Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Red Alert: Ducati 1098R vs Desmosedici RR

Ducati 1098R vs Desmosedici RR...? Ooohhhh... yes, yes, YES!

They are two red-hot, wild Italians, dripping utter gorgeousness. They taunt you with their ‘you can look but you can’t touch’ attitudes. And for most people, getting to ride either of them will remain a wet dream, a distant, always-unfulfilled fantasy…

Yes indeed, we’re talking about the US$34,000 Ducati 1098R and the US$72,000 Desmosedici RR. The 1098R is a 172bhp (at the rear wheel!), WSBK-worthy motorcycle for the street, while the Desmosedici RR is a street-legal 200bhp MotoGP replica. For people with deep enough pockets, these two bikes were the hot ticket to fulfilling ‘I am Troy Bayliss’ and/or ‘I am Loris Capirossi’ fantasies…

Here at Faster and Faster, we’ll admit we absolutely love both these bikes. We’ll probably never be able to buy either one, but that doesn’t stop us from dreaming about the 1098R and the Desmosedici RR. And, of course, there are people who actually own at least one of these machines and who’ve ridden both. Back to back. On a race track. We found one such person on the Ducati Superbikes forum. He goes by the moniker ‘Dames,’ owns a Desmosedici RR and he’s written about his experiences, comparing his RR with a 1098R (which, it seems, he also owns, though that isn't very clear...). Here are some excerpts from what he says about the two bikes:

US$72,000 for the Desmosedici RR, $34,000 for the 1098R. The performance is priceless...

Power delivery
The 1098R was powerful, like I had imagined it would be. It took me a while to learn to hold on before really pinning it. The Desmosedici was much smoother, however. And I was able to achieve higher speeds on the straights with the Desmo – about 190km/h with the R and 200km/h with the RR.

For me, the power delivery duration on the Desmo was smoother and longer, while the 1098R was more brutal and hit the rev-limiter much quicker. I believe the Desmo was red-lining at around 13-14,000rpm and the 1098R at around 10,000 revs.

Riding position
The Desmo felt taller than the R and its suspension felt harder out of the box. However, I would say that the difference between the two bikes is minimal and really not an issue.

Both bikes felt extremely nimble, very easy to throw these into turns... very un-Ducati-esque! With a full tank of gas, the R was a little harder than when it was empty, but the Desmo was a lot harder to turn with a full tank. We weighed both bikes with full fuel tanks and at 193kg the Desmo turned out to be about 10 kilos heavier than the R – a bit surprising...

Best lap time
This one is hard to rate, coming from me. I imagine an expert racer would kill the R on the Desmo. However, perhaps a combination of fear of how long Desmo parts would take to arrive and how much they would cost kept me a little heavier handed on the R.

On average, I was about 2-3 seconds a lap slower on the Desmo. Also, the gearing difference was not what I was used to. I came from a 998 with a 1036 big bore kit, so the R was more of the same. The Desmo belongs to a different family – I have to learn to ride it.

I know the Desmo has a slipper clutch but it’s not the smoothest to tell you the truth. The R’s slipper clutch was more familiar to me and dropping two gears on it was just fine. On the desmo, when I dropped two gears it made horrible sounds – like a rock inside the gearbox – not good...

The noise
Ha ha... this has nothing to do with performance, but the Desmo is sooo much louder than the R. You know exactly when you’ve f***ed up and by how much, on the Desmo. I loved the sound, even on slow laps. It was just so much fun to be able to make that sound with my wrist!

I may not be fast, but I know slow, and I know how to be slow. Disappointingly, both these bikes have good brakes. Not awesome, not super, not stupendous, but good to very good brakes. The radial master cylinder on both bikes is the same (slightly different colours) and neither has the top-of-the-line radial master cylinder offered by Brembo.

Monobloc, machined, whatever, the stock brakes on these bikes are only rated ‘good’ in my book.

They both rock. Although i don’t know how to ride the Desmo properly yet, I’m sure in time it will be like a different creature at speed compared to the R. I can tell I'm not tapping either bike's potential. I feel like I have used about 30% of their capacities (not including the brakes). Again, if you can or even if you can’t, get both!

Here's an MCN shootout between the 1098R and the Desmo RR

And if you aren't seeing red already, here's some more Ducati awesomeness...
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