The Ducati 1198S looks like my previous Ducati 1098S but is in fact a totally new motorcycle. The new Testastretta Evoluzione engine incorporates all the World Superbike technology derived from Troy Bayliss' 2008 world championship-winning race motorcycle.
The new technology for Ducati 1198S includes Ducati's race-developed data-acquisition system that enables the retrieval and analysis of data collected from track sessions and road trips, the dual-construction method of the motorcycle's weight-saving single-sided swingarm and the Ducati Traction Control (DTC) system.
The track-derived Ducati Traction Control is standard on the Ducati 1198S. It monitors front and rear wheel speeds to detect wheelspin under acceleration and reduces engine power to restore traction. The Ducati Traction Control provides a considerable increase in safety during mid-corner acceleration.
Clearly displayed on the digital instrument panel, the DTC system offers a choice of eight profiles, each programmed with wheelspin tolerance matched to increasing levels of riding skill.
Wheel sensors compare speed differentials to sense when traction is broken. A high-speed on-board computer then makes immediate adjustment to the fuel injection to restore traction. This is an improvement over traction-control systems that retard ignition and dump raw fuel into the exhaust system. And DTC allows burnouts because the system doesn't work below 30km/h.
Ducati's traction control, DTC, is one of the differences between the standard 1198 and the 1198S, which is the one I have. Others include top-of-the-range suspension, with Öhlins front forks, and lightweight chassis components.
Looking at the Ducati 1198S is sheer pleasure. Ducati's quality control has come so far that its motorcycles are now easily among the best built on the world motorcycle market. The shut lines between fairing pieces are spot on, as is the welding.
The exhaust note is throaty and the close-ratio gearbox from the Ducati 1098R works a treat. Acceleration is remarkably smooth and effortless, while handling and braking are far better than I am capable of using. The Ducati 1198S belongs to that very limited group of extremely high-performance motorcycles that will make you a better rider if you have the confidence to use what is has to offer. And it's a Biposto, so you can always offer a lift home...