Sunday, March 08, 2009

Ready to race: Ducati 1098R vs BSB-spec Ducati 1098RS


US$34,000 for the Ducati 1098R, $126,000 for the BSB-spec 1098RS...!

Sometimes, we wonder just how expensive it is for people to race motorcycles. What about the man who’s spent about US$34,000 on a Ducati 1098R – can he go racing in, say, British Superbikes? The 1098R is fitted with a 1,198cc L-twin that makes a genuine 172 horsepower at the rear wheel and 128Nm of torque. The bike weighs 165 kilos, comes with top-spec suspension (43mm Ohlins fork, Ohlins TTX R rear shock), has the very advanced DTC traction control system and does a measured top speed of 293km/h. How much work could such a bike possibly need for it to be competitive in a national-level roadracing championship?

For starters, the 2008 BSB-spec Ducati 1098RS factory superbike cost US$126,000 and Ducati had to first approve your application before they’d let you buy one. In terms of the engine and engine performance, the 1098RS in a different world compared to the 1098R. With its flowed heads, performance cams, race exhaust and pressurised cooling system, power output on the RS goes up to 200bhp and beyond. However, the engine requires a full rebuild after just 740km and you can just rebuild it once, because it needs to be thrown away after 1,500km. Yes, that’s right, engine life is only 1,500km and a new engine costs US$22,500…!

The 1098RS’ Magneti Marelli engine management system is also considerably more advanced than the 1098R’s system. The racebike’s ECU has up to six fuel-injection maps for dry weather conditions and three for when it’s raining. Each of these nine maps offers a different power/torque curve, which also affects the engine’s fuel efficiency. Riders can switch between available settings on the fly, during a race. And, yes, the traction control system can be switched off for wheelies and/or burnouts after you’ve won a race…

Every time a 1098RS goes out on the track – even if it’s only to practice or qualify – it costs the team at least US$15,000. And that’s if you don’t crash the thing. Crashes can be expensive – about US$6,000 for the front fork, $5,000 for the rear shock, $4,500 for the exhaust, $1,750 for each Marchesini wheel and $2,500 for the carbonfibre bodywork. So best not to bin it then, eh?

Of course, we don’t suppose too many people really need a $125,000 bike to have a bit of fun. We’d be happy with the $22,000 Ducati 1198S. No, actually forget the S version, we’d be very, very happy even with the standard 1198, which only costs $16,500…

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