Ducati 848

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Ride Report: 2009 Ducati 848

Today, ducatinewstoday reviews the Ducati 848 Superbike. In the world of the 170 bhp 1198 is the 848 irrelevant, or is this machine the jewel of the Superbike model range? Read on to find out!

I took advantage of the Duc Truck being in the Atlanta area to ride the new Ducati 848 at NPR Ducati. When I arrived a shiny lineup of delectable Ducati delights awaited and, after my ride of the newly released Monster 1100S, I aimed for the baby Ducati Superbike in brilliant white. The 848 reintroduced white to the Superbike line (although the new 1198 sports the same color) and there is no denying the bikes is striking to look at.

As the entry level model in the Superbike range the 848 sports a wet clutch which is supposedly an attempt to pander to switchers from Japanese brands since research showed only the Ducatisti liked the ball bearing in a tin can, dry clutch rattle.

Getting on the bike, I am struck but how narrow it is, the trellis frame tightly wrapping around the narrow L-twin engine. The rearsets are as high as the bars are low. The position is not at the torture rack level but it is clearly race oriented with few concessions for the street. Perhaps that is why the mirrors provide such an excellent view of my elbows.

Thumbing the starter delivers another surprise since the engine fires up and whirs away quietly despite the slipon termignoni’s that are fitted. The engine is very free revving and the clutch engagement is light and smooth.

Although it is fitted with 6 speeds, at least 3 of them are redundant for the street thanks to the ridiculously high gearing that is necessary these days to pass emissions and noise tests. This means that the sweet engine is buzzing away and for some reason it sounds busy even when only running at 4,000 rpm. The engine’s power delivery is very linear, steadily building as the revs rise till the thrust is get your attention strong at the top end without being overwhelming.

With stock gearing you won’t get out of third gear until more than 55mph unless you want no response to the throttle and this is an aspect that would annoy me greatly if I owned this bike. At least lowering the gearing is an easy and inexpensive solution.

While I’m complaining I also wasn’t enamored with the engine sound of the 848. The older desmoquattro and testastretta twins bellowed but the 848 seems to prefer to snarl. This nasal sound is more directed at the rider, the engine making a deeper more pleasant sound for those watching it pass by.

The 848 carves up curves with surgical precision. Having just jumped off of a Monster, I was constantly having to correct my lines because I was turning in too early and leaning too far until I got used to the subtlety required at the controls. The Superbike positively encourages you to enter deep and maintain a high corner speed, so confidence inspiring is the front end.

The smooth power allows the throttle to be applied early and progressively to slingshot the machine out of the turn in search of the next one. The suspension is a little harsh and would need careful setting up to get the best from it but this middleweight twin would be hours of fun on the track.

Many believe that the demise of the 750 multi-cylinder class was unfortunate since these middle capacity machines offer most of the outright performance of open class bikes with a much more manageable feel and outstanding handling dynamics. In this context the 848 makes a strong case for itself even set against the 1198 which is $2,500 more than the $13,995 Ducati asks for it’s little brother. If only Ducati would offer an R model (how about an 888R!!) at 20 grand, but the company has stated on the record that there will not be higher spec versions of their base superbike model.

I admit to preferring the rawer feel of the older 4-valve engines that offer more character (and I don’t mean by that, that they break down alot!). There is no denying the sophistication of the 848 engine but it is too anodyne for my tastes, it dear I say it reminded me of the Honda RC51 engine. This complaint however can’t overcome the fact that this is a corking bike as the English would say.

It has an easily accessible powerband, beautiful steering and handling feel, outstanding brakes and would be just the thing for embarrassing more powerful bikes at a track day. And there is nothing more satisfying than that!

Ducati 848

This bike is for you if:

You run in the fast group at trackdays

You used to own a Suzuki GSX-R750

You have a volume discount deal with your chiropractor

You want to keep looking if:

You aren’t as committed to the sports cause as the 848 is

You expect a Ducati to have a slightly uncivilized character

Ducati 848 in a sentence:

A compelling choice for the trackday junkie and sunday morning sports riding aficionado.

Ducati 848
Ducati 848
Ducati 848
Ducati 848
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