Ducati News Today
Review: Ducati 1098 / 1198 Superbike Redefined
Marc Cook, the co-author of ‘Ducati 999: Birth of a Legend’ returned to Bologna to tell the inside story of the design, development and production of the Superbike that replaced it. ‘Ducati 1098/1198 – The Superbike Redefined’ tells the story of how the 1098 and the 1198 that followed catapulted Ducati back into the open class sportbike big time.
The introduction of the Ducati 1098 in 2007 appeased the sins of the 999 with the Ducatisti, set new sales records and captured the 2008 World Superbike title with Troy Bayliss at the helm. For the iconic Italian motorcycle manufacturer Ducati, the 2007 launch of the 1098 superbike was indeed a watershed event.
Author Marc Cook spends 176 hard cover pages recounting his experiences interviewing all the major players including the designers, engineers, fabricators, and other personnel who brought the 1098 to life. These include Ducati CEO Gabriele Del Torchio and Claudio Domenicali, the former head of Ducati Corse who is now responsible for Ducati’s entire product line. The book is organized logically into 9 chapters listed below that lay out the changes that were occurring in Ducati at the time and how the bike came to life, what road testers said at the time and also covers the R models and 848 too.
The New Ducati
1098 and 1198 Riding Impressions
The 1098R and 1198R
Building the 1098 / 1198
Ducati CEO Gabriele Del Torchio makes it plain what Ducati stands for in the opening words of the book.
“We are a premium brand. We are and want to remain a leader in this segment and we can do so by using Italian design and style. This is very important, and it’s one of our main advantages. Ducatis are very exclusive and distinctive.”
A return to that distinctive Italian design and style is clearly the driving factor behind the 1098 Superbike. Although a great motorcycle in its own right, the Ducati 999 nearly killed Ducati because its innovative styling polarized riders and they voted with their wallets – sales of the 999 were always disappointing. As good as the 999 was to ride, in short it simply didn’t look like a Ducati.
It is not surprising then to see many of the signature elements from the wildly successful 916-998 series return in the 1098 such as the twin horizontal headlights, single sided swingarm and twin underseat exhausts. In all cases the challenge was to move the design language along from Tamburini’s famous model and of course cope dynamically with a 50% increase in power compared to the 1994 916.
Much is made in the book of Ducati’s need to focus since it has such limited resources. Although the Ducati brand is big, the reality is that the company is a very small manufacturer (40,000 registrations globally in 2007) and this fact was the driver behind Claudio Domenicali’s move to rationalize the product line, deleting the slow selling ST3 sports tourer and the entire Supersport line.
This need to rationalize, together with Domenicali combining the racing development team with the streetbike team and his almost Steve Jobs like attention to detail are a powerful theme throughout the book. For example the adjustable steering head of the 999 was dropped for the 1098 because it added complexity which few owners ever used. In another simplification, only one rear subframe was used because (apart from the 1098R) all 1098′s are biposto.
After racers found their arms were contacting the tank during hard cornering the shape of the tank was changed to accommodate their needs.
Head of Ducati Design Andrea Ferraresi sums up the 1098 project.
“Our goal was to realize a bike that was less innovative in terms of design but something that was more in the spirit of Ducati. I think we succeeded.”
The success of the 1098/1198 range is proof positive that Ferraresi accomplished the mission. If you’ve always wondered about the inner workings of Ducati, this book will tell you and show you with plenty of color photographs and early CAD drawings. ‘ The Superbike Redefined ‘ provides an entertaining insight into the development of a symbolically and economically important Ducati and is something that all Ducati fans can enjoy.
You can get your copy of Ducati 1098/1198: The Superbike Redefined from Amazon, through Ducati dealers, bookstores, specialty motoring booksellers, and directly from the publisher at www.bullpublishing.com .
Thanks to David Bull Publishing provided a copy of the book ‘Ducati 1098/1198 a The Superbike Redefined’ for this review.
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