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.
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.
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.
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
- 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.
Triumph Bonneville vs GT1000 Touring
2009 Triumph Bonneville SE Comparison
2009 Ducati GT1000 Touring Comparison