The sleek Ducati 1098S was on our minds after it took top honors in a comparo test earlier this year, so when we were offered a trackday aboard a 1098S decked out with Ducati Corse parts, the answer was yes.
After riding Bologna’s finest in our 2007 Aprilia RSV1000R vs Ducati 1098S comparison , I was dreaming red. Night after tumultuous night, visions of blurred pavement mixed with that oh-so seductive sporting twin thump-thump-thump exhaust bark bellowing from behind was all I could imagine. Those two epic days of blasting around Buttonwillow Raceway exposed the Ducati for the Superbike thoroughbred it is and, alas, Ducati’s 1098S is permanently etched into my subconscious. Like any true addict, we keep our ears to the street, so when we heard that Ducati North America had thrown a whole slew of Ducati Performance accessories onto a new 1098S, we just had to have our fix.
Our story starts out with a luscious candy red 2007 Ducati 1098S, which comes standard with Ohlins suspension, 17-way Ohlins transversely mounted adjustable steering damper, Ducati’s DDA data acquisition system, forged aluminum Marchesini wheels, and a carbon fiber front fender. The $19,995 stocker was then transformed by Hattar Motorsports of San Rafael, California. The Nor-Cal based Duc shop added some key racing components along with weight-saving, eye-catching carbon fiber pieces, thereby magically transforming this 1098S into an asphalt-inhaling, time-bending, 393-lb (no fuel) projectile. That’s no typo, this thing is lighter than an ’08 Yamaha R6!
To make sure that we’d be able to extort full performance out of this 145 horsepower sled, we slung on the stickiest rubber we could find – new generation Pirelli Diablo Superbike slicks (120/70-R17 front, 190/55-R17 rear). All decked out we made the trek inland, to a Fastrack Riders Association trackday at California Speedway in Fontana, California. The 20-turn AMA-spec course would be the perfect playground to test the track blitzing prowess of this Bolonga hot-rod. Let the games begin.
The 1098 is already known for its powerful, stump-pulling 1099cc L-Twin mill. Rather than building the 1098 mill to the moon and sacrifice reliability, the boys up north choose to leave it entirely stock, except for a pair of lighter and stronger titanium connecting-rods. Lighter con-rods reduce reciprocating mass and help the Testraretta Twin build rpm’s much more quickly. In fact, getting the revs up quickly and keeping the engine on the massively wide powerband is what these Corse go-fast goodies are all about.
The Ducati Corse 1098S utilized a dry racing slipper clutch, which we found particularly helpful in some of the demanding corners at California Speedway.
Lurking inside those narrow engine cases is an incredibly trick (and expensive) Corse racing gearbox. To say that the Corse racing gearbox is close-ratio would be an understatement. Besides the track-oriented super-tall first gear – which is good for over 80-mph, but also requires much more clutch work than a stock 1098 off the line – second through sixth gears are only seconds away from each other.
Exit the final second-gear left-hand turn coming onto Cal Speedway’s NASCAR oval, nail the throttle and let the gear banging commence. The horizontal LCD rpm bar swings wildly to the right and we’re stomping down on the billet shift lever (race-pattern) as fast as we can, trying to keep the Duc out of the triple red shiftlights atop the Digitek MotoGP-style dash. Normally we would consider a lot of shifting a pain, but it is incredible how the racing gearbox allowed us to keep the engine zinging in the meat of the 1098’s 80-plus lb-ft of torque, from 7700 rpm on to its 10,700 rpm redline.
Moments later and inches away from the NASCAR wall to the right, we glance down and see an indicated 165-mph in top-gear with one solo shiftlight blaring. We pop out from behind the protective tranquility of the windscreen, grab one downshift and muscle the 56.3-inch wheelbase Twin into Turn 1.
There’s no denying that the racing tranny requires constant attention. Helping to make sure that it gets the love it so desperately needs is a set of fully adjustable billet aluminum Corse foot controls. The bolt-on, easy to manipulate units offer a variety of different mounting points, which makes them suitable for riders of all size. Shifting action was notchy but precise and the stubby pegs themselves had a solid and grippy base, which made sure our feet never slipped off the pegs (except for a particularly over-zealous throttle stab mid-corner. but, um, never mind.)
Keeping the desmo-valve equipped engine singing is a quarter-turn aluminum throttle. The Corse unit allows an even faster flood of fuel to the throttle bodies, all while maintaining smooth twist action. In addition to the increased G.G.J.F.C. (go-go juice flood capacity), the quarter-turn throttle has very precise feel and it bridges the gap far better than the stock setup, allowing the rider to feel every soulful power pulse from the potent L-Twin.
This Ducati keeps the sexy stock 1098S styling lines but adds Corse parts and a carbon fiber exhaust from Termignoni.
Helping to heighten overall throttle response and boost power output throughout the rev range is the superlight 70mm Termignoni 2-1-2 full race system. Installing a race exhaust is one of the first and most popular mod 1098 owners are likely to do. Termignoni and Ducati have built a relationship based on racing championships, making the exhaust to run if your riding Red. The multi-piece Italian-made system snakes through the 1098’s insides and is pure contemporary moto-art. The thick, gold-colored pipes will uncork both noise and horsepower lurking within that pristine bodywork. The $2800 exhaust comes with a replacement ECU and a racing-style air filter, which all work in unison to maximize power gains. The entire setup is literally plug-and-play, with no remapping or other engine tuning required – just bolt on and ride. Ducati claims an 8-percent power increase over stock and a quick look at the dyno chart courtesy of Mickey Cohen Motorsports (714- 993-5000), confirms the power increase over the heavy, restrictive stockers.
In addition to the benefits of pushing exhaust out faster, the bark that emits from the twin carbon fiber canisters is the most delightful mechanized racket we’ve ever heard. But, beware, because when the 1099cc engine is alive, anyone within one a three-hundred foot radius will both hear and feel the big power tremors being pumped out from the big-bore Twin. And if that’s not enough, the teeth rattling jangle-jangle-jangle of the open-air Ducati Performance dry racing slipper clutch will make common folk scatter out of your way as if it were Satan’s own steel-framed steed.
The racing slipper clutch doesn’t only look and sound cool – it works. From upwards of 120 mph we came hauling into Cal Speedway’s bus-stop Turn 3. Grab four hasty downshifts, dump the clutch and the 1098S complies without a hint of rear-wheel instability. The adjustable-rate diagraph spring in our 1098S allowed the bike to almost free-wheel into the corner with extremely little engine braking effect – especially for a big-bore Twin. Coming into the 180-degree left Turn 5, the ramp-style slipper clutch was again put through its paces. A firm, but light brake lever pull and the awesomely overkill Brembo monobloc brakes slowed the 1098 voraciously quick. Grab two downshifts, drop the clutch and let the slipper clutch do the rest.
There’s no question that the Ohlins suspension that adorns the 1098S is high-end componentry, but without proper setup it can be hard to get comfortable and as we all know suspension settings are extremely subjective. What works for one rider may not work for another, and after our first two 20-minute track sessions, it became apparent that this 1098S could use some dialing in.
At Cal-Speedway, it’s really important to have a bike that can turn quickly – especially coming into the 130-plus mph Turn 1. We were losing time and using a lot of energy trying to hustle the Italian machine through the first turn. Another point of concern was the rear end of the bike. Powering through Turn 3, the rear end would pogo up and down and just wouldn’t settle. That made it unnerving to get on the gas hard, which again was costing us time. Fortunately for us, Lenny Albin of Race Tech Suspension was at the track. Lenny knows a thing or two about setting up the 1098’s unique suspension package, so we wheeled the Duc over to the Race Tech garage and explained the problems.
Once we dialed in the Ohlins suspension, courtesy of Lenny Albin of Race Tech, the 2007 Ducati 1098S Corse machine was shredding through Cal-Speedway.
Lenny measured both front and rear sag. As expected, it was off. Lenny noted the measurements and went to work adding preload to the 43mm Ohlins FG511 fork and the Ohlins 46PRC rear shock. After he had dialed in 35mm front and 30mm rear rider sag, we went on to ride height.
“Rear ride height is bit high,” said the suspension guru. “Setting up the 1098 is different than the 999/749. Those bikes needed the rear to be raised in order to get them to turn. The 1098 is the complete opposite.”
In order to help get our bike to turn a bit easier, Lenny recommended that we lower the ride height by 2mm.
“Lowering the rear will give the bike more trail and help it bite in the corner,” said Larry. “It will also make the bike more stable.”
Next up was suspension action. When I was jumping up and down on the bike while setting sag, Lenny’s keen eye noticed that the suspension wasn’t completely balanced. The rear seemed to be rebounding faster than the front and front seemed to be compressing slower than the rear. Albin added some rear rebound to the rear shock and removed some compression out of the fork.
After about 30-minutes we had the bike dialed. Heading back out, we were blown away by the improved handling. We no longer had to use so much muscle getting the bike to turn in – especially into Turn 1. The bike’s rearward propensity to pogo was completely eliminated and, after Race Tech’s quick setup, we were way more confident circulating around the technical 2.2-mile circuit. Best of all, you can have access to Albin’s year’s of suspension know-how for just a paltry $30-definitely money well spent.
Reducing weight is always a good thing, but it’s even better when it comes off of something that’s spinning. For this reason the already feather light Marchesini forged aluminum wheels were ditched in favor of an even lighter and stronger set of Marchesini forged magnesium wheels. Yep, you’ve read right, forged magnesium – high-dollar superbike stuff to the tune of almost four large, making them more expensive than their fourteen pounds of weight in sliver. After we had the suspension setup we were amazed by how quick this hopped-up Duc turns. Side-to-side direction changes were easier than a boozed up Paris Hilton on New Years Eve.
With the Ducati 1098 entering the World Superbike foray next year, we were wondering what the Corse engineers have in store for the new machine. Well wonder has been transformed into awe. If this bike is any insight to what the future holds for the Xerox Ducati SBK team-then it looks like this small Italian motorcycle marque might be the team to beat in next year’s World Superbike Championship. This hopped up $37,037.94 1098S is just that good.
2007 Ducati 1098S Parts list (Part Number)
1098 70mm Full Exhaust 96115907B) $2760.95
1098 Race Slipper Clutch (968317AAB) $1198.95
1098 Corse Gearbox (96450707B) $2996.60
1098 Titanium Connecting Rods (15620191A) $3850
1098 Corse Rearsets (96627507B) $996.90
1098 Corse 1/4 Turn Throttle (69923791A) $479.20
1098 Forged Magnesium Wheels (96849007B) $3935.04
1098 Carbon Fiber Air Duct Covers (96980407B) $479.48
1098 Corse Carbon Fiber Rear Hugger (96981207B) $179.27
1098 Corse Carbon Fiber Front Sprocket Cover (96983607B) $166.85
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