Ducati delivered the 1000th 1098 last month, and after the relative lack of success with their 999, the Italian company is properly back on track. But there is still some debate on which performs best – the 999 or the 1098. To settle this debate once and for all, Motorcyclist magazine recently conducted a shootout between the two. And they got no less than two-time world superbike champ (1991 and 1992, aboard the Ducati 888) Doug Polen to deliver the verdict.
About the 999, Polen says that ‘The neatest thing about it is powerband. It’s very rideable, very smooth, very linear. There’s no big hit anywhere, so no matter where you are on the racetrack – slow corners, fast corners – when you roll the throttle on, it goes. It’s not the fastest handling, but it’s hooked up and stable, so it’s a nice ride.’
‘Nice ride,’ eh? So what does Mr Polen have to say about the 1098? While he had no issues with the power delivery, Doug found out that making the 1098 handle could be hard work. ‘The 1098 is so light that it doesn’t work the suspension. You have to ride it very hard to work the suspension, so I’m out there running harder and all that’s doing is beating up the tyres. As soon as I rode the 999 with fresh tyres, the 1098 was in trouble. It was over before it started.’
So what’s the bottomline? According to Doug Polen, ‘You’re trying to top a motorcycle [the 999] that’s very, very good to begin with. It’s hard to drastically improve something that’s already one of the best.’ So there you are, then. While the 1098 certainly looks good and goes hard, it may not have the 999 beat just yet.
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