Archive for the ‘Ducati’ Category
As with over half the current Ducati motorcycle range, the Ducati Sport 1000 is driven by the worthy air-cooled, two-valve 1000 DS (for Dual Spark). It’s straightforward, classically Italian motorcycle and pleasing enough and, though no cutting edge powerhouse, the Ducati Sport 1000 is perfectly suited to this role delivering enough retro-roadster motorcycle go when it matters and pleasing, characterful flexibility the rest of the time.
Build quality of the Ducat Sport Classic motorcycles is a league above most previous Ducatis. New paint processes and attention to detail result in jewl like motorcycles worthy of museum display. On the downside, like most Ducatis, the Ducati Sport 1000 must be kept clean and pampered. Straight forward mechanicals mean no reliability worries yet.
Light weight, sharp steering and more than adequate brakes and suspension make a bike that hustles. The Ducati Sport 1000 is the best (the high barred Ducati GT 1000 gets flustered while the Ducati Paul Smart 1000 LE seems heavier and more reluctant to turn) but all of these motorcycles are fun. The trade off is being a hard and cramped long-distance tool, but higher ST3 bars are a common mod.
Seven grand odd sounds a bargain for this motorcycle but it’s swings and roundabouts. The Ducati Sport Classics are basic, unsophisticated motorcycles gilded by style and polish. While still fashionable, they’re worth every penny, but if grubby, worn or out of style they’ll quickly seem nothing special.
The Ducati Sport 1000 is not so much about extras as the quality of the basic motorcycle – gorgeous: deep,molten paint, masses of polished and sculpted alloy and little design touches that echo inspirational 70s motorcycle forebears The Ducati Sport 1000 and Ducati Sport 1000 LE are plastered with them (the LE also gets Ohlins suspension) the more basic Ducati GT1000, though sweet, is the poor relation.
The Ducati ST3 has plenty of Ducati character from the 90 degree V-twin (Ducati call it an L-twin) and more than enough poke to waft rider, pillion and luggage along without any bother. A Single cam operates three desmodronic valves in each cylinder. The Ducati ST3′s 50mm throttle bodies inject fuel giving a power delivery with smoothness Honda can only dream of – fuel consumption’s good too with 50mpg very possible.
Could it be that the Ducati ST3 is a relatively new motorcycle or that owners are the sorts that look after their motorcycle – but this seems like a reliable Ducati. Finish is excellent too. Servicing still shouldn’t be ignored and maybe time will see problems develop with the Ducati ST3 but we’re hopeful it’s a sign the Italians have finally sorted their act out.
The Ducati ST3 is an easy motorcycle to ride in any conditions – the most versatile Ducati. It’s stable and neutral but nimble enough when you get to those mountain twisties. Brakes are strong.
Weight of 203kg is less than many competitor motorcycles and being a Ducati, it carries it well. Front forks only have preload adjustment and are quite soft. A re-build can firm them up or go for the Ducati ST3s model.
Cheaper to buy than a Honda VFR800 or a BMW R1200S.Unfortunately insurance is pricey and proper servicing is too (skimp at your own risk!). The ageing but extremely competent Aprilia SL1000 Falco aces it on price, especially when discounted but it’s more sporty and suffers niggles.
The Ducati ST3 has headlight aim which is electronically controllable from the instrument panel – Ford Focus cars have it but not many motorcycles. The Ducati ST3 does. Also a fuel consumption read out, fuel range as well as all the regular stuff. Seats, screen and riding positions are well thought out and panniers are available. A huge range of official accessories are available for the Ducati ST3 including lots of carbon bits, high flow air filters and more.
The Ducati Multistrada 620 houses the same engine as the Ducati M620 Monster but has considerably more weight to propel. In other words, whilst it’s good, it’s a bit lacking. The Ducati Multistrada 620 is revvy and fun, there’s plenty of low down and midrange power but the top end’s breathless. Power delivery via the fuel injection is as sharp as a knife: newbies, hold on!
The Big Daddy Ducati Multistrada 1000DS is a flash piece of kit and the Ducati M620 Monster is always popular so the Ducati Multistrada 620′s heritage bodes well for both its quality and lifespan. Be aware that Ducati parts and servicing veers towards the pricey side of reasonable.
The Ducati Multistrada has a low(ish), comfy seat, wide bars and effective screen combined with good brakes and handling, which makes for an enjoyable ride. There’s a slipper clutch to avoid gut-wrenching, slippery down changes and the gearbox is nice and slick. The Ducati Multistrada is comfortable enough for long journeys so why make the tank so small?
Hmm… the Ducati Multistrada 620 is not cheap. Numerous rivals out gun it on horsepower as well as price: just look at the Yamaha FZ6 Fazer, or the Suzuki GSF650 Bandit or Suzuki DL650 V-Strom… But we all know you pay a premium for the Ducati badge on the tank; the thing is, would you consider it over the similarly entry-level, even cheaper and definitely more sexy Ducati M620 Monster?
The Ducati Multistrada 620 is nicely finished but for the price you’d at least expect a fuel gauge (rather than just a warning light). Sachs rear shock, Marzocchi forks and Brembo calipers are all good and there’s an impressive list of aftermarket parts available. How about an engine upgrade kit? It increases the Ducati Multistrada 620′s displacement to 750cc: bet that’s got some top end poke.
Ducati have once again pushed the limits of motorcycle design by adding Italian innovation to the elegance, style and technology which characterises the motorcycles that come out of its Bologna factory. All it needed was a heart, the perfect engine to realise the potential of this new design. The obvious starting point was the World Championship-winning engine, the Testastretta, used on the Superbike 1198 and work started to create the perfect power characteristics for the Multistrada 1200. Engineers in Bologna have succeeded in harnessing the immense power of this engine, making it smooth and adaptable to suit to any occasion. They have created the new Testastretta 11° engine, a significant step forward in balancing performance with usability.
MULTISTRADA 1200: FOUR-BIKES-IN-ONE!
The Sport Riding Mode provides the rider with an adrenalin-fuelled ride, where 150hp and incredible torque delivery are combined with a sports-oriented suspension set-up. To impart precise and focussed handling like a sportbike, it also slightly reduces Ducati Traction Control intervention to level 3 for expert riders whose ‘comfort zone’ is closer to the limit.
The Touring Riding Mode is still programmed to produce 150hp; however, the power characteristic is designed in a touring configuration with much smoother torque delivery, but ready to respond when needed. Safety is enhanced with the most advanced ABS technology and with the Ducati Traction Control system set to level 5 (intermediate intervention), specifically intended for a stable and relaxing ride. The suspension set-up is ideal for touring, ensuring maximum comfort for both the rider and passenger.
The four-bikes-in-one concept uses three technologies which interact to instantly change the chassis set-up and character of the Multistrada 1200. Fitted as standard equipment on all versions, the electronic ride-by-wire system administers three different engine mappings to change the character of the engine, while Ducati Traction Control (DTC) uses eight levels of system interaction to enhance control. For the ‘S’ version, Ducati Electronic Suspension (DES) instantly configures the suspension set-up to suit ‘rider only’, ‘rider with luggage’, ‘rider and passenger’ or ‘rider and passenger with luggage’.
RIDE BY WIRE
The ride-by-wire system is an electronic interface between the throttle grip and the engine which decides the ideal power delivery of the engine depending on the Riding Mode selected and the rider’s throttle input. The throttle grip no longer uses a throttle cable, but instead delivers a signal to the control unit, which in turn operates the throttle body butterflies.
The ride-by-wire system enables three different engine mappings to adjust the total power output and the way in which it is delivered. The three maps offer 150hp with a sports-type delivery, 150hp with a progressive delivery and 100hp also with progressive delivery.
DUCATI TRACTION CONTROL (DTC)
The racing-derived DTC is a highly intelligent system which acts as a filter between the rider’s right hand and the rear tyre. Within milliseconds, DTC is able to detect and then control rear wheel-spin, considerable increasing the bike’s safety and performance. The system offers eight ‘levels of sensitivity’, each programmed with a level of rear wheel-spin tolerance in line with progressive levels of riding skills classified from one to eight. Level one is programmed to offer the least amount of interaction while level eight uses the most amount of interaction. DTC is an integral part of the pre-programmed Riding Modes on the Multistrada 1200; however, its setting can be customised by the user.
SUSPENSION WITH DUCATI ELECTRONIC SUSPENSION (DES)
The ‘S’ versions of the Multistrada 1200 are equipped with the latest generation 48mm Öhlins suspension featuring the innovative Ducati Electronic Suspension (DES). The brand new fork technology enables spring pre-load and rebound and compression damping adjustments electronically controlled via the instrument panel. The Öhlins rear monoshock is also adjusted electronically in spring pre-load and rebound and compression damping.
The electronic suspension adjustment can either be made by using the pre-set riding modes, which have been developed by Ducati test riders, or in independent mode, which allows riders to use their own personal settings. Adjustments made via the instrumentation send a signal that initiates electronic actuators mounted on the suspension units.
Their innovative design is well integrated with the motorcycle’s overall shape and positioned so as to improve overall weight distribution. The tailpipes are short so they do not impinge on the space needed for the large panniers. The internal structure of the silencer is designed to achieve the characteristic Ducati sound without compromising compliance with sound and hydrocarbon emission standards (Euro3).
The frontal air intakes, which are carbon fibre on the ‘S’ Sport version, are not just a characteristic design aesthetic, but carry out the important function of acting as air flow conveyors, one to the oil coolers and the other to the airbox to feed the engine.
The single-sided rear swingarm is also a good example of Ducati’s blend of design and functional engineering. It is made using a single piece casting, with fabricated and welded sections creating a strong, hollow and lightweight component that contributes considerably to the Multistrada’s surefooted handling.
The headlight is a characteristic feature of the face of the Multistrada 1200; its symmetrical layout uses four halogen lamps, two for low and two for high beam to provide excellent illumination. In addition, the front and rear side lights use LEDs, and feature a special shape of intense white light guidance, which both improves road illumination and makes the motorcycle more visible to other road users.
The Ducati signature Trellis frame uses large diameter, light gauge tubing with two central cast aluminium sections and a Trellis rear subframe. The frame has 19% more torsional rigidity than the Multistrada 1100. The high pressure, die casted, magnesium front subframe reduces the high, frontal weight and contributes to chassis feel and control. Even if the front subframe is hidden below the fairing, it is precious and beautiful designed: why? Because we want our bikes to be beautiful inside as they are outside.
Pirelli worked alongside Ducati as its technical partner throughout the project, developing the new Pirelli Scorpion Trail tyres specifically for the Multistrada 1200. They represent the first dual compound tyre for on/off road use with the central section of the tyre a harder compound than the outer sections. Combined with a special tread design and carcass structure, their 190/55 section delivers racing performance on the road in terms of grip and lean angles, while ensuring high mileage for touring and good off-road performance. The new generation tyres are purposely designed for the four-bikes-in-one concept.
The front brakes use twin radially mounted Brembo four piston, two pad callipers actuated by a master cylinder with an adjustable lever. The front is fitted with 320mm discs, while a single 245mm disc on the rear is gripped by a single Brembo calliper. Typical of all Ducatis, these components ensure high performance braking and set the standard in this segment. The Multistrada 1200 is also equipped with a Bosch-Brembo ABS system, optional for the standard version and fitted as original equipment on the ‘S’ version. It delivers outstanding braking performance in all conditions and provides a major contribution towards performance safety. An option to disable the ABS is available via the instrumentation, but is automatically reactivated at the next ignition-on.
The Ducati 848 gets the same series of performance and style upgrades over the outgoing 749 the 1098 received over its predecessor, the 999. The engine is the key change in the new bike over the old 749 – a 100cc larger Testastretta Evoluzione unit. The result is a claimed 134bhp – just 5bhp short of the 999 and more than 30bhp more than the 749!
Chassis-wise, the brake calipers are the one of the few noticeable differences between the 848 and the 1098. The 848’s monobloc Brembo calipers are cheaper and lower spec than the 1098’s GP-spec calipers, a necessary change to make the 848 sufficiently cheaper than the 1098. The 848 has the same Marchesini wheels as the 1098, but the rear is fitted with a 180/50-ZR17 tyre instead of a wider 190/70. The 1098’s stunning shape is carried over entirely to the 848 – every panel and bodywork fitting is identical, and although the exhausts are engineered to suit the smaller engine their appearance is identical.
The priority in every step of the new Ducati Superbike development has been performance first. Every system, every detail and every component has been studied, pared down to its essence and performance increased to the maximum. If it didn’t make our Superbike lighter, faster or deliver quicker lap times, it wasn’t considered. The 848 and 1098 are the lightest, fastest stopping, quickest lapping Ducati Superbikes in history. For the first time Ducati MotoGP and World Superbike technology have been combined to create premier sport bikes. The results are stunning.
The look and stance of the 848 and 1098 were designed by the combination of race track technology, track-derived components and Ducati heritage. Their striking aerodynamic shape naturally embraces a riding position, configured by our racers and test riders for optimum speed and agility. The racing spirit takes form.
The new Ducati Superbikes immediately strike you with their purposeful, no-nonsense attitude. Performance is first and foremost in every detail. Trademark Ducati features like the high tail section and compact front-end meld with twin underseat silencers and single-sided swingarm to express aerodynamics and agility. Add the new Testastretta Evoluzione engine at the heart of the machines and you get all-out performance Ducati Superbikes that seem to be moving fast, even when at rest.
A number of ‘firsts’ for Ducati and production sport bike design have been introduced. The 848 and 1098 are the first to have a data acquisition system integrated as standard equipment and the first to use an ingenious construction method for their weight-saving single-sided swingarm. More ‘firsts’ for a road-going Ducati include the direct application of MotoGP technology, like the power producing GP6-derived elliptical throttle bodies and the use of the information-rich instrumentation originally developed for the Desmosedici GP7. Furthermore, the 1098 is the first production motorcycle to have the amazing stopping power of Brembo Monobloc brakes. The new 848 enjoys all the performance advancements of the entire Superbike family, while adding its own innovations to redefine the middleweight sport bike class.
The highly advanced 848 engine uses an improved method of engine case production in which cases are vacuum die-cast formed. While providing significant weight savings of more than 3kg (6.5lbs), this method also ensures consistent wall thickness and increased strength. Further refinements include a sophisticated wet clutch that offers 1kg (2.2lbs) less weight, a much higher service life, improved clutch feel and quiet operation. With the first twist of the wrist, the powerful rush of the Testastretta Evoluzione engine confirms that the rules have changed. The 848’s 134hp is not only 30% more powerful than its predecessor, but it provides a power-to-weight ratio even better than the potent 999.
The new 848 Testastretta Evoluzione engine becomes the benchmark for the middleweight sportsbike category, benefitting from all the experience accumulated with the larger engine on the 1098. It successfully adopts the same design guidelines and the same compact cylinder and cylinder head layout, but introduces for the first time ever an innovative solution for the crankcase, which has been designed with a further weight reduction for this advanced engine in mind. The overall layout of this engine integrates a series of avant-guard solutions, confirming the close links with the experience of Ducati’s racing department.
The 849cc engine has bore and stroke values of 94mm and 61.2mm respectively, which produce a ratio that is only slightly inferior to the 1098 (1.54 compared with 1.61), while maintaining the highly ‘over-square’ layout typical of racing engines. Power output is an impressive 134hp (98.5kW) at 10,000 rpm and maximum torque is 9.8kgm (96Nm) at 8250 rpm. The power and torque values confirm the high performance level of this engine, especially when compared to its predecessor, the Testastretta-engined 749. The cylinder head has been modified in line with the characteristic bore and stroke of the engine in order to optimize the fluid dynamics of the intake (straight and plunging) and exhaust ducts and combustion chamber. The compression ratio is 12:1.
The valve angle is the same as the 1098 engine and diameter is 39.5mm for the inlet valve and 32mm for the exhaust. The technology used sees the application of a bi-metallic alloy that combines increased lightness with resistance and reliability required for these particular components. The desmodromic control system has also been designed with the weight and the inertia of the new components in mind, allowing extremely efficient valve lift during intake and exhaust phases. The excellent results achieved are confirmed by the engine’s power figures, producing outstanding performance thanks also to the use of MotoGP-derived elliptical throttle bodies, which have been fitted to the 1098 engine.
The design of a dedicated elliptical throttle body for the 848 demonstrates the attention that Borgo Panigale engineers have devoted to the development of the Superbike range. The cross-section is reduced from the 60 sq. mm of the 1098 to 56 sq. mm so as to optimize fluid dynamics at every engine speed. Just like on the 1098, the new cylinder heads benefit from fewer components and include magnesium covers.
For the first time ever, this Testastretta Evoluzione engine sees the introduction of a special technology for the construction of the engine crankcase: VacuralÒ casting. This is a forced vacuum die casting method that allows jet characteristics to be improved thanks to the absence of porosity, gas inclusion and oxidation. This allows extremely high measurement precision and greater ductility for aluminium alloy. Designers have been able to harness the benefits of this innovative process by redefining the shape and the wall thickness of the new crankcase by means of FEA (Finite Element Analysis) checks, which allowed the required reliability standards to be achieved, while simultaneously obtaining a significant weight saving of 3.5kg.
The 848 engine is fitted with a silent modular wet clutch, characterized by an exceptional resistance to wear that will lead to superior duration. This solution makes a useful contribution to weight saving, estimated to be around 1.6kg, which is also due to the use of a different type of clutch cover. The high power figures achieved by this engine also come from the use of the same type of oil cooler and coolant radiator as the 1098’s engine, with an increased surface area assisted by lightweight, high flow electric fan assemblies. Finally, the 848’s exhaust system follows the same layout and uses the same innovative technology as the 1098. The system terminates with Ducati’s trademark twin under-seat silencers, delivering the unmistakable signature sound of the big bore 90° L-Twin. This power unit, just like all the other Ducati engines, has been designed to comply with Euro 3 exhaust emission norms.
The 848, as all the Superbike family, is equipped with a unique single-sided swingarm. The engineers were encouraged to re-think the construction technique of this element. The solution was to produce the main operational components using individual aluminium castings so as to ensure strength around the pivot points, wheel hub and suspension links, with fabricated aluminium sections used to complete the construction into a single, beautifully engineered component.
Highlighting the way in which individual components are influenced by each other, the new lightweight Trellis frame and single-sided swingarm have enabled a more compact and further weight-saving rear suspension linkage system to be used featuring separate lower pick-up points for the push-rod and suspension unit. This ‘tandem’ design effectively reduces stress around the linkage pick-up area of the Trellis frame. Working together with this highly efficient linkage is a fully adjustable Showa single shock for the 848, the same as the 1098. At the front the new 848 is equipped with fully adjustable 43mm Showa forks with radial mounts. This type of front suspension is professionally track-tuned and offers superior road holding, delivers superior feedback, and helps every rider to be more confident and in control.
The 848 brake system is characterized by M4 calipers using four 32mm pistons and two radial mounted pads. Matched to the calipers are two 320mm discs and the combination of these elements achieves spectacular braking power. The new 848 also benefits from lightweight Marchesini Y-shaped spoke wheels. The weight saving of 250gr achieved on the front wheel substantially reduces the moment of inertia and enhances the 848’s change of direction and braking performance. The rear wheel is just as impressive with a complete redesign for its single-sided swingarm application that has resulted in a reduction of over 1kg compared with traditional Ducati single-sided swingarm fitments. Finally a 5.50” wheel fitted with a 180/55 tyre guarantees the maximum agility at the rear.
This uncompromising sports machine is only available in the single-seat version and is the perfect bike for all those who want to own a real middleweight racer. The Testastretta engine is more highly developed than ever before to maximise performance and minimise weight. Chassis components have obviously been selected for maximum competitiveness on the track, and special materials like magnesium, carbon fibre, and titanium abound to make the 749R unbeatably light and mean.
The R’s engine has been specially developed for efficiency on the track. It develops 121 hp at 10,500 rpm and 8.6 kgm of torque at 8,250 rpm. By applying the knowledge gained on the racetrack, Ducati engineers have created our highest performance middleweight Superbike ever, with fully adjustable suspension, box-section aluminum alloy swingarm, and steering damper. The 749 is as at home on the road as it is on the track and is designed to offer an exciting, safe ride whatever the road conditions. A sleek riding position blends man and machine perfectly.
At 108 hp, the Testastretta provides lightning acceleration out of corners and incredibly smooth power delivery without putting stress on the chassis set-up. Excellent torque (8.2 kgm at 8500 rpm), even at very low rpms, guarantees superb performance while making the motorcycle easy to handle in heavy traffic.
The 749R is driven by a mighty twin-cylinder Testastretta engine created especially for racing. The 121 hp at 10,500 rpm has been achieved through full race tuning, and shortening the piston stroke while increasing the bore to 94 mm, up from the 90 mm of the 749 and 749s, thus enabling the engine to run at higher rpm. The slipper clutch is also racing derived and prevents the rear wheel from locking during track style downshifting and heavy engine deceleration.
This Testastretta twin-cylinder engine has been created using the best materials: titanium valves, valve retaining collets and connecting rods, magnesium head covers and carbon fibre belt covers that feature a ventilation system to enhance belt cooling. The feather-weight crankshaft and high resistance aluminium alloy pistons complete the array of top notch components.
One of the unique features of this model is the rear suspension linkage, with flat rising rate as used on competition Ducatis, that is suited to extreme track use and a single-seat set up. The lower rising rate produces linear performance throughout the stroke with less rigidity at high ranges, typical of high-speed cornering experienced on the track. The suspension works in partnership with a fully adjustable Öhlins rear shock absorber, with a shorter stroke than in the standard version (down from 71 to 56 mm) and with a heavier spring, designed especially for this motorcycle and its unique rear suspension.
Just a glance is enough to recognise a no-holds-barred solo machine, designed expressly for use on the racetrack at the highest level of competition. The engine hails from the Testastretta series, while the solutions adopted for the chassis equipment are among the most evolved and extreme in the world of Superbikes, meeting with the approval of the most discerning racers. The 749R is built making ample use of prestigious materials such as magnesium and titanium to achieve the lowest possible overall weight.
Original and totally aggressive, like all Ducati Superbikes, the 749R adds a numbered silver plaque on the top fork crown, making each machine absolutely unique. But apart from all the sheer guts it delivers on the racetrack, the most sports-oriented of the 749 machines is produced to ride on the street too, complete with mirrors with integral turn indicators. Apart from their elegant styling, these unique turn signals have the advantage of being quickly removable when the bike is being prepared for a race.
In order to enable the best possible control of the performance available from the powerful Testastretta twin, each chassis element of the 749R was selected and tested with the aim of offering the maximum performance in competition conditions. That’s why, alongside the elements shared by all bikes in the range, notably the trellis frame with adjustable steering head rake, there are several other details that have come straight from the race department. The box-section aluminium swingarm is structurally very similar to the unit installed on the 999s ridden by Toseland, Laconi and Lanzi or the Supersport raced by Nannelli, with clear benefits in terms of weight and stiffness.
The swingarm is combined with a chain tension adjuster that uses sliders instead of cams, thereby avoiding the undesired effect of changing the height of the rear end of the machine and consequently the set-up when making adjustments to the final drive. The similarities of the rear suspension with the official race 999s continue with the shock linkage with flat progression, absolutely ideal to obtain the stiffness needed to obtain the necessary precision when riding at race speeds. The performance of the rear end is aided by the Öhlins shock, with fully adjustable hydraulic damping and equipped with a dedicated spring and more limited travel: 56 millimetres compared to the 71 millimetres of the other versions.
Like the rear monoshock, also the fork is an upside-down configuration, with 43 mm sliders and, like all front suspensions installed by Ducati on its top-level machines, the sliders are TiN coated to ensure extremely low friction. Like the rear shock, the fork is fully adjustable and equipped with a special bottom lug for radial attachment of the brake callipers. These components were clearly designed for race applications, as were the brake system and wheels.
The brakes feature 4.5 mm thick rotors and radial callipers with four pistons and the same number of pads, while the lightweight alloy wheels are Brembo/Marchesini units with five Y-spokes in forged and machined aluminium, offering a weight saving of 3.2 kg compared to a pair of conventional wheels, without sacrificing rigidity.
Like all single-seater versions, the 749R provides fore and aft adjustment of the seat-tank combination. It’s also possible to alter the position of the footrests, but with respect to the other versions the choices in this case are two rather than five. This decision is based on the rules of the World Supersport Championship, which disallow the removal of any parts welded to the original frame. To allow the passage of the oversized diameter racing exhaust manifolds it was therefore decided to use smaller footpeg brackets, which limit the adjustments.
Ducati’s new 848 Evo is a masterpiece. Replacing the current 848, which has been with us since 2008, the 848 Evo has 1198R Brembo Monobloc brake calipers, a non-adjustable steering damper and tweaks to the engine to make it rev harder and faster. These subtle tweaks are enough to put the Ducati into a different league. It’s now every bit as fast and exciting as a superbike, but a thousand times easier to ride.
Quality and Reliability
The bad old days of dodgy electrics and iffy reliability has gone, Ducatis are now as dependable as the best Japanese bikes. Service intervals are every 7500-miles and build quality is superb.
The Ducati’s 849.4cc V-twin Testastretta engine has new cylinder heads, revised ports, hot cams, new pistons (increasing the compression ratio from 12.1 to 13.2:1) and new elliptical throttle bodies, up from 56mm to 60mm. Power is increased from a measured 122bhp to 126bhp over the old 848, which might not sound much but it’s given the 848 Evo a far more aggressive edge. The 848 Evo loves to be revved and when you do, it rewards you with savage acceleration. Being a big V-twin, you can still ride the torque, be lazy with the gears and cover ground almost as fast.
Ride and Handling
This is an unashamed race bike with lights. It’s cramped, has a hard seat, an extreme riding position, low screen, rubbish tank range and you can’t see out of the mirrors, but you forgive all this for the way it handles. Stick a set of racing tyres on it and it’s the ultimate trackday tool and able to carry massive corner speed. It’s slightly slow steering out of the crate, but the fully adjustable suspension can be tweaked to dial this out. On the road it’s very stable and can get from A to B as fast as the best sportsbikes in the world.
The 848 Evo does without some of the flashy electronics of Ducati’s range-topping machines (although you can have Ducati datalooging as an optional extra), but it comes with new Brembos monobloc calipers, which are phenomenal, fully adjustable Showa suspension and a MotoGP replica mutli-function dash.
Gone of the days of Ducatis being more expensive than its Japanese rivals. Costing just over ten grand, the 848 Evo is only £1000 more than an R6 and on par with bikes like the GSX-R1000 and Honda Fireblade. We know what we’d rather have.
Nobody else has a 168bhp V-twin on its books, complete with traction control, Ohlins suspension, data-recording etc, and if they did it’d probably cost more than the £14,750 Ducati 1198S. And there’s a good chance it wouldn’t have the same devastating performance all wrapped up in a chassis that has more character than Lord Of the Rings’ Gandalf. This is truly one of those motorcycles that everybody should be allowed to ride once in their life for the experience of riding the best V-twin ever made.
Figures are just figures even when Ducati claim 168bhp, but whatever figure we find smearing the rear Pirelli tyre, rest assured this engine is one serious powerhouse. Torque alone gets the Ducati 1198S shifting the earth backwards on its axis, and then the power takes over to make point-to-point roads seem like a Scalextric course. The gearbox is sweeter than sugared almonds, and the lump doesn’t vibrate anywhere near as bad as you would think a mighty V-twin should.
Ride and Handling
Since the original 1098, all of Ducati’s superbike range now feels more Japanese to ride – plenty of room behind the bars, standard seat-to-bar-to-peg dimensions etc. This bike is designed for fast flowing corners and consequently struggles to stay on line in the tightest of tight corners, but as the ride height and suspension are fully adjustable it just needs time and care to get the ride geared towards the rider.
Quality and Reliability
Several centuries of V-twin production should mean Ducati has reliability issues well and truly tucked in the rafters. Obviously the bike has a serious amount of electronic aids, but even so electrics are not a big issue with Ducati since a revamp of its working methods over the past four years.
For your money you get Ohlins road and track forks and rear shock (choice), a traction control system that is 8-way level adjustable (brilliant), facility to record, download and replay throttle postion, speed, gear, traction control activity and so on. There’s a lot to be said for the race-spec Brembo front brakes and it would be all good.
Considering the 2009 1198S is essentially the £24,000 2008 homologation special Ducati 1098R but with a price tag of just under 15-grand, it’s a bargain. The standard 1198 with out all the gizmos is over £11k, so think how much more it (or any modern bike come to that) would cost to get it to the same spec.
The 2011 848EVO maintains the traditional colour of Ducati red with red frame and black wheels and introduces the new “dark stealth” with racing black frame and black wheels.
The new 848EVO is powered by a liquid cooled, L-Twin, Desmodromic engine that produces 140hp (103kW) @ 10,500rpm and a high-accelerating 72.3lb-ft (10kgm) of torque @ 9,750rpm. The 94mm x 61.2mm bore and stroke breathes through 4 valves per cylinder fed by totally revised inlet port shapes and racing-style elliptical throttle bodies, which are now increased in size from an equivalent diameter of 56mm to 60mm. A brand new piston crown and combustion chamber shape improve burn efficiency and increase the compression ratio from 12:1 to a power-enhancing 13.2:1 while new performance-driven camshafts provide 13mm of valve-lift compared with 11.5mm and an inlet duration increase from 253° to 257°.
These incredible valve performances are made possible because of Ducati’s unique Desmodromic system, where valve closure is activated mechanically. At high rpm it would be almost impossible for the valve to follow the steep closure profile of the cam lobe if it were relying upon a normal valve spring. With the Desmo system, the valve is closed mechanically with the same accuracy as it is opened, enabling steep cam profiles and radical cam timings. This system is used on every single Ducati motorcycle including their world-beating Superbike and Desmosedici MotoGP bikes. Electronically injected and ignited by Marelli, the super-efficient power unit then exhausts through a lightweight 2-1-2 system equipped with a catalytic converter and up-rated to twin lambda probes for smooth mapping and Euro3 conformity. Terminating in Ducati’s trademark twin under-seat silencers, the system delivers that unmistakable signature sound of the Desmo 90° L-Twin.
The highly advanced 848 engine was the first Ducati Superbike to introduce vacuum die-cast crankcases, formed using Vacural® technology, a process that achieves a significant weight saving and ensures consistent wall thickness and increased strength. For 2011 this impressively lightweight engine has its outer-cases finished in black.The 848EVO engine is a fitting reward to Ducati’s ingenuity and a clear result of the continual attention to detail and development of their twin-cylinder technology.
Having more experience and success with twin-cylinder high performance engines than any other manufacturer, the L-Twin configuration remains central to Ducati’s philosophy of motorcycling. This experience, plus constant investment in quality by design, advanced materials and engineering techniques, has enabled 12,000km (7,500 miles) between service intervals, making Ducati ownership easy and enjoyable.
The 848 chassis and suspension are the result of a ‘performance-first’ priority approach to development, in which the goals are always to achieve lightweight with high strength and rigidity to manage the high-powered Testastretta Evoluzione engines.
Developed in cooperation with Ducati Corse, the lightweight Trellis frame features 34mm main section tubes with a material thickness of 1.5mm. The result is an incredibly rigid construction that remains one of Ducati’s lightest frame solutions ever.
Producing a front subframe in magnesium underlines the attention to weight-saving detail in the Ducati Superbike range. Its construction provides secure support for the headlamp, instruments and fairing, and the weight-saving around this high, forward position contributes considerably to overall ‘feel’ and control of the machine.
The dual construction technique used for the single-sided swingarm allows the main operational components to use individual aluminium castings so as to ensure strength around the pivot points, wheel hub and suspension links, while lightweight, fabricated aluminium sections are used to complete the construction into a single, beautifully engineered component. The 848EVO swingarm is then presented in a sophisticated black-anodised finish.
The lightweight front wheels used on all Ducati Superbike models substantially reduces the moment of inertia, enabling a faster change of direction and enhanced acceleration and braking performances. The 848EVO is equipped with Y-shaped, 5-spoke wheels by Enkei finished in black and mounted with Pirelli Diablo Supercorsa SP 120/70 ZR17 front and 180/55 ZR17 rear tires.
The 848EVO features fully adjustable 43mm Showa forks with radial brake calliper mountings, which provide superior road holding and precise feedback. A control-enhancing steering damper maintains perfect front-end stability, inspiring supreme control and confidence alongside the increased power output.The lightweight Trellis frame and single-sided swingarm enable a compact and weight-saving rear suspension linkage system, which features separate lower pick-up points for the push-rod and fully adjustable Showa single shock suspension unit. This ‘tandem’ design effectively reduces stress around the linkage pick-up area of the Trellis frame.
Ducati Superbikes have always been famous for their incredible, track-derived braking performance and the 848EVO is no exception. Now featuring Brembo’s powerful Monobloc calliper racing technology applied to 320mm discs, the EVO’s incredible braking capability is a result of Ducati’s continual quest for responsible performance. Machined from a single piece of alloy, the callipers achieve a higher rigidity and resistance to distortion during extreme braking. The resulting increase in hydraulic efficiency not only delivers incredible braking power, but also provides an enhanced and precise ‘feel’ at the brake lever. The twin Monobloc callipers each have four 34mm pistons that grip 320mm discs to help generate planet-stopping braking.
Carefully designed for aerodynamic efficiency and to hug the sleek lines of the chassis, the Superbike bodywork enables the rider to blend effortlessly into the correct riding position. Its race-developed fairing design ensures perfect integration with the cooling system by providing efficient flow through the advanced, large surface area coolant radiator, which is assisted by lightweight, high flow electric fan assemblies and oil coolers.Aerodynamically shaped air ducts positioned just below the headlamps are precisely calculated to provide ample air delivery to the pressurised airbox. The lightweight bodywork contributes considerably to overall performance by reducing weight, protecting the Testastretta Evoluzione engine’s power output, and assisting the rider to effortlessly ‘tuck in’ from the wind stream and reduce drag to achieve maximum straight-line track speeds.
This pure racing digital instrumentation originating from Ducati’s MotoGP project has no switches or buttons to compromise its clean, minimalist lines. Instead, information additional to the default read-outs is managed from the left-hand handlebar-mounted switch gear, allowing the rider to scroll through and select from various menus. The display, which has a bright white LED back lighting presents rpm and speed, with the former displayed across the screen in a progressive bar graph. Optionally, the rpm and speed can be displayed in numeric values. Additionally, it displays lap times, time, air temperature, coolant temperature, battery voltage, two trips and a trip that automatically starts as the fuel system goes onto reserve. Warning lights illuminate to signify neutral, turn signals, high-beam, rev-limit, low oil pressure, fuel reserve, and scheduled maintenance. The instrument display is also used as the control panels for the DDA system (available as an accessory) as well as listing lap times recorded by using the high-beam flash button as a stopwatch.
The Ducati Data Analyser (DDA) – complete with PC software, a USB-ready data retrieval card and instructions – evaluates the performances of the bike and its rider, and makes comparisons between various channels of information. The DDA is available for the 848EVO as an accessory from Ducati Performance.Normally only available on race bikes, DDA records numerous channels of data including throttle opening, vehicle speed, engine rpm, engine temperature, distance travelled, laps and lap times. The system also automatically calculates engine rpm and vehicle speed data so as to display gear selection as an extra channel of information. At the end of a ride or track session, an upgraded 4mb of data can be downloaded to a PC ready to compare, analyse and get an inside view of the performance of the rider and motorcycle.Data can be analysed in graphic form with options to zoom into detail of specific sections. Dragging a trace along a timeline to reveal individual values of the above listed channels enables the user to analyse performance in the same way that data technicians can in factory teams. The software allows data to be compared with that from a completely separate session and for pages of data to be printed off easily.
Superbike Lights and Indicators
The horizontal twin headlamps are modernised interpretations of the iconic 916, restyled and updated with the latest lighting technology. Two polyellipsoidal units light the way with a powerful beam while maintaining an aggressive look to the front of the machine in pure Ducati Superbike tradition. The rear light employs a specially designed strip of LEDs enhanced by a high diffusion lens shaped into the sleek lines of the tailpiece. The same LEDs are intensified for brake lights. The directional indicators also use the latest in LED technology for illumination. The frontal indicators are beautifully integrated into the rear view mirrors, which come with an optional spacer kit enabling an extension of 30mm over the standard mirror stem length.
Ducati Superbikes are the most advanced, most powerful twin-cylinder motorcycles ever built. They are the product of a team of designers and engineers who have combined their MotoGP and World Superbike technologies to create the finest sport bikes in the world, and the results are pure excellence. “Engineered by the stopwatch, designed by the race track” is now extended with “evolved by experience” for the 848EVO, as constant owner feedback has been transformed into enhanced specification.Ducati Superbikes are race bikes, pure and simple. Their striking aerodynamic shapes create a natural riding position, confirmed by Ducati development and factory team riders as the optimum for speed and agility. Performance is first and foremost in every detail.Trademark Ducati features like the high tail section and compact front end combine with twin under-seat silencers and single-sided swingarm to express the sheer engineering beauty of aerodynamics and agility.
The 848 is a 1098 at a smaller performance scale, which can only make things sound more interesting. Ducati’s latest idea of a middleweight resumes to combining a 370 pounds dry weight with the 134 hp at 10000 rpm and 70.8 lb-ft of torque at 8250 rpm developed by the liquid-cooled 849.4 cc, L-Twin cylinder, four valves per cylinder Desmodromic engine, which was specially developed for the bike.
Using a Marelli electronic fuel injection system and just the right gearing, the motor meets Euro3 regulations without sacrificing performance. The gearbox is a six-speed unit and couples with the engine through a wet multiplate clutch with hydraulic control. You know what that means don’t you? Easy to pull, great feedback provider, all resulting in impressive time laps.
The tubular steel trellis frame meeting the fully adjustable 43mm Showa upside-down fork at a 24.5-degree angle and the fully adjustable Showa monoshock are all the result of the Ducati 848 being built with performance in mind. The bike rides on Marchesini 5-spoke light alloy 17-inch wheels with Pirelli Diablo Supercorsa rubber.
Considering the engine and chassis capabilities, there’s nothing to stop a rider from having an extremely good time on it unless he decides to hit the brake levers and determine the Brembo calipers (4-piston, 2-pad) to squeeze the 320mm discs up front and 245mm single disc at the rear (this only gets a 2-piston caliper). Stopping power is claimed to be more than needed for this bike, but we’re going to put it to the test anyways so read on for more.
A single look at the 2009 Ducati 848 superbike is enough to make it clear for anyone that the 1098 R was a direct source of inspirations. The sharp headlights and air intakes are by now Ducati trademarks and so is the tiny nose.
On the sides, the fairing is smooth and the aggressive cooling scoop remind us once again of the bike’s bigger sibling. But so does the 4.1 gallons gas tank, the very thin rider seat, which is positioned at a fair 32.6-inch distance from the ground, as well as the rear tail section. On Japanese supersport bikes, this is as sharp as possible (especially on the R6), but Ducati’s designers seem to be more forgiving with passengers and offer decent padding. We don’t know for sure if that’s because of the exhaust silencers being positioned underneath the seat, but it is definitely an advantage, one that helps the bike stand out as being made in Italy.
Another feature that speaks about the European style is the single-sided swingarm, which allows that Y-spoked rear wheel to be instantly noticed. Both rims are black painted regardless of the chosen color. This can be Red or Pearl White.
When it comes to middleweight supersport models, the usual idea that riders get spins around 600ccs, a four-cylinder engines and, preferably, a Japanese logo on the tank. The Ducati 848 is supposedly here to change that and that’s where this test starts from.
First of all, the riding position is very sporty despite the 32.6-inch seat and the exhaust sounds like two drums when the engine is idling. The noise is quite enjoyable, but opening up the throttle kind of gives shivers up your spine. Are we underestimating this beauty or what? Not quite. Ducati’s L-twins sound mad, but won’t scare anyone who has been spinning around on bikes for a while. The clutch pulls in effortlessly, first gear hits easily and precise and off the Ducati goes with a small twist of the throttle.
The engine feels very potent and competitive, leaving no rider unsatisfied by its performance. It enjoys being revved and delivers linear power and torque. The riding position might not look that back-friendly, but it enables the rider to become one with the machine and start riding it more and more aggressively. We’ve come to find that wheelies are the easiest thing on 1098’s smaller brother. In first, second and even third gear the front end lifts using only a strong hand on the throttle, while high-speed wheelies require the use of the wet clutch. This unit also proves very effective when downshifting before corners or when going out of chicanes.
Compared to the straight fours, the L-Twin delivers power earlier so it is just a matter of keeping it in the zone. Around 7000 rpm is where you want to be when cruising along and needing to have instant power a twist of the throttle away. That also means that you have to ride in the right gear at all times and there are six to choose from. The engine is lively in all gears, but we rarely got to hit sixth simply because we enjoyed revving it rather that keeping a steady hand on the throttle.
Wind protection is nothing to complain of and you don’t even have to crumple yourself much because the bike takes care of that for you. That’s an advantage (but not for your bones) because handling will soon feel natural and quite similar to that of the Japanese bikes that the Ducati tries to beat. The fully adjustable Showa suspension do make sure that you feel all of the road’s imperfections throughout your entire body, especially at high speeds, but, together with the Pirelli Diablo Supercorsa tires, they simply glued the bike to the asphalt and unintended skids are pretty much out of discussion.
The bike is capable of providing the rider with great feedback, making it ideal for track riding and intended skids. That’s where the Brembo brakes intervene. Given the bike’s lightweight, they provide tons of stopping power, enabling the rider to brake later before a corner knowing that it has the ability to slow down from very high speeds dramatically fast.
Overall, the Ducati 848 is certainly a different ride, but won’t make any Japanese middleweight contender look bad in any situation.