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Ducati's Ballistic 1198S: Much More Than A 1098
by dan coe
Wednesday, January 07, 2009

Soup's Ace Tester Dan Coe bends the 1198S in, quietly thankful for the wide and clean track at Portugal.
image by ducati motor
Ducati invited Soup along with the world's press to attend the launch of the new 1198S, a slightly subdued street going version of the motorcycle that literally dominated the 2008 World Superbike Roadracing championship under Australia's Troy Bayliss. Bayliss, unquestionably the fastest rider to exchange and retire the # 21 since four-time GP world champion Eddie Lawson, repeatedly proved his mettle on works Yamahas, a Honda and even a Cagiva.

On his 1198cc/1098R Troy concluded his racing career in fine style by taking no prisoners in his final season and amassing eleven wins on his way to clinching the championship early at Magny Cours, two full races before the season's finale at Portimao. And if raw results are any indication of the lethality of the Bayliss/1098R F08 combination, just like at Philip Island, Assen and Brno earlier this season, Troy won both races at the inaugural WSBK round in Portimao Portugal and crowned his Roadracing career with the finesse and dominance of a true world champion while also clinching the 15th manufacturer's title for Ducati.

With last year's exotic 1098R we tested in Spain being reasonably exclusive at $39,995, 2009 will welcome two attractive and more affordable production models of the new Ducati, a standard 1198 and a sportier 1198S, the later offering expanded DDA, full traction control, Ohlins suspensions, lightweight Marchesini wheels and more. And if considering the engine capacities and upgrades, it might seem fair to gauge these new machines with their race worthy predecessor, the 1198.4cc 1098R, but because the road going 1198 and 1198S actually supersede the previous 1098 street models, our test will focus primarily on differences between the previous 1098 and newest production 1198's.

Ducati Offers Three Models, the 1198, 1198S and limited edition Bayliss 1098R

For 2009 again three models of the 1198 will be available. As with last year, the exclusive 1198.4cc, the 1098R will be offered, but produced only in a limited 500 unit run. The potent race-based street fighter is identifiable by Troy Bayliss race replica graphics, its scheme emblazoned with #21 above the headlights and on the lightweight tail section. Inside the full carbon body panels the "R" still contains radical camshafts, these possible because of lightweight oversized titanium valves, titanium con rods, a special crankshaft, dual fuel injectors per cylinder and high 12.8 compression ratio. Other niceties include a higher-level traction control system, slipper clutch, premium rear Ohlins TTX36 shock, ultralight 10-spoke wheels, titanium mufflers, a crated 70mm fully open Termignoni exhaust and rear spindle stand. Each of the Bayliss editions will display a serialized ID plate and substantiate authenticity with an identification plaque, all for an MSRP of $43,995.

1198 Biposto and 1198S engine


Ducati's 2009 1198S, Stomps even the 1098 with more power, less weight and increased rider safeguards. Note the latest DTC wheelspeed sensor inside the front Brembo caliper.

Portimao's new Algarve circuit. Their pits and pit lane were decked in full Ducati decor. Here Soup's Coe was already rolling, wasting no quality time on processions, besides we needed to put some heat in our Pirelli SC2 Supercorsas.

The 1198 newly in white. Can you imagine this one with a black stripe and a red/blue light bar? It would make their radios obsolete.

The new 'S' now has a new 8-position fuel governing traction control (DTC), full data acquisition (DDA) with added memory and all the right moves.

The 'S' arrives fully equipped with Ohlins components. Externally the only other visible give-aways are with wheel color and design, a composite front fender and the tiny 'S'.

For consumers whom enjoy the finest but due to the confines of budgetary constraint would rather substitute the advantages of titanium bits for a mere 24K, the standard 1198 represents an affordable option at $16,495. Unbelievably this is near the same price Ducati quoted Soup for the first standard 1098 at Kyalami in 2006.

Available in a Pearl white paint scheme with a black frame, swingarm and matched with 10-spoke wheels in graphite gray, the standard is also offered in red with black chassis and graphite rims. Additionally the standard is the sole "biposto" model of the series and comes equipped with passenger seat and footpegs. Aside from the color schemes, wheel color, spoke design and a color matched plastic front fender, the standard also differs from the "S" with its full Showa suspension, the capability of adding DDA but only as an option and this without the possibility of using DTC traction control.

Ducati's 1198 "S" livery will be available both in red and also a Midnight black. Either model will have a bronze painted frame, matching colored 7-spoke wheels and unpainted full carbon front fender. Besides color schemes and wheel designs, the obvious give-away between models will be the gold Ohlins suspension components and the single "S" following the 1198 designation. Even more obscure are the electronic capabilities the "S" offers, with full DDA and DTC components and everything being recordable via an under-pillion USB formatted jump drive, accessible with a laptop using the Windows "Vista" program. The "S" model complete with all the toys will be available in February with an MSRP of $21,795.

1198 vs 1098

During our trackside technical briefing in Portimao Ducati's technical director Andrea Forni explained that the new 1198 engine was designed and tuned to deliver its greatest increase in torque output specifically for the 6000~7000 rpm range. Forni also pointed out that the base and "S" models share identical engines, while placing a comparative dyno chart on the overhead projector. In looking at the chart, the 1198 appeared to stomp its smaller predecessor, producing 10 more horsepower and 6.6 more lb-ft of torque, with its biggest increase plotted clearly in the upper mid-range.

The gains in output over the 1098 come from a completely new engine with a bore of 106mm and stroke of 67.9mm. The 1198 uses camshafts with 10% more lift, 1.5mm larger valves, highly polished rocker arms, stronger RR58 alloy pistons with added underside cross ribs and an upped compression ratio, now 12.7:1. Supplying the new top end and larger combustion chambers are 13.3% bigger oval throttle bodies, now 63.9mm in cross sectional area, with each body being supplied air by the pressurized airbox and provided fuel via a single shower type injector per cylinder. In addition to the improvements with induction, a second Lambda probe has also been added for smoother engine performance.

Below, the lower-end has also changed. To accommodate the new steel connecting rods and larger pistons, the crankshaft now uses screw-in steel counter balances on the flywheel's perimeters. In comparison with the higher performance "R", a similar counterbalance is achieved using pressed and peened tungsten inserts. Also shared with the "R" are new transmission gear sets. Here the first and second gears are identical in both size and ratio to the production 1098, but third through sixth receive substantially taller ratios, with each face on the final four gear sets also being made wider to accommodate the engine's increased torque output. While the internal ratios have changed, the primary and final drives remain unchanged from the 1098. As for the clutch, each of the three models use Ducati's current dry clutch with hydraulic operation, but as noted earlier, only the 1098R Bayliss is sold with a "Slipper" or back torque limiting clutch as standard equipment.

Encasing all of the new components are smaller, lighter and more compact cases, this due to the process of the Vacural casting, a method placing part molds under a total vacuum, which eliminates part porosity and other related voids caused by trapped gasses. By improving the density of parts it allows engineers to design cast parts with thinner walls and specific tempering, something not possible with conventional die casting processes while eliminating such reinforcements as internal and external stiffening ribs. With past models the Vacural process has only been used on the 848 and 1100cc model engines.

Measuring Up

Of the areas targeted for weight reductions Ducati was able to remove a considerable amount of weight from both new models. Over 6.5 pounds were removed from the slimmer engine cases alone, the reduction attributed to a new left outer case, redesigned oil sump, removal of side cover stiffening ribs and using smaller thinner more accurate castings. By comparison the new mill's weight represents a 3.5 pound savings over the previous 1098 engine and although impressive, if compared to the 1098R this reduction is almost a push due to the exotic titanium internal components the "R "uses.

Additional machine weight savings were accomplished on the chassis where 1.2 lbs was removed with the use of a magnesium dash support and replacing the previous alloy headlight housings with a plastic component. These reductions combined with the savings from lightweight forged wheels are reflected in lighter overall machine weights. The Standard biposto looses 4.4 lbs, now with a dry weight of 377 (417 wet), and thanks to lighter wheels, a carbon fender and lack of passenger accoutrement, the fancier "S" posts a dry number of 373 lbs, or 408 lbs if soaking wet with 4.1 gallons of petrol. Although updated specs were not provided on the Bayliss edition during the launch, at last report the 1098R's carbon body parts and lighter mufflers trim an additional 10 lbs, Ducati claiming 363 lbs dry. At $121 per pound, we still like the "R".

Ducati Tech employs Divine Intervention

Unchanged from the 2008 powerplant, each of the engines retain the 24.3 degree included valve angle, the R's Beryllium Copper valve seats (even though the two production models contain steel poppets) and the mirror-finish polishing of contact surface areas of the rockers, cams and cam journals, this for reducing friction and less component wear especially critical during start-up and low temp engine operating conditions.

What has changed between now and last year's model are the electronics, especially the dash display which now offers improved visibility and definition thanks to a white display background. For 2009 engineers have moved from a primarily based "electronic cut" traction control now to a "fuel cut" system and have also added 4mb of expanded data capacity to the existing DDA program. This addition will allow the user to collect and store DTC performance data, providing the capability of viewing and comparing consecutive laps or separate sessions, all in a downloadable and printable graphic trace display.

Although the DTC still functions using the 1098R existing sensors and algorithms, the systems preprogrammed interaction to limit the application of torque is now governed by a combination of both spark retardation and a reduction of fuel supply, the latter arriving when grande intervention is needed most. As explained, the previous DTC system (Soup tested in Spain on the 1098R) formerly relied upon retardation of spark to limit torque. The results would curve the amount of torque generated, this depending on which of the eight changeable settings had been selected prior to riding. At the Jerez launch earlier this year Soup relied upon Vitto Guareschi's predetermined number "four" DTC setting. The system worked for us without issue and was most noticeable exiting turn eight, the second successive fast left sweeper following the back straight. It was exactly here that DTC best suited us as it really seemed to help keep both wheels in line. And because our exiting drives in Spain never had the "R's" Pirelli Supercorsas spinning excessively, or left our 1098R on the edge of control, we gave it our blessing without further need to experiment or change the '08 DTC's influence either way.

DTC is actually only one function of Ducati's DDA (Ducati Data Analyzer). DDA offers the rider several comparative capabilities and is indeed a useful tool, with all options accessible via the left handle bar control switch. DDA recording channels include throttle opening, vehicle speed, engine rpm, engine temperature, laps completed and now DTC traction control interaction. Each of these parameters can be selected, recorded and then downloaded onto a laptop providing the computer is equipped with Windows' "Vista" program. All recorded data can then be compared with that of other recorded sessions and simply printed for such use as comparison data to quantify changes.

Now we can fast forward to Portimao. Before our ride engineers explained that there are new differences with the way DTC works and how we should expect it will feel. First, although the system still uses eight settings (0 being the least influence and 8 being the most), each position will span a greater range of influence, while at full intervention in any setting, by comparison with the previous system the DTC will be less abrupt and not have as much impact on the machine's overall forward momentum. In addition, the dashboard now shows the DTC's selected position and also shares the same four-series warning lights at the top-right of the dashboard with the ascending shift indicator lighting.

It wasn't until the final two sessions of our test that we really had the chance to apply DTC the way Ducati intended, where the system would noticeably intervene and save rear slides. For us this opportunity came late in the final session when our rear tire was reduced to all but all but a rim protector. Driving from corners the rear would come around, but even before you could react the slide would stop and forward progress resume. Perhaps not advisable but it was also in this final session that we opted to reduce the DTC setting to see (and feel) if the middle range of the setting we had been using was too conservative. Ultimately we preferred slightly less DTC influence on this day around the track, also finding that the DTC system employs much earlier than we originally expected. On numerous occasions while early in cornering if we glanced at the DTC indicator lights, on numerous occasions, the first two of four would already be on. This indicates that the DTC is interdicting even before we thought it was needed. Frankly it was nearly impossible to sense at the earliest stages, but it was working just the same.

Suspension and Brakes

Fully adjustable Showa suspension will arrive on the standard 1198 when the machines are delivered early next year. And although we did not test this motorcycle at Portimao with Showa's components, this tester can say that the 1098 we originally rode on the Kyalami circuit (for us) actually outperformed the Ohlins-shod "S" at that time. Up front the standard 1198 uses an inverted 43mm black-on-black Showa fork with full adjustability and titanium oxide coated sliders that provide 127mm of low-friction travel. In the rear a matched fully adjustable Showa is assisted by the 1198's shorter and more accessible rear height adjustment rod for instant changes in chassis geometry.

On the "S" models that will be delivered this February, each end will be suspended by fully adjustable Ohlins wear and also stabilized by an Ohlins steering damper. Both the Bayliss 1098R and the 1198S share the 43mm TiN coated Ohlins fork; however the two models will differ in rear shock fitment. Here the "S" will come equipped with a piggyback Ohlins damper containing an anti top-out spring, while the "R" benefits from Ohlins's latest TTX36 damper. As you would expect, both shocks offer full adjustability.

For brakes, all three models of the 2009 Testastretta share Brembo 330mm rotors, cast monoblock calipers and a fixed 245 disc mm rear disc, also matched with a Brembo opposed two piston caliper. The components Ducati fits on the 1198 are still unquestionably the best feeling and most responsive production brakes available.

DDA with revised Traction Control and expanded capabilities


Optional carbon... You think stuff like this is nice? Wait until you see Ducati's new Swiss watches from Binda...Really Trick.

Cresting one of Porto's rises, with the 1198 wheelies can't be helped. We just went along with it and let her fly. If there was ever a case for wheelie control, this Ducati makes it!

WSBK World Champion Bayliss shows what he thinks of his F08 ride in street trim. At Portimao he circulated with everyone that wanted to keep up and helped trim their times, Soup included.

Portimao's race surface is wide, with a mix of tight rights, fast lefts, a men-from-the-boys continuous final R sweeper and lots of dramatic changes in elevation. It's not the track to test top speeds, here handling is everything.

Think Troy's smiling in this pic? Here the flamboyant Bayliss shows his style while exercising his traction control. We suspect of the eight positions available, here he's opted for number one.

In case you are wondering how the DTC system functions, after the rider scrolls through the DDA programs using the left bar control switch, he or she must initially confirm the desired level of spin control, options being one through eight. Using real time data from a combined set of front and rear wheel-speed sensors, information is sent to a dedicated DTC ECU mounted under the seat, its separate DTC/ECU containing a predetermined set of mapped programs set to Corse's proven algorithms. This DTC unit contains multiple parameters of target wheel speeds each matched with the specified amount of engine torque required. The DTC calculates the input and compares the data with already programmed parameters of target wheel speeds, then instantly interfaces with the primary ECU. Based on a number of very complex formulas, the necessary amount of engine torque required to match the pre selected amount of wheel spin desired by the rider is immediately controlled by adjusting spark and fuel delivery and then applied, and all within milliseconds.

Because Ducati's previous DTC system was designed to function in combination with open exhaust, limiting ignition spark to reduce torque, it was not suitable for street use where OE exhausts contained catalyzers. For a racing application where open mufflers are used this was fine, but now by adapting the traction control to function by limiting fuel supply, it instantly made DTC applicable for OE compliant exhaust systems. Among the true benefits, street motorcycles utilizing the new system will be easier to control and safer to ride, especially in inclement or less than perfect conditions.

Riding Portimao and the new 1198S Ducati

As you would expect, riding a new motorcycle on an entirely new racetrack can present a tester with many unfamiliar variables. This intro was a perfect example. The 1198S we rode in Portugal was familiar, being very similar to the "R" Soup tested in Spain earlier this year. Yes, the 2009 model is slightly lighter with its Vacural cases and new headlight components thanks to new plastic and magnesium parts, but other than that geometrically it's almost identical to last year's R-series superbike.

What is noticeably different is the feel of the new engine. Indeed it easily out-powers the previous 1098, especially in the mid range and top end rpm ranges. As you would expect from the advances associated with the larger bore, increased stroke, compression, valve sizes and massive throttle bodies, the difference is obvious. Also noticeable is the switch to taller gearbox ratios, this now possible because of the engine's increased output. The Testastretta easily makes good use of its wider 3rd~6th ratios, and on the circuit it minimized the amount of shifts per lap necessary to keep the twin within its optimal power range, which seemed to be everywhere. From 2,000 rpm onward this Ducati pulls hard and without any hesitation all the way to its 10,500 redline. And while making comparisons, not to take anything away from the street-going 1198S, but if matched with the 1098R we last rode, the 1198 clearly lacks the acceleration and peak output when compared to the rather special 1098R. Here the saying "you get what you pay for" rings true and with the "R", its titanium rods and oversized Ti valves, radical cams, duel injectors per cylinder, optional 70mm open exhaust, increased compression and other top shelf components really make the Bayliss 1098R a special motorcycle.

The above is a movie supplied to us by Ducati of a lap of Portugal on an 1198S. Unfortunately, it has no sound, but is fun nonetheless.

Portimao's Algarve circuit is the newest racetrack on the WSBK race calendar and like any racing circuit the track is very challenging. One distinguishing character about circulating Algarve is that the rider experiences almost constant changes in elevation during each lap. With the exception of a short front and a shorter back straight, and the two very fast right turns one and two, very little time is spent without climbing or plummeting. Both of Algarve's straights are seemingly built upon plateaus, beginning with climbs and ending with descents. Here the Ducati easily made short work of either straight; approaching the front as you're shifting into 4th gear and beginning the back chute from low in the 1198's rev range and pulling hard easily through another 1.5 up- shifts. If we had to identify a place on the track where the 1198 was exceptional, it would be at the end of the front straight where the rider enters the heaviest braking section of the track. While pointed down hill under heavy braking and combined with two late downshifts the Ducati responds with perfect stability as the Brembo's have exceptional feel and show their advantage most clearly when slowing from top speeds.

After spanning the lead straight and completing the infield's two fast rights, very little time is spent without climbing or almost plummeting. Riding over such topography any motorcycle will be prone to wheelie and the 1198 is no exception. In numerous sections of the track even lackluster drives result in wheelies, especially where the track drops away from the rider and on the center of the Pirelli the Testastretta's low-end torque is unrestrained. In these same sections the rider also encounters blind crests and these take some time and self-confidence before lapping comfortably. Perhaps overoptimistic but on tracks like Algarve an electronic wheelie control system would serve almost as much advantage as DTC.

A small group of us officially ended our day of testing relaxing at the oldest Irish pub in the seaside town of Algarve. Brian Catterson raised his deserved pint of Guinness and uttered under his breath "Cheated Death Again." I raised my beer and subconsciously disagreed, thinking that today in Portimao I enjoyed life thru my visor as few others, and as all of Ducati's past and present creative genius fully intended. I couldn't have been more impressed with the new 1198 and our Portuguese experience. Bravo!
Algarve's layout also subjects the rider to high-gravity bowls where high speed descents meet with eight-degree banked inclines. In these sections we managed to source the limits of ground clearance, primarily in the lefts where eventually we ground the foot of the side stand and tip of the shift pedal. While contact was much less in the rights, we also did contact the brake pedal. The solution, at least with the shifter, was a quick adjustment raising the pedal to avoid ground-contact caused shifting. We did not alter ride height geometry with spring or the rear adjustment rod, but did increase rear compression damping to help maintain rear height. Had more track time been available the sidestand limitation was enough to warrant testing more rear height combined with less rear spring. This change may also have helped to add more front weight in the final and fastest cornering section of the track, the continuous 4th gear sweeper leading onto the front straight.

In the final sessions we made our best use of the Pirelli non-OE spec SC2 rubber their top engineer had selected; this once past the basic track knowledge had been achieved. By the end of the day our rear tire was as finished as we were its condition the result of consecutive sessions and cold tearing without the use of warmers. As testament to the performance of the 1198 with its latest version of DTC, we pushed the hardest at the end of our test, with the DTC setting position lowered and even with compromised rear traction never exceeded our limit of controlled rear slides. Not only that, after three days of journalists from around the world testing the newest Ducati in Portimao, not one faller.

A small group of us officially ended our day of testing relaxing at the oldest Irish pub in the seaside town of Algarve. Brian Catterson raised his deserved pint of Guinness and uttered under his breath "Cheated Death Again." I raised my beer and subconsciously disagreed, thinking that today in Portimao I enjoyed life thru my visor as few others, and as all of Ducati's past and present creative genius fully intended. I couldn't have been more impressed with the new 1198 and our Portuguese experience. Bravo!

ENDS

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