Ducati 1198S: Street Superbike
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Ducati 1198S: Street Superbike

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By BikeReview - 14 March 2023

Words: Jeff Ware Photos: Heather Ware, Richard Collins

We rode the World Title winning 1198, but what was the street version like a decade ago? There are no bargains in the used market. The 1198S was one hell of a machine… and is holding its value. Here is one that got away…

Just over a decade ago I took delivery of a Ducati 1198S long term project bike for my magazine at the time, Rapid Bikes. The bike was one of the best project bikes I have ever had, and one of the most flexible and useable street superbikes I’ve ever ridden, but it took a lot of work to get it that way…

Taking delivery of the new bike at Frasers, the then Ducati importer. 

My first taste of the second gen 1198 came from my beloved European contributor, the late, great, Kevin Ash… Here are some of his thoughts on the SP version after he rode it at the word launch for us…

Same as the 1198S but with Ohlins and extra electronics.

“Even more not cheap is the 1198SP. This replaces the 2010 1198S with some small tweaks and spec improvements, and while it’s only a mid-life facelift rather than new model, changes are worth having.

The highest profile is the upgrade to top spec Öhlins suspension, front and rear, to which are unsurprisingly attached Brembo Monobloc calipers. The list of acronyms continues to include DTC, Ducati’s pioneering traction control system and still an excellent one if less sophisticated than the Aprilia RSV4 Factory APRC SE’s and the new ZX-10R Ninja’s. There’s also DDA, the data acquisition that records your speed, throttle position, gears and braking, and while these were present on the old S, the SP also gets DQS, the first quick-shifter gearchange on a production Ducati.

The SP in stock settings did not do the same lap time as the well set-up Rapid Bikes 1198S. 

“Stopping otherwise is as you’d expect, almost violently powerful yet eminently controllable, although from the crate the bike is set up much too soft for track use, which is a surprise. Being Öhlins there’s a huge range of adjustability, although I didn’t get enough time to experiment, so we’ll have to assume the excessive dive is correctable, as well as the swaying rear end in high speed, bumpy corners. But then assuming a Ducati can be made to handle well doesn’t take a huge leap of faith, especially with this quality of kit fitted. More time to play around Imola would have been good, but as it was, the SP was pushing wide as you applied power coming out of turns and really could have done with the damping firming up generally and the rear ride height being raised. As Öhlins aside the SP chassis is no different to the S, which set up right is sublime, I’m happy expecting that all this can be sorted”…

Jeff testing the all-new at the time, amazing 1198SP at The Farm.

A few surprises in there, but not for those experienced with riding Ducati superbikes. They take a lot of setting up, but once they are right, they are, as Kev mentions, sublime.

Marchesini forged wheels standard on the 1198SP also.

My 1198 was no different… First impressions were of a bike that ran wide off turns, wanted to go straight ahead when trying to tip in, and wanted to shake its head over bumps and on the power… It was a bit horrible… But I knew the potential was in there…

Serious lean angle at The Farm...

I completely changed the suspension internal of the bike, and also balanced out the weight bias by levelling the bike out more – actually raising the front a little and dropping the rear, something I had never done before. I also added firmer fork springs and shock spring but ran decent static sag. Along with a set of Bridgestone RS11 tyres, I ended up with a sensational bike that, when ridden by any 1098 or 1198 owner, resulted in them standing in disbelief at how much better it was!

Getting cranked on the well set-up Rapid Bikes 1198S.

I wonder where that bike is now… there were not too many pearl white ones around. I handed it back to Ducati after 12-months… and I still think about all of the great times I had on that bike, riding with great people. I might have to search for it and head up the OPH! You can find them online for around the $20k mark these days. That is serious coin for a 10- to 13-year-old bike… New price was just shy of $30k Ride Away.

Jeff loved his 1198S and wishes he still had it.

The bike was not as amazing of course at the Althea RS11 of Carlos Checa, but it was, just like the World Superbike, a super sweet handler and very accessible for all to ride, particularly good in the rain, as Warwick Maguire showed us once while dicing with the one and only Troy Bayliss one wet test day we were at…

The late Warwick ‘Wazza’ Maguire at The Farm in the rain, chasing Troy Bayliss.

I even managed to convert Andrew Pitt to liking the bike after we spent some time lapping at The Farm on the bike… For a two-times World Supersport Champion, WorldSBK winner and MotoGP rider to say that, then it must be good!

That is 2 x World Champion Andrew Pitt, helping Jeff set-up his 1198 at The Farm.

SPECIFICATIONS: 1198S

Available: December 2010

Engine: 90-degree V-twin, liquid cooled, dohc desmodromic 8v, 1198.4cc

Power: 125kW @ 9,750rpm

Torque: 131.4Nm @ 8,000rpm

Economy: n/a

Tank/Range: 18 litres/ n/a km

Transmission: Six gears, wet dry-plate clutch, chain final drive

Chassis: Tubular steel trellis

Seat height: 820mm

Wheelbase: 1430mm

Rake/trail: 24.5°/ n/a

Weight: 168kg dry

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