Yes indeed, this one's going to be tooth and nail all the way...
With the 1190 RC8, KTM have upset a few equations. The v-twin superbike set – okay, Ducati – have been forced to sit up and take note of the new pretender that’s spoiling for a fight. And the guys at Motorbox, who had access to both the bikes during a Bridgestone BT-016 tyre test at the Jerez circuit, made full use of the opportunity and did the first ever KTM RC8 vs Ducati 1098 shootout. Here’s what they have to say…
First, the numbers. The RC8’s 1145cc 75-degree v-twin makes 155 horsepower and 12Kgm of torque, and the bike weighs 188kg dry. The 1098’s 90-degree v-twin makes 160bhp and 12.5Kgm of torque, and the bike weighs 173 kilo dry. Both bikes are fitted with steel-tube chassis, where the engine is used as a stressed member and also connected to the swingarm. Both bikes are fitted with Brembo brakes with monobloc calipers, but disc size is 330mm for the Ducati 1098, and 320mm for the KTM RC8.
Ducati vs KTM, Italy vs Austria. Next year, WSBK should be fun!
The 1098 has the more extreme riding position, while the RC8 has more relaxed ergonomics, which actually make the bike feel more controllable. On the track, the RC8 feels light, compact and incredibly agile and responsive. The bike feels almost like a 600, changing direction rapidly, yet remaining stable at all times, with accurate steering. The KTM’s longer swingarm also means very good traction while powering out of corners.
The 1098 is more ‘physical’ to ride, needing more effort to change direction. The Italian bike also did not provide as much feel, as much feedback as the KTM, which does nothing to improve rider confidence. The Ducati did brake harder than the KTM, though the forks dived a bit too much, unsettling the bike in the process.
Where the Ducati seems to have a clear advantage is the engine management system and the electronics – the 1098 responds better to small throttle inputs, making it easier to control in corners which require part-throttle application. On the other hand, the RC8’s engine delivers very strong mid-range power, while the 1098’s mill seems almost subdued in comparison.
In terms of improvements, Ducati need to work on the front fork diving too much and too suddenly under hard braking, while KTM need to work on reducing engine vibration. But overall, while the Ducati 1098 reigns supreme on the racetrack today, the KTM RC8 has indeed caught up with the Italian bike, and in some areas, it already performs better. Next year, Ducati had better watch out…!
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