Church of MO: 2002 Ducati 998 First Experience

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Put up-916 and pre-999, Ducati hit a candy spot within the type of the 998. Nonetheless taking the type of Massimo Tamburini’s 1994 masterwork, however powered by the drastically advanced Testastretta V-twin that powered Troy Bayliss to the 2001 World Superbike championship, the 999 was the very best of outdated and new, the apogee of the 916 curve. Nicely, now it’s simply outdated. However you already know what I imply.


By Glenn Le Santo Mar. 16, 2002

Silverstone-shire-derby-flamoozle, England, 12 January 2002

Unbelievably, the 916 has been round since 1994. That’s method again within the time when Yamaha’s FZR1000 was nonetheless the massive canine within the present rooms.

When launched, the 916 didn’t revolutionize the game bike sector, Honda had already performed that with their Fireblade. What it did, nevertheless, is put that new definition of efficiency into maybe the prettiest package deal of the last decade. The 916 continues to be with us and it seems a lot the identical because it did again in ’94. Most individuals usually agree that, virtually ten years later, it seems up-to-date. The Ducati has loved gradual updates 12 months by 12 months, and continues to be arguably on the high of its class.

Now that the historical past lesson’s over, what’s it prefer to journey? In a phrase, good!

Sure, that’s it – BRILLIANT!

At this level I might save this file and finish my report – something stated any longer is just a variation of good. However, OK, you in all probability haven’t ridden the bike so I’ll be smart and run by way of this take a look at from begin to end, beginning with the engine.

This 12 months, the whole 916 – sorry, it’s now the 998 vary – advantages from the brand new Testastretta, or slender head engine. That is the motor Troy Bayliss used to win the World Superbike title this 12 months. It is available in three states of tune: 123 bhp for the 998, 136 for the 998S and a claimed 139 bhp for the restricted version buyer racer, the 998R. The engine really displaces 998ccs – therefore the title!

The Ducati 916 vary has loved gradual updates 12 months by 12 months, and continues to be arguably on the high of its class.

On the observe, it’s instantly obvious that in its newest guise, the engine is rather more responsive low down than in earlier incarnations. The usual 998 continues to be a bit wanting puff on high, a GSX-R1000 would snigger at its straight-line efficiency, however the stronger 139bhp 998R would possibly silence the Suzuki’s chuckles. Torrents of torque make the bike very simple to journey. Even when you ham up the gears and exit a nook too far up the six-speed field, the bike will rescue you, pulling strongly from as little as 2,000rpm. It’ll pull from under that, however the energy pulses from the 2 500cc pistons swinging up and down within the 90-degree V create an excessive amount of snatch within the drive practice for anybody with mechanical sensitivities to strive it for lengthy.

The facility’s build-up is linear and there’s no sudden energy band to catch you out, however there may be sufficient low-down grunt to interrupt the rear tire’s traction within the damp or chilly circumstances that have been prevalent throughout my observe take a look at at Silverstone. Early within the morning, when damp patches nonetheless littered most of the corners, I lit up the rear tire, sliding it full sideways as I exited a decent flip. It was a progressive slide and the bike saved itself so as as I rolled off the throttle gently. Fortunately, the rear connected once more with out drama once I acquired again on the ability. There wasn’t even a touch of excessive aspect.

The brand new 998 is way quieter than the unique 916; the engine, gear field, clutch and exhaust — all of them produce much less clatter and bellow this 12 months. A refined Ducati? Hmmmmm.  The relative lack of high finish punch, and the truth that I had just lately ridden a four-cylinder race bike with a cut-out set at one thing above 15,000rpm, meant I used to be hitting the relatively extreme rev limiter all an excessive amount of. It cuts the engine so effectively that the quicker riders on the observe began to make use of it as an impromptu quick-shifter! The gear field is clean and exact and the clutch gentle and correct. The chew level stayed in precisely the identical place for the whole session. The engine appears a lot refined over early fashions, it’s far quieter than the unique 916; the engine, gear field, clutch and exhaust – all of them produce much less clatter and bellow this 12 months. A refined Ducati? Hmmm.

A robust engine is all very nicely, but it surely wants a succesful chassis to assist get the ability promised by that superb V-Twin onto the bottom and to maintain it there. That is an space that the 916 collection has at all times excelled in and this 12 months is not any completely different. Whereas the usual 998 isn’t as exotically geared up as its 998R stablemate, it’s nonetheless a lot nicely geared up to deal with the 123 bhp on faucet. The Brembo brakes are additionally a notch down from the trick race elements fitted to the R, however once more, the bike stops with out drama and with out quite a lot of effort on the lever.

Getting into the turns on the finish of each the quick back and front straights at Silverstone gave them take a look at, which they handed with flying colours by offering constant and reliable braking time and time once more. There was no fade, no extra lever journey, no trace of sponginess – simply loads of progressive two-fingered braking energy all day. Examine that to the disappointing really feel of the early 916 brakes, and there’s much more proof that the 916 is evolving nicely.

Whereas the usual 998 isn’t as exotically geared up as its 998R stablemate, it’s nonetheless a lot nicely geared up to deal with the 123 bhp on faucet.  Suspension duties on the 998 are taken care of by a pair of Showa entrance forks, that are Titanium Nitride handled even on the usual 998. Ti’ Nitride is a super-slick coating that ensures the fork tubes don’t persist with the sliders below heavy use. The rear finish is well-controlled by a wonderful Ohlins shock. The entrance brake discs are thinner this 12 months, decreasing the burden hanging on the entrance wheel and thus making turn-in even faster. Certainly, the little 998 (for it’s a bodily tiny motorbike) turns in quick and holds a line with superb tenacity. Not even the bumps and tarmac ridges at Silverstone might shake the bike, even on full throttle whereas laid over on the tires’ edges.

As with earlier variations, set-up is essential and there was fairly a distinction in the best way the assorted take a look at bikes felt. The eight bikes out there on the take a look at had all been individually tweaked at a earlier observe session, so all of the settings have been completely different. On the softer set-ups there was fairly a little bit of wobble on the rear when altering route laborious, one thing that was fully absent on the bikes with a firmer set-up. That is very a lot a person factor, however if you’re critical about driving a motorcycle like this difficult, you’ll be nicely suggested to get it correctly set-up to match your driving fashion and site. I most popular the more durable settings on the observe. Out on the highway, the place outright efficiency isn’t that essential, the softer settings are a greater compromise between consolation and efficiency.Talking of which, whereas I’m positive the 998 will make a shocking highway bike, there’s no denying {that a} machine like that is most at house on a observe the place its capabilities will be exploited to the fullest in relative security. There will not be many roads the place you may lean the bike over onto its foot pegs after which energy out of the flip with the rear finish smoking and sliding. Quite the opposite, Silverstone has many locations the place such conduct is inspired and, fortunately, unlikely to be interrupted by myopic Volvo pilots or freeway patrol vehicles

The bike does stand a bit when braked mid-turn, however a bit additional strain on the related stubby clip-on handlebar corrected this instantly.The entrance finish on the Ducati is extraordinary. The extent of grip and management from the entrance finish is faultless, the entrance Pirelli gripping on the tarmac with superb drive. Even a ham-fisted software of brakes mid-turn once I realized I had drifted method off line didn’t push the entrance. The bike does stand a bit when braked mid-turn, however a bit additional strain on the related stubby clip-on handlebar corrected this instantly. Within the last flip earlier than the entrance straight, a protracted fixed radius nook that basically hundreds the entrance as you wind the throttle again to get drive for the principle straight, you might really really feel the grip – as if the tire was the truth is your palms. Very good. The OEM Pirelli Dragon’s actually praise the Ducati’s set-up.

Regardless of a tough day’s driving at Silverstone, I didn’t reveal any vital faults on the 998. OK, absolutely the quickest riders might get the rear to interrupt grip and get very sideways mid-turn, though none of them fell off in consequence, confirming that this can be a bike thats controllable even at, or past, the bounds. What it additionally revealed was that the brand new 998 is an actual rider’s bike, a motorbike meant for use laborious and used purely for enjoyable.

This isn’t a get-to-work journey, though some house owners will little question commute on theirs, presumably as a result of they simply must journey it time and again! However the 998 can also be removed from being a banzai, balls-out motorbike – it’s really very refined. This all-around consumer pleasant really feel is comparatively new on a Ducati, main one of many testers to touch upon the way it was attending to behave increasingly like a Honda VFR800, a remark that didn’t really go down too nicely with the Ducati manufacturing unit guys current! It’s true although, that is the smoothest and most civilized model of the 916 ever launched. However don’t fear, they haven’t washed the soul out of the machine – no method. That is nonetheless each bit a Ducati eight valve Desmo twin. It may nonetheless make the hairs get up on the again of your neck in time-honored Ducati fashion.

This all-around consumer pleasant really feel is comparatively new on a Ducati, main one of many testers to touch upon the way it was attending to behave increasingly like a Honda VFR800, a remark that didn’t really go down too nicely with the Ducati manufacturing unit guys current!

There’s not so much to run by way of so far as tools is worried, this can be a highway bike produced from a race bike. If it ain’t wanted, it ain’t fitted, so ‘equipment’ are restricted to stuff like a steering damper and a twin seat on the Biposto mannequin. There’s the standard array of add-on elements, each from Ducati and from a bunch of corporations which have grown as much as serve the more and more widespread machines. They range from efficiency to fairly elements, and a visit to any Italian motorbike dealership or present will discover you loads of illustrations of simply how far you may take ‘personalizing’ a Ducati.

There’s no denying {that a} machine like that is most at house on a observe the place its capabilities will be exploited to the fullest in relative security. There will not be many roads the place you may lean the bike over onto its foot pegs after which energy out of the flip with the rear finish smoking and sliding.

Who would purchase the 998? The severely wealthy are in all probability going to need the costlier (and extra importantly to them, unique) 998R or S variations. Nonetheless, even for the cash-laden, proudly owning an R isn’t a straightforward feat. Aside from the fee, there gained’t be many about and most of them will find yourself within the palms of privateer racers. These on a decent funds are more likely to resolve that the 998 is just too expensive, and accept an, arguably equally succesful Japanese 4. The 998S isn’t that a lot additional up the worth scale than the usual 998, and it produces a helpful quantity of additional ponies from its larger tuned motor.

Then there’s the cheaper Aprilia V-Twins or perhaps a Triumph triple to additional muddy the water of determination. However the reply is straightforward, the 998 goes to be bought by riders who wish to expertise the credibility, the distinctive thrill and the soulful expertise of Ducati possession – in all probability by those that have already owned a 916. Those that can’t or gained’t stretch the additional few thousand for the S mannequin will get all of significant Ducati substances with the usual 998. And whoever buys the 998 in any of its guises, if my impressions are something to go by, then one factor is for sure – they wont be disenchanted.

Spec SheetEngine Kind V-Twin, 4 valve per cylinder Desmodromic, liquid cooled Capability 998cc Bore x Stroke 100 x 63.5 mm Compression Ratio 11.4:1 Energy 123 bhp @ 9750rpm Torque 96.9nm @ 8000rpm Gears 6 pace Clutch Hydraulic dry multi plate Chassis Body: Tubular metal trellis Wheelbase: 1410 mm Rake: 23.5 x 24.5 Suspension: Entrance Showa absolutely adjustable upside-down forks Rear Ohlins absolutely adjustable monoshock Wheels: Entrance – Marchesini 3,50 x 17 Tire Pirelli Dragon 120/70 ZR 17 Rear – Marchesini 5,50 x 17 Tire Pirelli Dragon 190/50 ZR 17 Brakes: Entrance – 2 x Brembo 4 piston calipers, 2 x 320mm semi floating Rear – 1 x Brembo 2 piston caliper, 1 x 220mm disc UK OTR Worth 998 10,450 998S 13,150 998R Not introduced

The submit Church of MO: 2002 Ducati 998 First Experience appeared first on Bike.com.

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