blooded racer, the 1098R sports wind-tunnel developed aerodynamics. White-background number-plate blisters on the front and tail fairings complete the racer look. Distinguishing itself from the its smaller-displacement namesakes, the 1098R also sports gold-colored wheels.

Ducati promises the red 1098R looks just as it will appear for the factory squad in the 2008 World Superbike series, when the marque’s ace, Troy Bayliss, will try and claim his third SBK title. Far Less talented riders will be able to source Ducati’s replica racer from their dealer for a princely sum of $39,995.

Ducati 1098 & 1098S

Although its smaller 848cc and 1198cc siblings get the limelight at Milan this year, the regular 1098cc 1098 will return for 2008. For ’08 a yellow version of the regular 1098 will be available. The Ohlins-equipped “S” model also returns, not supplanted by the new “R” factory racer.

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